At work, we face the risk of accidents – especially those of us whose jobs require physical activities like lifting, or the use of dangerous machinery. When you are injured, you may be unable to return to work for some time. During that time, you may be wondering how you can pay for medical bills and continue to care for yourself or your family without your job.
Fortunately, every state in the United States has a workers’ compensation plan in place that helps cover workers after workplace accidents. The process for applying to workers’ compensation can be difficult and confusing, though. Rejections could put you in lengthy appeals just to get coverage.
Sometimes, though, the available coverage falls short of what you need. In other situations, you may find you are not covered by workers’ compensation and need other resources to continue to support your family and pay for medical bills.
Hiring an attorney to help you through the process can make it all a lot easier. An attorney can help you get your claim accepted the first time around, or help you find the right alternate paths to recovery if workers’ compensation is unavailable. If your workplace accident was in Baltimore, consider turning to the lawyers of Bennett and Heyman, P.A., for your workplace injury case.
Who Can Use Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation, sometimes shortened to “workers’ comp,” is part of a state-run system. It covers most employees within the state, and requires their employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance. People who work for the federal government, like those at federal courthouses or the US Postal Service, are covered by a different plan run by the federal government, rather than Maryland. Certain railroad and dock workers are also excluded from the state system, but most workers are covered by some system.
The other main group that is excluded from workers’ compensation is business owners and contractors. Business owners are not seen as “workers,” but rather as “employers.” They are the ones who carry insurance for when their workers are injured, and are not themselves covered by workers’ comp. Contractors are in a unique situation, since they are not “self-employed,” and are classified differently for taxation and other employment purposes. While “contractors” are excluded from the system, those who are employed by contracting firms might still be covered by the contracting firm’s insurance, as employees of the firm.
In any case, to make sure you are a person who is eligible for workers’ compensation in Maryland, talk to an attorney about your eligibility.
Who Runs Workers’ Comp?
Workers’ compensation programs are run at the state level. This means that filing for workers’ comp goes through Maryland’s Workers’ Compensation Commission, whose website is located here. Ultimately, though, the money you get will come from the insurance company your employer chose.
Employers choose the insurance company they will use, and pay their premiums. This means that employees should never be billed or have pay deducted to pay for workers’ comp; it should all be paid by the employer. This also means that the employee has little ability to choose who handles their workers’ compensation claim – except their choice to hire an attorney to help them.
Can I Get Compensation Without an Attorney?
Technically, anyone can apply to workers’ compensation on their own, without an attorney. If you do apply by yourself, though, you may not apply correctly. The system is very complicated for most people, and failing to properly use the forms and processes can lead to rejection. If you are rejected, it may be difficult to ever get yourself accepted, as the appeals processes can be very lengthy.
Ultimately, when you apply to workers’ comp, you may end up needing to hire an attorney to file appeals or look to alternative means of recovery. The best way to file for workers’ comp is to hire an attorney to help you with your filing the first time. If you can get coverage on your first try, then there is no need to seek appeals.
Even if you do use workers’ compensation, you may face harassment, rejection, and difficult situations with your employer’s chosen insurance company. Because the insurance company pays for workers’ compensation benefits, they often require that filers use the doctors they choose. That can mean that their doctor might deny your injuries or conditions in order to save the insurance company money. They will pay for any treatment for those conditions their doctor approves, but they might ignore real conditions that need serious treatment. Also, workers’ comp usually only pays 2/3 of your normal wage while you are unable to work, which might not cover your family’s needs.
Can I Sue My Employer for Workplace Accidents?
Workers’ compensation does block people from being able to sue their employer. The purpose of workers’ comp is actually to make things simpler for employees, who are able to recover under workers’ compensation without needing to prove their employer was at fault for the accident or their injuries. This comes with the trade-off, though, that they must use the insurance company’s doctors, and can only receive 2/3 their normal wage from workers’ comp.
Many people may want to sue their employer instead. In this situation, you can possibly receive 100% of your wages, medical bills for your own doctor of choice, plus damages for pain and suffering – if you can prove your employer’s negligence in the accident. Unfortunately, though, many people are not able to do this if they are eligible to use the workers’ comp system.
For contractors and other ineligible people, though, a lawsuit may be their best course toward recovery. In order to sue your employer for injuries, or to discuss options, it is best to consult with a personal injury attorney.
Workplace Injury Attorneys in Baltimore
The lawyers of Bennett and Heyman, P.A., have been practicing personal injury law for nearly 70 years, collectively. These decades of experience help their clients receive the best workers’ comp payouts that they are eligible for, and help them recover financially through whatever other routes are available.
For a free consultation with our attorneys, call our offices today. Act fast, though, because your claims may require meeting certain deadlines. For your free consultation, call (410) 429-7856.