How to file a Maryland Workers Compensation claim and the benefits and risks of filing a claim.
Filing a claim is not a very complicated process however there are devastating affects if it is not done properly. The injured worker is best suited to consult a workers comp attorney to assist with filing so that common mistakes are avoided.
Injured Maryland employees should not be hesitant to file a claim, however there does exist a great reluctance for many. This reluctance is often compounded based on false information or false fears. While there is some potential negative consequences for filing a claim, the benefits outweigh these consequences. There are numerous benefits and some risks associated with filing a workers compensation claim that the injured Maryland worker should know about in order to better determine whether they want to file a claim.
How to file a Maryland Workers Compensation claim properly
The most common mistake when filing a workers comp claim is not filing the claim with the proper people. A claim must be filed with the workers compensation insurance company AND the Maryland Workers Compensation Commission. Failure to properly file a claim form C30 with the Commission could result in the claim being barred by the statute of limitations, notice requirements, or other time restrictions.
Filing a claim with the insurance company is sometimes as easy as filling out an incident report and submitting it to the proper adjuster. Sometimes, filing a claim with the insurance company becomes over complicated by lack of information. Simply finding out who to contact to file a claim can be difficult but does not need to be. Once the point of contact is established the insurance adjuster will indicate their protocal for filing a claim with them.
If the claim filing process explained by the adjuster does not include filing with the Maryland Workers Compensation Commission then an attorney consultation should immediately be obtained!
Filing a claim with the Maryland Workers Compensation Commission (MWCC) is often a little more consequential. The claim form is relatively easy to understand and fill out, however the injured worker should be careful how they describe the accident, and the date of accident must be accurate. When the MWCC claim is filed the adjuster will again have an opportunity to challenge the claim and to do so may be as picky and scrutinize as much as he or she wants. Even if the adjuster has previously indicated they are accepting the claim, at this juncture they have a legal right to challenge the claim.
Does the injured worker have to file the workers compensation claim or can the adjuster or employer do it?
Anyone can file a claim with the Maryland Workers Compensation Commission however the injured worker is required to sign and attest to the claims forms accuracy. This means that what is placed on the form is considered to be accurate. Someone, including the injured worker, who fills out the claim form may not consider all legal ramifications if a fact is left out, or a seemingly innocent misstatement is made. For instance, all body parts that were injured must be stated on the form or future treatment may be denied and forever barred under the case. One must also consider that the adjuster or employer may not have the injured workers best interest at heart when filing the claim.
Injured Maryland Workers should not be intimidated or concerned about filing a workers compensation claim.
Unfortunately, the decision to file a claim for workers compensation benefits is not an easy decision for Maryland employees. The difficult decision is compounded by the theory that employer and employee relationships may change or that the employee is suing their employer. This is not necessarily the case. Employees are not able to file a lawsuit against their employers in almost every work injury case. The employees sole remedy is file a workers comp claim. Their right to sue an employer was given up in 1902. In exchange employers are protected from lawsuits, but they must provide their employees with medical benefits and some indemnity for lost wages and permanent damage.
Maryland Workers Compensation Laws are a compromise between the injured worker and the employer! Injured workers have given up their right to sue.
Unfortunately, even given the compromise, some employers do become difficult when they hear that an employee has filed a claim. In some circumstances the employee will be pestered or bullied. In even rare cases the employer will find a reason to terminate the employee.
Filing a Maryland workers compensation claim should not affect the Employer and Employee relationship
If all parties understand the purpose and contents of the workers compensation system then there should not be any strain on the employer and employee relationship. Further, the employer is required by Maryland law to provide these benefits. An employer that does not carry workers compensation insurance is breaking Maryland law.
Employers should be happy that they are able to protect their employees with a workers compensation policy. They pay monthly premiums so in the event a worker is injured he or she can get the medical treatment they need and be paid by the insurance company while out of work. Unfortunately some employers do not understanding this and may become difficult.
If Maryland workers compensation laws did not exist an employee would be able file a lawsuit. The results could be a jury verdict of millions of dollars and the company closing the doors. For the injured worker, if workers comp did not exist they may have to go weeks or months without income, and concurrently find a way to pay for medical treatment.
Will filing a Maryland workers compensation claim affect my job security?
Maryland law prohibits an employer from terminating an employee for filing a workers compensation claim. While this is the law it is easy for the employer to find some other reason to terminate the employee. As an at will employee, termination and loss of job security is a risk. In a majority of cases this is not the expected circumstance.
What are the risks and benefits associated with filing a Maryland Workers Compensation Claim?
As stated there is a chance of an unlawful termination if a claim is filed. There is also a risk of inappropriate treatment from the employer or co-employees.
The benefits of filing a Maryland workers compensation claim far out weigh the risks in my opinion:
- It is said over and over again that health is the most important asset to people. Without good health we are not able to work, enjoy life, and be prosperous.
- All medical treatment is paid for if as a result of the work accident.
- Co-pays for physical therapy can quickly add up which may lead to terminating treatment that is beneficial. Under workers compensation co-pays are non-existent.
- Second to health and family, perhaps comes financial well being. If an employer is not willing to pay the injured worker while they are out the workers compensation insurer must. Other than government employers, payment from the employer directly is quite uncommon.
- If time from a work day must be used to go to the doctor then workers comp will be required to pay a portion of that time back.
- Once a claim is filed and accepted the injured worker will be able to get medical treatment for as long as necessary, often years.
- If the injury is of such a magnitude that the employee is not able to work in the same position then job training through vocational rehabilitation may be available.
- Maryland law requires an employee who was injured at work to file a claim with the MWCC.
- Injured workers that must travel to see a doctor are entitled to receive mileage, toll, and parking reimbursements.
- Injured workers that do not have a means of transportation may be provided transportation at the expense of the workers comp insurer.
- While filing a claim immediately may not seem necessary, a delay in filing a claim can mean denial of the claim and loss of rights. In the event medical treatment is needed at a later date the claim filing process may be more difficult.
How to weigh your options when deciding to file a Maryland workers Compensation claim?
Those deciding to file a claim with the Maryland Workers Compensation Commission (MWCC) must weigh the risks and benefits and understand what could happen should they decide not to file a claim. If the injury is of a substantial nature which requires surgery, injections, or an extensive course of physical therapy then the decision can be made with a little bit more ease. The employee must decide whether their health matters and to what extent they need quality health. For most, good health leads to their financial well being, but financial well being does not necessarily lead to good health. This analysis is in direct conflict to those who decide to be the “tough guy” and brush off serious injuries. Failure to file a claim for serious injuries could mean trouble down the road. If the injury leads to unemployment, the failure to file a claim could lead to unemployment and poor health. In the event an injured worker loses his or health insurance there may be very little chance to get proper medical coverage for the injury. Again, a claim that is not timely filed may be barred by the notice requirements or a statute of limitations defense.
The injured worker should consider the severity of the injury, the need for present medical treatment and future medical treatment. Also, consideration should be made based on the persons work history. A hard labor worker of many years may have no other option than to have good health. Alternatively, office personnel may not necessarily need great physical health to be financially stable, but must also consider the quality of life they may have with continued pain.
Often injured employees are provided with the medical coverage through workers comp and see no reason to file a claim with the Maryland Workers Compensation Commission. The money does not matter to the employee as long as the medical treatment is available. If a claim with the MWCC is not filed within two years of the date of accident the claim will be barred by the statute of limitations and the right to medical treatment will no longer exist. It is important to note that even if a claim is not filed with the MWCC and only with the workers comp insurer the insurance premiums will likely still be affected. Reluctance to file with the MWCC when a claim has already been filed with the insurer is not necessarily justified.
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