What Is Workers' Compensation?
Workers’ comp is a system which provides compensation for medical bills, lost wages and possible vocational training to employees who have suffered a work-related injury or illness.
Workers’ compensation claims can be extremely complex and difficult to navigate alone. As state-mandated, no-fault insurance, workers’ comp entitles you to certain benefits whether you or your employer caused the accident that harmed you. While you do not need to establish fault in order to claim these benefits, it is critical to work with an experienced attorney to look out for your best interests. Your employer and the insurance company want to settle your claim as quickly as possible.
At Portner & Shure, our top-rated lawyers are nationally recognized by the National Top 25 Trial Lawyers, have decades of experience fighting insurance companies, and have obtained more than $300 million in verdicts and past settlements. We understand the insurance carriers motives and know the various ways they try to pay as little as possible to workplace accident victims.
Types of Workers’ Compensation Benefits
There are several types of workers’ compensation benefits available to an injured worker:
- Temporary Total Disability (TTD): If a job-related injury prevents you from working, you may be eligible for temporary total disability. While on TTD, the insurance company pays you two-thirds of your salary, non-taxed, for the duration of your temporary disability. The rate of pay is calculated by averaging your wages, including overtime, from thirteen weeks prior to your accident.
- Temporary Partial Disability: If you are unable to work full-time during your recovery, but can still work in a part-time capacity, or in another position for lower pay, you may be able to supplement your reduced income through temporary partial disability benefits.
- Vocational Rehabilitation: If the severity of your injury prevents you from returning to your previous employment role, vocational rehabilitation benefits can assist you in obtaining a new job or position at a comparable salary to your previous earnings. This could involve re-training or additional education paid for by the insurance company. During this process, you are entitled to receive TTD benefits to cover two-thirds of your normal salary, tax-free.
Permanent Partial Disability: If you are not totally disabled, but your injuries leave you with a lifelong
impairment that prohibits you from returning to anything but a modified
position or lower-earning job, you may seek permanent partial disability
(PPD). The amount of these benefits is based on a number of factors, including
your salary, the severity of the injury, the medical treatment provided,
the body part affected and its impact on your job, as well as other considerations.
- Do not confuse PPD benefits with general damages for pain and suffering awarded in civil damage claims. There are a number of differences between Maryland and Virginia workers' compensation laws regarding the type of injuries which qualify for PPD, as well as the amount of money allowed for certain injuries.
- Death Benefits: If you have lost a family member as a result of a work-related injury or illness, you may be entitled to compensation for end-of-life expenses, such as funeral costs and lost financial support. The amount of your monetary award hinges on several factors, such as your relationship to the deceased and your level of financial dependence. These benefits center on lost revenue streams for surviving family members, and do not account for the personal devastation of grief, suffering and lost companionship.
Workers’ Comp in Maryland, Virginia & Washington, D.C.
Virginia, Maryland, and the DC area have a separate set of laws regarding workers’ compensation claims. The laws of each state differ on the duration and amount of permanent and temporary disability benefits, the kinds of accidents and injuries which are covered, the statute of limitations for filing a claim and who gets to choose the medical provider. The hearing and appeal procedures in each jurisdiction are also different for claims that involve a dispute with the employer or its insurance company.
If you’ve been hurt on the job, you will likely be quickly contacted by the workers' compensation insurance company of your employer. Insurers act swiftly to try to get as much information on record as they can before you have a chance to speak with an attorney. This can be detrimental to your case.
An insurance company may try to obtain a recorded description of:
- How the accident occurred
- The types of injury or illness sustained
- How and when the accident was reported to your employer
- What information you have shared with co-workers and others about your accident
All of these items can have a tremendous impact on the success of your claim. It is crucial that you consult with an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer before you go on record with the insurance company. Since the statute of limitations varies by state, it is also important to contact an attorney as soon as possible.
Qualifying for Workers’ Compensation in Maryland
In Maryland, only an employee who has suffered from an occupational disease or accidental injury arising on the job or during the course of employment may qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. For example: an employee who is struck by a falling object in a construction accident. The statute of limitations for a workers’ comp claim in Maryland is two years. You must ensure that your employer is properly notified of your claim and that your claim is filed with the Maryland Workers’ compensation Commission within that time.
In some cases, even when a worker has notified their employer of an accident, the employer fails to file an injury report in a timely manner. It is your responsibility to make sure it is done on time.
Qualifying for Workers’ Compensation in Virginia
If you’ve been harmed in a work-related injury or illness in Virginia, state law requires you to notify your employer in writing immediately, or as soon as possible after the injury. This notification should include:
- Your name
- Your address
- The location of the accident and injury
- The time of the accident and injury
- The nature of the accident and injury
- The cause of the accident and injury
This notice must be filed with the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission within two years of the accident.