Last month, we blogged about why employers sometimes discourage injured workers from filing a Workers' Compensation claim in Maryland (see "The Top 3 Reasons Employers Tell Injured Workers Not to File -- And Why You Shouldn't Listen to Them," June 8, 2009). Now, let's look at why documenting your injury and seeking immediate medical attention -- coupled with consulting an experienced attorney who knows the system -- is so important to your future well-being.
"Causal Connection" and the Maryland Workers Comp Two-Year Limitation
If you're hurt at work, the good news is you have two years to file a Work Comp case in Maryland. However filing and winning are two different things. Let's say you bang your knee at work, it swells up, and you go to the emergency room. Your employer says, "Oh God, don't file a work comp claim, I'll pay your medical bills and give you some time off." Doesn't sound like a bad offer at the time, and you accept.
A year later, you're at a different job and that bad knee starts acting up again. Now your doctor says you need surgery to repair the damage. Here's the rub: Because you didn't document your injury, receive diagnostic studies and follow-up care, and you did not file a work comp case when you originally got hurt, you can't link the problem you're having now to your original injury. You need "causal connection" to have a legitimate workers' comp case in Maryland.
It's like everything else in life. If you buy a bad jar of mayonnaise at the grocery store and you get sick, you need a receipt to prove where you got it. Medical records are the same way. If you hurt your knee (or anything else) at work, it's not enough to put a cold compress on it and hope it feels better in the morning. Filing a work comp claim goes hand-in-hand with getting medical treatment and consulting a qualified Maryland workers compensation lawyer. If you're hurt at work...
1. Document your injury
2. Get medical treatment: Listen to your doctor, and follow recommendations regarding follow-up care
3. Consult an attorney to file a Maryland workers' compensation claim
If you're done everything right, your employer where you originally got hurt is legally responsible for your workers comp claim forever. Even if you have a problem 10 or 20 years down the road, if you have the medical documentation and a workers comp claim number to prove it -- and your current doctor will attest that your problem isn't something new but a progression of your old work injury -- you are covered. You'll have the legal proof you need to ensure if your knee kicks up again, your medical expenses are covered by Workers' Compensation in the State of Maryland.
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