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Dealing with your employer while on workers comp

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EMPLOYERS, WORKERS COMP, AND THE INJURED EMPLOYEE

Nothing in this article should be accepted as legal advice and is provided for informational purposes only.  No attorney client relationship is created.  To retain the services of workers compensation attorney Andrew M. Rodabaugh Esq. and in office appointment is necessary.

You can speak with Baltimore workers compensation lawyer Andrew M. Rodabaugh for a FREE consultation   Call Click to email  or just fill out the form below and Mr. Rodabaugh will contact you!

When an employee is injured on the job their relationship with the employer may immediately change for any number of reasons.  The injured worker is stressed and worried about the situation they are in and the employer is most likely in a similar mindset which often lead to a break down in communication and two sides operating for there own benefit.  There are a number of actions that may be taken by the employer at the onset of an accident.  The injured worker should be aware of these common actions, but should also take a number of steps to preserve their rights and interests.

Employers may ask injured employees not to file workers comp and offer to pay everything out of pocket

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.

Employers will ask the injured worker to use health insurance instead of workers compensation insurance

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 wages directly out of pocket.

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.

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.

Employers may encourage the injured worker to return to work too soon

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.  Injured Maryland workers can refuse to allow their employer in the examination room.  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.

Employers sometimes treat injured workers differently after a workers compensation claim is filed

If you are seriously injured at work in Maryland it is almost inevitable that you will have to deal with the workers compensation process.  Some employers will encourage their employees to go through work comp, while other employers will do everything in their power to prevent a work comp claim being filed.  Employers in the latter group most often end up angry no matter what the injured worker does.  There are some preventative measures that may prevent a rocky experience with the employer throughout the workers compensation case.

As always, before moving forward with your workers comp case in any fashion consult a Baltimore Maryland workers compensation attorney.  Every situation is unique and would need a careful analysis before determining the best steps to take and legal advice to give.

Employers may not contact you while out on workers comp

The best way to encourage turmoil is to stop communicating with your employer.  Lack of communication will lead to a distant relationship and with distance comes reduced concern.  Consider the proverb “out of sight, out of mind.”   Further, it is easier for the employer to resent the injured Maryland worker when they are not present and able to explain themselves.  Communication with your employer on a regular basis will indicate to them that you are interested in keeping your job rather than working the system.  Open communication will encourage them to play an active roll in your case which will advance the relationship, not hinder it.

Employers are often left to their imagination when trying to determine what is happening in the workers compensation case.  Employers are represented by Insurers who often do not regularly update or explain the process.  This places the Employer in a defensive position and can lead to mistreatment to the injured worker.  If this is the situation with your employer you can take the lead and advise what is going on in the process.  Some employers do not want to hear it from their employee and that is fine.  Other employers will appreciate the information.

Employers may want the injured worker back to work for good faith reasons

Workers Compensation claims may affect the employers insurance premiums.  The amount of indemnity (money) paid out on any given claim may affect the premium your employer pays.  While communicating with your employer make sure to explain that you want to get back to work as soon as possible.  It is not your goal to stay home on the couch but even with good intentions the injured worker may fall subject to a long legal process that prolongs their return to work.

If an employer has a light duty position available then it is beneficial for the employee to return in the light duty capacity.  If their is not light duty available and the doctors will not release you to full duty then know that a return to work is not imminent.

Employers may want to avoid workers comp but Maryland law may require it to be used

Maryland Doctors and physicians are legally obligated to put treatment under workers compensation insurance when the injury occurred at work.  There are many gray areas in this analysis but the Doctor and the injured worker can only do what on its face is required by law.  When the case is filed with the workers compensation insurance company, and the Maryland Workers Compensation Commission the injured worker has done what they are required to do by law.  This can be explained to the employer and whether they choose to accept this or not will be up to them and may set the mood for what is next to come.

 

 

Quite often I come in contact with employees who are reluctant to file a workers compensation claim or hire a workers compensation attorney.  They fear that they will be terminated, they will be humiliated, or they will be mistreated.  This is a possibility.  The same possibility exists the moment the worker is injured.

I  represented a loyal employees of 39 years who was terminated a week after her neck was fractured at work.

I represented a loyal state employee of 23 years who was terminated 3 months after she fell and hurt her shoulder, knee, and low back.

 

Mr. Rodabaugh is a valuable asset to his community.  His continuing dedication to the law and his clients is admirable.
Adam SPersonal Injury Attorney

 

You can speak with Baltimore workers compensation lawyer Andrew M. Rodabaugh for a FREE consultation   Call Click to email  or just fill out the form below and Mr. Rodabaugh will contact you!

 

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