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Workers' Compensation Blog

Why should I file a Workers’ Compensation Claim if my Employer’s insurance is already covering my medical bills?

Friday, September 23, 2016

There is a BIG difference between filing a claim with the Workers’ Compensation Commission and filing a claim with your employer’s insurance policy. As Attorney Al Gross discussed in his recent blog post, submitting a “First Report of Injury” or other worksheet to your employer or employer’s insurance is NOT the same thing as filing a claim with the Workers’ Compensation Commission. The difference between the two is huge and your employer’s insurance company has no obligation to tell you what they are.

When a claim is filed with the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission, many rights and benefits are secured under Maryland law, including but not limited to:

  1. Lifetime medical benefits for all treatment that is reasonable, necessary and causally-related to your work-injury;
  2. Awards that compensate you financially for any permanent disability you may have as a result of your work-injury;
  3. Vocational rehabilitation benefits if, because of your injury, you are no longer able to perform your prior job duties because you are under permanent work restrictions;
  4. Reopening your case for additional monetary benefits if your condition worsens Depending on your case, there are other benefits which may apply to you. In order to better understand the Workers’ Compensation law of Maryland and your status, contact Attorney Matthew Engler for a free consultation.

Depending on your case, there are other benefits which may apply to you. In order to better understand the Workers’ Compensation law of Maryland and your status, contact Attorney Matthew Engler for a free consultation.

Key Differences in the Vocational Rehabilitation Process in Maryland and the District of Columbia

Friday, September 23, 2016

VOCATIONAL BENEFITS

The Workers’ Compensation Statutes in both the State of Maryland and the District of Columbia offer a benefit to injured workers called Vocational Rehabilitation, often called “Voc Rehab” for short. Vocational Rehabilitation arises in a workers’ compensation case when the injured worker’s medical treatment is complete, or near complete, and he/she is given restrictions from his/her doctor that prevent him/her from physically performing the work he/she was able to perform before the accidental work injury. During the Voc Rehab process, the injured worker receives assistance from a licensed vocational expert so that they can, together, strive towards getting the injured worker back to full-time work with another employer and within the injured workers’ permanent physical limitations. The injured worker receives pay from the workers’ compensation insurance company while he/she is applying for jobs, taking classes, or going through retraining.

One scenario in which an injured worker would be able to receive Voc Rehab benefits would be, for example, if the injured worker was employed as a security officer at the time of the work injury, and had work requirements of standing for 6 hours a day, and lifting up to 50lbs. Yet, because of his permanent back and right ankle work injuries he is now only able to stand for only 2 hours a day, and lift up to 20lbs. The injured worker in that example would be entitled to receive Voc Rehab benefits in both the District and in Maryland. By contrast, if that same security officer was released to full-duty work, and had no permanent limitations on his ability to lift or stand, then he would not be entitled to Vocational Rehabilitation and would be expected to return back to his pre-injury work, even if it was now physically harder to do that job and his work activities caused him some physical discomfort.

Often times, the permanent work limitations are given by the treating physician at the time the injured worker is being discharged from his doctor’s care. There is a test called a Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE) that offers a more detailed analysis as to what the injured worker can and cannot do. The FCE usually takes place at a physical therapy facility, although not all physical therapy facilities perform FCE’s. The FCE typically lasts approximately 4 hours. Upon completion of the FCE, the FCE facility will issue a detailed report stating how much the injured worker can lift, push, pull, and carry, and for how long he can sit, stand, walk, and run. If the FCE evaluator feels the injured worker has permanent work restrictions that keep him or her from returning back to the job they had at the time of the work injury, then vocational rehabilitation will begin.

