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This guide covers the most common questions you will have in a Maryland workers’ compensation claim. The answers to some of the questions are a bit more complex. So we tried to give a “short answer” to each question before the longer (and more complete) answer. If the topic is really involved, we link to a separate blog post on our website that explains the issue in greater detail.
You can get the basic information from the short answer, but we do recommend you read the long answer too so you know the details. This stuff isn’t always easy to explain in a few sentences.
Our Best Advice: This guide contains general information about Maryland workers’ compensation law as a helpful resource for the public. Simply reading this guide does not create an attorney-client relationship with our law firm.
Reading this guide is no substitute for hiring an attorney. If you have any serious legal issue, you should get personal advice from an attorney who understands the unique facts of your situation.
We hope you will choose us to handle your Maryland workers’ compensation claim. If not, at least talk to another attorney who knows what they are doing. That is the best advice we can ever give you.
Short answer: Workers’ Compensation is what we call the legal system in Maryland that provides certain benefits to workers who are injured on the job. It is usually handled by an insurance company.
Longer answer: By law, every employer in Maryland must have workers’ comp insurance. When you file for workers’ comp, you are making an insurance claim for this insurance. The insurance company is the one who pays the benefits called for under Maryland workers’ compensation law.
But they don’t make the rules!
The rules are set by state law and enforced by a Maryland state administrative Agency, and they make the final decisions.
Many employees mistakenly call the insurance company “workers’ comp”, and think all they need is a claim with them. This is technically wrong, and can cause you a lot of trouble later!
Your formal claim must be with the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission. The Commission controls what the insurance company must pay you.
This Free Legal Consumer Guide will explain exactly what you need to do if you have a workers’ comp claim, what benefits you are supposed to be getting, and exactly how to be sure you are getting them.
Short answer: the State of Maryland.
Longer answer: In Maryland, the Workers’ Compensation system is administered by the Workers’ Compensation Commission. The Commission is an administrative arm of Maryland state government.
All claims for workers’ compensation in Maryland must be filed with this administrative agency. If you do not have a formal claim on file with the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission, your Maryland workers’ compensation claim is not valid yet!
This is easy to figure out.
If you are not sure if you have a formal claim with the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission, you should contact a Maryland workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible and find out. We can look it up on line and tell you.
The decision makers at the Workers’ Comp Commission are the Commissioners. They are specially trained in the law and act as the Judges in any dispute involving the Maryland Workers’ Compensation system.
So if the insurance company doesn’t agree to pay you, or allow you to get medical treatment, you can have a hearing before the Commissioner, who will decide the case for you. These hearings are similar to a court trial, but less formal.
Do not try to handle a hearing on your own. Get an attorney. If your workers’ compensation claim is set for a hearing before the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission, you need to contact an attorney immediately, for some free advice if nothing else.
Short answer: No! Don’t worry – you aren’t suing anybody. You are filing an insurance claim.
Longer answer: Filing a workers’ comp claim in Maryland is more like filing an insurance claim. State law forces every employer to have workers’ compensation insurance. This insurance covers you if you are injured.
By seeking benefits through workers compensation, you are just filing a claim against the insurance company – not your boss! Any dispute you have is usually with the insurance company, not your boss.
In fact, the law says you cannot sue your boss in civil court, even if he or she caused your accident. You must go through workers’ comp. (Of course, there are exceptions to this general legal rule, but they are not common. Exceptions like this are what makes it important to have that free consultation with a lawyer.)
Please note that you can sometimes sue someone other than your employer if they caused your accident while you were working. For example, if you drive for a living and someone else caused a car wreck, you have a workers’ comp claim AND a car acchttps://web.archive.org/web/20210927192019/httpsident case.
This can get complicated. See a lawyer for more details if this happened to you.
Short answer: Not every injury on the job is covered by workers’ comp under Maryland law. However, most on the job injuries will be covered.
Longer answer: This can quickly get complicated.
Keep in mind the explanation below is a general explanation. Every factual situation is different. Sometimes there are exceptions to the rules, and exceptions to the exceptions!
Do not decide on your own that your particular case does not fit in the system. If you have any questions about your particular case, you should call for a free consultation.
The most common covered injuries are “accidental injuries.” This covers most accidents or injuries that occur at work. An accident is what you think it is – an unexpected occurrence with an unexpected result.
Another large category of workers’ compensation cases in Maryland are “Occupational Diseases.” Occupational diseases occur when there is no accident or sudden event giving rise to your injury, but rather the injury comes from some slow exposure to a hazard that you are exposed to on the job. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a good example of an occupational disease.
While most injuries at work are now covered under Maryland workers’ compensation law, the issue of whether or not you are “on the job” is still often challenged and litigated.
