Worker’s Compensation

Workers’ Compensation is a statutory remedy for injured workers to seek relief for medical expenses, prescriptive care, lost time, nursing services, vocational rehabilitation, as well as for permanent disability. Workers’ Compensation claims are heard by the Workers’ Compensation Commission of Maryland. It is important to secure legal representation. Remember, the insurance company is well represented at every stage, and so should you. Simply filing a claim with the employer and/or their insurance company is not filing a claim with the Workers’ Compensation Commission. Failure to file a claim with the Workers’ Compensation Commission could lead to losing benefits, even though your medical bills are being paid. You have a limited time to file a claim online and on paper. Seek representation immediately and advise the claims adjuster you want to be represented. As in all instances, it is important to never provide statements either written or recorded without consulting counsel. Mr. Dolina has been representing Workers’ Compensation clients since 1982 and has secured millions of dollars in compensation for his clients.



 

What You Need to Know

Being injured while working is something no one wants to have to plan for. Most people think, it could never happen to me. But what if it does? The topics below will help you to understand where to begin if you are injured at work and what you need to do to help provide yourself and your family.

Introduction: What is Workers’ Compensation?

Workers’ Compensation, in simplified terms, is a type of insurance that provides benefits to employees that are injured while working. Some possible benefits employees could receive include wage reimbursement, medical and/or hospitalization benefits, various degrees of disability benefits and vocational rehabilitation benefits (Maryland Workers’ Compensation Law). Employers are required to obtain this insurance to protect their employees. In return for awards made from this insurance, employees are required to relinquish their right to sue their employer for negligence.

The Injured: Who Qualifies for Workers’ Compensation?  

Only employees can receive Workers’ Compensation benefits for an injury. For an individual to be considered an employee at the time of the injury there must be an employee-employer relationship in place (Maryland Workers’ Compensation Law). Not all people that work are considered employees. Those not covered under Maryland law for Workers’ Compensation include casual employees, independent contractors, partners in a business agreement, sole proprietors and volunteer fire or rescue personnel in certain counties if an election is not made to obtain the insurance (Labor and Employment). The most common individual that works but is not considered an employee is an independent contractor. Independent contractors are typically self-employed individuals hired by a company to complete specific projects or tasks. An individual is considered an independent contractor if the person and/or company paying the wages only controls the result of the work and not what will be done or how it will be completed (Independent Contractor Defined). If an individual is considered an independent contractor by the employer and there is a lack of the employer-employee relationship, then Workers’ Compensation will most likely not be awarded to that individual.                

The Injury: Don’t All Injuries Qualify?

Unfortunately, all work related injuries do not qualify for Workers’ Compensation. The injury, as described by the Maryland Annotated Code, Labor and Employment, Section 9-101, must be an “accidental personal injury arising out of and in the course of employment”. This means injuries that do not meet both requirements of being accidental and occurring within the course of employment will most likely not qualify for Workers’ Compensation. The only exception to an accidental personal injury would be an occupational disease developed as a result of the circumstances surrounding the employee’s job.

After the Injury: What Happens Next?

The first thing that should occur after an injury at work is to notify your employer. Under the Labor and Employment Article of the Maryland Code Section 9-704, the employee has ten (10) days to notify the employer by any means that an injury has occurred. The notification can be made verbally or written.  For occupational diseases, the employee has one (1) year “after the employee knows or has reason to believe” that they have an occupational disease to notify the employer under the Labor and Employment Article of the Maryland Code Section 9-705. Once the injury is brought to the attention of the employer, the Employer’s First Report should be prepared by the employer. This document is sent to the Workers’ Compensation Commission as a record of the injury if the employee misses three or more days of work due to the injury. This document not only notifies the Commission of the injury, but also starts the Statute of Limitations for the claim.