COMPARING MARYLAND AND THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

There are several key differences in the Voc Rehab process in Maryland and the District of Columbia. For example, in Maryland the Workers’ Compensation Regulations state that the Parties to the Claim may agree on the Vocational Counselor that will be assisting the injured worker with getting back to full-time work within his/her permanent work restrictions. If no agreement is reached, the Commission will pick the Vocational Counselor from a list. In the District of Columbia, however, there is no such provision, and the vocational counselor is typically selected only by the workers’ compensation insurance company, or their attorney. Therefore, from the onset of the Voc Rehab process, injured workers in DC are at a disadvantage. The manner in which the injured worker is scrutinized in Maryland versus the District during the Voc Rehab process is vastly different. In Maryland, Voc Rehab is offered to injured workers typically at three-month increments. If the injured worker in Maryland is “compliant” during those first three months, the Vocational process will be extended for another three months, and another three months, until the Maryland workers’ compensation insurance carrier no longer wishes to offer Voc Rehab to the injured worker, or finds a reason to deem the injured worker as being “non-compliant” with the Voc Rehab process. One example of how noncompliance is alleged is by stating that the injured worker was not applying to enough jobs each week, or was showing up late to their weekly meetings with the Voc Rehab counselor. In the District of Columbia, however, vocational rehabilitation can go on for years without ever having to request or wait for an extension of time from the workers compensation insurance adjuster.

And so, while in Maryland the vocational process is evaluated on a monthly basis by the insurance adjuster, in the District of Columbia, injured workers who are receiving Voc Rehab benefits are often left to their own devices. The Rehab counselors typically do not write detailed monthly reports commenting on everything that was done and not by the injured worker, and so the injured workers’ level of participation during Voc Rehab in DC is not able to be scrutinized or judged as it is in Maryland. However, the same goes for the level of participation of the Voc Rehab counselor. If the counselor is not required to write monthly reports in the District as they are in Maryland, the counselor’s own level of involvement is not recorded. For example, were classes or re-training discussed and offered officially? If so, when? Was the counselor late to meetings as well? These details control the Voc Rehab process in Maryland, and determine the extent to which Voc Rehab will take place, and how much Vocational benefits are offered to the injured worker, whereas in the District of Columbia, those details are often lacking.

In sum, there are benefits and detriments to each jurisdiction’s workers’ compensation laws. There is no perfect system. The best thing for the injured worker to do is to follow the laws and procedures of the jurisdiction in which their injury took place, and to do so with the assistance of an attorney they trust. If additional information is needed as to the Vocational Rehabilitation process, I can be reached at: LPisano@bsgfdlaw.com, or on my direct work line of: 301-740-3304.

Maryland Vocational Rehabilitation - Don’t Put All Your Eggs In The Insurance Company Basket

Friday, September 16, 2016

By Ari Laric, Esq.

Vocational rehabilitation is all about finding “Suitable Gainful Employment.” Employment is a job. Gainful is one that pays money, so the real question is what is Suitable? As an injured worker, when you're receiving vocational rehabilitation benefits you have the opportunity to work with a vocational counselor to try and find a job that you can do. The vocational counselor works with you to develop a plan that takes into consideration your:

  • Age
  • Past work history
  • Past school history
  • Transferable skills
  • Physical limitations from your injury

The vocational counselor does not work for the insurance company, but they do get paid by the insurance company.

Unfortunately, there are no guarantees in vocational rehabilitation:

(1) No guarantee to a job with the same company.

(2) No guarantee to a job within the same industry.

(3) No guarantee to a job making the same amount of money, and

(4) No guarantee to a job that you like.

In today's economy it's hard enough for people who are not injured to find a job. But for an injured worker, who may now have physical limitations, and may now be looking for a type of employment that they have never done before, it can be very hard.

Vocational rehabilitation is a right under the law and it’s a protection for injured workers. However, don't put all your eggs in the insurance company basket!

Don't rely on the vocational counselor to find you a job!

While in vocational rehabilitation, it's important to do everything that the vocational counselor says, so that your benefits continue. However, it's important for YOU to find yourself a job. If you sit around waiting for the insurance company to help you out, do you really think you're going to get the best job possible?

By doing the work on your own, and finding a job for yourself, you're more likely to find the best situation for you. When you find a job for yourself:

  • It's more likely going to be a job in the industry you want it to be in,
  • It’s more likely going to be a job that pays you the amount of money that you want, or at least a job that is a step in the right direction towards earning the type of money that you want
  • It's more likely going to be a job that you actually like!
Ari Laric's telephone number is 410-769-5400 or 800-248-3352.

