March 30, 2013

Maryland Workers Rights : Family and Medical Leave Act Turns 20, But Sick Employees Still Fighting an Uphill Battle

When an employee suffers an injury or work-related illness, their lives literally may be at stake. As Maryland Workers' Compensation lawyers, we work with hurt and sick workers to obtain the compensation they need while they're recovering from their work injury or illness. This means promptly filing a Maryland Work Comp claim and sometimes, taking the employer to court if they refuse to honor the claim in a timely manner.

One law that provides workers who become seriously ill with some protection is the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which Congress passed 20 years ago under the Clinton administration. The Act ensures job security by providing workers *who meet certain requirements* (this is significant) with 12 weeks of unpaid leave, to care for a family member (including maternity/paternity care) or to care for themselves in the event of injury or illness. The law was designed to protect sick workers from losing their jobs or medical coverage.

Some employee rights advocates heralded the FMLA as the beginning of a "Workers' First" attitude in the U.S. However, others have criticized the Act as not going far enough, as it does not require all employers to provide the unpaid-leave benefit for all employees (see link to terms of the law below) -- and some people simply can't afford to take 12 weeks off without pay. Considering how exorbitant medical expenses rack up quickly, this is significant for sick workers in Maryland and everywhere else.

Maryland Workers' Rights Case Goes to Supreme Court
Maryland was, in fact, one of two states that made national legal headlines for state workers' rights cases related to the FMLA. Wrongful denial of FMLA leave to workers had been challenged through private lawsuit or administrative action by the U.S. Dept. of Labor. Related cases in Nevada and Maryland reached the Supreme Court. As Justia.com reported,

In one, Nevada Department of Human Resources v. Hibbs (2003), the Court held that state employees could sue to enforce the family-care (sick relative) provision of the Act.

But in Coleman v. Court of Appeals of Maryland (2012), the Court held that the states’ sovereign immunity under the Eleventh Amendment prevented lawsuits against them over the self-care provision.

The Supreme Court of the United States held that, "Suits against the states under the self-care provision of the Family and Medical Leave Act are barred by sovereign immunity." (See link to SCOTUS blog summary of the Maryland case below. Justice Kennedy authored the opinion.)

Seriously ill or injured workers who apply for Maryland Workers Comp may or may not also be covered under the Family and Medical Leave Act. As we've written about in previous blog articles, things can get very messy, very quickly when a worker is injured or becomes sick on the job in Maryland. If employers always stood by their workers and did the right thing -- we wouldn't need Md. Workers Comp attorneys like us to fight for their rights. Unfortunately, when money and compensation are involved, hurt workers often get the short end of the stick.

To learn more about The Family and Medical Leave Act -- and whom it does and doesn't cover -- as well as the Maryland case that went to Supreme Court, see links below.

Related Maryland Workers Compensation Attorney articles:

Dangerous Jobs in Maryland : OSHA Site Specific Inspections Target High-Risk, Non-Construction Workplaces (Jan. 2013)

Can I Get Workers Comp in Maryland if My Employer Is Based Out of State? (Nov. 2012)

Sources:

A Step in the Right Direction: The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 at 20
Verdict : Legal Analysis and Commentary from Justia.com March 5, 2013

Coleman v. Maryland Court of Appeals
SCOTUS Blog March 20, 2012

Related Web Resources:

Fact Sheet: The Family and Medical Leave Act
U.S. Department of Labor

Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) Information and Forms
Maryland Department of Budget and Management

January 15, 2013

Dangerous Jobs in Maryland : OSHA Site Specific Inspections Target High-Risk, Non-Construction Workplaces

The United States Department of Labor, Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) announced its plan to inspect workplaces in industries with increased hazards for worker illness, injury, and death.

OSHA announced in a press release that the Site-Specific Targeting 2012 plan aims inspections at high-hazard, non-construction site workplaces with 20 or more workers. The plan is the result of data collected from a survey of 80,000 establishments in high-hazard industries. Industries surveyed included farming, automotive, trucking, packing and crating, manufacturing, grocery, lumber, department stores, as well as hospitals and psychiatric and nursing facilities.

