Posted On: March 28, 2012

Maryland Workers' Compensation Fund Could Be Privatized, If State Bill Passes

Maryland lawmakers have moved forward with legislation that seeks to privatize the state-run Workers' Compensation fund. S.B. 745 seeks to require the Maryland Injured Workers' Insurance Fund (IWIF) to restructure into a private workers' compensation insurance fund, to be known as the Chesapeake Employers' Insurance Co.

The bill was introduced to the Maryland State Senate on Feb. 3 by State Senator Thomas M. Middleton and is co-sponsored by State Senators Katherine Klausmeier and Delores G. Kelley. The bill passed with amendments in the Maryland State Senate in mid-March, and has moved to its first reading in the House (House Bill 1017).

Since 1914, the IWIF has been the Maryland workers' compensation insurer of last resort -- meaning it has written policies for employers who couldn't otherwise find suitable insurance in the private marketplace. The Baltimore Business Journal reports that the IWIF has been Maryland's largest workers' comp insurer -- providing insurance for some 21,000 Maryland businesses (more than 20 percent). That amounted to about $170 million in policies written in 2011.

The bill is somewhat controversial, and is not the IWIF's first attempt at privatizing and moving out from under state control. As the BBJ reports, "Despite the planned name change, IWIF would still be under state control because the governor would continue to name IWIF’s board of directors, insurance industry officials said." The IWIF has reportedly expressed concern over the Maryland General Assembly and Governor O'Malley seeking to tap its $310 million in surplus to close state budget gaps.

As experienced Baltimore County, Maryland workers compensation lawyers for nearly three decades, we've seen how the insurance system works from the inside out. If this pending legislation passes, it's unclear whether workers compensation insurance rates will change for Maryland employers -- and how that change might trickle down to the workers comp claim process for injured workers.

If you're injured at work -- do not attempt to file a Maryland work comp claim on your own. The system is far more complicated than the average working person could ever imagine. Just like you wouldn't go off hiking in the wilderness without a map and a guide -- you don't want to try to navigate the Maryland Workers Compensation system on your own. Please, if you're injured at work in Maryland, contact a personal injury attorney who knows the ropes. And for goodness sakes, don't make a statement to your employer, their insurance rep, or their attorney. Like walking on a slippery precipice -- one false move and it could all be over.

The current Maryland Workers Comp system is fraught with enough perils and pitfalls for injured workers. That's why we as Maryland work injury attorneys are here to help. We will follow this legislation as it moves through the Maryland House.

Related Maryland Workers Comp Lawyer article:

Maryland Work Injury and Death Statistics Shed Light on Most Hazardous Occupations
Jan. 10, 2012

Sources:

IWIF seeks to cut ties with Maryland
Baltimore Business Journal Feb. 17, 2012

Legislation to privatize Maryland's workers comp fund moves forward
Business Insurance March 26, 2012

Maryland could ‘privatize’ workers’ comp fund
Out of the Storm News March 27, 2012

Related Web Resources:

Senate Bill 745 -- Synopsis and Sponsors

Injured Workers Insurance Fund

Maryland Workers' Compensation Commission

Posted On: March 5, 2012

Which Maryland Traffic Safety Laws Save the Most Lives?

If you grew up in my generation, going for a Sunday drive along Maryland back roads was a leisurely family pastime. We kids piled in the back of the sedan or station wagon, with dad at the wheel and mom riding shotgun. Life was a lot simpler in those days.

Looking back, it's a wonder more of us weren't injured or killed in Maryland car accidents. We had none of today's driving laws or vehicle safety equipment in place. No child or infant car seats, no air bags, no anti-lock brakes, and no cell phones if you did run into trouble. The cars may have had seat belts, but we weren't required by law to wear them. When it comes to traffic safety and preventing auto crashes in Maryland, we've come a long way since we were kids.

Thanks to adoption of traffic safety laws, public awareness campaigns, and vehicle improvements, national motor vehicle death rates are back down to the 1961 level. The U.S. Census reports that in 2009, a total 33,808 persons were killed in motor vehicle accidents in this country. That's as low as it's been since the early 1960s. Maryland had 547 traffic deaths in 2009. Still, every one of these Maryland traffic crash deaths means someone's life was cut short. A family was left grieving.

Baltimore County car crash injury lawyers know that one death on our Maryland roads and highways is one too many. Sadly, many of these deaths could have been prevented -- had the responsible drivers slowed down and obeyed the Maryland traffic laws. Now a new report shows how many lives have been saved by traffic laws and vehicle safety equipment in the U.S.

The U.S. Dept. of Transportation estimates numbers of lives saved nationally between 1975 and 2009, thanks to traffic laws and vehicle safety measures. Interesting findings, which apply to Maryland:

  • Safety belts are the number-one life saver. The DOT estimates some 267,890 lives were saved during the 30+ year study period, because drivers and passengers simply buckled up. That's an astounding number. What's more, study authors estimate an additional 363,552 lives could have been saved if 100% people had used their seat belts.

  • Motorcycle helmets reduced the number of people killed in motorcycle crashes by 31,985. An additional 28,169 motorcycle operators or passengers could have survived had 100% helmet use been in place.

  • Legal drinking age of 21 saved 27,677 lives.

  • Child restraints saved 9,310 lives.

Use caution when you're out driving on Maryland's highways, city streets and back roads. While we may have more traffic safety laws and better designed vehicles than in our parents' day -- we also have more traffic and more congested roads and highways. Distracted driving, drunk driving, speeding and teenage driving accidents remain serious risks and challenges for traffic safety advocates and law enforcement in Maryland.

Related Maryland Injury Attorney articles:

U.S. Highway Safety Group Green Lights Maryland Traffic Laws, While Noting Areas that Need Improvement (Jan. 18, 2012)

Maryland Car Accident Statistics: NHTSA Reports Fatalities Down to 1961 Level (April 7, 2009)

Sources:

Fatal Motor Vehicle Accidents -- National Summary 1990 - 2009 (PDF)
U.S. Census Bureau 2012, Based on Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)

Fatality Analysis Reporting System, General Estimates System, 2009 DATA SUMMARY (PDF)
U.S. Department of Transportation, Sept. 2011

Related Web Resource:

U.S. Census Bureau: The 2012 Statistical Abstract: Motor Vehicle Accidents and Fatalities