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Workers' Compensation Blog

Where Do I File My Workers’ Compensation Claim – Maryland or D.C.?

Monday, July 09, 2018

It is sometimes very obvious where an injured workers should file his workers’ compensation claim following an on-the-job injury.For example, if the injured worker lives in the District of Columbia, and has always worked for his employer in the District, and gets injured in the District, then the claim for workers’ compensation benefits naturally should be filed in the District.

However, the situation becomes a bit more complicated when the injured worker does not get injured in the state where he normally works, or when the injured worker performs work for the employer in more than one state.In this blog, I will give a few different scenarios that tend to occur, in order to figure out where your workers’ compensation claim should be filed.

Scenario #1: The injured worker regularly works in Maryland, but happens to travel to the District of Columbia for work, and happens to be injured while performing that work for the employer in the District.

In the first scenario, under 32-1503 of the District of Columbia Workers’ Compensation Act, the District will not have jurisdiction over this claim.Having only “casual, occasional, or incidental” employment in the District is not enough.The workers’ compensation claim in that scenario should be filed in Maryland.

Scenario #2: The injured worker and the employer are both residents of Maryland, but the injured worker was assigned to do work for the employer in the District of Columbia for an extended period of time (weeks and months) and was injured in the District.

In the second scenario, the claim may be able to be filed in either Maryland OR in DC, with one caveat.The DC Worker’s Compensation Statute says that, if both the injured worker and the employer are not residents of the District, and the contract for hire was entered into in another State (like Maryland) then even though the injured worker had performed work for the Employer for an extended period of time in the District, and was injured in the District, the injured worker MAY be able to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits in the District, but only if, the employer has workers’ compensation coverage in the District.So, in that second scenario, if the employer had insurance cover in the District, the claim for workers’ compensation benefits can be filed in EITHER Maryland or the District.If the employer does not have workers’ compensation coverage in the District, then the claim would have to be filed in the State of Maryland.

Scenario #3: The injured worker is hurt in the State of Maryland while performing work for a District of Columbia Employer and normally works in the District of Columbia.

Under 9-203 of Maryland Workers’ Compensation Statute, Maryland shares the same principal as the District such that “casual, occasional, or incidental” work in Maryland, when the employment is located and performed primarily in another jurisdiction (like DC), will not be enough to enable the injured employee to file a workers’ compensation claim in Maryland.

Scenario #4: The injured worker performs work for the employer in Maryland, DC and Virginia, but gets injured in DC, but both he and his employer are residents of Maryland.

This last scenario occurs often with transit drivers.In this scenario, the injured worker is not an incidental, casual or occasional employee of the District, but rather, has worked for the employer in the District on a regular basis for years.In this fourth scenario, because both the injured worker and the employer are both residents of Maryland (with, for example, the employee picking up his bus to begin his bus route at the Maryland headquarters) the injured worker would be able to file his workers’ compensation claim in both Maryland AND the District of Columbia, if and only if, the employee can prove that he is not an incident employee in the District.If the injured worker can testify that works as much or (better yet) more often in the District than he does in Maryland or Virginia, and again, is hurt in the District, then his claim for workers’ compensation benefits could be filed in the District.However, if the evidence shows that the employee works only a small percentage of the time in District, and works primarily in Maryland and Virginia, then the District of Columbia would not accept his workers’ compensation claim and the State of Maryland would be his only option.

If any additional information is needed, I can be reached by email:lpisano@bsgfdlaw.com, or on my direct office number: 301-740-3304

The Importance of Documenting All of Your Injuries

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

All too often when workers are injured the focus is on the most severe parts of the body hurt. Frequently the minor pains and bruises from other parts of the body are ignored. However, in a workers’ compensation claim it is very important to report every hurt, bruised, or swollen body part no matter how minor it may seem at the time. The human body is interconnected and when you fall, for instance, you may land on your knee, but your hands may have eased the impact, which can cause shoulder and arm pain as well. If you injure your back, the nerve pain and/ or damage can cause problems in your legs. You may not feel any symptoms to those other areas until a day or two later, but these are all parts of your body that could get worse over time and require additional medical treatment. It is important in a workers’ compensation claim to document every part of the body that was affected by the accident no matter how small it may seem. It is more difficult to try and convince a Commissioner or insurance company that another body part was also injured in the same accident if there is no documentation of it within a few days of the accident.

