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Employers avoiding workers comp- Maryland Workers Compensation

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Employers Avoiding Workers Compensation

On occasion the employer will try to avoid increased workers comp premiums by preventing the claim from being filed. Workers’ Compensation Insurance can be expensive and Employers are aware of it so in an attempt at reducing the premiums employers may attempt to pay for medical treatment and lost wages out of pocket.  On its face this seems like a good idea.  The employee gets the medical treatment and continued wages they need and the employer saves money on increased workers compensation premiums.  There are however risks associated with these deals.

Often a Supervisor will tell or ask the injured worker to use health insurance rather than workers comp

This occurs often.  It is not only common employer practice to strive for a no injury year, some employers understand the extent their workers compensation rates can increase because of one accident so they actively pursue other methods of handling work accidents.  Scenario: The employee is injured on the job and is legitimately entitled to workers compensation benefits under Maryland law.  A supervisor or boss has heard horror stories about workers comp premiums rising because of one injury and acts accordingly.  The employer may ask the employee to use health insurance, advise the injured worker to tell the doctor it did not happen at work, or often employers will offer to pay for any medical expenses or lost wagesdirectly out of pocket. 

Can you use your health insurance?

While this scenario, on its surface, seems harmless it is not a good idea to try and use health insurance when treatment should be covered under Maryland workers compensation laws.  In many of these cases the employer has gone back on their word because the treatment becomes expensive and in the end they avoid a workers compensation claim also!  When surgery or diagnostics are performed the employer simply can not afford to pay for the treatment and stops any form of compensation they were providing the injured worker.  Not only does this leave the injured worker in a tough position, but the fabrications and misstatements along the way may have destroyed any chance of receiving workers comp benefits.  If the medical reports indicate that it was not a work injury, then the chance of getting workman’s compensation benefits are reduced significantly, especially when weeks or months have passed since the date of accident.  The end result is that the employer avoids the workers compensation claim and the injured employee has no money and no medical coverage.

Employers may ask to pay lost wages out of pocket to avoid a workers comp claim being filed

This is legal in some scenarios that involve municipalities and government agencies.  Some employers have policies to pay a salary in lieu of temporary total disability/lost wage money.  These scenarios must be closely scrutinized by a workers compensation attorney to ensure all the proper procedures have taken place.

Supervisors may try to pay the employee lost wages to avoid workers comp claims.  Again not a good idea for many reasons.  Serious injuries may require employees to be out of work for a year or more which would require a year or more salary payment to the injured worker. A year or even a few months of salary can become a significant burden on the employer.  That expense in additional to a new salary to a temporary worker to perform the injured workers job can add up quickly.

Avoiding workers comp filings can be beneficial to employers and help them save significant money in premiums however this is not in the best interest of the employee.

 

workers compensation claim is already filed but a boss or supervisor is trying to force the injured back to work

Scenario 1

The longer an injured worker is out of work the more lost wages are paid.  Naturally the employers expense will build up and eventually they will stop paying or attempt to force the injured back to work.  If the injured employee is receiving salary or lost wages directly from the employer there are serious implications the worker must keep in mind.  For one, the statute of limitations on the case is not being extended unless the payments come directly from the workers compensation insurance company.  Under Maryland law after two years the injured worker could lose their right to compensation benefits.

Scenario 2

If the insurer is paying the injured worker lost wages workman’s comp premiums rise for the employer.  Because of this, employers often strongly encourage the employees to come back to work even when they are physically unable to do so.  To be clear, it is best for injured workers to go back to work as soon as possible, however in some circumstances it is a medical impossibility.

How they may encourage the return to work

On at least one occasion a client of mine was driven to the doctors by her employer, and the employer insisted on being in the room when the examination took place.  The employer then attempted to influence the physicians opinion as to work restrictions.  Presumably, in an effort to save money.  Injured Maryland workers can refuse to allow their employer in the examination room and should rightly feel like their privacy rights are being violated.  Employers may also use other strategies to get the injured worker to return to work sooner than practicable.

Regularly the Employer/Insurer will assign a nurse case manager to an individuals case.  The nurse will help with appointment scheduling but may also attempt to influence the treating physician.  Injured workers should view nurse case mangers with a bit of skepticism to ensure they are looking out for their best interests.  Again, it is important that any worker return to work as soon as possible.  This will ensure job stability but will also prevent the possibility of social and psychological components effecting the injured worker.

One final note of consideration:  If you are an injured employees who is getting pressure to return to work and truly feel you are not ready to return to work it is helpful to keep the lines of communication open with the employer.  Even if there is pressure to return, it should not be viewed as an assault on physical health.

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For a no cost consultation with Anne Arundel County workers comp Attorney Andrew M. Rodabaugh call  +1 (410) 937-1659  , Email ,  or fill out the form at the bottom of this page.

 

 

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