The Claims Process:

An employee should also begin the process of filing the Employee’s Claim Form with the Workers’ Compensation Commission. This form is completed online and a paper copy with the claimant’s original signature must be mailed to the Workers’ Compensation Commission within ten (10) days. Once the form is received and reviewed, the Workers’ Compensation Commission will issue a claim number and a Notice of Employee’s Claim. The employee should file their claim for accidental personal injury within sixty (60) days from the date of the injury to file their claim with the Workers’ Compensation Commission (Labor and Employment, Section 9-709). For occupational diseases, the employee has two (2) years to file a claim with the Commission (Labor and Employment, Section 9-711). There are certain cases where an extension for an employee to file a claim with the Workers’ Compensation Commission can be granted. These cases would include an employer failing to provide notice to the Commission that an accidental injury has occurred or in cases involving fraud or estoppel. If you hire an attorney to assist you through this process, once the claim number is received from the Workers’ Compensation Commission, an entry of appearance should be filed by your attorney with the Commission. A consideration date is determined by the Commission, which gives the employer a set amount of time to begin paying temporary total disability benefits or file “issues” with the Commission contesting the claim of the employee. Once the exceptions period is up, the Commission will review the documents and information submitted and order an award to the employee if deemed applicable. There are certain rates in effect to determine the maximum allowable rate of benefits each year.

The Benefits: What Are They?

There are many benefits available under Workers’ Compensation Insurance include wage reimbursement, medical and/or hospitalization benefits and varying degrees of disability benefits. There are times when wage reimbursement can be awarded to an employee for lost wages as a result of time spent at examinations requested by the employer and traveling to and attending a hearing requested by the employer (Maryland Workers’ Compensation Law). Medical and/or hospitalization benefits can also be awarded to an employee by the Commission. The Commission could require the employer to provide for medical and/or surgical treatments, hospital and nursing services, medicine, crutches or other mobility devices and prosthetic appliances. Temporary total disability benefits are the benefits awarded to an employee whose injury prevents them from returning to work. For work purposes, they are considered disabled for a period of time. Depending on the length of time of the period of disability, the compensation begins either the day of the disability – if the disability period is greater than fourteen (14) days – or three (3) days after the disability begins – if the disability is fourteen (14) days or less (Labor and Employment, Section 9-620). Temporary partial disability benefits are awarded to an employee that is still able to work part-time or perform limited duties at a reduced income level while recovering. The amount an employee can currently receive is limited to a maximum of fifty percent (50%) of the State average weekly rate (Labor and Employment, Section 9-615). Certain injuries qualify for permanent total disability. The loss of or loss of use of a combination of any two of the following would qualify as a permanent disability in Maryland: arm, eye, foot, leg or hand (Labor and Employment, Section 9-636). The calculation for a permanent total disability award is currently two-thirds of the employee’s average weekly wage not to exceed the State Average Weekly Wage (Labor and Employment, Section 9-637). Injuries that result in a permanent impairment, but do not result in a permanent disability for the worker can qualify for permanent partial disability. These payments are a weekly payment that occurs for the length of time established under Labor and Employment, Section 9-627 and there is a minimum compensation in place under Labor and Employment, Section 9-626. The length of time the permanent partial disability payments will continue are based on the severity of the injury. More information on the current disability award rates can be found here.

Your Next Steps:

If you think you have sustained an injury that would potentially qualify you for Workers’ Compensation, you should contact an attorney that handles workers’ compensation cases. The workers’ compensation claims process is one you would not likely want to take on alone. There are factors that can make this process lengthy and confusing to someone who has never been through it before. That is were your attorney comes in. A workers’ compensation attorney can assist you throughout the process and aid you in getting benefits appropriate to your injuries sustained in the course of employment. For our firm to obtain the necessary medical records on your behalf, please click here for a medical authorization form. Additionally, you may complete our intake form prior to meeting with our attorney by clicking here.

Disclosure:

This information is not a substitute for legal advice. Please contact our office for a free consultation to see if you may qualify for benefits.

Sources:

www.IRS.govIndependent Contractor Defined www.wcc.state.md.usMaryland Workers’ Compensation Law, Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission Maryland Annotated Code – Labor and Employment


  Are you a First Responder?

Public Safety: Question & Answer

Q:   Are you a public safety worker (police officer, firefighter, EMT, etc.) who was injured on the job while working in Maryland?

A:    If so, there are benefits available to you through the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission.  You must however file a claim with the commission, our office can help you with that (see attached)

 

Q:   What types of injures are covered for public safety workers by the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Act?