 

Key Differences In The Vocational Rehabilitation Process In Maryland And The District Of Columbia

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Vocational Benefits

The Workers’ Compensation statutes in both the State of Maryland and the District of Columbia offer a benefit to injured workers who desire to return to work: called Vocational Rehabilitation (often called “Voc Rehab” for short). Vocational Rehabilitation arises in a workers’ compensation case when the injured worker’s medical treatment is complete, or near complete, and the worker is given permanent restrictions from his/her doctor that prevent him/her from physically performing the work they were able to perform before the work injury. During the Voc Rehab process, the injured worker receives assistance from a licensed vocational expert so that they can, together, strive towards getting back to work with another employer and within the injured workers’ permanent physical limitations. The injured worker receives pay from the workers’ compensation insurance company during vocational rehabilitation: while he/she is applying for jobs, taking classes, or going through retraining.

One scenario in which an injured worker is able to receive Voc Rehab services (placement, training or schooling) and benefits would be, for example, if the injured worker was employed before the injury as a security officer which required standing for 8 hours a day, and lifting up to 50lbs. Yet, because of his work injury his/her treating physician documents that he/she is now only able to stand for 2 hours a day, and lift only up to 20lbs. The injured worker would be entitled to receive Vocational Rehabilitation services and benefits in both the District and in Maryland. If that same security officer was released to full-duty work, and had no permanent limitations on his ability to lift or stand, then he/she would not be entitled to Vocational Rehabilitation and would be expected to return back to his pre-injury job, even if his work activities caused him some physical discomfort doing his/her job.

Often times, the permanent work limitations are given by the treating physician at the time the injured worker is being discharged from his doctor’s care. A test, called a Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE), offers a more detailed analysis as to what the injured worker can and cannot do. The FCE usually takes place at a physical therapy facility, although not all physical therapy facilities perform FCE’s. The FCE typically lasts approximately 4 hours. Upon completion of the FCE, a detailed report is issued stating how much the injured worker can lift, push, pull, and carry, and for how long he can sit, stand, walk, and run. If the FCE evaluator feels the injured worker has permanent work restrictions that prevent him or her from returning to the job they had at the time of the injury, then vocational rehabilitation will begin.

Comparing Maryland And The District Of Columbia

There are several key differences in the Voc Rehab process in Maryland and the District of Columbia. For example, in Maryland the Workers’ Compensation Regulations state that the parties to the Claim may agree on the Vocational Counselor that will be assisting the injured worker with getting back to full-time work within his/her permanent work restrictions. If no agreement is reached, the Commission will pick the Vocational Counselor from a list.

In the District of Columbia, however, there is no such provision, and the vocational counselor is typically selected by the workers’ compensation insurance company, or the company’s attorney. Therefore, injured workers in DC are often at a disadvantage.

The manner in which the injured worker is scrutinized in Maryland versus the District during the Vocational Rehabilitation process is also vastly different. In Maryland, Voc Rehab is offered to injured workers typically in three-month increments. If the injured worker in Maryland is “compliant” during those first three months, the vocational rehabilitation process will be extended for another three months, and another three months after that, until the Claimant finds a job or the insurance carrier finds a reason to deem the injured worker as being “non-compliant”. One example of how noncompliance is alleged is by stating that the injured worker was not applying to enough jobs each week, or was showing up late to their weekly meetings with the Voc Rehab counselor. In the District of Columbia, however, vocational rehabilitation can go on for years without ever having to request or wait for an extension of time from the workers’ compensation insurance adjuster.

Thus, while in Maryland the vocational process is evaluated on a monthly basis by the insurance adjuster, in the District of Columbia, injured workers who are receiving Voc Rehab benefits are often left to their own devices. The Rehabilitation counselors typically do not write detailed monthly reports commenting on everything that was done and/or not done by the injured worker, and so the injured worker’s level of participation during Voc Rehab in DC is not scrutinized or judged as closely as it is in Maryland. The same goes for the level of participation of the Voc Rehab counselor in the District who or is not required to write monthly reports in the District as they are in Maryland. For example, were classes or re-training discussed and offered officially? If so, when? Was the counselor late to meetings as well? These details control the Vocational Rehabilitation process in Maryland, and determine the extent to which Voc Rehab will take place, and how long Vocational Rehabilitation services and benefits are offered to the injured worker. In the District of Columbia, those details are often lacking.

