Baltimore Workers’ Compensation Lawyers
Hurt on the job? Call the Baltimore Workers’ Compensation lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. We have been representing injured workers in Maryland for over three decades and have successfully handled all types of Workers’ Compensation claims, including those arising from accidental injuries and occupational diseases. You deserve to be compensated if you or a loved one has been hurt on the job, and you should not walk away from a promising career because of someone else’s negligence.
Steps to Take If You are Injured at Work
There are important steps to take after a work injury. First and foremost, seek medical attention. Notify your employer as soon as possible after a workplace injury to start the process of initiating a claim. Documenting your injury is important and keeping all follow-up appointments with doctors is a must. If you were injured as a result of a work-related accident, call us now.
Maryland Workers’ Compensation law is full of specific timelines and legal subtleties that you may not fully understand. If you fail to properly file a claim, you could ruin your chance of receiving compensation. The insurance companies have attorneys on their side, protecting their best interests, and so should you. Read through these frequently asked questions so that you understand what will happen when you file a claim.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ Compensation is a system established under Maryland law to provide injured employees with a means to obtain benefits, including medical treatment and compensation for lost earnings. The biggest advantages of this system for the injured worker are that the benefits are both predictable and simple to obtain in the sense that the employee is not required to prove that the employer was at fault or that the employee is without fault. It should be noted that in exchange for this simplified system, the employee gives up his or her right to sue the employer. As with all things, there are exceptions to the rule, but in the vast majority of workplace injury cases, the exclusive remedy is Workers’ Compensation. This is why you should take your Workers’ Compensation claim seriously. If you have no other way to be compensated, one of our Maryland Workers’ Compensation lawyers can help.
What Benefits are Available to the Injured Employee?
The Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission is charged with administering the state’s Workers’ Compensation program. The commission functions within a framework established by a statute under Maryland law. This law creates defined standards for what constitutes “disabled,” whether totally, partially, temporarily, or permanently. The law also provides a schedule of benefits for particular injuries and losses, including:
- Payment for medical expenses and future medical care.
- Compensation for loss of earnings, whether total, partial, temporary, or permanent.
- Compensation for the complete loss of, or loss of use of, a body member. This will include assistance when filing a disability claim.
- Vocational rehabilitation where the injured employee is unable to return to his or her original work. In some cases, you may request vocational rehabilitation because you want to retain your position and go back to work.
What are the Employer’s Duties?
Employers in Maryland have an obligation to obtain Workers’ Compensation coverage for the benefit of their employees. Some employers in Maryland are self-insured, but the vast majority obtain coverage through an independent source. Remember that insurance carriers are trying to make money. This means that they could do quite a few things to avoid paying you. You should not speak to these insurance companies, and instead, reach out to one of our Maryland Workers’ Compensation lawyers. Anything you say to an insurance company or your employer could be used to invalidate your claim.
Even if the employer fails to obtain coverage, he or she may apply for compensation through the Uninsured Employers’ Fund. Employers have other duties as well, including the duty to notify the Workers’ Compensation Commission of job injuries and the obligation to provide employees with information regarding the claims process.
What are the Different Types of Disability Benefits?
The heart and soul of Workers’ Compensation is the concept of “disability” and how it applies in any particular case. Under Maryland law, and in most states, disability is broken down into four categories, each one defined by the nature and extent of the disability:
Temporary Partial Disability: A disability that is temporary in nature but partial in extent, the injured employee receives medical treatment but is still working. However, the employee is unable to work full time at his or her job or works at a different job for a lower rate of pay than was earned prior to the injury.
Temporary Total Disability: A disability that is temporary in nature but total in extent, the injured employee receives medical treatment and is unable to work due to the injury.
Permanent Partial Disability: A disability that is permanent in nature but partial in extent, the injured employee has reached maximum medical improvement and is working. However, the employee’s ability to perform his or her job has been impaired by the injury.
Permanent Total Disability: A disability that is permanent in nature and total in extent, the injured employee has reached maximum medical improvement but is incapable of performing any work of any kind for which a market exists.
Are There Any Exceptions?
Workers’ Compensation is available to all employees, but not every hired worker is considered an employee. For example, a person hired to use independent judgment and particular skills in performing a task may be an independent contractor, as opposed to an employee, and therefore is not eligible for benefits from the employer. Likewise, temporary employees are not eligible for benefits. Also, casual employees or individuals hired for a short term to perform incidental tasks are not eligible for benefits. In each case, an analysis must be made to determine the individual’s status and whether he or she is eligible for benefits. Let us review your case to determine how you should be classified.
Are All Injuries on the Job Compensable?
The injury must be accidental in nature and arise out of and in the course of employment. These concepts of accidental injury, arising out of employment, and arising in the course of employment have been the subject of much debate and litigation. While there is no simple definition, if an employee suffers a physical or mental injury while in the process of performing tasks for or at the direction of his or her employer, that injury is compensable. But note, not every injury that fits this definition is compensable. For example, when a workplace injury results from horseplay, willful misconduct, or intoxication, it is not compensable. In addition, there are special rules that apply when the workplace injury is caused by an assault by a coworker. In each case, an analysis must be made to determine compensability.
Do I Need an Attorney to Handle My Workers’ Compensation Claim?
