Worker’s Compensation and Employment in Maryland

If a person is injured on the job, the first thing they should do is to contact their supervisor immediately. The second thing is to get treatment and follow through with all of the healthcare provider’s recommendations. The person then needs to make sure that they attend all appointments and that they show up on time; failure to do so will be used against them by the employer or insurer and will reduce the value of their compensation case.

In Maryland, there is no rule that says that a person has to seek treatment with a specific doctor or that they have to treat with the doctor an employer or insurer chooses for them. They can treat with anyone they want. A claim form, however, must be filed within one year by the claimant or it will be thrown out after two years if not filed.

Due to the complexities that can come up after a workplace injury, a person should consider hiring a Maryland workers’ compensation lawyer right away. An experienced lawyer can provide a person with legal guidance throughout their claim, including the details of workers’ compensation and employment in Maryland.

Coverage Requirements

In Maryland, employers are required to cover their employees via worker’s compensation insurance. That is not the case, though, with independent contractors.

Independent contractors can apply for those benefits independently, but an employer is not required to have this kind of benefit available for them. Unlike employees, independent contractors typically set their own hours, are not heavily supervised, and work whenever they want to and at their pleasure. However, employers are required to cover employees and make workers’ compensation benefits available to them in the event of an accidental workplace injury.

Determining a Case

In order to have a valid workers’ compensation claim in Maryland, a person’s injury must fit within the statutory definition, meaning that it has to be an accidental and unintentional injury. Moreover, the workplace injury must arise out of the employment, meaning that the reason why the person is exposed to the risk is because he/she is on the job or because of the nature of the particular job. Lastly, the injury must occur within the scope of the person’s employment, in terms of the time, place, and manner of the injury.

Certain occupational diseases sustained within the scope of one’s employment, such as those involving asbestos, also fall within the ambit of worker’s compensation.

Moreover, a person must be classified as an employee, and not as an independent contractor. If they meet all of these requirements, there is a significant chance that their case will be covered under worker’s compensation and that they will be afforded coverage. If the Commission reaches a decision in their favor and they are entitled to benefits, the benefits are paid by the employer or insurer, not by the Commission.

Filing a Claim

A person or their attorney first need to file a claim with the Worker’s Compensation Commission; the person’s employer will not do this for them. Although claim forms are available online, they cannot submit a claim form online. They must request a form directly from the Commission and submit it.

On the claim form, they provide basic information about how the accident happened, their injuries, and some other basic information (e.g., address, phone, etc.). An attorney can be helpful throughout this entire process and should be involved in the case from beginning to end.

Importance of Following Medical Treatment

A person should follow through with their health care provider’s treatment recommendations, show up for each appointment, arrive on time, and do what they are supposed to do until they are finished treating. An individual should also try to ensure that there are no significant gaps in treatment because the insurance company will pick up on this, and it can have a negative impact on their case – especially with regard to nature/extent and permanency.

If the person does not do these things, and the case goes before the Commission at some point, the attorney for the employer/insurer will cross-examine them and will bring up these deficiencies.

Also, the person should make sure that they are aware of their online presence, vis-à-vis postings on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media websites. For example, if a person is claiming that they injured their right arm or leg and there are pictures of them on Facebook doing things like somersaults, jumping up and down, or running a marathon, that can definitely hinder their case. The attorney for the employer/insurer will then investigate, and, if necessary, raise this issue on cross-examination at a hearing before the Commission. This same rule applies not just to workers’ compensation cases, but also to standard personal injury cases.

Inability to Return to Work

There is a type of worker’s compensation benefit that is available in Maryland known as vocational rehabilitation training. It is open to people in Maryland who fit within the worker’s compensation definition and who cannot return to the job which they had before they were injured. It consists of coordinating medical benefits, vocational assessments or evaluations, counseling, rehabilitation, vocational rehab training, and also job placement services.

When they go before the Commission, they receive job placement services with vocational rehabilitation training to help them get back to work. They might not be doing exactly what they were doing before, but it is definitely worth pursuing if the circumstances warrant it.