A:    For an injury to be covered by the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Act, the injury sustained while working must be an “accidental personal injury” and it must also be “arising out of and in the course of employment.” There is only one exception to this rule, which is an injury resulting from an occupational disease that arose out of and during the course of employment. If you believe that you have sustained an accidental personal injury or have been injured due to an occupational disease, you should immediately contact a Workers’ Compensation attorney.

 

Q:   I was hit by another vehicle while performing my duties as a public safety officer. Can I file a claim and receive benefits?

A:    Yes, in most instances, auto accidents that occur while performing duties as a public safety officer can be covered under the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Act  and you can receive Workers’ Compensation benefits. However, under the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Act, auto accidents that occur during travel to and from work are not considered with in the scope of employment and are therefore not covered under Workers’ Compensation benefits.  You also have the ability to sue the other Driver.

 

Q:   Are there any special provisions under Maryland Law for public safety workers?

A:    Yes, there are a number of provisions that are specifically designed for public safety workers who file a claim with the Workers’ Compensation Commission. First, public safety workers receive significant additional considerations for injuries which fall within the mid-tier of compensable injuries under the Workers’ Compensation Act . Additionally, the Workers’ Compensation Act provides that hypertension and heart disease are among the most prevalent injuries among law enforcement officers, fire fighters, and paramedics. As such, the Workers’ Compensation Act presumes them to be job-related injuries and requires the employer to prove to the contrary.

 

Q: What are my next steps if I believe I have an injury that may qualify me for Workers’ Compensation?

A: Contact an attorney who concentrates in Workers’ Compensation cases and so that he or she can guide you through all of the necessary forms and steps to make sure that you are properly compensated for your injuries. That is important given the technical nature of the workers compensation statute, meeting a deadline for filing.

 

 

From the EEOC:

What Employers Are Covered by the ADA?

Job discrimination against people with disabilities is illegal if practiced by:

  • private employers,
  • state and local governments,
  • employment agencies,
  • labor organizations,
  • and labor-management committees.

The part of the ADA enforced by the EEOC outlaws job discrimination by:

  • all employers, including State and local government employers, with 25 or more employees after July 26, 1992, and
  • all employers, including State and local government employers, with 15 or more employees after July 26, 1994.

Another part of the ADA, enforced by the U.S. Department of Justice, prohibits discrimination in State and local government programs and activities, including discrimination by all State and local governments, regardless of the number of employees, after January 26, 1992.

Because the ADA establishes overlapping responsibilities in both EEOC and DOJ for employment by State and local governments, the Federal enforcement effort is coordinated by EEOC and DOJ to avoid duplication in investigative and enforcement activities. In addition, since some private and governmental employers are already covered by nondiscrimination and affirmative action requirements under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, EEOC, DOJ, and the Department of Labor similarly coordinate the enforcement effort under the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act.


Are You Protected by The ADA?

If you have a disability and are qualified to do a job, the ADA protects you from job discrimination on the basis of your disability. Under the ADA, you have a disability if you have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity. The ADA also protects you if you have a history of such a disability, or if an employer believes that you have such a disability, even if you don’t.

To be protected under the ADA, you must have, have a record of, or be regarded as having a substantial, as opposed to a minor, impairment. A substantial impairment is one that significantly limits or restricts a major life activity such as hearing, seeing, speaking, walking, breathing, performing manual tasks, caring for oneself, learning or working.

If you have a disability, you must also be qualified to perform the essential functions or duties of a job, with or without reasonable accommodation, in order to be protected from job discrimination by the ADA. This means two things. First, you must satisfy the employer’s requirements for the job, such as education, employment experience, skills or licenses. Second, you must be able to perform the essential functions of the job with or without reasonable accommodation. Essential functions are the fundamental job duties that you must be able to perform on your own or with the help of a reasonable accommodation. An employer cannot refuse to hire you because your disability prevents you from performing duties that are not essential to the job.


What is Reasonable Accommodation?

Reasonable accommodation is any change or adjustment to a job or work environment that permits a qualified applicant or employee with a disability to participate in the job application process, to perform the essential functions of a job, or to enjoy benefits and privileges of employment equal to those enjoyed by employees without disabilities. For example, reasonable accommodation may include:

  • providing or modifying equipment or devices,
  • job restructuring,
  • part-time or modified work schedules,
  • reassignment to a vacant position,
  • adjusting or modifying examinations, training materials, or policies,
  • providing readers and interpreters, and
  • making the workplace readily accessible to and usable by people with disabilities.