Yes. It’s true.
There are several instances where it is not clear if you are on the job and working or not. The law can get very technical in this area. For example:
- You could be denied workers’ comp benefits if you deviated from your job duties when you were injured.
- The law also denies coverage for injuries or accidents that happen on the way to or from work. This is known as the going and coming rule.
- You can also be denied benefits if you were intoxicated or under the influence of drugs.
- You can be denied benefits if your injury was due to horseplay with your coworkers.
And it should go without saying that you should never commit fraud in filing a workers’ compensation claim, or claiming fake injuries from an on the job accident, like this beauty queen who was caught on video lying about her injuries.
There are three main benefits to which all Maryland workers’ compensation claimants are entitled. Many people know about the first two, but almost no injured worker knows about the third (unless they have been through the system before). And there is a possible fourth benefit if you have specific needs.
The main benefits you should get in a Maryland workers’ compensation claim are:
- Medical coverage for your injury
- Payment of 66% of your lost wages
- Permanent partial disability benefits
- Vocational rehabilitation (in certain circumstances)
Other benefits may apply in certain circumstances, but these are the main workers’ comp benefits you are likely to get. Read the following sections for the important details of each of these rights! The devil is in the details!
If you have a case and do not have an attorney, make sure you are receiving each of the following benefits from the insurance company. If you are not, you should seek the advice of an attorney immediately.
This is the most valuable benefit you get.
Short answer: The insurer has to pay for all medical treatment resulting from your injury.
Longer answer: Yes, you are entitled to the best medical care you can get and the insurance company must pay for it. But there are a lot of details to deal with, and the insurance company loves to fight over your medical care.
First, you should know that you can choose your own treating doctor. You do not have to use the doctor they tell you to use. In Maryland, this means you can choose from some of the best doctors in the world. We have top notch medical professionals in the DC and Baltimore area. You should take advantage of that!
Second, the doctor must bill the workers’ compensation insurance company directly. You should never have to pay yourself.
Third, this medical coverage lasts for life (for problems that are a direct consequence of the injury).
Sounds great. But there is a catch.
All too often, the workers’ comp insurance company makes you fight for certain medical procedures. The medical rights in workers’ comp only cover treatment that is medically necessary, and causally related to the original injury. The insurance company loves to fight over this issue – even disagreeing with your own treating doctor.
It’s sad but true.
You may have to fight for your right to medical treatment at a workers’ compensation hearing. And you have to wait for your care while the process plays out.
And the worst part – your own private health insurance will often refuse to pay if the care is for a work related injury.
So you cannot just skip workers’ comp and get your health insurance to pay. They can (and will) tie up your medical care while we wait for a hearing.
Frankly, this is one area of the law I would change – and fast. It is grossly unfair to make you wait for medical care while we fight over which insurer is going to pay for it. That could all be worked out after the fact. But until the politicians change this law, you may be stuck fighting with the workers’ comp insurer for your medical care.
Short answer: you get 2/3 of your average pay.
Longer answer: You do not get your full lost wages in workers’ comp. You get partial wages. And It can be tricky to figure out your “average pay.”
The insurance company must cover part of your lost wages if you cannot work because of your on the job injury. In Maryland workers’ compensation law, this benefit is called temporary total disability (often referred to as “TT” or “TTD”).
The insurance company has to pay two‑thirds of your average wages for the time period you are off work as a result of your injury.
That is not taxable so it is not as bad as it sounds at first! It is not 2/3 of your take home pay. It is 2/3 of your pre-tax income – your gross pay, not your net pay. It will almost always be somewhat less than your take home pay, but not 33% less!
And if you are able to work part time or light duty, it really gets confusing. Click here to read all the nitty gritty details of your wage replacement benefits if you want to know.
My pay varies from week to week. How do they calculate it?
Your average pay is determined by averaging out your pay for the 14 weeks prior to the date you were injured. Gather your pay stubs for that time period as evidence of what you were really paid. Also, some benefits you get, like per diem pay and housing allowance, can count towards your “average pay”, so be sure to track that too!
How long do they pay me?
They must pay you as long as a doctor says you should not be working. If your doctor believes you should not be working, he or she should give you a disability slip.
You should give copies of your disability slips to your employer and the insurance company so that you will both be excused from work and paid your temporary total disability benefits. Keep the original yourself.
The third benefit to which most injured workers in Maryland are entitled is permanent partial disability benefits. This is the one few people know about unless a Maryland workers’ compensation attorney tells them.
People will sometimes call this their “settlement” in a workers’ comp claim. But that is not strictly accurate. Once you have reached maximum medical improvement (when you are as recovered as possible from your injury), you can file for and receive these permanent partial disability benefits.
Don’t get freaked out by the words “permanent disability.”
