Before workers’ compensation statutes were set up, if you were injured on the job you would have to sue your employer for negligence. These were difficult cases for injured workers to prove, and so in the early 1900’s, states set up formal workers’ compensation systems to help resolve these work injury cases. The Workers’ Compensation system was set up in Maryland so that injured workers who were hurt on the job could have recourse regardless of fault. Whereas if you are injured in a car crash you have to prove the other driver was at fault to collect, if you are injured on the job, and the injury arose out of the employment, you are covered. The trade off to this no-fault system, is that you are limited to pursuing your claim through the Workers’ Compensation Commission, and cannot immediately go to court. This means that if you are injured on the job, even if you may have been at fault for the accident, you have certain important rights that you need to protect, and should contact an experience workers’ compensation attorney today.
Who and What is covered?
In order to be covered under the statute, you must be an employee. This means that if you are an independent contractor there is a strong likelihood that you will not be covered by the statute. Even if your employer tries to claim you are not an employee, arguments could be made on your behalf. There are factors for the Commission to consider (such as the regular payment of wages, the ability to fire, among others) when deciding if someone is an employee, and therefore covered.
For an injury to be covered, if you are an employee, it must be an accidental injury that arises out of the course of employment. This generally means that if the injury occurred at the place of employment, during working hours, it will be covered. There are also certain occupational diseases that can be compensable under the statute. For such a disease to be found compensable, it much be reasonable to expect that disease would arise in that line of employment. For example, a lung disease to a coal miner is likely to be found compensable.
What are the benefits?
There are two main benefits to filing a workers’ compensation claim. First, your employer, or more specifically your employer’s insurance company, is required to pay for your medical treatment for the life of the injury. This means that any reasonable treatment, related to your work injury, should be covered. It also means that if your injury continues to bother you, and requires treatment five, ten, or even 25 years down the road, as long as you can show the treatment is necessary and related to your work injury, the insurance company will be obligated to cover it.
Second, if your injury results in any permanent impairment to you, or in your inability to immediately return to work, you will be entitled to monetary compensation. If your injury results in your inability to return to work for even a short amount of time, you may be entitled to temporary total disability payments. This means that your employer will be required to pay 2/3 of your average weekly wage (not to exceed a state-set wage), for the entire period you are unable to return to work due to your injury.
Once you are done treating your injury, if a medical professional believes that any part of the condition is permanent, you can be compensated for that as well. The statute has laid out a table to compute what an injured worker is due if the injury is permanent in nature. The payment is based on the body part injured, as well as the extent of the permanent disability.
It is extremely important that if you are injured on the job you consult with a knowledgeable lawyer, like a workers’ compensation lawyer Baltimore, MD trusts. Even if your employer has been paying for your medical treatment, and it seems as if they are taking care of you, if you have not filed a formal complaint with the Workers’ Compensation Commission the rug could be pulled out from under you at any moment.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Greenberg Law Offices for their insight into workers’ compensation.