Baltimore Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
No doubt, when you get dressed in the morning and commute to your job in Baltimore, another city in Maryland, or Washington, D.C., you fully expect to return home that night as healthy as you went in – a little more fatigued, perhaps, but whole and healthy. Unfortunately, every year millions of workers are injured in their workplaces, thousands of them fatally. According to statistics from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), in 2011 nearly 3 million people were injured on the job and 4,700 died in work-related accidents. In fact, about 12 workplace deaths happen every day.
If you have been injured in a work-related accident, or if you lost a loved one who was fatally injured while on the job, call Baltimore workers’ compensation lawyer Steve Heisler. He handles work injury claims for clients throughout Maryland and the vicinity.
Where Do Accidents Occur that Lead to Workers’ Compensation Claims?
Everyone would agree that construction sites and factories can expose workers to numerous hazards. But what about offices, stores, hospitals and highways? In reality, danger lurks around every corner, and when an employer takes a shortcut on training or safety preparations or makes unreasonable demands, those actions can amount to negligence that can entitle the injured worker to seek compensation through the court system.
What Injuries are Covered by Workers’ Compensation?
Various work-related injuries throughout Maryland and all fifty states are covered by worker’s compensation benefits. This includes industrial accidents such as industrial fires, industrial explosions, chemical leaks, chemical explosions and fires, gas explosions and cancer/leukemia-linked chemical exposure.
This also includes construction accidents such as trench cave-ins, trench collapses, scaffold collapses, high-fall accidents, steam and scalding water burns, falling debris injuries, electrocutions, nail gun injuries, and slips, trips and falls at the work site. This includes injuries involving hammers, nail guns, saws, drills, jack hammers, all defective tools, etc. This also includes injuries involving forklifts, cranes, back hoes, wrecking balls, bull dozers, dump trucks, skid loaders, etc.
Fractures, neck and back injuries, head and spine injuries, brain injuries, crush injuries, herniated discs, thoracic outlet syndrome, scarring, amputations, rotator cuff and shoulder injuries, knee, leg and hip injuries and psychiatric injuries caused by accidents on the job throughout Maryland and all fifty states are covered by worker’s compensation law.
What Are Common Types of Work Injuries?
Just as there are a wide variety of occupations, the kinds of work injuries they can produce are varied, including:
In the injuries reported to OSHA for the year 2011, 33 percent were sprains, strains and tears of muscles, joints, ligaments, tendons and nerves.
Can’t an Injured Worker Get Workers’ Comp?
Workers who are injured on the job or who become sick due to workplace conditions are entitled to workers’ compensation. It covers medical expenses and some wage loss. The workers’ compensation laws can be pretty confusing; Baltimore workers’ comp lawyer, Steve Heisler, knows the requirements of the system and can help you file a successful claim. In addition, if your accident was due to negligence or recklessness, you may also be able to file a claim against a third party to recover compensation.
What’s a Third Party?
That would be someone besides the employer who shares the blame for the accident. Some examples are:
- a subcontractor
- the manufacturer of faulty equipment
- materials suppliers.
How a Workers’ Comp Lawyer Can Help
Despite the fact that workers’ compensation laws are designed to provide benefits if you have been injured doing job-related tasks, employers and insurance companies are often quick to deny or contest benefits. They may try tactics such as denying that the injury or illness occurred at work or as a result of working conditions in order to avoid having to pay.
This is where an experienced work injury attorney can help. An attorney will work with you to prove your case by investigating the incident, interviewing witnesses, collecting evidence of injuries and compiling medical records, protecting you from aggressive insurance agents, and dealing with doctors, paperwork, and court forms, claims, and appeals processes.
Steve Heisler understands the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Act law and its nuances, can help prove your eligibility and avoid having your claim denied or invalidated, and can ensure that you receive the best possible settlement and the benefits you deserve.
Why Handling Your Own Work Injury Claim Presents Challenges
You may be tempted to save money by handling your own claim, but making a mistake can be costly or even cause your claim to be denied completely. The laws governing workers’ compensation benefits are complex and may be difficult to understand. The law defines a qualified injury or condition as “an accidental personal injury arising out of and in the course of employment,” but even if it seems clear that your employer is responsible for the accident, it’s likely that the employer or their insurance company has attorneys experienced in using tactics to avoid payment.
Before attempting to go it alone, ask yourself whether you are equipped to fight attorneys who know how to manipulate the law and its definitions of qualifying injuries, illnesses, and medical conditions. Will you be able to handle the legal forms and terminology or file any necessary appeals? Isn’t it better to have a qualified Maryland workers’ compensation attorney on your side to make sure you receive the benefits to which you are entitled?
