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Workers' Compensation Blog

File a Maryland Worker’s Compensation Claim – Reporting Your Injury is Not Enough!

Monday, September 19, 2016

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.

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.

 

Maryland Worker’s Compensation - Ten Rules For Speaking To Doctors

Friday, September 16, 2016

 

Anybody that has watched TV for more than fifteen minutes can recite the Miranda warnings from all the cop shows; I bet you know them … “You have the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you …” you get the picture. But, what does that have to do with a Workers Compensation (or personal injury) claim? Everything!

Injured folks are constantly talking to doctors and nurses who make notes and then place those notes into your records or on your chart. Sometimes, they even quote what you say. I recently litigated a cancer case where the other side actually brought up that a my client, suffering from leukemia due to a workplace toxic exposure, told a doctor that he was doing “fine” when the doctor asked him how he was!

Everything you say to medical care provider (doctor, nurse, PA, everybody) has the potential of ending up in charts that will be read and scrutinized by lawyers at a later date. Who can forget the antics that Elaine, from the TV show Seinfeld, went through to see her own medical chart and then how she was blackballed by other doctors for looking at it; maybe funny on TV, but very serious in the world of personal injury and workers compensation..

Sometimes, what is just as important as what you say is what you don’t say. If you fall at work and break your leg, but fail to mention that you hit your head, or shoulder when you fell, it gives the other side the chance to argue that you did not actually hurt that body part in the accident.

10 Rules for Speaking With Medical Providers

Here are some rules of thumb for when you speak to all medical providers:

  1. Everything you say might be placed in the medical record so speak carefully
  2. Never lie or exaggerate, but don’t hesitate to tell them that something hurts and the more specific you are the better
  3. Doctors rarely will purposely misdiagnose or change a diagnosis just because they work for one side or the other; however, the employer/insurer’s medical opinion may tilt heavily towards the person paying the bills. Keep this in mind.
  4. Be very friendly to the office staff and doctors. If you are sincere, friendly and honest to everybody they will spend more time with you and listen more carefully to what you are saying.
  5. Some of the tests and questions the doctors send your way are designed to see if you are being truthful. They know a lot more about how things are connected in your body than you and I do, but if you are being completely truthful it is less of a problem.
  6. Not all doctors have good bedside manner or want to engage in small talk, such is life
  7. Write down specific problems, complaints and questions, before you go to the appointment and take them with you. It saves everybody time and you don’t forget to bring up important points
  8. Mention problems with other body parts and let them see if they are related. For example, neck, back and shoulder injuries often result in other body parts having symptoms. These may or may not be related, let the doctors decide
  9. Tell them about any medications you take, even if embarrassing. Not telling them could actually hurt or kill you due to a drug interaction
  10. And finally, never, ever, ever tell them you are “fine” … unless you really are … if you were fine you wouldn’t be talking to a doctor, now would you?

For more information or assistance with a Worker's Compensation claim or case, call me for a confidential consultation.

 

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