What’s In The Injury Report Matters

This rule is important to remember when filling out your accident report at work, your workers’ compensation claim form, and any forms you are given at every medical office you visit after the accident. In our practice, we frequently read emergency room reports where an injured body part is left out or the wrong body part is documented. We all know hospitals are busy places and not everything is always documented with 100% accuracy, but insurance companies will use this to discredit your injury or the cause of your injury. It is important for you to check that how the accident occurred and that all injuries are clearly described and documented. Make sure to tell the medical professional you are dealing with every ache, pain and/or discomfort that you are feeling as a result of the accident.

Contact Us With Questions

If you have any questions about a new pain or problem that developed after your injury it is always best to contact an attorney. Our attorneys have years of experience and know the right questions to ask to ensure that you receive the full coverage, you are entitled to for your injuries.

Workers’ Compensation Claims Process - How long does it take to get a hearing and what is a “consideration date?

Friday, July 14, 2017

One of the most common questions I receive from clients concerns how long it takes to get a hearing before the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission. As with any court or judicial body, the Commission sets its own schedule and the claimants and attorneys appearing before it are subject to that schedule. Generally speaking, however, it is a safe assumption that your hearing will be scheduled within three to four months from the date you file your claim or request a hearing. This can vary based on your hearing venue. For example, hearings are scheduled much quicker in Baltimore or Beltsville (the hearing sites with a higher volume and where hearings are held more frequently), than in La Vale or Cambridge (where hearings are held less frequently based on a lesser volume).

What is the “Consideration Date?”

The claim process begins when you file an “Employee Claim Form” with the Commission. This document asks you basic demographic and injury-specific questions. Once this is submitted, the Commission will send a Notice of Claim to your employer and your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier, referred to as the insurer. On the bottom-right of this Notice of Claim, you will find a “Consideration Date,” which is typically about a month from the date your original Employee Claim Form was filed. Your employer and insurer have until this date to either accept or contest your claim. If they contest the claim, they will file Contesting Issues with the Commission and you will have to wait for a hearing to present the evidence of your work-related injury or illness. You cannot request a hearing on your own behalf until after the “consideration date,” has passed. That’s why it is so important to file your claim as soon as possible.

My Employer and Insurer filed Contesting Issues; what next?

When your employer and insurer file Contesting Issues, they are, in effect, opposing the claim until the Commission can hold a hearing to determine the validity of your claim. As stated above, this will typically be scheduled anywhere between three to four months from the date your claim is initially filed. At this first hearing, you will be called upon to testify and present evidence of your work-related injury or illness, including medical records supporting your claim. After the hearing, the Commissioner will decide whether or not your injury or illness is covered by the workers’ compensation laws of Maryland. However, up until that time, you will not be able to recover any workers’ compensation benefits such as temporary total disability. You may or may not receive medical coverage. For this reason, it is all the more urgent that you consult with an attorney to determine your options and to prepare for this hearing.

How can my hearing be scheduled on an emergency basis?

In some circumstances, you can request the Commission to schedule your hearing sooner based on an “emergency” situation. For example, if you are unable to work on account of your injury or illness and have received collection notices on past-due bills or if you require emergency medical treatment, then the Commission may schedule your hearing sooner, within a matter of weeks rather than months. However, you must submit documents to support the urgency and these requests are not always granted.

If you have any questions or require assistance with your work-related injury or illness, please do not hesitate, contact Matthew Engler, Esq. today at 301-740-3322 or mengler@bsgfdlaw.com.

The Impact of Wage Loss on The Life of a Correctional Officer

Thursday, May 04, 2017

I recently had a jury trial in Cumberland where I represented a correctional officer at one of the large State prisons in Western Maryland. I was reminded during the course of the trial of the devastating impact that a work accident can have on someone who lives in Western Maryland.

This was someone who, because of the very serious nature of their work injury, was unable to return to work for the State of Maryland. And when someone loses a good paying union job, that has good benefits and job protections, the results of losing that job are devastating to the worker and their family.

In Maryland, workers’ compensation law does provide vocational services that help injured workers’ find jobs within their physical restrictions. Unfortunately, those jobs are typically non-union, low paying jobs with expensive health care that offer little job protection.

