Public safety workers face considerable job-related hazards every time they report for work. Police officers, firefighters, paramedics and employees of prisons or jails often put themselves in harm’s way in order to protect and serve others. As a result, job-related injuries are quite common, although many public safety employees do not report their injuries or take advantage of the Workers’ Compensation benefits that are available to them. This is unfortunate, as any delay in filing a claim or failing to file a claim can result in a wide range of complications such as a complete denial. An experienced Workers’ Compensation lawyer can explain the employee’s benefits and ensure that his or her rights are being protected.
Not surprisingly, statistics show that Maryland public safety officers file more Workers’ Compensation claims than any other occupation as a result of the high level of risk that comes with their jobs. The actual numbers are likely even higher since many of these individuals do not take full advantage of their benefits. The following is an explanation of the benefits that are available to injured public safety workers.
Temporary Total Disability Benefits
Temporary total disability benefits (TTD) are awarded to an employee who must be out of work for a short period of time due to a job-related injury. The benefit is not taxed, is capped at two-thirds of the employee’s average weekly salary over the course of the 13 workweeks prior to the injury, and cannot exceed 100% of the state average weekly wage. The employee receives this benefit until he or she is able to return to work.
In most cases, all expenses related to medical treatment required for a job-related injury are covered by Workers’ Compensation. However, third-party coverage from HMOs like Blue Cross/Blue Shield are not accepted. If the private health insurance pays for medical treatment from a work-related injury, they may seek payment from the Workers’ Compensation insurer. It is in the best interest of an injured employee to consult with a skilled Workers’ Compensation lawyer who can help guide them through the claims process.
Permanent Partial Disability Benefits
If an injury leaves an employee with a permanent disability, the employee’s physician and a physician from the employer’s insurer will discuss the details of the employee’s injury, which is referred to as a Maximum Medical Improvement analysis. Each party must agree that the disability is permanent. This decision is then brought to the injured employee’s Workers’ Compensation lawyer who will discuss a settlement rating with the claimant’s physician. The same process occurs with the employee’s insurer and physician. The two parties negotiate until a fair settlement is reached.
The insurer will often award a higher settlement to the injured employee if the employee gives up his or her right to reopen the claim at a later date. If the agreement allows the employee to reopen the claim, he or she may only do so only after five years.
Workers’ Compensation Laws that Apply Only to Maryland Safety Officers
Maryland safety officers can earn almost double the compensation compared to civilian workers. This is based on a formula that pays safety officers a mid tier rate, as opposed to a minor tier. If a civilian is injured on the job and receives compensation of 10% of 500 weeks of pay, this would provide a total benefit of $5,700, whereas the public safety officers would receive $12,850 for the same, or similar, injury.
Public safety officers also tend to be more prone to hypertension and heart disease. The Workers’ Compensation Assistance (WCA) determines that these conditions are job-related, and that it is the responsibility of the employer to disprove such, which can be extremely difficult.
Baltimore Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at LeViness Tolzman & Hamilton Fight for the Rights of Injured Public Safety Workers
If you have suffered a serious injury at work that has impacted your ability to do your job, you may have concerns about how this will impact your ability to provide for your family. Baltimore Workers’ Compensation lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton are on your side. We will clearly explain your rights and work tirelessly to ensure that you receive the maximum benefits to which you are entitled. Call us today at 844-556-4LAW (4529) or contact us online so that we may initiate the claims process on your behalf.