Baltimore, Maryland Worker's Compensation lawyers like us know that construction work can be very dangerous. A fair number of our work injury cases result from construction workers who suffer injuries from slip and fall accidents, being struck by machinery or objects, and construction vehicle accidents. However worker hazards exist in other non-construction industries target by OSHA – both nationally and regionally, here in the Mid-Atlantic.

OSHA's Local Emphasis Programs target region-specific industries where workers may be at higher risk for injury and death. Maryland falls within OSHA Region III. Among the region specific industries and types of injuries targeted under this program are the oil and gas industry, cement work, construction falls, department store industry, sheet metal and scrap metal industries, the health care industry, and ship building/boat repair.

Note: Maryland is among the U.S. states and territories that operate their own OSHA-approved job safety and health programs and cover state and local government workers as well as private sector workers. The Maryland Occupational Safety and Health Program (MOSH) is part of the Maryland Division of Labor and Industry. Maryland OSHA is headquartered in Hunt Valley, Maryland and has field offices in Easton and Hagerstown, Md.

If you are injured in the course of your work for a Maryland employer, please contact an experienced Maryland work injury attorney to discuss your case. These cases can quickly turn against well-meaning employees, who may let loyalty to a company get in the way of doing what's best for themselves and their families. Remember: Insurance companies and company attorneys don't care how loyal you are to your employer or how many years of work you put into your job.

See our related articles below for more insight into the Maryland Worker's Compensation system and dangerous jobs in Maryland.

Related Maryland Injury Attorney Articles:

Top Question Asked by Injured Workers Filing Maryland Workers' Compensation Claims : "When Will I Get Paid?"

Maryland Work Injury and Death Statistics Shed Light on Most Hazardous Occupations (Jan. 2012)

Sources:

OSHA issues 2012 inspection plan to reduce injuries and illnesses at high-hazard workplaces
OSHA News Release Jan. 8, 2013

Site-Specific Targeting 2012 (SST-12) (PDF)
OSHA Notice Jan. 4, 2013

OSHA : Local Emphasis Programs

OSHA : Maryland Plan

November 23, 2012

"Can I Get Workers Comp in Maryland if My Employer Is Based Out of State?"

A high-profile case this past summer drew attention to an issue we Baltimore County work accident injury lawyers encounter with our clients. What happens if you're hurt at work in Maryland, but your employer is based out of state? What if your work in Maryland requires you to travel and work at employer sites in other states? How does Maryland Workers Compensation fit into the picture?

Work-related injuries can happen to people in just these types of situations. Often they are sales people, construction workers, and others who travel for their Maryland jobs. But not always.

This past summer, former Washington Redskins pro football player Tom Tupa took his Workers Compensation claim to the Maryland High Court. In August 2005, Tupa injured his back while playing a pre-season game at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland. However, he had an employment contract with Pro-Football, Inc., which is based in Virginia. Tupa and his attorneys pursued the Workers Compensation claim in Maryland courts, asserting that because the injury happened in Maryland – Maryland Workers Comp should cover Tupa's injuries.

Pro-Football, Inc., argued that Redskins players practiced and attended meetings at company headquarters in Virginia, therefore Tupa was contractually bound to bring any injury claims in Virginia -- not Maryland where the injury took place. The court disagreed. The court also determined that Tupa's injuries were indeed accidental and occurred in the course of his employment – playing pro football – and therefore were compensable.

The Maryland Court of Appeals ruled that it "…had jurisdiction over a football player's claim and he suffered a compensable injury during the course of his employment." In other words, Tupa's employment contract with a Virginia-based employer did not mean he waived his rights to collect Workers' Compensation in the state of Maryland, where he was regularly employed (i.e., playing football games).