Gone are the days where mining and manufacturing jobs were plentiful and wages were driven up by competition for good reliable workers. Instead, workers’ compensation insurance companies get off cheap and easy compared to the economic and psychological impact suffered by workers who lose their jobs due to work injuries.

While we were able to double the injured worker’s benefits at the trial, it still doesn’t come close to making up for what was lost. That loss is not merely economic, but also the pride and satisfaction that comes with providing for your family. When that’s taken away there is no amount of money that can adequately compensate an injured worker for all that they’ve lost, due to not fault of their own.

DECISIVE VICTORY FOR 911 DISPATCHER INJURED IN MOTOR VEHICLE COLLISION OUTSIDE WORK

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

911 dispatchers are our first line of defense in times of emergency.  Sometimes they are called upon to perform special training and can be injured when traveling to and from this training.  Ken Berman, Natalie Whittingham and Berman, Sobin, Gross, Feldman & Darby LLP protected the rights of a long time 911 dispatcher who was injured in a motor vehicle collision near his place of work, while traveling to a mandatory training meeting.  The Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission had found that the Claimant, who was “T-boned” by a truck, sustained an accidental injury as a result of and within the scope of his employment, notwithstanding that he had not yet physically checked in to work.  After the Claimant won before the commission, the employer attempted to overturn this Order by filing an appeal and filing a dispositive motion.  Ken and Natalie defeated this motion and preserved the claim of the injured worker.

Exceptions to The “Going and Coming” Rule

Ordinarily, injuries suffered while an employee is going to or coming from work (known as the “going and coming” rule), are not covered under workers’ compensation law.  However, there are many, many exceptions to this rule.  For example, injured workers who are “on duty” at the time of the accident, are in Employer’s vehicle, or on a “special errand or mission” at the request of the employer are covered and not barred by the “going and coming” rule.  Ken and Natalie were able to protect the rights of the Claimant in this case by successfully arguing that the Claimant was traveling to attend a “special errand/mission", a mandatory staff meeting. Therefore, this case fell into an exception to the “going and coming” rule because the public safety employee was on his way to attend a monthly mandatory staff meeting, even though it was before his regular work hours given that it was with the consent of his employer. Therefore, he was on a “special errand”.

What this Means for Injured Workers

This case is the perfect example of why injured workers need an attorney with experience in workers’ compensation law. The “going and coming” rule, and the many exceptions that apply to that rule, is a complicated issue.Injured workers who are involved in accidents while traveling to or from work may still be protected, despite the “going and coming” rule.  Whether a claim falls under one of the exceptions requires a detailed review of the law and the facts of each case.The attorneys at Berman, Sobin, Gross, Feldman and Darby LLP are equipped with the expertise to navigate this area of law and protect the rights of injured workers, like Ken and Natalie protected the Claimant in this case.If you are injured at work, contact Ken Berman, Esq. at (301) 740-3300 or Natalie E. Whittingham, Esq. at (301) 670-6546.

Why Should I File A Claim With The Workers’ Compensation Commission If My Employer’s Insurance Is Already Paying For My Doctor?

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Attention Injured Workers! There is a huge difference between filing a workers’ compensation claim with the Workers’ Compensation Commission and your employer’s insurance company. Many injured workers do not realize this and may miss out on all the other benefits entitled to them under the law if they had only filed their claim with the Commission. The benefits that you may miss out on include:

 
- ONLY by filing a claim with the Commission do you have access to lifetime medical coverage for your injury, with NO copays;
- ONLY by filing a claim with the Commission do you have access to compensation for permanent impairment suffered from your injury, even if you return to work or it is only a scar;
- ONLY by filing a claim with the Commission do you have access to vocational rehabilitation services if your injury prevents you from returning to your prior job;
- ONLY by filing a claim with the Commission can you fight your employer’s insurance company when they deny medical treatment or compensation for lost wages;
- And much more…
 
Additionally, there is no cost or fee associated with filing a claim either. You normally must file within two years of the date of injury, so time is often of the essence. Do not be subject to the whims of your employer’s insurance company: take charge of your recovery and contact Attorney Matthew Engler today for a free consultation.

 

I injured myself at work – why did my employer’s insurance deny my claim?

