What is Workers' Compensation?
Under Maryland State law, all employers having one or more employees, full or part-time, are required to have Workers' Compensation insurance for the benefit of their employees.An employer or employee cannot waive provisions of this Workers' Compensation Law.
What benefits are provided by Workers' Compensation insurance?
To be covered under Workers' Compensation, an employee must have received an accidental personal injury while working ("on the job"). The injury must have arisen "out of and in the course of employment" in the words of the law. Not all workplace injuries are compensable. If your injury is determined to be covered then the employer or the employer's insurance carrier will provide medical and hospital treatment and partial income replacement benefits until you can return to work or until you reach maximum medical improvement.
Who pays for Workers' Compensation insurance?
The cost of Workers' Compensation insurance itself is borne entirely by the employer. No payroll deductions are taken out of individual employees' paychecks. If your claim is found to be compensable your weekly benefits and all medical bills will be paid directly by your employer or their insurer.
Are all injuries that occurred "on the job" covered by the Worker's Compensation Law?
No. Not all injuries are covered by the Workers' Compensation Law even if the injury happened "on the job." In Maryland, in order for an injury to be covered,the harm suffered by the employee must have been caused by an "accidental personal injury arising out of and in the course of employment." Just because a person is hurt "while working," "on the job" or "at work" may not be enough for the insurance to apply. Additionally, if you can prove that you have an occupational disease you may be entitled to Workers' Compensation benefits.
How do you determine if the injury was an accident?
An accident is when a sudden unusual or extraordinary event causes an unexpected result. The unexpected result is a bodily injury; that must be caused by an unexpected or unusual event. Injuries that do not fit into this category may very well be covered by general health insurance but may not be compensable under the Maryland Workers' Compensation Act.
What is an occupational disease?
Exceptions to the accident requirement are occupational diseases. These are illnesses caused by the nature of the circumstances surrounding the worker's job. For example, asbestosis is a disease that may have been caused by a worker's job of removing asbestos from buildings. Some forms of skin, eye or lung disease may have been caused by long term exposure to chemical solvents or other solutions used on the job. Conditions such as these may result in the employee's being covered by workers' compensation even though there was no specific "accident;" they are covered as occupational diseases.
What does it mean when the injury must "arise out of the employment"?
For a compensable accidental injury claim, the injury must "arise out of the employment". If the conditions under which the work is required to be performed by the employer causes the worker's injury, it is said to "arise out of" the employment. The focus of this factor is on the exposure of the employee to risk or danger because of the job requirements. For example, if a person must work in an environment that is usually wet and slippery--for instance, a car wash facility or a water amusement ride at an entertainment park--then a slip-and-fall injury experienced by that worker could be said to arise out of the person's employment.
How is "be in the course of employment" different from "arise out of the employment"?
For a compensable accidental injury claim, the injury must also "be in the course of employment." "In the course of employment" is a slightly different factor. Here the attention centers on the time, place and circumstances of the injury. If the injury occurs during the period of time when an employee was at work, the employer's place of business or such other location as may have been designated by the employer, and while the employee was performing their job duties or something related to them when the injury took place, the injury is said to have arisen in the course of that person's employment.
I meet all of the requirements for a Workers' Compensation claim. Should I contact a lawyer?
Yes. If you plan to file a claim for Workers' Compensation benefits, the sooner you seek legal advice the better. The Workers' Compensation laws prohibit an attorney from charging a fee, unless the attorney is successful in making your claim for benefits. Therefore, it should not cost you anything to discuss your claim with an attorney. Your attorney's advice will be very important in ensuring that you receive the maximum benefits to which you are entitled by law. At the very least you should get legal advice before filing your claim or allowing any person to take a statement from you concerning your claim.