Most Maryland Workers Compensation claims do not make headlines like this one. However regular working people who are hurt on the job may find, like Mr. Tupa, that their employers may throw up roadblocks to their Md. Work Comp claims. Loyalty can go out the window when an employee gets hurt, and a company is looking at being held responsible.

This is why it's so important to contact an experienced Maryland Workers' Comp attorney as soon as possible following your work-related injury or illness. If you were injured out of state, or your employer is based out of state – that can throw more wrenches into an already complicated process. Get seasoned legal help to make sure you aren't denied Workers Compensation to cover your medical bills and lost wages.

Related Maryland Injury Attorney article:

Maryland Work Injury and Death Statistics Shed Light on Most Hazardous Occupations (Jan. 2012)

Sources:

Case Name: Pro-Football, Inc. v. Tupa, No. 29 September Term, 2011 (Md. 08/22/12)
16-page decision (PDF doc)

Redskins' punter can collect benefits in Maryland despite contract terms
Risk & Insurance magazine Nov. 22, 2012

Ex-Redskin Tom Tupa can get workers’ comp, Md. high court rules
The Washington Post Aug 23, 2012


July 7, 2012

Maryland Construction and Farm Worker Safety : OSHA Launches Campaign to Prevent Heat Illness and Death in Outdoor Workers

"Is it hot enough for you?" Folks jokingly use that rather tepid greeting when temperatures rise to uncomfortable levels. However heat stroke is no laughing matter. Vast parts of the U.S. have experienced record-breaking heat this summer, with some states seeing temps soar and stay above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Baltimore, Maryland and entire the Mid-Atlantic region have not escaped the brutal heat, as we've sweated under a heat advisory for much of the summer.

People who work outside in Maryland performing manual labor jobs at are greater risk for suffering heat stroke and heat-related illnesses, which can lead to death. This includes people who work in the construction industry as well as farm workers in Maryland.

With these hard-working people and their employers in mind, the U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) announced a national campaign aimed at preventing worker injury and death from heat-related illness. The Campaign to Prevent Heat Illness in Outdoor Workers aims to educate business owners, managers, and employees to learn who is at risk, the signs of heat illness, and how to respond if a worker is in distress.

Baltimore County, Maryland work accident injury lawyers advise injured employees and grieving families, when a work-related accident or illness causes injury or death. With sustained hot temperatures in Maryland and across the country, it's no wonder OSHA has made preventing heat injuries and deaths a priority.

OSHA reports that workers most at risk of heat related illness include those performing manual labor outdoors, wearing heavy or bulky and protective clothing, and those not accustomed to working in the heat. Heat stroke occurs when sweating is not enough for the body to cool itself, and body temperatures rise to dangerous levels. Heat stroke requires immediate medical attention and can be fatal.

Maryland Workers' Compensation claims may be filed in a broad range of accident injury and illness cases, including those caused by heat stroke. Here in Maryland, a wide range of workers perform heavy labor outside in the brutal heat, including construction workers (such as builders, roofers, carpenters, road and and highway construction workers in Maryland), public works personnel in our Maryland towns and cities, utility repair people, and farm workers harvesting our fields and operating farm vehicles and other heavy agricultural equipment.

Maryland is part of the OSHA Region 3 office in Philadelphia, which includes Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, the District of Columbia, Virginia and West Virginia. OSHA has partnered with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as part of the heat illness prevention campaign. NOAA now includes worker safety precautions when extreme heat alerts are issued to the public (see links below).

OSHA recommends outdoor workers drink plenty of water, take breaks, and find shade to rest. The organization also hopes to educate employers and workers on the warning signs of heat stroke, and how to react if a worker becomes sick from the heat. In addition to targeting heat related illnesses in workers this summer, OSHA also launched a national construction slip and fall accidents prevention campaign. See related article below.