In sum, there are many benefits and some detriments to each jurisdiction’s workers’ compensation laws. There is no perfect system. The best thing for the injured worker to do is to follow the laws and procedures of the jurisdiction in which their injury took place, and to do so with the assistance of an attorney they trust. If additional information is needed as to the Vocational Rehabilitation process, I can be reached at: LPisano@bsgfdlaw.com, or on my direct work line of: 301-740-3304.

By Lisa Pisano

Increased Deliveries Equals Increased Injuries For Delivery Drivers

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Is it just me, or does it seem like there are simply not enough hours in the day anymore? More often than not, I’m trying to accomplish multiple things at a time in order to get through the never-ending ‘to-do’ list that I have created for myself each day. That, coupled with easy access to online shopping from my smartphone makes home delivery a very common and necessary feature in daily life. One study indicated that ‘mobile’ shopping is projected to grow from a mere $3 billion in 2010 to $31 billion by 2017.

Increased Injuries for Courier Workers

Given this, it isn’t surprising that courier workers are experiencing ever increasing demands in their jobs. Increased volume as well as stricter time constraints on delivery schedules have resulted in more injuries to courier workers over the years. And while these injuries occur on a more frequent basis, the typical courier worker continues to work through their injury hoping it will resolve itself. In the best of circumstances, the nagging knee pain or back twinge will eventually go away. However, in worst-case scenarios, those injuries that were initially minor in nature can turn into debilitating, career-ending injuries.

Who to Call…and When…

Time and time again, I receive calls from injured workers who have had long standing injuries that they have reported to the company, only to learn later, and sometimes when it is too late, that these injuries are not covered under workers’ compensation. This should not be happening! Merely reporting your work injury at the job is not enough.

We can help to make sure your rights are protected. Contact Gretchen Rogers today 301-740-3303 to learn what you rights are.

By Ken Berman

Maryland Vocational Rehabilitation – Don’t Put All Your Eggs In The Insurance Company Basket

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Vocational rehabilitation is all about finding “Suitable Gainful Employment.” Employment is a job. Gainful is one that pays money, so the real question is what is Suitable? As an injured worker, when you’re receiving vocational rehabilitation benefits you have the opportunity to work with a vocational counselor to try and find a job that you can do. The vocational counselor works with you to develop a plan that takes into consideration your:

  • Age
  • Past work history
  • Past school history
  • Transferable skills
  • Physical limitations from your injury

The vocational counselor does not work for the insurance company, but they do get paid by the insurance company.

Unfortunately, there are no guarantees in vocational rehabilitation:

  • No guarantee to a job with the same company.
  • No guarantee to a job within the same industry.
  • No guarantee to a job making the same amount of money, and
  • No guarantee to a job that you like.

In today’s economy it’s hard enough for people who are not injured to find a job. But for an injured worker, who may now have physical limitations, and may now be looking for a type of employment that they have never done before, it can be very hard.

Vocational rehabilitation is a right under the law and it’s a protection for injured workers. However, don’t put all your eggs in the insurance company basket!

Don’t rely on the vocational counselor to find you a job!

While in vocational rehabilitation, it’s important to do everything that the vocational counselor says, so that your benefits continue. However, it’s important for YOU to find yourself a job . If you sit around waiting for the insurance company to help you out, do you really think you’re going to get the best job possible?

By doing the work on your own, and finding a job for yourself, you’re more likely to find the best situation for you. When you find a job for yourself:

  • It’s more likely going to be a job in the industry you want it to be in,
  • It’s more likely going to be a job that pays you the amount of money that you want, or at least a job that is a step in the right direction towards earning the type of money that you want
  • It’s more likely going to be a job that you actually like!

Ari Laric’s telephone number is 410-769-5400 or 800-248-3352.

By Ari Laric, Esq.

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