Maryland Injured Workers Should know!
1. Filing “the” Maryland Workers’ Compensation Claim
In order to be protected by Maryland workman’s compensation laws a claim must be filed with the Workers Compensation Commission. It is not enough to file a claim with the insurance company. To make sure this is done properly consult a Maryland Workman’s Compensation Attorney rehearsed in workers comp laws. If there is reluctance to consult an attorney make sure to contact the Maryland Workers Compensation Commission to confirm your claim has been filed. Do not trust what the adjuster/ case manager says about a “claim” being filed. It is possible that a claim is filed with the adjuster but not with the Commission. File with the Commission!
2. Independent Medical Evaluations
An independent Medical Evaluation (IME)/ Second Opinion is not in the interest of the injured worker. The injured worker must attend this appointment however under no circumstances must the injured worker accept the IME doctors opinion. These second opinions are used by the insurance company to deny treatment and save money. For more reading on IME’s review here.
3. Workers Compensation Adjusters
Workman’s compensation adjusters have a job and a supervisor just like the injured worker. The adjuster’s job is to save money and expedite the claims process. This means they do not have the injured workers interests in mind all the time. Their focus is to save for the employer- they do this with denials of medical treatment, refusal to pay lost wages, influencing choice of treating doctor, and involving a nurse case manager to expedite treatment.
Overall workers compensation adjusters are good people but they are on the other side of the phone looking out for the insurance companies interests. He or she may speak like they care about the injured worker, and they usually do. He or she may come across as nice, polite, and caring, and they usually are. The injured worker must realize that the workers compensation adjuster is paid to save money. This can be done while being caring, polite, and nice. In the end, the adjusters ultimate decision is based on how to save the injured workers employer and the insurance company money.
4. Choice of treating Doctor
Workers injured in Maryland have an absolute right to treat with a physician of their choosing. With the exception of an Independent Medical Evaluation, workers comp insurance companies can not direct the injured worker to a specific doctor. Those injured at work should not be influenced to pick a doctor on the adjusters “list” as these doctors made the “list” for a reason.
It is important for injured workers to realize that their employer can require them to see the employers doctors but this is part of the relationship between the employer and the employee. This is not part of the relationship between the employee and workman’s comp. There is overlap and potential confusion between Maryland Labor and Employment laws and Workers’ Compensation Laws. For clarification a free consultation with a qualified and experienced Maryland workers compensation attorney should be obtained.
5. Tell someone at work
The first step an employee should take after being injured on the job is to notify a co-worker or a supervisor, preferably both. Maryland law requires the injured employee to give notice. In some circumstances it is not possible to give notice the same day or even the same week as the injury. This is ordinarily ok but notice must be given as soon as possible.
6. Advise the Doctor that it was a work accident
Doctors have certain billing requirements they must follow in order to properly administer medical care. If the injury occurred on the job then they must bill workers’ compensation insurance and not health insurance. If there is improper billing then the injured worker may end up paying unnecessary medical bills. Not only is it important the physician bills properly, but it is also important the injured workers complaints are documented as arising from the work accident. If there is no mention of a work accident in the medical records of the physicians then the Maryland workers compensation claim will likely fail. Often the injured worker attempts to avoid using Maryland workman’s comp for one reason or another. They report to the doctor that it is not a workman’s comp claim. This is not a good idea.
7. Keep track of out of pocket expenses
Expenses for the injured worker can quickly add up and become overwhelming. Co-pays, transportation costs, double billing, and prescriptions often put severe financial distress on the injured employee. Fortunate enough for the injured worker, Maryland law provides reimbursement for these expenses. In order to be fully reimbursed the injured worker must provide proof that they have paid for these things. For every expense those hurt on the job should obtain a receipt. A Maryland workers compensation attorney can help obtain these benefits if workers comp is refusing to pay.
8. Obtain a work status note
Lost wage payment or Temporary Total Disability (TTD) is one of the most coveted benefits among injured Maryland workers. Without injured employees would be forced to go to work out of fear of losing their personal belongings. Even when TTD payments begin there is always a good chance that they will be terminated at any given time. The injured worker can help themselves by making sure the obtain a work status note from their doctor every time they attend an appointment. Without a doctors note the injured worker will not receive benefits. If the next doctor’s appointment is more than a month out then it is a good idea for the injured worker to arrange for an updated work status note in the interim. Some workers compensation adjusters will not accept a work note that holds an injured employee out of work for more than a month.
9. Communicate with Employer
Employers are skeptical of the workers’ compensation process because they do not understand the process and can be left in the dark as to the status of the claim. It can often be helpful for the injured worker to provide regular updates to the employer as to their expected return to work date and medical treatment status. BEFORE DISCUSSING WITH EMPLOYER CONSULT A WORKERS COMPENSATION ATTORNEY.
10. Consult a Workers Compensation Attorney
As a workers compensation attorney it only seems natural that I say this. The truth is, injured workers have the option to consult attorneys for free. They can get advise, obtain a better understanding, and be advised as to what to look out for or expect from the workers compensation insurer. Each year thousands of injured Maryland workers fail to file a claim with the workers compensation commission and eventually the statute of limitations runs leaving them without legal recourse. This is something that can be prevented if they had just obtained a free consultation from a qualified Maryland workmans comp attorney. Injured workers should not be afraid to obtain free legal help. Attorney’s realize, and if they do not shame on them, that providing free legal advise is part of the job.