Related Maryland Injury Attorney Article:

Preventing Maryland Construction Work Falls and Fatalities : OSHA Launches Fall Prevention Campaign (May 15, 2012)

Sources:

OSHA Campaign to Prevent Heat Illness in Outdoor Workers

NOAA : Heat Wave, A Major Summer Killer

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

February 5, 2012

US Labor Dept. Sues Towson, Maryland Employer over Mishandling Workers' Retirement Contributions

A Towson, Maryland rehabilitation center has been sued by the United States Department of Labor for allegedly mishandling employees' retirement contributions. According to a news release, the U.S. Labor Dept. has filed a lawsuit against Towson Rehabilitation Center LLC and its CEO for failure to remit employees' retirement contributions to the company's 401K plan.

The lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland in Baltimore, seeks to restore all plan losses and "permanently bar the defendants from serving in a fiduciary capacity to any employee benefit plan…" covered by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).

A case such as this suggests an alleged breakdown in trust between the employer and employees--in this case, with workers' retirement contributions at stake. Trust can also break down when someone is injured at work, and the employer may not always do what is in the best interest of the injured employee.

Towson, Maryland Workers Comp lawyers also understand the grief injured workers go through when the trust between employer and employee is broken.

When someone is hurt in the course of their employment in Maryland, there may be a knee-jerk reaction to let the employer handle matters. Often hard-working, dedicated employees believe "my boss knows what's best." They don't want to make waves -- particularly in this rough economy where good jobs are hard to come by and hold onto. So they leave it up to their employer to advise them on how to handle their work injury. Maybe the boss tells them to take a couple days off, rest up, and see if the injury improves. To that we say, don't do it! Document your injury, report the incident to your supervisor, get medical attention…and contact an experienced Towson, MD work injury attorney.

As we tell our clients whom we assist in filing Maryland Workers Compensation claims… If you get hurt at work, don't let guilt or loyalty to your employer prevent you from filing a claim that will help you in the long run.

Even in cordial employer-employee relationships, things can go downhill very quickly when a worker is injured and the employer may be responsible and held liable. This is why it's always best to consult an experienced injury attorney if you or a loved one are hurt while performing your job in Md. That injury may have repercussions for years to come. And if you don't handle things properly from the onset, you may be left high and dry with mounting medicals bills and disabilities that prevent you from working and earning your wages.

The case referred to here against the Towson, Md employer was filed by the Labor Department’s Regional Office of the Solicitor in Philadelphia, PA.

Related Maryland Injury Attorney articles:

Maryland Car Accidents While at Work : How MD Workers' Compensation Works with a Motor Vehicle Accident Liability Claim

Sources:

US Labor Department sues Towson Rehabilitation Center in Maryland and owner to restore employees’ 401(k) contributions
US Dept. of Labor News Release Feb. 3, 2012

Justia Dockets and Filing:
Solis v. Towson Rehabilitation Center, LLC et al January 11, 2012

Related Web Resource:

MD Workers' Compensation in the Courts of Appeals

January 10, 2012

Maryland Work Injury and Death Statistics Shed Light on Most Hazardous Occupations

Which are the most dangerous occupations in Maryland? What types of fatal work-related accidents occur most frequently? As we look ahead to 2012, it's worth looking to the recent past to consider Maryland workplace safety, accidents that happen on the job, and trends.

The answers may be found in the most recent Maryland Occupational Safety and Health (MOSH) survey results, which are available to the public (see link below). Some highlights from the 2008 Maryland Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries…

> Nonfatal work related injuries and illnesses in Maryland declined in 2008, numbering at 75,000. Maryland is statistically one of the safer states in which to work in the U.S., with a "TRC" (total recordable case) incidence rate that's 12 percent below the national average. (Md.'s TRC rate was, for 2008, 3.7 injuries and illnesses per 100 equivalent full-time workers.)

That's the encouraging news.

