What benefits are available to me if I am injured on the job in Maryland?
Since its establishment 100 years ago, Maryland law requires all Maryland employers to have 'workers' compensation' insurance in effect for the benefit of their employees. This insurance pays for a variety of mandatory benefits for their employees when injured in a work accident or if they develop an occupational disease from their work.
As a Maryland workers' compensation lawyer for more than 35 years, I have helped many injured workers gain the following kinds of workers compensation benefits:
- Lifelong Medical Treatment. We all know the high cost of medical care. The cost of needed medical care to treat your work injury or disease can be staggering. Your employer and their workers compensation insurer are responsible to pay any and all of the cost for necessary treatment of your injury and its consequences. This includes all forms of care, including hospital, medical, therapy, nursing, diagnostic testing, surgery, physical rehabilitation, or pain management. The right to medical care and treatment continues for the rest of your life for conditions from your accident or occupational disease.
- Money to Replace Your Lost Earnings While You Heal & Cannot Work. Your life and family expenses don't stop while you are healing and unable to work. While you are healing and completely unable to perform your work duties you will receive weekly disability payments, called “temporary total disability” benefits. For most injured workers, the amount of your temporary disability payment is two-thirds of your “average weekly wage” (within certain maximum and minimum amounts). Your average weekly wage is usually, but not always, the average of your gross (pre deduction) earnings for the fourteen week period before your work injury or disablement from an occupational disease.
- Money To Supplement Your Earnings When You Return To Less than Full Duties. As you continue to heal, you may improve to the point of returning to work, but still not at full duty. This can be less than full hours or less than full duty. In this situation, the insurer must pay you additional weekly disability benefits to supplement the earnings you receive from your employer.
- Reimbursement For Mileage Driven to Your Medical Appointments. The cost of gas for trips to your doctors, therapists, and for medical tests can add up fast, and the insurance company has to reimburse you for some of that cost.
- Vocational Rehabilitation. If, after you have reached your full level or recovery, your physical condition does not allow you to return to your old job, the employer and insurer are responsible for providing you with vocational rehabilitation services. Vocational rehabilitation services includes the provision of a vocational assessment, followed by needed training and job placement assistance. Vocational rehabilitation will take into consideration your age, education, past work experience, and your current physical ability, and is designed to maximize your income when you return to the workplace. You continue to receive temporary disability benefits while in vocational rehabilitation.
- Permanent Disability Benefits. If you do not make a full recovery from your work injury or disease, you are entitled to be paid for the permanent disability you have. These benefits are paid weekly. The amount of your weekly benefit and its duration is based on your average weekly wage, and the type and extent of your permanent injury from your work accident or disease. In many cases, this is the largest amount of money that goes to the injured worker for what happened to them.
- "Worsening of Condition" Disability Benefits. It is not uncommon for the effects of an occupational illness or work injury to worsen over time. As a Maryland worker, if your injury worsens and you have new periods of temporary disability, or an increase in your over-all level of permanent disability, you can "reopen your claim for worsening of condition" and get additional disability payments. But beware, the request to reopen your claim for additional disability benefits must be made within five years from the last disability payment or is forever lost.
- Death Benefits. Where death results from the work accident or occupational disease, in addition to payment of medical bills and funeral expenses, and compensation for dependents of the deceased worker. The amount of such compensation is based on the worker's average weekly wage, and nature of the dependency, whether wholly or partially dependent.
When you go to work each day, you anticipate going about your routine to earn a fair paycheck to support your family. You certainly do not expect to be injured or to develop an illness because of your occupation in Maryland. But as we all well know, a work accident can happen in the blink of an eye. A work connected disease can develop slowly and quietly over time before becoming disabling.
When that happens, you expect your employer to do the right thing and quickly see to it that you get the workers compensation benefits that Maryland law says you should get.
Unfortunately, its rarely that simple!
Contact me to get your questions answered and get your Maryland workers' compensation claim filed immediately.