What Are Wage Loss Benefits?June 21, 2023
Under Maryland Workers’ Compensation law, employees suffering from a work-related injury or illness are entitled to receive compensation for wages lost as a result of the injury. The total amount you may receive depends largely on the nature and extent of your injury, and your average weekly wage prior to the date of disability. There is a great likelihood that any of these factors will be argued by your employer or insurance company in an attempt to reduce the amount to which you are entitled. For this reason, it is highly recommended that you seek the assistance of a reputable and qualified Baltimore Workers’ Compensation lawyer to assist you with your claim and make sure you receive the full amount of compensation you deserve.
Temporary Total Disability
If you are being treated for a job-related illness or injury that prevents you from returning to work, you are entitled to temporary total disability benefits of two-thirds of your average weekly wage. Payments are based on your average gross earnings during the 14 weeks immediately preceding your injury. All payments are tax free and subject to a maximum rate as determined by the average weekly wage for all Maryland employees for the year you were injured. It is critical that your average weekly wage is calculated accurately and includes not only your regular wages, but bonuses, vacation pay, overtime, and expense allowances. A Workers’ Compensation lawyer in Baltimore can help to make sure your benefits are calculated correctly.
Compensation is allowed from the first date of disability, provided the period of disability lasts longer than 14 days. If the period of disability is 14 days or less, then wage benefits are covered beginning the fourth day of disability. These payments end when you return to work, or when a doctor determines that you have achieved maximum medical improvement, meaning that the work injury has healed to the point wherein no further improvement is expected.
Temporary Partial Disability
In some situations, workplace injuries are not so severe as to completely prohibit your ability to work. If this is the case, you may be able to return to a lighter duty position or work fewer hours at the same job. During this time, you are entitled to receive benefits totaling 50% of the difference between your average weekly wage before the injury and what it is while on restricted duty, subject to a maximum payment of 50% of the statewide average weekly wage.
Permanent Partial Disability
If your injury at work has caused you to suffer any permanent physical problems, and your doctor has determined that your condition will not improve further with time, you may still be eligible to receive additional Workers’ Compensation in the form of permanent partial disability benefits.
The process by which the Workers’ Compensation Commission determines the full amount of benefits is extremely complex. Several factors are considered, including the nature and extent of the injury, as well as the effect the injury will have on your ability to earn wages in the future. You will have to provide evidence of permanent injury including any pain, weakness, atrophy, or loss of use or endurance in the affected area. It is important not to rely solely on the opinion of the physician hired by the insurance company, as they frequently will fail to fully consider the full impact of these factors. Your age, level of education, and prior work experience are also used in determining awards. Other factors include which body part was injured; the percentage of the disability; your average weekly wage and the average statewide weekly wage; and other factors such as the presence of a pre-existing medical condition.
The Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission has established a maximum number of compensable weeks for each specific body part. Maximum compensable weeks range from ten weeks for a small toe, to 500 weeks for a serious head or back injury. Compensation is further broken down into three tiers based on the number of compensable weeks:
- First tier (less than 75 weeks): You are entitled to one-third of your average weekly wage, not to exceed one-third of the statewide average weekly wage.
- Second tier (75 – 249 weeks): You may receive two-thirds of your average weekly wage, not to exceed 50% of the statewide average weekly wage.
- Third tier (250 weeks or more): You may receive two-thirds of your average weekly wage, not to exceed 75% of the statewide average weekly wage.
Permanent Total Disability
If your injury is so severe that you cannot return to work at all, you may be eligible for permanent total disability benefits for life. These payments are subject to an annual cost of living adjustment of up to five percent as determined by the Department of Labor. Under these circumstances, you may also qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. An experienced Baltimore Workers’ Compensation lawyer can help you sort out your options and make sure you are getting the full amount of benefits possible.
Baltimore Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Obtain Maximum Compensation for Injured Workers
When you are recovering from an accidental work injury or occupational disease, dealing with the complexities of filing a Workers’ Compensation claim can seem overwhelming. At LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton, our dedicated Baltimore work injury law firm has helped countless individuals get the maximum compensation allowed by law. Our goal is to minimize your stress so that you can focus on what matters most – your recovery.
Our offices are conveniently located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie and Towson, Maryland and we represent clients throughout Baltimore City and Baltimore County and the state of Maryland. To schedule your free consultation with one of our highly qualified Baltimore Workers’ Compensation lawyers, call 844-556-4LAW (4529) today or contact us online. A member of our team is available to answer your questions 24 hours a day.