However, as an experienced Hunt Valley, Maryland Work Accident Injury Attorney will attest, even one injury or death on the job is one too many. Where and how are workers statistically more likely to get hurt or killed in the course of their employment in Md.? According to the MOSH report…

> 60 work related deaths occurred in Maryland in 2008. Of those, four types of events claimed the most lives:

  • Falls to a lower level (such as falling from a ladder, roof, scaffolding, or other construction accident)

  • Workplace homicides

  • Contact with electric current (electrocution)

  • Highway incidents (which includes operating a motor vehicle as part of one's employment. That can include salespeople who travel by car to pay sales calls to clients, as well as long-distance commercial truckers hauling cargo across Md. highways)

Other types of fatal Maryland work accidents included…

  • Being caught in or compressed by equipment or objects

  • Pedestrian incidents (such as a pedestrian accident where a worker on a job site is struck by a vehicle or other traffic accident)

  • Aircraft incidents

> The Maryland construction industry sector recorded the most work fatalities, followed by the goods producing industry and the service industry.

A work related accident can involve both a Maryland Workers' Compensation claim as well as legal proceedings. This is why it's critical to contact an experienced work injury attorney as soon as possible. Please see our other resource links below for more information on Maryland work related accidents, Md. Workers Comp claims, and lawsuits in the State of Maryland.

Source:

Nonfatal Workplace Injuries and Illnesses in Maryland Decline in 2008, Research and Statistics
Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation; Division of Labor and Industry; Maryland Occupational Safety and Health (MOSH)

Related Maryland Injury Attorney Articles:

Maryland Car Accidents While at Work : How MD Workers' Compensation Works with a Motor Vehicle Accident Liability Claim

Maryland Workers Compensation: The Top 3 Reasons Employers Tell Injured Workers Not to File (And Why You Shouldn't Listen to Them) (July 2009)

Maryland Workers' Compensation Cost of Living Rate Adjustments for 2012 (Dec. 2011)

Maryland Work Injury Update: BLS Issues Revised Fatal Occupational Injuries Report -- Work Related Deaths on the Decline (June 2012)

December 5, 2011

Maryland Workers' Compensation Cost of Living Rate Adjustments for 2012

What would happen to you and your family if you were hurt on the job and temporarily or permanently disabled? For construction workers, electricians, machinists, farmers, truck drivers, and others in high-risk occupations, surviving a Maryland work accident can be just the start of an uphill battle. Keeping up with day-to-day medical and living expenses, while recovering from a work-related accident, can be an enormous struggle for injured Md. workers and their families.

Harford County, Md. work comp injury lawyers know families may struggle just to get by in the wake of a work related accident. This is why we work hard to relieve injured Maryland workers and their families of the burden of dealing with their Maryland Workers' Compensation claims and well as related legal claims and lawsuits.

How much money can a Maryland injured worker expect to receive when filing a Workers' Comp claim on their own? The Maryland Workers' Compensation Commission posted its Workers' Compensation Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) for the New Year. Let's take a look at a few numbers and consider what that could mean for injured Md. workers and their families.

  • In 2011, the cost of living adjustment for people with permanent total disability went down (by -.04 percent), after decades of yearly increases. That speaks to state of the economy AND the challenges for injured Maryland workers to receive ample compensation to get by. However…
  • The cost of living rate for people with total permanent disability will increase by 1.6 percent for 2012.
  • The Average Weekly Wage of workers covered by Maryland Unemployment for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2010 is $965.

However, an injured worker should not expect to necessarily receive compensation equal to 100 percent of their salary earned prior to the Maryland work accident. Here's where things can get very complicated, very quickly.

For example, for Temporary Total Disability and Partial Total Disability, the State of Maryland may award an injured worker, "Two-thirds of the employee’s Average Weekly Wage not to exceed 100% of the State Average Weekly Wage or $965.00." Rates for Permanent Partial Disability and Temporary Partial Disability are set at varying percentages, and compensation may be awarded for a certain number of weeks (e.g., less than, equal to, or greater than 75 weeks). Death Benefits are calculated with a separate formula considering the deceased employee's income, state average wage, and family dependents.

