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Workers' Compensation Blog

What to do if you are Exposed to the Coronavirus at Work

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

If you contract or become exposed to an individual who tests positive for COVID-19, the following actions should be taken:

  • File a First Report of injury immediately documenting as many details as possible about the specific call/exposure with the infected individual(s). This is very important early on since the likelihood of the virus spreading amongst a shift/station/department/garage is inevitable and Employers will try to argue that the exposure could be due to anything but work.
  • While an Employer cannot be forced to file a First Report of Injury, the exposure or potential exposure should be documented. If possible, fill out an Exposure Report if they are not willing to do a First Report of Injury. In addition, at a minimum, notify your supervisor, in writing, of ANY potential exposure, indicating the date, time and place of such potential exposure.
  • When seeking medical treatment, make sure to document that you were exposed at work and provide information as to the date of the exposure, the location of the call/exposure, etc.
  • If you are diagnosed with COVID-19, it will be important to obtain a work note placing you out of work. If possible, the work note should reference something along the lines of, "Out of work for _____days/weeks due to COVID-19 contracted at work."
  • Under no circumstances, should you speak with/provide a statement to anyone from the workers’ compensation carrier. If the workers’ compensation carrier contacts you, you should advise the adjuster that you will not give a statement until you have consulted legal counsel. These cases will undoubtedly be contested due to the mere fact that there will be a significant number of claims filed.
  • Once you are placed out of work due to the virus, if you are not being paid while you are restricted from working, we can file a claim on your behalf with the intent of getting leave covered/reimbursed under workers’ compensation. It is very unlikely that there will be any additional benefits (i.e.: permanency benefits) available under workers’ compensation. However, in the severest of cases if someone dies because of the condition, a death/dependency claim should be filed.
  • Not every exposure will require a claim filed and not every claim filed will meet the legal standard of a covered case. This is an evolving situation and we will continue to push for answers and do everything we can to ensure that you are protected.

This is an evolving situation and we will continue to push for answers and do everything we can to ensure that you are protected.

Workers’ Compensation Commission Hearings & Maryland Courts Update: Covid-19

Monday, March 30, 2020

Maryland is strong in the face of adversity. The videos and messages on social media, the courage and strength of our first responders, health care workers, essential employees, and volunteers and the communities that support them are inspiring and heartwarming during these unprecedented times. New information is released daily in this ever-changing climate of uncertainty and therefore, on Wednesday, Governor Hogan announced an extension of his previous Executive Order, which extends school and non-essential business closure, in an effort to protect the work, sacrifice and progress that has already been accomplished. In addition, to the Governors’ orders, Chief Judge Barbera of the Maryland Court of Appeals also issued an Emergency Administrative Order extension applicable to all Maryland Courts. The courts will remain closed until May 4, 2020.

In concert with these orders the Workers’ Compensation Commission will continue to remain closed to the public. The Commission will continue to hear cases on an emergency basis, only by appointment at the Baltimore or Beltsville hearing sites. The Commission will also continue to rule on settlements and stipulations, submitted in writing. When the Commission resumes public operations on May 4, 2020, they will set cases that were postponed by Executive Order back in on a priority basis and will maintain a morning and afternoon docket. The good news is the insurance companies are up and running, therefore injured workers should continue to receive their medical treatment and medication approvals and temporary total disability payments via check or direct deposit, when eligible. All cases that were scheduled for court dates either in the Circuit Court, if the Workers’ Compensation case is on appeal, or at the Commission will be reset for a date after May 4, 2020. The Workers’ Compensation Commission of Maryland asks for patience and cooperation while they continue to balance the well-being of the community with the needs of injured workers.

Attorney Julie Mirman

Written by Julie Mirman, an Associate Attorney with Berman, Sobin, Gross, Feldman & Darby, specializing in medical treatment coverage under workers' compensation.
Julie Mirman
jmirman@bsgfdlaw.com

Best Practices for Injured Workers’ During Covid-19:

Monday, March 23, 2020

It seems the world has stopped spinning as most people keep to their homes and neighborhoods. As the days tick by it is difficult to determine, where it is okay to go. For injured workers’, recovering from an accident, this question becomes even more difficult to answer since they might still be receiving active treatment. Doctor’s offices and rehab facilities are doing their best to stay open and sanitized, but the CDC is recommending staying home and only going out when it is absolutely necessary. We all want to do our part to flatten the curve. As an injured worker it is challenging to balance the need for medical care with keeping oneself and ones family and community safe from transmission of the virus. While it is always best to check with a treating physician on which treatments to continue and which to hold off from, here are a few tips on how to help yourself while at home:

  • Home Exercise - Now would be a great time to work on those exercises that most physical therapists and doctors have prescribed. Transition a space in your home for exercising and set up a schedule to ensure your diligence in maintaining a consistent routine for your physical fitness. There are also many online videos for stretching and strengthening that you can utilize, which do not require any equipment. Check out YouTube for a wide range of free exercise videos.
  • Rest – Use this time as an opportunity to catch up on that rest and recovery that the doctor ordered. Catch up on those television shows that everyone always talks about or dust off the old board games and spend some quality time with the family.
  • Patience – You might be waiting for a decision on medical coverage or permanency payments or at this point your hearing might have been postponed with no new date set. Currently the Workers’ Compensation hearing sites are closed to the public until at least April 6, 2020, outside of specially set emergency hearings. When the courts resume there may be a backlog causing additional delays and we are limited in options to speed up the process. Please be patient, we are all in this together; Now more than ever, it takes a village.
Attorney Julie Mirman

Written by Julie Mirman, an Associate Attorney with Berman, Sobin, Gross, Feldman & Darby, specializing in medical treatment coverage under workers' compensation.
Julie Mirman
jmirman@bsgfdlaw.com

The Courts Are Closed Due To COVID-19; What About My Workers’ Compensation Case?

Thursday, March 19, 2020

In Maryland, most of the Judiciary systems have shut down or postponed their dockets, or are operational only for exigent circumstances. The Workers' Compensation Commission, while in solidarity with the mission to slow the spread of Covid-19, is also keenly aware of the need to keep certain Workers' Compensation cases moving along. While all scheduled hearings have been postponed through April 3rd, if an emergency hearing was already filed before the closing was announced, those cases will still be heard on a limited scheduled.

Also, all emergency hearings will either take place in the Baltimore or Beltsville Commission sites only. Hearings can still be requested, however we do not yet know when they will take place. In the meantime, our office has been working remotely and using creative ways to keep cases moving with the use of online conferencing and remote mediations. For now, the Commission is continuing to receive settlements and stipulations for approval, and we are working hard to resolve cases to help our clients. We will frequently update our blogs with the most up to date information and advice on how to handle your workers' compensation needs during COVID-19.

HELP - My Attorney Retired, Won the Lottery, Passed Away, Moved to Hawaii; What Should I Do?

Friday, March 06, 2020

I know, it’s hard to believe, but lawyers are only human. We retire, pass away or sometimes even get promoted to judge. For whatever the reason an Attorney is no longer able to represent a client what are the clients’ options? Nobody likes to start over, establishing trust, getting a new representative up to speed and explaining a long case history can be overwhelming. Here are a few suggestions that might make the process less daunting.

The first step is to contact the law firm that your attorney was affiliated with and find out if there is anyone else in the firm that practices this specialty and/or has the capacity to take on your case. You can schedule a meeting with the managing partner of that firm to ascertain the next steps. However, often the firm does not have the capacity to take on more cases or your previous attorney may have been the only specialist in that area of law. If the firm is not able to take you on as a client, then it is wise to request a copy of your file if you will be seeking representation elsewhere.

If your attorney was a private practitioner or there is no other attorney in that practice who can handle your case, then the second step is to ask if the firm could give you a referral. This will help narrow the playing field. Often attorneys have colleagues that are in different practice areas and they might know who could be a good fit and competent to continue with your case. Keep in mind, if you choose to change your attorney because you are seeking different representation, the attorneys themselves may come to an agreement regarding fee sharing if there was work the previous attorney did prior to your change in attorneys. This fee sharing should not affect the client in anyway, it should be a sharing of the fees that one attorney would be entitled to on your case regardless of, which attorney is your representative.

Lastly, if you have exhausted the previous options or just want a fresh set of eyes on your case the third step would be to call your local bar association in the County/City in which you live or the jurisdiction where the case takes place. Most bar associations have a lawyer referral service and can help guide your search.

Attorney Julie Mirman

Written by Julie Mirman, an Associate Attorney with Berman, Sobin, Gross, Feldman & Darby, specializing in medical treatment coverage under workers' compensation.
Julie Mirman
jmirman@bsgfdlaw.com

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