While anyone could get injured doing any type of work, some occupations are more hazardous than others. According to Zippia (https://www.zippia.com/advice/dangerous-states-work/), the most dangerous occupations in our country are:
- Roofing and Construction Contractors
- General Medical and Surgical Hospitals
- Oil and Gas Operations
- Postal Service
- Grocery Stores
- Electrical Contractors
- Road Workers
- Plumbing, Heating and Air
- Warehouse Workers
- Poultry Processing.
This list was compiled based on OSHA’s injury reports, rating the most common source of injuries in each state, including incidents that require hospitalization or loss of a body part; it also considers the rate of on-the-job fatalities from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Surprisingly, the most dangerous occupation in Maryland turns out to be Research and Development.
Exposure to Dangerous Substances
According to OSHA, exposure to dangerous substances and chemicals causes hundreds of occupational injuries and diseases each year. OSHA estimates that 60,000 workers die and an additional 860,000 are injured by exposure to various chemicals, which they contact through either inhalation or exposure through the skin, mucous membranes, or other body parts.
Chemicals that can cause serious injury are commonly used in industries such as manufacturing, construction, and research. Workers may be harmed from working with chemicals directly or from exposure to cleaning products or office supplies. Occupational diseases can develop from long-term indirect exposure to a chemical, especially heavy metals and other chemicals that build up in the body over time. Sometimes the harm is caused indirectly through toxic compounds created as the body breaks down the chemical.
OSHA provides guidelines for creating, using, destroying, handling, and storing various chemical agents. Employers who violate these guidelines may face penalties and have to provide workers’ compensation coverage to workers injured by chemical exposure.
How Long Do You Have to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
In Maryland, there are different time limitations for filing a workers’ compensation case, depending on whether the claim is for (1) accidental injury, (2) occupational disease, or (3) death benefits.
- Accidental Injury — A covered employee who is injured on the job has 10 days from the date of the injuryto notify the employer of the injury. This notice can be given in writing or by other means, such as the injury’s being witnessed by a supervisor. A claim for an accidental injury must be filed with the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission within 60 days after the date of the accident.
Under certain circumstances, failure to file a claim within these time frames may be excused by the Commission if the employer-insurer was not prejudiced by the failure to file in time. However, employees must file the claim within 2 years of the accidental injury, even if not aware of having sustained an accidental injury. Extensions are sometimes made in very limited circumstances, such as when the employer fails to file or in cases of fraud.
- Occupational Diseases — A covered employee with a compensable occupational disease must provide notice to the insurer within one year after knowing or having reason to know about the occupational disease. For a disablement, the employee must file a claim with the Commission within two years from the date of disablementor the date when the employee first had actual knowledge that the disablement was caused by the employer.
The time limit for filing is not extended by the employer’s failure to provide notice to the Commission of the disease, but there are exceptions for reasons such as fraud.
- Death Benefits — Notice that a covered employee died as a result of a work-related accidental injury must be given to the employer within 30 days of the death. If an occupational disease caused death, notice must be given to the employer within one year after the death.
Claims for death benefits related to an accidental injury must be filed with the Commission within 18 months from the date of death, and within two years for death related to an occupational disease, regardless of whether the employee’s dependents were aware that the death was caused by the employment.
What Types of Compensation Can You Seek for Workplace Injuries?
The Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission does not make benefit payments to injured workers. Your employer’s insurance carrier or self-insured employers are responsible for paying benefits. The following are the types of compensation and payments:
- Temporary Partial Disability — Workers who are not totally disabled and can perform limited or part-time duties at a reduced pay rate may be able to receive temporary partial disability benefits of 50 percent of the difference between the wage the worker was earning before the disability and the wage being earned while temporarily partially disabled. This payment cannot exceed 50 percent of Maryland’s average weekly wage.
- Temporary Total Disability — Workers with injuries that prevent them from returning to work at all during a certain period of time, known as the “healing period” may get benefits to replace the income the worker has lost equal to two-thirds of their average weekly wage up to the maximum Maryland weekly wage. No payments can be less than $50.
For disability of 14 days or less, compensation is for all but the first three days following the date of the disability. For disability of more than 14 days, compensation is for all days missed from work.
Workers will also receive payments for hospital, nursing or other medical services; funeral expenses; and medicine. Benefits continue until the worker can return to work in some capacity or has reached maximum medical improvement, even if not in the same condition as before the injury.