Peruse the Maryland Workers' Compensation documents referenced below, and you'll get an idea of how quickly things can become complicated for an injured worker in Md. When less money is coming in and medical bills start piling up, injured workers and their families can suffer financial hardship. This is why we strongly urge anyone hurt on the job in Maryland to contact an experienced Maryland Work Comp injury lawyer. We know the players -- including the Md. Workers' Compensation Commission, the insurance companies, and our colleagues in court -- and we know how to pursue the maximum benefits allowable by law for our clients.

Related Maryland Injury Attorney article:

How MD Workers' Compensation Works with a Motor Vehicle Accident Liability Claim

Sources:

Maryland Workers' Compensation Rates

Informational Notice: Annual Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA):
State of Maryland Workers' Compensation Cost of Living Adjustment Rates (PDF)

MARYLAND WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSION:
MAXIMUM RATE OF BENEFITS FOR CALENDAR YEAR 2012 (PDF)

September 6, 2011

No Job in Maryland Worth Dying For : BLS Releases Preliminary Work Related Fatality Data for 2010

Did you know that in the U.S., an average of 12 people die on the job every day? As an experienced Baltimore County work injury lawyer will tell you -- no one heads off to work in Maryland not expecting to make it home for dinner that night.

But for people in dangerous jobs, including shipyard workers, commercial truck drivers, farm and agricultural workers, and those in the construction fields, serious and fatal work accidents can and do happen in Maryland.

New Bureau of Labor Statistics reveal that the U.S. as a whole showed little change in the overall number of workers killed on the job last year as compared to 2009. Preliminary results from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries show that in 2010, an estimated 4,547 workers died from work-related injuries, down from 4,551 fatal work injuries in 2009. Some improvements…

--Fatal construction work injuries in the private construction sector declined by 10 percent in the past year, with an overall 40 percent reduction in construction work deaths since 2006. Fatal falls -- which account for a large number of construction related deaths, were down by 2 percent in 2010 (from 645 in 2009 to 635 in 2010).

--Homicides in the workplace were down by 7 percent to the lowest nos. ever recorded in this category, however women involved in workplace homicides increased by 13 percent.

--Transportation accidents decreased slightly in 2010 relative to 2009, but still accounted for nearly 2 out of every 5 fatal work injuries in 2010. Long haul commercial truck drivers are among those at risk of serious and fatal work-related accidents.

However some industries showed increased worker deaths. For example, fatalities in the mining industry rose last year, in part due to multiple fatality accidents, including the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico off Louisiana and the Upper Big Branch coal mine explosion in W. Va. In addition, work-related fatalities resulting from fires more than doubled from 53 in 2009 to 109 in 2010. Those are the highest numbers since 2003.

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis made the following statement: "No worker should have to sacrifice his or her life to earn a living. When the Occupational Safety and Health Act [OSHA] was passed in 1970, the National Safety Council estimated that 14,000 workers died each year on the job. Now, with a workforce that has doubled in size, the annual number of fatalities has dropped significantly. But it's not enough. We cannot relent from our enforcement of laws that keep our nation's workers safe. One worker killed or injured on the job is one too many."

That last statement is echoed by Maryland workers compensation attorneys, who work with grieving families when a loved one is injured or killed on the job in Baltimore City, Baltimore County, or elsewhere in Maryland.

Related Maryland Injury Attorney Articles:

Maryland Workers Compensation: The Top 3 Reasons Employers Tell Injured Workers Not to File (And Why You Shouldn't Listen to Them)

Maryland Car Accidents While at Work : How MD Workers' Compensation Works with a Motor Vehicle Accident Liability Claim

Is Your Maryland Workplace Unsafe? OSHA Announces Plans to Improve Whistleblower Protection Program (Aug. 4, 2011)

Source:

Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries Summary, 2010
United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics
News Release Aug. 25, 2011

August 4, 2011

Is Your Maryland Workplace Unsafe? OSHA Announces Plans to Improve Whistleblower Protection Program

"Whistleblower." The name itself conjures up images straight out of a Hollywood thriller. Many movies have been made over the years about the plight of whistleblowers -- brave souls who try to expose corporate corruption, greed, and danger in the workplace -- usually at their own peril. Memorable movies about whistleblowers include Silkwood (nuclear power plant dangers), The Insider (tobacco and smoking health risks), and Erin Brockovich (toxic waste dumping).