Friday, September 23, 2016

Simply getting injured at work doesn’t guarantee you any benefits or rights under the law, unless you file an accepted claim with the Workers’ Compensation Commission. Many injured workers only file paperwork with their employer or employer’s insurance company without ever realizing that this is NOT the same thing as a workers’ compensation claim. When you proceed in this manner, it is a private transaction between you and your employer’s insurance. Unfortunately, in countless instances, the insurance company will deny medical coverage and disability payments leaving the injured worker on their own without any help and without any options.

Secure Your Rights and Benefits

However, when you file a claim with the Workers’ Compensation Commission, not only do you secure all the rights and benefits guaranteed under the law , but you also secure the right to present your case to a Commissioner who has the authority to order your employer’s insurance to pay for treatment and disability payments, even when they initially denied it. The Workers’ Compensation Commission was established specifically to litigate injured worker claims and to ensure compliance with the workers’ compensation laws of Maryland. Nevertheless, you MUST first file a claim with the Commission in order to secure jurisdiction for your work-injury.

Get Help...Contact Matt

If you have any questions regarding your status under the law, please contact Attorney Matthew Engler for a free consultation.

Jury Got It Right For Montgomery County Correctional Officer

Friday, September 23, 2016

Attorney Charles Schultz of Berman, Sobin, Gross, Feldman & Darby, LLP was successful in overturning a decision of the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission which had found that a career correctional officer did not sustain an occupational disease of Hypertension as a result of his employment. The Commission denied the injured worker’s claim for benefits because he suffered from numerous other health conditions which could have been a factor in his development of Hypertension. After a two (2) day jury trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the officer, who had worked for Montgomery County for just two (2) years prior to being diagnosed with Hypertension (he had worked as a correctional officer for 11 years prior to that in a different jurisdiction), finding that his condition was caused by his employment.

Hypertension for Correctional Officers

For many correctional officers in Maryland, it is presumed that Hypertension is caused by the stresses and strains inherent in the job - a law that makes perfect sense to those who understand the daily challenges of a correctional officer. Correctional officers are in the position of having to protect inmates from harming themselves, other inmates, or the officers themselves, and often times when they are greatly outnumbered by the inmates. This stressful environment can contribute to the development of Hypertension - which has been recognized by Maryland’s Legislature by including correctional officers in the heart and lung law.

What This Means for the Officer

The court victory means that the officer will now receive payment for all future medical treatment and any past medical bills resulting from his Hypertension, payment at two thirds of his wages tax free for any time he has missed from work as a result of his condition, and payment for the permanent disability he now has due to his condition.

If you know someone who is a corrections officer and is suffering with job-related hypertension, please have them contact Ken Berman at (301) 670-7030.

Advice for the Apprehensive Injured Worker

Thursday, September 22, 2016

By Charles Schultz, Esq.

A few times a week I get a call from an injured worker who is considering filing a workers’ compensation claim with the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission but is concerned about the repercussions that may take place after filing their claim.

While it is understandable, and in certain circumstances a very real concern that an employer may retaliate against an injured worker after a claim is filed, if you are injured on the job you must understand what rights you may be giving up if you don’t file a workers’ compensation claim. Often times you may be giving up more by deciding not to file a claim than you would be even in the worst case scenario for employer retaliation – termination. (It should be noted that Maryland is an “at-will” employment state, meaning an employer can fire an employee for any non-illegal reason. However it is against Maryland law to fire an employee for filing a workers’ compensation claim). Those who have been lucky enough to avoid the workers’ compensation process understandably may have little to no knowledge of what benefits may be available to them through Maryland’s workers’ compensation laws. The following paragraphs will detail the rights potentially available to injured workers in Maryland who are successful in filing their workers’ compensation claim. (As a quick aside, it is of utmost importance to understand that filling out a report of injury for your employer is NOT filing a claim with the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission. If a claim is not properly filed you may be forfeiting your rights. It is important to consult legal counsel to ensure proper filing).

