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Workers' Compensation Blog

Maryland Workers’ Compensation – Working Two Jobs – Injured On One

Saturday, November 27, 2010

What do you mean – I can’t collect temporary total or partial disability benefits for being hurt on one job if I continue to work my second job? Unfortunately, that is the law in Maryland. In fact, if you do so, you could be subject to criminal prosecution!

Let me explain the problem by using the following example:

  1. You have two jobs. The first is a fulltime position in an office from which you earn $900.00 a week. The second is a part time job working at a grocery job from which you make $300.00 a week.
  2. You hurt your knee while doing your grocery job and require surgery resulting in an inability to do the grocery job for six months. As a result you are entitled to temporary total disability benefits equivalent to two thirds of your salary – $200.00 per week – during that six month period.
  3. You are still physically able to do your office job.

In a similar scenario the Court of Appeals and the Court of Special Appeals in two separate cases made clear that if the employee continues to work the office job he or she forfeits the right to receive $200.00 a week while the knee heals. This creates an impossible choice for the injured employee – accept the $200.00 and give up the larger salary, or continue to work the office job and create a windfall for the grocery store where they were injured. Either choice will financially devastate the injured employee and discriminates against productive members of our society without any offsetting definable purpose.

The impact on the injured employee of the employer/insurer discovering that the injured worker has double dipped so, to speak, can be devastating. Since most temporary total disability checks contain a warning against cashing them if the injured worker is working, the argument is created that doing so is a knowing violation of the law. The sanctions can range from future reductions reducing other payments owed to repayment, including a high level of interest beyond the date of the Commission Order requiring repayment. The potential framework also exists for the employer/insurer to argue that all right to future compensation is denied and for criminal prosecution (although this author would dispute whether cashing the check without other conduct reaches the level of criminal conduct contemplated in the fraudulent representation statute – no Appellate Court has clearly ruled on the subject so the scope of the statute is still unknown as of November 2010).

If you think this is unfair feel free to contact your legislative representative. This is a law that cries out for change!

By Clifford B. Sobin, Esq.

Maryland Workers’ Compensation Claims – Reporting Your Claim To The Employer

Thursday, November 11, 2010

If you are injured, how and when you report your injury is often the difference between speedy acceptance of the claim by the insurance company and a long drawn out battle with an uncertain outcome. Most claims are denied because the insurer does not believe it happened on the job or does not believe the mechanism of injury is covered under the law.You can protect yourself by understanding the law and minimizing the danger by being prompt and accurate.

The Insurer Does Not believe It Happened On The Job

This problem usually comes up when the incident causing the injury is not witnessed . The antidote is really common sense. You must act in a manner that minimizes the possibility in the insurance adjuster’s mind that some other non work related incident caused your injury. Therefore to reduce the risk that the insurer will not find you credible you must:

  • Report the incident and injury the same day it occurs to your employer in a manner in which you can prove that you did so and/or the likelihood of your employer denying that you did is reduced(in writing, by email, directly by voice – only as a last resort by a message on an answering machine).
  • Seek medical treatment the same day, or as soon as you can – even from a 24 hour urgent care center if you must, and when you do so make sure you give an accurate history of how you were injured on the job.
  • If you have not already, always report an injury that lingers overnight the next day to your employer.
  • Never allow a weekend, holiday, vacation or sick leave intervene between the incident occurred that injured you and the day you report the incident.

Your Description Of The Incident That Caused Your Injury

Maryland Workers’ Compensation law is clear that an injury is covered if it is the unexpected, unintended, or unusual result of an incident. Therefore you must clearly report:

  • That an incident occurred;
  • When it occurred;
  • How it occurred.

When detailing how it occurred, if you know what caused the injury state it. If you stretched too far while carrying a box, say so. If you slipped make sure to include that fact. The key is to include, if possible, why the mechanism of injury was caused by the incident. This will help defeat any claim that the injury is not related to the incident or that the incident is not one that is covered under the law.

By Clifford Sobin, Esq.

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