An employer is required to provide a reasonable accommodation to a qualified applicant or employee with a disability unless the employer can show that the accommodation would be an undue hardship — that is, that it would require significant difficulty or expense.


What Employment Practices are Covered?

The ADA makes it unlawful to discriminate in all employment

  • practices such as:
  • recruitment
  • firing
  • hiring
  • training
  • job assignments
  • promotions
  • pay
  • benefits
  • lay off
  • leave
  • all other employment related activities.

It is also unlawful for an employer to retaliate against you for asserting your rights under the ADA. The Act also protects you if you are a victim of discrimination because of your family, business, social or other relationship or association with an individual with a disability.


Can an Employer Require Medical Examinations or Ask Questions About a Disability?

If you are applying for a job, an employer cannot ask you if you are disabled or ask about the nature or severity of your disability. An employer can ask if you can perform the duties of the job with or without reasonable accommodation. An employer can also ask you to describe or to demonstrate how, with or without reasonable accommodation, you will perform the duties of the job.

An employer cannot require you to take a medical examination before you are offered a job. Following a job offer, an employer can condition the offer on your passing a required medical examination, but only if all entering employees for that job category have to take the examination. However, an employer cannot reject you because of information about your disability revealed by the medical examination, unless the reasons for rejection are job-related and necessary for the conduct of the employer’s business. The employer cannot refuse to hire you because of your disability if you can perform the essential functions of the job with an accommodation.

Once you have been hired and started work, your employer cannot require that you take a medical examination or ask questions about your disability unless they are related to your job and necessary for the conduct of your employer’s business. Your employer may conduct voluntary medical examinations that are part of an employee health program, and may provide medical information required by State workers’ compensation laws to the agencies that administer such laws.

The results of all medical examinations must be kept confidential, and maintained in separate medical files.


Do Individuals Who Use Drugs Illegally Have Rights Under the ADA?

Anyone who is currently using drugs illegally is not protected by the ADA and may be denied employment or fired on the basis of such use. The ADA does not prevent employers from testing applicants or employees for current illegal drug use.


What Do I Do If I Think That I’m Being Discriminated Against?

If you think you have been discriminated against in employment on the basis of disability after July 26, 1992, you should contact the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. A charge of discrimination generally must be filed within 180 days of the alleged discrimination. You may have up to 300 days to file a charge if there is a State or local law that provides relief for discrimination on the basis of disability. However, to protect your rights, it is best to contact EEOC promptly if discrimination is suspected.

You may file a charge of discrimination on the basis of disability by contacting any EEOC field office, located in cities throughout the United States. If you have been discriminated against, you are entitled to a remedy that will place you in the position you would have been in if the discrimination had never occurred. You may be entitled to hiring, promotion, reinstatement, back pay, or reasonable accommodation, including reassignment. You may also be entitled to attorneys fees.

While the EEOC can only process ADA charges based on actions occurring on or after July 26, 1992, you may already be protected by State or local laws or by other current federal laws. EEOC field offices can refer you to the agencies that enforce those laws.

To contact the EEOC, look in your telephone directory under “U.S. Government.” For information and instructions on reaching your local office, call:

  • (800) 669-4000 (Voice)
  • (800) 669-6820 (TDD)
  • (In the Washington, D.C. 202 Area Code, call 202-663-4900 (voice) or 202-663-4494 (TDD).)

Can I Get Additional ADA Information and Assistance?

The EEOC conducts an active technical assistance program to promote voluntary compliance with the ADA. This program is designed to help people with disabilities understand their rights and to help employers understand their responsibilities under the law.

In January 1992, EEOC published a Technical Assistance Manual, providing practical application of legal requirements to specific employment activities, with a directory of resources to aid compliance. EEOC publishes other educational materials, provides training on the law for people with disabilities and for employers, and participates in meetings and training programs of other organizations. EEOC staff also will respond to individual requests for information and assistance. The Commission’s technical assistance program is separate and distinct from its enforcement responsibilities. Employers who seek information or assistance from the Commission will not be subject to any enforcement action because of such inquiries.