- Permanent Partial Disability — This is for workers with a permanent impairment that is not totally disabling, such as loss of a thumb. Minimum weekly compensation is $50 unless the average weekly wage is less than $50, in which case compensation is equal to the average weekly wage at the time of the accident. Benefits continue for a set period of time according to Maryland statutes.
- Permanent Total Disability — These benefits may be granted for workers who have lost or lost use of both arms, eyes, feet, hands or legs or a combination of an arm, hand, foot, leg or eye. Compensation is equal to two-thirds of the workers’ average weekly wage, not to exceed the Maryland average weekly wage and cannot be less than $25.
Payments are subject to an annual cost of living adjustment and can be reduced if the worker is also receiving Social Security Disability benefits.
Additional Types of Compensation for Work Injuries
In addition to these types of disability benefits, injured workers may also be able to receive:
- Medical, hospital, treatment, and medical equipment and prosthetic benefits.
- Wage reimbursement for wages lost from time spent for:
- Being examined by a medical professional as requested by the employer or insurer
- Traveling to and from the Commission for a hearing.
- Vocational Rehabilitation for disability that prevents performing work previously qualified for. Training can last up to 24 months and can include:
- Occupational assessment and training
- Career training, development and placement
- Development and monitoring of a vocational rehabilitation plan.
Steps to Take After a Workplace Injury
Failure to take timely steps after an injury can cause a workers’ compensation claim to be denied. If you have been injured, you should take the following steps:
- Report the Injury to your employer. You have 10 days to report an injury, but should do so right away. Employers who are notified that an injured worker must miss three or more days of work have 10 days to submit an Employer’s First Report to the Workers’ Compensation Commission (WCC), which starts the statute of limitations for you to submit your claim.
- Get medical care and treatment for your injury right away. Inform your physician that your injury occurred on the job, and describe the incident that caused your injury and your symptoms. The doctor will determine whether your injury prevents your ability to work and will inform your employer of your limitations. In Maryland, you can choose your own physician, but your employer can have you see another doctor to determine whether the treatment is reasonable and necessary.
- Keep track of all expenses you have incurred related to your injury and records of time you miss from work. Make a folder with receipts from doctors’ visits, lab tests, surgeries, medication, or medical equipment. These records can help build your claim for compensation.
- Hire a Workers’ Comp Lawyer. An experienced worker’s compensation attorney will assist you in filing for and gathering evidence to prove your claim and will handle the appeals process if your claim has been denied.
Can You File a Work Injury Claim Against Your Employer?
In Maryland, workers’ compensation is considered an “exclusive remedy” for your injuries, so you normally cannot file a personal injury claim against your employer, even for additional damages like pain and suffering. However, there are some exceptions and situations where you may be able to sue for damages caused by your injuries. Examples include:
- You were injured due to your employer’s intentional conduct and you can prove that your employer deliberately and specifically intended to hurt you.
- If you can prove you were fired for filing a Maryland workers’ compensation claim, you may be entitled to file a civil law suit against your employer for wrongful termination since you are entitled to make a claim under Maryland law.
- If your employer does not provide workers’ compensation insurance, you may be able to sue in civil court or collect money from a state fund.
Since workers’ compensation does not provide punitive damages to punish an employer for poor safety controls or dangerous conditions or provide benefits for things like pain and suffering, you should consult an attorney to determine your rights to bring a case outside of the workers’ compensation system.
Questions & Answers About Workers’ Compensation in Maryland
Call A Baltimore Workers Compensation Lawyer
When you contact Steve Heisler after a workplace injury, he will thoroughly investigate your accident to identify all circumstances and parties that may have contributed to your injury and will make sure you receive full and fair compensation for your injury.
Steven Heisler has devoted 25 years to helping injured people and their families pursue compensation from negligent people and companies who caused them to be injured. He genuinely cares about each and every one of his clients. These are just a couple of the clients who came to Steve after a workplace injury:
- A Baltimore pipe-fitter, who received a $275,000 settlement after his company failed to properly monitor its equipment, causing him to suffer second and third degree scalding burns, skin grafts, and scarring.
- A Baltimore City correctional officer who suffered a serious back injury from a workplace fall and was granted 105% permanent partial disability after initially receiving only 35%.
Call (410) 625-4878 for a free consultation with The Injury Lawyer.
Injured @ Work?
Employers, businesses and managers have a responsibility to ensure proper training and as safe a workplace as possible, in accordance with all regulations. Unfortunately, equipment malfunctions, co-worker negligence and bad decisions can place workers at risk. You may be eligible for workers’ compensation, disability and other resources to assist with medical bills and your financial obligations. Our Baltimore workers’ comp lawyer offers free consultations, so why not call us now?