If you’re hurt in the course of performing your job duties in Maryland, you will likely file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. Almost every business with one or more employees is required by law to carry workers’ comp insurance. Agricultural businesses with fewer than three employees or yearly payrolls of less than $15,000 are the only exceptions. In all other companies, employees who suffer accidental work-related injuries or develop diseases that result from workplace conditions are eligible for reimbursement of all medical expenses and two-thirds of lost wages.
Because workers’ comp is no-fault insurance, you don’t have to prove your employer did anything to cause your injury or illness, and you cannot be fired or suffer any retaliation for filing a claim. This does not mean, however, that getting fair benefits is easy or automatic. There are many steps, deadlines, and procedural requirements that must be met in the process. You can increase your chances of getting the benefits you deserve by avoiding some common mistakes.
Waiting Too Long to Report Your Injury
Although you have 10 days to report a work-related accident to your supervisor, you should do so as soon as possible. Your employer should then share your report with its insurer. To be safe, it’s best to make your report in writing, include all relevant details, and get documentation (a signature, for example) to prove you’ve submitted it. Even if you’re not hurt or don’t feel that you are, you should still report any accident in which you’re involved in case you develop symptoms later.
Filing a Claim After the Deadline
Reporting your accident at work is only the first step in the claims process. You must also file an employee claim form C-1 with the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission (MWCC) within 60 days. Again, you should not wait. Any delay in reporting or filing can be cited by your employer’s insurer as evidence that you’re not as badly hurt as you say you are. The MWCC will not accept claims sent via fax, email, or attachment, and they recommend filing the claim online and prefer that method over workers submitting a hard copy form.
Covering Up Previous Work-Related Injuries
If you’re asked to fill out medical history forms in the process of pursuing your claim, be honest about any previous work-related injuries you’ve suffered. Although you might think it best to keep quiet about them, doing so could be considered fraudulent and cause your claim to be denied if the insurer finds out while researching your workers’ comp medical records, which are not private.
Not Getting Prompt Medical Care for All Injuries
You should seek medical attention as soon as possible for all injuries, major and minor, resulting from your work-related accident. Bumps, bruises, soreness, or strains that now seem minor compared to a major injury like a broken bone or spinal damage could worsen over time. You should report any physical pain or discomfort to your doctor during your first visit after your accident, so you will have documentation of a connection between your accident and all your injuries. Any attempt to claim benefits for a second or third injury after you’ve begun treatment for the first is very difficult and likely to fail.
Not Returning to Work Soon Enough
You’re entitled to be off work until your doctors decide you’ve reached maximum medical improvement (MMI). When you’re cleared to work again, even with restrictions at a lighter-duty job than you had before, you should be ready to return and make every effort to do that job. If it pays less than your previous job, you might be entitled to ongoing benefits that make up for a portion of the difference in pay rates. If you refuse, though, you could lose all workers’ comp benefits and possibly be terminated.
Consult a Workers’ Comp Attorney
The workers’ comp claims process includes many procedural requirements, deadlines, and documents to be completed. Making errors or missing deadlines can damage your claim. An experienced workers’ comp lawyer can make sure you pursue your claim thoroughly and correctly to maximize your chances of receiving fair benefits. Contact us online, start a chat, or call us at 301-790-3600 to schedule a free consultation.