Workers’ Compensation Benefits in Maryland

The basic types of benefits that are available in Maryland are vocational rehabilitation benefits, compensation for funeral expenses, wage reimbursement benefits, medical benefits (i.e. having your medical treatment and physical therapy paid for), and disability benefits which are intended to compensate you for the time that you are out of work as a result of your accidental workplace injury.

These disability benefits are referred to Temporary Total Disability as one, the second is Temporary Partial Disability, the third is Permanent Total Disability, and the last is Permanent Partial Disability.  In addition to medical benefits and vocational rehabilitation benefits. If you are filing a workers’ compensation claim or feel you have been denied unfairly, contact a Maryland workers’ compensation lawyer.

Defining a Valid Claim

A claimant will not be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if he or she is actually an independent contractor. If you are an employee, by law, an employer is required to maintain workers’ compensation insurance for the benefit of all employees. So, the first analysis is to determine whether you are an employee or an independent contractor.

The other analysis is if you sustained an injury while you were working and the injury was sustained in the scope of the employment as defined by the three-pronged definition necessary for there to be a valid Maryland workers’ compensation case (i.e. that you’re an employee who sustained (1) an accidental injury, (2) arising out of, and (3) in the scope of your employment). If coverage is denied, issues may be filed with the Commission.

Filing a Claim

In Maryland, there is a claim form that you need to complete. The claim form essentially asks for some basic information: background information, what is being claimed, what parts of your body were injured, what your doctor’s name is, how serious the injuries are, and how the injury occurred.  It is preferable to have a Maryland workers’ compensation lawyer complete and return this form to ensure that it’s accurate, that it complies with the statute, and that it fits within the three-pronged definition.  This will help to ensure that you receive all of the benefits that you’re entitled to under Maryland workers’ compensation law.

Workers’ compensation & Unemployment Insurance

An individual is not able to receive workers compensation as well as unemployment insurance. In Maryland, if you are making an application for Maryland unemployment benefits, you must be ready, willing, and able to work. When you are filing a claim for workers’ compensation, and you are not able to work and are seeking temporary total disability while you are medically unable to work then you cannot also receive unemployment benefits.

Permanent Partial Disability

In terms of the potential benefits that a person can get under Maryland workers’ compensation law, some of those benefits involve permanency. Permanency is the permanent impairment to a specific body part. If that is the case, Permanent Partial Disability, under Maryland statute, equates to a certain numbers of weeks of compensation based on the percentage of disability to the injured body part or the body as a whole. The value of a person’s case is determined by multiplying the number of weeks of compensation by 2/3 of the individual’s average weekly wage. So, Permanent Total and the Permanent Partial disability benefits allow you to be compensated into the future for your on-the-job injuries

Determining Level of Impairment

Whenever permanency is at issue, the claimant has a rating done to determine their level of impairment by a doctor of the claimant’s choosing. The rating is established in terms of the percentage of impairment to the injured worker’s body part or whole person.

The employer-insurer (IME) will typically send the person to a doctor of the employer-insurer attorney’s choosing as well. That doctor will perform a rating exam and provides a competing rating—usually a much lower rating. What often happens when settling cases or when going to the Commission for a nature and extent hearing is that the two sides negotiate between the two rating percentages. For example, if the claimant’s doctor says 20% whole person impairment and the IME doctor says 10%, the parties advocate to closer to their percentage rating.

Resolving Permanency Rating

If the permanency issue cannot be resolved then a Commissioner has to decide the case, each party’s attorney argues for their rating to resolve the case. In either case, this final (or agreed-upon) percentage is multiplied by a corresponding number of weeks of compensation for the injured body part(s), which is then multiplied by 2/3 of the average weekly wage to come to the full value for the entire case.

For example, if someone sustains a work-related shoulder injury in Maryland, the total compensable number of weeks is 500 weeks.  If the parties agree or a Commissioner finds (at the nature and extent hearing) that the worker sustained a 10% whole person impairment to the shoulder, that translates into 50 weeks of compensation, which is then multiplied by 2/3 of the average weekly wage to get the full value for the case.

Role of an Attorney

The first thing an attorney will do is file a claim and issues with the Commission if there is any dispute as to coverage. Issues can be filed, such as when there is a dispute as to average weekly wage, a dispute as to the amount of the Temporary Total Disability payments, a dispute as to permanency (i.e. nature and extent of injury), or a dispute as to whether or not an injured worker sustained an occupational disease arising out of and in the course of his/her employment. When you file issues with the Commission, the matter is set in for a hearing, the lawyer and client go appear, the attorney for the employer-insurer appears, and the Commissioner makes the decision and resolves the pending issue(s) by entering and mailing an order a number of weeks after the hearing.