Fears About Hiring A Lawyer in Maryland

It is a common misconception that workers’ compensation claims are the same as a lawsuit, and many people are afraid to have to pay a lawyer to sue their own employer. Most people know very little about the workers’ compensation (WC) system and are uncomfortable about jumping into the unknown. These fears and anxieties are powerful deterrents, but they can be obliterated within minutes of calling a WC lawyer. The reality is very different than the rumors

I Don’t Want To Sue My Employer

A workers’ compensation claim is not a lawsuit. If you bring a claim against your employer for your work injury, you are not suing your employer. The workers’ compensation system is a purely administrative process governed by the Workers’ Compensation Commission (WCC), which is an administrative agency of the Maryland state government. The mission and purpose of the WCC is to govern and adjudicate disputes between injured workers and their employers and the employer’s insurer.

I Can’t Afford To Pay A Lawyer

Here’s the best news about hiring a lawyer for a WC claim: the claimant does not pay the lawyer out-of-pocket… EVER. Claimants’ lawyers are not paid hourly and are not paid a retainer. Claimants do not negotiate fees with their WC lawyers. Every injured worker can “afford” a WC lawyer and, in reality, few can afford not to have a lawyer immediately. WC lawyers who represent injured workers are called “claimants’ lawyers” because the system refers to the injured workers as claimants. The lawyers for the employers and insurers (E/I) are called defense lawyers. Defense lawyers are usually paid hourly by the employers or insurers.

The way a claimants’ lawyer gets paid is different. They are only paid in two specific circumstances.

  1. If the claimant is missing time from work but the E/I refuses to pay temporary total disability (TTD) benefits to replace those lost wages, the claimant’s lawyer will file Issues to get a hearing before the WCC. If the WCC awards the TTD and orders the E/I to pay them, the lawyer will receive a fee of 10% of the overdue TTD benefits.
  2. If the claimant has a permanent physical or mental impairment after all necessary medical care is finished, his lawyer will fight to get an award for permanent disability (PPD or PTD) benefits. The lawyer’s fee will be up to 20% of the disability award, based on a formula where the percentage of the fee decreases as the amount of the award increases, up to a maximum of twenty times the state average weekly wage.

Compared with fees of 33% or 40% in personal injury lawsuits, WC fees to attorneys are quite low and they are paid directly from the benefits due the claimant.

What Happens When You Retain an Attorney for a Workers’ Comp Claim

Contrary to popular belief, if you get a lawyer, it will not cost your employer more money and there’s no rational reason for the employer or insurance adjuster to be angry. Insurance adjusters are well-trained and have exceptionally experienced workers’ compensation defense lawyers representing them. They know the laws, the procedures and the countless mistakes an injured worker could make which enables them to deny payment of benefits and medical care. They know more than just the written laws and documented procedures which, in theory, an injured worker could also research and learn. They know the personalities of the individual commissioners and how things actually happen. They know how to prepare for and conduct a hearing at the WCC and, most importantly, they are not emotionally compromised by the work injury.

Let an Experienced Attorney Help

Injured workers cannot fight their employers and insurers alone. If you have been hurt on the job, it is never too soon to speak with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer, but it can easily be too late.