The Commission also recognizes that differences and disputes about ADA requirements may arise between employers and people with disabilities as a result of misunderstandings. Such disputes frequently can be resolved more effectively through informal negotiation or mediation procedures, rather than through the formal enforcement process of the ADA. Accordingly, EEOC will encourage efforts of employers and individuals with disabilities to settle such differences through alternative methods of dispute resolution, providing that such efforts do not deprive any individual of legal rights provided by the statute.


More Questions and Answers About the ADA

Q. Is an employer required to provide reasonable accommodation when I apply for a job?

A. Yes. Applicants, as well as employees, are entitled to reasonable accommodation. For example, an employer may be required to provide a sign language interpreter during a job interview for an applicant who is deaf or hearing impaired, unless to do so would impose an undue hardship.

Q. Should I tell my employer that I have a disability?

A. If you think you will need a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in the application process or to perform essential job functions, you should inform the employer that an accommodation will be needed. Employers are required to provide reasonable accommodation only for the physical or mental limitations of a qualified individual with a disability of which they are aware. Generally, it is the responsibility of the employee to inform the employer that an accommodation is needed.

Q. Do I have to pay for a needed reasonable accommodation?

A. No. The ADA requires that the employer provide the accommodation unless to do so would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the employer’s business. If the cost of providing the needed accommodation would be an undue hardship, the employee must be given the choice of providing the accommodation or paying for the portion of the accommodation that causes the undue hardship.

Q. Can an employer lower my salary or pay me less than other employees doing the same job because I need a reasonable accommodation?

A. No. An employer cannot make up the cost of providing a reasonable accommodation by lowering your salary or paying you less than other employees in similar positions.

Q. Does an employer have to make non-work areas used by employees, such as cafeterias, lounges, or employer-provided transportation accessible to people with disabilities?

A. Yes. The requirement to provide reasonable accommodation covers all services, programs, and non-work facilities provided by the employer. If making an existing facility accessible would be an undue hardship, the employer must provide a comparable facility that will enable a person with a disability to enjoy benefits and privileges of employment similar to those enjoyed by other employees, unless to do so would be an undue hardship.

Q. If an employer has several qualified applicants for a job, is the employer required to select a qualified applicant with a disability over other applicants without a disability?

A. No. The ADA does not require that an employer hire an applicant with a disability over other applicants because the person has a disability. The ADA only prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability. It makes it unlawful to refuse to hire a qualified applicant with a disability because he is disabled or because a reasonable accommodation is required to make it possible for this person to perform essential job functions.

Q. Can an employer refuse to hire me because he believes that it would be unsafe, because of my disability, for me to work with certain machinery required to perform the essential functions of the job?

A. The ADA permits an employer to refuse to hire an individual if she poses a direct threat to the health or safety of herself or others. A direct threat means a significant risk of substantial harm. The determination that there is a direct threat must be based on objective, factual evidence regarding an individual’s present ability to perform essential functions of a job. An employer cannot refuse to hire you because of a slightly increased risk or because of fears that there might be a significant risk sometime in the future. The employer must also consider whether a risk can be eliminated or reduced to an acceptable level with a reasonable accommodation.

Q. Can an employer offer a health insurance policy that excludes coverage for pre-existing conditions?

A. Yes. The ADA does not affect pre-existing condition clauses contained in health insurance policies even though such clauses may adversely affect employees with disabilities more than other employees.

Q. If the health insurance offered by my employer does not cover all of the medical expenses related to my disability, does the company have to obtain additional coverage for me?

A. No. The ADA only requires that an employer provide employees with disabilities equal access to whatever health insurance coverage is offered to other employees.

Q. I think I was discriminated against because my wife is disabled. Can I file a charge with the EEOC?

A. Yes. The ADA makes it unlawful to discriminate against an individual, whether disabled or not, because of a relationship or association with an individual with a known disability.

Q. Are people with AIDS covered by the ADA?

A. Yes. The legislative history indicates that Congress intended the ADA to protect persons with AIDS and HIV disease from discrimination. The above information came from the EEOC’s website.