Earlier this month, I talked about how the Maryland Workers Comp system is tilted in the employer's favor, and how important it is for injured workers to take charge of their situations right away. (See "Maryland Personal Injury Lawyer on Maryland Workers Compensation System," March 18, 2009, below.)
My partner and I have handled personal injury cases for injured workers in Maryland for more than two decades. We've seen all kinds of work comp cases, from people who throw their backs out lifting something heavy, to typists who develop carpal tunnel syndrome, to a client who got bit by a mosquito and contracted malaria while on a sales call to a foreign country. We've seen industrial accidents resulting in burns and other serious injuries, and people who suffer shock and psychiatric problems as the result of a traumatic event at work, like a robbery.
Advice for Injured Workers in Maryland
Our experience has literally covered the entire range of possible problems that can occur at work and cause injury. Here are a few tips on what to do right away if you suffer a personal injury at work in Maryland.
1. Report the Injury to Your Supervisor Immediately
Let's say you wrench your back lifting a box at work. TELL YOUR SUPERVISOR IMMEDIATELY that you think you may have injured yourself -- whether you're sure you're hurt or not. You don't have to put it in writing to them or put on a show by flopping around on the floor. Just tell your supervisor. Don't leave the premises to take a break at McDonald's or to try to walk it off. Tell him or her right away.
By law in Maryland, if you tell your boss you think you've been hurt at work, she has to file an "Employer's First Report of Injury" form with the Maryland Workers' Compensation Commission -- written documentation that can save your bacon down the road if the insurance company starts to question whether or not your herniated disc was caused by a work injury. If you wait to report your injury, the workers comp insurance carrier could say your injury happened someplace else besides at work. Then you're in for an uphill battle.
2. Record the Details Surrounding Your Injury
If you are physically able, write down the circumstances of your injury -- what you were doing, the environment (including lighting, the condition of the floor and workspace), the equipment you were using -- anything that might come into play if your claim is questioned. Don't let loyalty to your employer prevent you from protecting your own health and well-being. What a lot of people don't understand is you may have the nicest employer in the world. But when you're filing a Workers Comp claim in Maryland, you're dealing with insurance companies, not your employer.
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