By failing to file a claim you may be giving up compensation at 2/3s of your pre-taxed wages for the period of time you are unable to work while you recover from your work injury. Often times this means exhausting your hard earned personal, vacation and/or sick leave when your employer or its insurer is the legally responsible for paying your wages for each day missed – and doing so without tapping into your personally accrued leave time. This benefit becomes especially important if you are separated from your employment. This is because the payment of workers’ compensation leave benefits that you are entitled to while you are unable to work as a result of your work injury has no correlation to your employment itself. Whether you are still employed or have been separated from employment, you are still entitled to compensation if you cannot do your job and your doctor agrees that you must be out of work.

Compensation for time out of work is important – everyone has bills to pay – and the money received for lost time from work can help to make sure you don’t fall behind while you work to get back on the job. However, the best benefit in Maryland’s workers’ compensation law is the payment of medical treatment necessitated by your work injury. Maryland is unique in that you have the right, as an injured worker, to seek treatment with a doctor of your choice. And most important of all, there is no time limitation on your ability to seek treatment as a result of a work injury. (The right to fight for treatment never expires once a claim has been accepted, however, there are no guarantees your employer or their insurer will authorize the treatment you wish to have – yet another good reason to consult with a legal professional). If you fail to file a claim with the Workers’ Compensation Commission, often times the insurance adjuster will take longer to authorize treatment as there is no real motivation to do so. Further, if the insurance company decides to deny your treatment you will have no means to force them to pay for the treatment your doctor is recommending. This leaves you with the responsibility of convincing your own insurance company to pay for your treatment, or worse yet, paying for your treatment out of pocket. By successfully filing a claim, you’re guaranteeing at least the right to fight for your employer to pay for the treatment you need to get you better and back to work.

Compensation for permanent disability is the last main benefit available to those who are successful in filing a workers’ compensation claim. Often times the money received for an individual’s permanent disability does not truly compensate him/her for the affect their injury has had on their life - especially with more serious injuries. However, some compensation is certainly better than receiving no compensation at all. By failing to file a claim, you forgo this right altogether.

You work hard at your job every day, giving up precious time with your family to help further your companies’ goals. If you get hurt while on the job you owe it to yourself to protect both you and your family by filing a claim. You should not have to pay out of your own pocket for medical treatment, struggle to make your bills because you are incapable of earning an income, or worse yet be forced to suffer from a life altering disability without receiving any assistance from your employer and their insurer to get you back on your feet.

So if you get hurt on the job – protect yourself and your family by filing your claim. And if you’re concerned about the potential repercussions of doing so, consult with legal counsel to make sure you understand not just what problems may arise if you do file your claim, but what problems may arise if you don’t.

Charles Schultz, Esq.
1301 York Road, Suite 600
Lutherville, MD 21093
(410) 769-5400
www.bermandarby.com

How Are Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commissioners Selected?

Monday, September 19, 2016

By Clifford Sobin, Esq.

 

Workers’ Compensation Commissioners are nominated by the Governor. The Maryland Senate must then approve the appointment. Their appointment is for twelve years unless a Commissioner leaves office before their term is up. If so, the new replacement Commissioner only serves for the remainder of that term. After a Commissioner’s term expires, the Commissioner must be reappointed by the Governor to serve a new twelve year term.

Commissioners must devote their full time efforts to their job. Therefore, they may not:

  • Practice law
  • Hold another political position
  • Do any business or other activity that interferes with their ability to serve the citizens of Maryland as a Workers’ Compensation Commissioner

Commissioners are paid the same amount as a District Court Judge except for the Chairman who receives an additional $1500.00

There are a total of nine Commissioners. Each Commissioner must be a licensed attorney. There is no requirement that they must have practiced Workers’ Compensation law before their appointment although that is frequently the case. In fact, many outstanding Commissioners have had experience in other areas; including litigation, the legislative process and advisory or management capacities.

Generally, each Commissioner has scheduled before them approximately twenty cases a day, of which, ten to fifteen are heard in a hearing. Since many of their decisions involve tens of thousands of dollars, they have a significant impact on Maryland’s economy and the plight of injured workers.

At times retired Commissioners will hear cases. This occurs due to retirements, illnesses vacation, etc. Since the Commission Chairman’s priority is to make sure that scheduled cases are heard, retired Commissioners provide an important “reserve” force. The most significant requirements for eligibility for recall are that a retired Commissioner must have served for at least three consecutive years and that the retired Commissioner may not serve more than 120 working days in a calendar year.

 

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