There is no requirement that an injured worker retain an attorney to either file or pursue a Workers’ Compensation claim. However, as the previous questions and answers demonstrate, Workers’ Compensation is a complex area of the law with many pitfalls, some of them fatal to the uninformed. The Social Security Administration highly encourages claimants to seek experienced legal support to help ensure the best results for their claims.
At LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton, few laymen truly understand the law well enough to manage their own cases. This often means that injured employees fail to obtain the benefits to which they are entitled. On the other hand, you can bet that the employer, and the employer’s insurance carrier, will be represented by an attorney in every case.
Attorneys or representatives of your employer will also want to discuss the case with you. You do not have the legal expertise needed to communicate with these people as they try to trick you into invalidating your claim, try to settle the case for little to no money, or try to convince you to sign documents that you do not understand. Submit everything to our office for review so that we can protect you.
What are Examples of Workplace Injuries Handled by Your Firm?
LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton has been handling Workers’ Compensation cases for over 30 years. In that time, we have seen just about every conceivable injury. We even handled claims for the families of employees who died as a result of workplace accidents. The simple fact of the matter is that there is no such thing as a completely safe workplace, and some workplaces, by their very nature, carry a high risk of injury.
Over the years we found that construction workers have by far the highest incidences of on-the-job injuries. Not surprisingly, employees in the landscaping industry also suffer a high incidence of workplace injuries. These occupations stand out, but they are by no means exclusive. We encourage any employee who is injured on any job to call us for a free consultation.
How is Your Firm Paid for Handling Workers’ Compensation Cases?
No attorney may receive a fee for handling a Workers’ Compensation case without the approval of the Workers’ Compensation Commission. In order to qualify for a fee, the attorney must recover compensation benefits for his or her client. The amount of the fee is strictly regulated by law; there are no exceptions. It should be noted that any money paid to our firm comes from the employer’s insurance company, not out of the employee’s pocket. You should not pay another attorney upfront, thinking that they can give you better results. That attorney is illegally charging you to handle the case, and you could lose your money when they stop working on your case, recuse themselves, or claim that you would have lost the case.
Are There Time Limits for Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
Under Maryland’s Workers’ Compensation law, where there has been an accidental injury, the employee must file a claim for compensation within 60 days of the date of the injury. However, the Workers’ Compensation Commission is authorized to waive the 60-day time limit under some circumstances. As a general rule, failure to file the claim within two years of the date of the accidental injury may result in a complete bar to a potential claim. If you feel that you will face workplace retaliation because you reported an injury, reach out to LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton for assistance. We can help you report your injury.
What is an Occupational Disease?
An accidental injury is generally defined as an injury arising from a specific event. For example, if an employee falls on the job injuring his or her back, we can relate the back injury to the fall. Occupational disease, on the other hand, is not a time-specific event, but is rather a condition that arises over a prolonged period of time. An example might be an illness, such as emphysema, which an employee contracts over a period of years due to environmental conditions on the job. An occupational disease is compensable in the same way as an accidental injury, but the law still recognizes occupational disease as a separate category of injury. It should be noted that claims for compensation due to occupational diseases must be filed within one year of the date that the employee knows or has reason to believe that he or she has an occupational disease.
Can I Receive Workers’ Compensation If I Drive for Work?
You may file a claim for Workers’ Compensation benefits, and in addition to the Workers’ Compensation claim, you may bring a negligence claim for damages against the at-fault driver. In a vast majority of cases, the law acts to prevent this result by giving your employer, or your employers’ insurance carrier, a lien against your recovery in the negligence case. Simply stated, a lien is a claim for reimbursement. Applied here, it means that your employer or your employer’s insurance carrier must be reimbursed from your recovery in the negligence case, on a dollar for dollar basis, for all sums paid to you or on your behalf in the Workers’ Compensation claim.
When I Receive an Award, is My Case Over?
Unlike a negligence claim where the signing of a release, or the recovery of a verdict, ends the case, a Workers’ Compensation claim continues even after an award. Where an injured worker obtains an award for disability, he or she has a period of five years from the date of the last payment of compensation to reopen the case for additional compensation benefits due to a worsening or deterioration of the condition. In addition, an injured worker may return to medical treatment for additional care. However, it is possible to close a Workers’ Compensation claim and end all future potential benefits with a lump sum settlement. In some cases, it may be advantageous for the claimant to take advantage of this process and simply close the claim once and for all. You may rely on our expertise in helping you to make the decision as to whether or not to settle. If you received an award and you believe that your condition has worsened, call us, even if we did not handle your original claim.
Can I File a Wrongful Death Claim If I Lost a Loved One?
A wrongful death claim can be filed any time the deceased would have qualified for a Workers’ Compensation claim for injuries on the job. This means that the accident that occurred at work caused the employee’s death. You have three years from the date of death to file a wrongful death claim on behalf of the deceased’s estate. These claims should be filed when the negligence of the employer or a manufacturer caused your loved one’s death. Immediate family members may file a claim, or extended family members such as aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, or nephews can file a claim if there are no immediate family members available. In extreme cases, the representative or person who inherited the deceased’s estate can file a wrongful death suit.
Baltimore Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Serve Injured Workers Throughout Maryland
Reach out to one of our experienced Baltimore Workers’ Compensation lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton for assistance with your case. We will review your case and fight for the benefits you rightfully deserve for your injuries. Call us at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Baltimore, we represent clients throughout Maryland.
Learn more about Workers’ Compensation in Maryland