Do not confuse this with permanent disability in a social security case. “Permanent Partial Disability” is a legal term of art for a specific benefit you get under the law, only when used in reference to workers’ comp in Maryland. It does not mean you can never work again!
Permanent partial disability payments usually make up the most money you will receive on your Maryland workers’ compensation claim.
These payments are based on the percentage of disability you have, as calculated by a doctor (usually not your treating doctor, by the way). The law sets out a rather complex formula based on this rating and your average weekly wage.
The end result is a certain amount of money, which is paid directly to you to compensate you for your injury, and your lack of future employability because of your injury.
Even if you think you are fine after you recover, you will likely be entitled to some amount of money for your case.
You should ask an Maryland workers’ comp attorney before deciding this yourself. Receiving permanent partial disability benefits is where a workers’ comp attorney can really help you, even if you do not have a workers’ comp lawyer before this point.
It involves a complex formula and requires you to be rated by an independent doctor. Your attorney can set this up. And your attorney will help you counter the insurance company’s attempts to make this payment as low as possible.
There will be a contested hearing before the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission to get this benefit. If you try to do this on your own, you will never get as much as you should.
After you receive your rating, there are many creative ways your case can be settled, if settlement is even possible. Settlement is tricky however. We would never recommend anyone settle their Maryland workers’ compensation claim without talking to an attorney who knows Maryland workers’ compensation law. It can be disastrous if not done correctly.
This benefit only applies in certain cases where you are unable to go back to your old job.
If your doctor feels that you cannot return to your old job because of your injury, you may be entitled to vocational rehabilitation. If so, the insurance company will provide you with a job counselor, who will assist you in finding a job that you can do in light of your injury and any ongoing disability.The help of a trained expert such as this can be very valuable in helping you find work.
The insurance company must also pay you temporary total disability benefits (the “lost wages” we discussed earlier) during the time you are on vocational rehabilitation.
Voc rehab is a complex process and you should never attempt to do it without an attorney.
Here is a step-by-step guide to getting your Maryland workers’ compensation benefits:
(1) Call An Attorney For A Free Consultation
Call an attorney who handles Maryland workers’ compensation cases.
All consultations regarding workers’ compensation accidents are free. The attorney only gets paid if you decide to hire them and they win your case for you.
Therefore, you have nothing to lose in at least making a phone call to an attorney so that a professional can guide you through the initial steps of your claim. There is no reason to do this on your own.
(2) Report Your Injury
You must report your injury to your employer as soon as possible. If you are hurt, no matter how small the incident, you should notify your supervisor immediately. Failure to give notice to your employer can potentially bar your Maryland workers’ compensation claim.
(3) See Your Doctor
Do not delay medical treatment. Getting yourself “fixed” should be your primary goal.
Safeguarding your health is the most important aspect of any Maryland workers’ compensation claim. The money and your legal case are secondary considerations.
Also, insurance companies may not look favorably on your claim if you delay in seeking medical treatment. The insurance company will assume that a truly injured person would seek medical care promptly. They may be suspicious of your claim if there is a gap between the time you claim you were injured and the time you actually seek medical care.
(4) Be Careful What You Say
Be very careful when talking to your boss or an insurance company prior to seeing an attorney.
You should probably see an attorney before you give any formal statement to an insurance company regarding your on the job accident. Insurance companies often try to tape record a statement from you over the phone. Don’t do this without seeking a lawyer’s advice. You may say something in a very innocent manner, which may be construed against you later. When in doubt, call an attorney. Remember, it is a free consultation.
Also be careful with what you say to your doctor. Make sure your doctor gets the details of your accident right. If they get that wrong, the insurance company will use your own doctor’s report against you.
(5) File A Claim Form With The Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission
You must file an official claim form with the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission located in Baltimore. This is different from filing a claim with your employer or the insurance company.
If you do not have this official claim on file with the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission, your claim could be barred. If you have a dispute with the insurance company, your ability to request a hearing may be delayed.
You must file this claim within two years from the date of accident or disablement.
Many clients come to us after having a work related injury, which the insurance company is (at least in the beginning) covering. They are being paid for the time they are off work and their medical bills are being paid. They have filed a claim with the insurance company, but not with the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission in Baltimore.
This is not sufficient to protect your legal rights.
If you do not have a claim on file, I will be happy to file a claim for you online, over the phone, even if you do not want to hire me. I believe in the Maryland workers’ compensation system, and I believe you need to have a claim on file to protect yourself. Call me to at least discuss it.
You can access the form online at the Workers’ Compensation Commission. Click this link to go directly to that site – wcc.state.md.us.
Be aware their website is confusing and difficult to use. They were cutting edge when they first set it up, but it has been ignored since then and looks like a relic of the past. It works like one too! You can also write the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission at 10 East Baltimore Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21201.
