By Clifford B. Sobin, Esq.
You were injured on the job. You reported your injury to your supervisor and your boss filled out a form that you signed. The insurance company gave you a claim number and paid your medical bills. You had no contact with the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission. You thought all was well.
You were wrong.
The form you signed was a First Report of Injury that your employer sent to the insurance company. It was not a Maryland Workers’ Compensation claim form. The insurance company filed the First Report of Injury form with the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission. Unfortunately, that does not relieve you of the responsibility to file a claim form. Generally, you have two years to file a claim with the Commission (less when a death occurs as a result of an accidental injury). If you fail to file timely, you will not have any right to claim additional Workers’ Compensation benefits should the insurance company refuse to pay them – and they will.
How do you know if a Workers’ Compensation claim was filed? It is simple. Your claim is properly filed if you received a document titled “Notice of Employee’s Claim” in the mail from the Commission. The document must have a six digit claim number on the top right side that is preceded by the letter “B” or “W” (“W” is used when you file on-line). The Commission will only send you the document if you signed the front and the back of a claim form and mailed it to them.
All too often an injured employee’s failure to file a claim is caused by an insurance company that voluntarily approves and pays for medical treatment. This lulls the employee into complacency but trouble rears its ugly head when the employee's condition worsens or if the employee has a new injury. If it has been more than two years from the accident the insurance company’s tone will suddenly change. A friend no longer, the insurance adjuster will usually respond in one way – denied! If an unfortunate worker suffers a new injury on the job, the insurance company may try to defend the claim or limit the benefits payable by arguing that the injuries are related to the old claim that was not filed timely.
There are arguments we can raise to extend the filing period beyond the two year period specified by the law. However, they are very fact specific and will only be successful in a very small percentage of cases. Therefore, whenever you are injured on the job it is vital to ensure that a claim has been filed timely. When in doubt, the easiest way to do that is to contact us. There is no fee for us to check.