Jill Kolodner | August 10, 2020 | Workers’ Compensation
Workers’ compensation insurance covers most workers in Maryland. When a worker has sustained a covered injury, workers’ compensation insurance provides specific benefits. A covered injury under Maryland’s workers’ compensation laws is an accidental injury that arose out of or in the course of employment.
Short Term Workers’ Compensation Benefits
The benefits workers receive depend on several factors, including the severity and type of their injury.
If an employee is unable to work because of the injury, the employee may receive disability payments. For a worker who cannot work at all, he is entitled to receive two-thirds of his average weekly wage. The amount cannot exceed the state’s average weekly wage.
An employee who can work, but who cannot perform his full duties, may receive partial disability payments. The partial disability payments equal 50 percent of the difference between the employee’s average weekly wage and his earnings. The amount cannot exceed one-half of the state’s average weekly wage.
In all cases in which workers’ compensation applies, the worker receives medical care for the injury at no cost to the worker. Medical care may include, but is not necessarily limited to:
- Emergency room visits
- Ambulance costs
- Physicians’ bills
- Diagnostic tests and imaging tests
- Therapy bills
- Medication and medical equipment
- Nursing services
The medical benefits are paid directly to the medical providers. These benefits are not paid to the worker. Medical benefits continue until the worker has reached maximum medical improvement.
Maximum medical improvement (MMI) is the point in your recovery at which medical treatment will not improve your condition. MMI for some workers is a full recovery. However, MMI for other workers may include an impairment rating.
An impairment rating can increase the value of your workers’ compensation claim.
Settling a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Maryland
If an employee does not sustain a permanent impairment, the disability benefits cease when the doctor states the employee can return to regular work duties. There is no further settlement because workers’ compensation does not compensate the employee for pain, suffering, and other damages the employee might be entitled to receive in a third party claim.
However, if a worker sustains a permanent impairment, he may be entitled to receive additional benefits and compensation. The value of the benefit depends on the type of injury and the impairment rating.
There are two types of permanent disability for workers’ compensation claims.
Permanent total disability refers to workers who are unable to perform any basic job duties. They will never work again because of their injuries. Losing both arms, hands, feet, eyes, legs, or any two of those body parts is considered a permanent total disability.
Benefits for permanent total disability can last throughout a person’s lifetime. The payments continue as long as the disability continues. The amount equals two-thirds of the person’s average weekly wage not to exceed the state’s average weekly wage, which is adjusted each year on January 1.
Calculating the value of permanent partial disability is more challenging. The state has assigned a number of weeks to many body parts. For example, the total loss of a leg is worth 300 weeks.
If the impairment rating for your leg is 50 percent, you are entitled to 150 weeks of partial disability benefits for permanent impairment. However, the amount you receive for each eligible week depends on the tier. All tiers have caps based on the state’s average weekly wage.
Tier one covers claims between 1 and 74 weeks. These claims are paid at a rate of 33 1/3 the average weekly wage.
Tier two covers claims between 75 weeks and 249 weeks. These claims are paid at a rate of two-thirds of the average weekly salary.
Tier three covers claims of 250 weeks or more. These claims are called serious disability claims. The rate is based on two-thirds of the person’s average weekly wage, but the cap is much higher.
There are specific categories of employees that are treated differently, which can complicate matters. For example, public safety employees are paid at the second tier rate even though their injury may fall into the first tier rate. Numerous public safety employees in Maryland qualify for this exception.
Should I Talk to a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer?
There are many things to consider before you accept a settlement for your workers’ compensation claim. Calculating the correct average weekly wage and ensuring your impairment rating is correct are essential steps for maximizing the value of your claim.
Also, you need to consider the ongoing medical treatment and personal care you may need because of your injury. Even though you have reached maximum medical improvement, that does not mean you will not require ongoing treatment and care.
There are strict guidelines and rules in place for calculating the value of workers’ compensation claims, but there are exceptions. You have the right to consult with a workers’ compensation lawyer before you accept a settlement offer for your workers’ compensation claim. If you do not understand the calculations or believe you are entitled to more money, it is best to talk with an attorney immediately.