If you’re hurt at work or have developed a work-related illness, there are steps you should take to ensure you receive workers’ compensation benefits. Workers’ comp is a type of insurance that provides medical benefits and wage replacement if you’re an employee injured on the job. In exchange, you give up your right to sue your employer for negligence. Most states require businesses to carry this insurance.
Understanding Workers’ Comp
If you’re a full-time employee of a company or business in Maryland (not a contractor or consultant), your employer is required to carry workers’ comp insurance to cover you.
As long as you were injured accidentally, or your illness developed from unavoidable work conditions, you should be covered by workers’ comp. You don’t have to show that your employer did anything wrong to cause your accident. Even if your injury was partially or completely your own fault, you may still file a claim for coverage of your:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages due to time off work
- Long-term disability care
- Vocational retraining (in some cases)
Your employer may not fire you or retaliate against you in any way for filing a workers’ comp claim.
What to Do If You’re Injured at Work
Immediately after a work-related injury or being diagnosed with an occupational illness, there are certain steps you should take, including:
- Report your injury/illness to your employer or your workplace claims representative. Your report should be in writing and include as much detail and evidence as possible. You should also keep a copy of this report for yourself. Even though you have 10 days to report an accident and one year from diagnosis to report an illness, you should do so immediately for two reasons:
- Workers’ comp claims can be complicated and progress through the system slowly. If you miss a filing deadline, you might not be able to collect any benefits at all.
- Your employer’s insurance company, which is responsible for paying your benefits, might claim your medical condition is not serious since you didn’t bother to report it right away.
- See a doctor as soon as possible and follow all treatment guidelines.
- File a C1 claim form with the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission (MWCC). This is a separate process and not the same as reporting your accident at your workplace. Although you have two years to file with the MWCC, you should not wait. You can find the C1 claim form on the MWCC web site. You may also request a hard copy be mailed to you. Mail in the completed form, and keep a copy for yourself. The MWCC does not accept claims sent by email or fax. You must mail in the original paper form.
You should get a decision from the insurance company in three weeks. It’s likely to pay your claim without any dispute if:
- Your injury is minor
- Your medical bills are reasonable
- You’ve missed less than a week of work
- You have met all filing and other deadlines
If, however, you’ve suffered serious injuries, have expensive medical bills, and anticipate an extended recovery before you can return to work, the insurance company might try to deny your claim or dispute it and offer you a low, unfair settlement. If this happens, the services of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney are highly recommended to get you the benefits you deserve. Your attorney can help you appeal your denied claim at three different levels:
- A hearing before the MWCC
- An appeal to the Maryland Circuit Court
- An appeal to the Maryland Appellate Court
If you’re contacted by your employer’s insurance company adjusters after your accident, you should not discuss your injury/illness in any detail with them. They might try to get a recorded statement from you over the phone and use it to devalue your claim. Refer all insurance company inquiries to your lawyer, who will know what to say in response.
If You Suffer a Work-Related Injury or Illness in Maryland
If you’re injured at work or suffer an occupational illness, you can increase your chances of getting fair benefits by consulting an experienced workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online, start a chat, or call us to schedule a free consultation. You pay no attorney fees unless we win your case.