Injured on the job in Maryland- have you heard about medical treatment to the injured body part for life? Further explanation is due as this is not always the case!
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Maryland workers compensation attorney Mr. Rodabaugh.
What does Maryland Workers Compensation law say about medical treatment for life?
Provided in Maryland’s workers compensation laws is the entitlement to medical coverage ” for the period required by the nature of the accidental personal injury….” The Maryland Labor & Employment Article section 9-606 further explains the medical benefits to which the injured is entitled.
Very often it is stated that the injured worker is entitled to medical treatment for life and this can create lots of confusion among the injured Maryland worker when their medical treatment comes to a stop. There is distinct language in Maryland law that indicates the medical coverage will only last so long as the the injury requires. What this means is that an employee who sustains a minor injury will not be provided medical coverage for any substantial length of time. Example: A Maryland workers comp beneficiary who sustained a minor sprain to to his or her smallest finger should not practically expect medical coverage for longer than a few years. A Maryland workers compensation attorney can assist with obtaining the best possible results for the injured worker.
What could potentially cut off the injured workers right to medical coverage under Maryland Law?
There are a number of instances that will possibly lead to the injured Maryland worker’s benefits coming to an end. First, if the worker is involved in a subsequent accident and suffers injury to the same body part then there is a good chance that medical coverage under the workers comp policy will stop. A seasoned Maryland Workman’s comp attorney can help to get this coverage reinstated in certain circumstances. It is important to know that reinstating medical coverage under the first incident will depend on a number of circumstances like the severity of the first work injury, the severity of the subsequent injury, the length of time between the first and second injury, and the insurance companies involved.
If both accidents would be covered under the same Maryland workers comp insurance company then the medical coverage may not be an issue as the same “person” will be footing the bill under both claims. If there is a minor gap between the first and subsequent injury then a quality attorney can recognize this and argue a minor irritation of the first accident. If an injured worker sustains a major injury in the first accident and only a minor aggravation in the subsequent accident then there is a good possibility that medical coverage will continue in the first case. An experience Maryland workers compensation attorney will still need to be consulted and possibly hired.
How to ensure medical coverage lasts as long as possible in the workers comp case?
If the injured workers’ goal is to protect their right to medical coverage under Maryland law there are a number of things he or she should do including:
The injured worker should plan on obtaining a permanency award from the Maryland Workers Compensation Commission. This is vitally important to continued coverage. In order to obtain a permanency award the worker that was injured should be evaluated by a favorable orthopedic surgeon who is rehearsed in performing Independent Medical Evaluations based on Maryland laws and the 4th Edition of the American Medical Associations Guide to Permanent Impairment. Obtaining this evaluation is not something the injured worker should ever attempt to do on their own but at the very least should consult an Attorney before doing so. While it is a very bad idea to do so, if you are thinking about obtaining a rating on your own then further preparation is needed. About Ratings, Rating Definition, Did I settle my claim or go to permanency?.
The purpose of obtaining a permanency award from the Maryland Comp Commission is to substantiate that the injured worker sustained a serious injury and may very well require future treatment paid for by the workers comp insurer. Without the permanency award it is difficult to argue that the employee sustained a “permanent injury.” Note that in some circumstances the permanency award may not be high enough to substantiate the need for future treatment in which case the medical coverage may come to an end.
An additional way to ensure that medical coverage continues is to avoid subsequent accidents. Obviously this is easier said than done but if the Maryland injured worker is aware that his or her medical rights can be cut off by a subsequent accident then he or she may exercise a bit of extra caution. The workers comp insurer will likely know about any auto accidents or work accidents that were reported to any other insurance company. Attempting to hide this information is a losing battle and could result in other serious repercussions.
In Maryland the injured worker has the right to continued medical coverage after the permanency award. This can be done at a time when the injured worker is feeling worse then he or she was at the time of the permanency award. While there are some strategic reasons to seek further treatment at specific times, if and when the injured worker is feeling worse he should be seen. For serious injuries that require the lifetime medical coverage under the applicable workers compensation policy this should not be an issue however it is regularly argued at the workers comp commission that the worker “has not sought treatment in x years so he must not be that injured.” Practically speaking, if an award was obtained and no further medical treatment was sought under the claim for four or more years then the chances of retaining the right to future medical treatment is diminished greatly. Depending on the permanency award the time period could be even less. A conversation with a Maryland workers compensation attorney is needed for further details and explanations.
Do some injured workers enjoy lifetime medical coverage under Maryland workman’s comp?
Yes. But this is less often the case. Those who benefit from lifetime medical coverage under Maryland workers comp laws are those with truly debilitating injuries. These often include spinal injuries leading to multiple spinal surgeries, head injuries which lead to brain surgery, sufferers of Reflex Sypathetic Distrophy (RSD) or Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), some psychological injuries, and certain orthopedic injuries.