(6) Make Sure You Are Receiving Your Benefits From The Insurance Company
Read the previous sections of this guide dealing with benefits.
Make sure they are covering your medical bills and paying you for 2/3 of your lost wages. After your doctor releases you, make sure you receive permanent disability benefits (and get an attorney for this part if for nothing else). Know when to ask for benefits such as vocational rehabilitation.
If you have any problems with the insurance company or questions about your benefits, call an attorney. Remember, consultations are free. I cannot speak for everyone, but I promise I will not put sales pressure on you.
(7) Get Well And Get Back To Work Soon
Of course everyone wants you to get well soon, but I’m not just saying this to be nice. Workers’ compensation is a money losing game. You will never get as much money on workers’ comp as you will if you are healthy and working full time.
In Maryland, workers compensation benefits are designed to help you scrape by when you don’t have anything else. Nobody gets rich off a Workers’ Compensation Claim, at least not in Maryland.
Your primary goal should be to recover quickly and get back to work as soon as possible.
Short answer: Workers’ compensation can be complicated. I do not advise you to do it on your own.
Longer answer: This is why you need a lawyer.
If you are thinking of doing this without a lawyer, I strongly advise you to think again. Most other lawyers in Maryland refuse to handle these cases because they are time consuming and involve a whole new set of rules and regulations. The process is foreign to most lawyers. If most lawyers won’t even handle workers’ comp claims, you should think twice before trying to handle your own!
You really have to see a lawyer who knows what they are doing with the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission.
The insurance company has an army of lawyers working form them. Do you really want to do this on your own?
There are three main things a lawyer can do for you.
First, an attorney can tell you whether or not your accident is covered. An attorney who knows Maryland workers’ compensation will know all the rules and exceptions to the rules.
Second, an attorney can assist you with the process of filing for and obtaining workers’ compensation benefits.
Remember – if you do not file within 2 years of the date of accident, you may be forever prevented from raising your claim. And if you don’t file one promptly, your rights can be delayed.
You do not want to mess this up. As you have probably guessed from reading this post, Maryland workers’ compensation is an administrative process requiring you to file a lot of forms and fit within a lot of rules and guidelines. A Maryland workers’ compensation attorney has all of these forms and knows the rules and guidelines.
An attorney who knows Maryland workers’ compensation law will make sure your case is not harmed because of your failure to follow some purely administrative process, or because you filed the wrong form.
That can happen in workers’ comp world, and will mess up your case.
Third (and most importantly), an attorney can also make sure that you receive the benefits you deserve under the law. Someone who knows Maryland workers’ compensation law will know the benefits to which you are entitled and will know how to maximize them.
Few workers’ comp claimants in Maryland have a smooth, trouble free claim.
The insurance company will not always give you what you need. A small glitch for them can mean a missed mortgage payment for you because you rely on those benefits while out of work.
If this ever happens to you, seek advice from a Maryland workers’ compensation lawyer immediately.
Short answer: You do not have to pay money up front to hire a Maryland workers’ compensation attorney. The attorney is paid on a contingent basis – usually a percentage out of your permanent disability benefits at the end of your case.
Longer answer: The fee an attorney can collect from your case is regulated by Maryland law and the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission. All workers’ comp attorneys get paid the same amount according to what the law allows.
The attorney’s fee is a contingent fee, which means a percentage of your permanent disability benefits at the end of the case. It will never be more than 20% of those benefits you get at the end of your case. It may be less than 20% depending on how much money you get.
We feel very confident that an attorney pays for themselves in a workers’ compensation case. You will almost never receive as much in permanent disability benefits if you do not have an attorney.
Since consultations regarding workers’ compensation are free, and since you are not obligated to pay the attorney out of your pocket at the beginning of your case, you really have very little to lose in at least seeking the opinion of an attorney about your case.
We strongly urge anyone involved in a work related accident to contact a lawyer familiar with Maryland workers’ compensation law, whether it is our firm, or another attorney who handles these cases.
Contact us any time to set up a free consultation. It can be in person or by phone. You may also e‑mail us with any questions you may have regarding an on the job injury. We will answer your questions without charge or obligation.
If you just want information and don’t want to file a claim yet – that’s fine! Still call for a consultation, which can be by phone or in person.
Consultations for Workers’ Comp claims are free by law, not just because it is my policy. If you are not yet ready to commit to hiring an attorney or filing a claim, I will still meet with you or talk to you and tell you what you need to know about your particular situation. I am not a high pressure salesman.
We have a ton of other resources for our clients about workers' compensation law & the legal process. Click this link to our Client Resources page for an in depth explanation of everything you need to know.
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