Some of these movies are based on the real-life stories of whistleblowers and the consequences they suffered from those who'd silence them. Whistleblowers are indeed real working people who speak out against their employers and bring problematic situations to light. Their grievances may center on workplace safety violations, illegal workplace practices, and poor working conditions.

As the experienced Baltimore, Maryland workers' compensation lawyers at Butschky, Ehlers & Butschky know -- it can be very tough to speak out against one's employer. This is especially true in this struggling economy, where working people are happy to have any job at all. However standards for workplace safety in Maryland and around the country are required, not optional. The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) wants to ensure that workers who have concerns about their workplace safety may raise those concerns without fear of reprisal from their employers. The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act)…

…prohibits any person from discharging or in any manner retaliating against any employee because the employee has exercised rights under the OSH ACT. Rights afforded by the OSH Act include employee participation in safety and health activities, such as complaining to OSHA and seeking an OSHA inspection, participating in an OSHA inspection, participating or testifying in any proceeding related to an OSHA inspection, and reporting a work-related injury, illness, or fatality.

OSHA announced on August 1 that it is releasing a report that reviews the Whistleblower Protection Program, in an effort to strengthen it. OSHA enforces 21 whistleblower laws that protect employees "who report violations of various workplace safety, airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, health care reform, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime and securities laws."

Employer or co-worker retaliation against whistleblowers can take many forms, according to OSHA. These include reduced pay or hours, denial of benefits, demotion or lack of promotion, threats, intimidation, and blacklisting.

If you've been injured at your job in Maryland, including in a construction accident, it's best to consult an experienced Md. workers comp attorney. Even if your employer seems like the nicest boss in Baltimore County, things can get complicated when a worker gets injured and needs compensation for lost wages and medical bills. An experienced Maryland work comp lawyer can handle the insurance claims and legal proceedings, if it comes to that, for you.

Seeking advice from an experienced Baltimore work-injury attorney isn't necessarily blowing the whistle on your employer -- but it is the wise thing to do if you're hurt at work in Maryland.

Sources:

US Department of Labor's OSHA announces measures to improve Whistleblower Protection Program
OSHA News Release Aug. 1, 2011

OSHA: Office of the Whistleblower Protection Program

Related Maryland Work Injury Lawyer article:

Maryland Work Injury Update: BLS Issues Revised Fatal Occupational Injuries Report -- Work Related Deaths on the Decline June 8, 2010

May 17, 2011

Protecting Baltimore, Maryland Dock Workers from Accident and Injury : OSHA Updates General Working Conditions for Shipyard Employment

This month, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) updated regulations protecting shipyard workers from work-related injuries. The new ruling reflects advancements in maritime industry technologies and practices. OSHA reports that its employment standards for shipyard workers had not been significantly updated since 1972.

As we can attest, Maryland waterfront work is dangerous business. There are many ways that Baltimore's hard-working longshoremen can get hurt or killed, including slip and fall injuries, crane and forklift accidents, being hit by falling cargo, and drowning. The amended OSHA standards for waterfront workers in Baltimore, Md., and ports around the country address the following safety concerns:

  • Adequate lighting for work spaces

  • Checking on employees at the end of their shifts

  • Control of hazardous energy

  • Motor vehicle safety equipment, operation, and maintenance

  • Accident prevention signs and tags

  • Medical services, first aid, and sanitation

The new final rule on General Working Conditions in Shipyard Employment goes into effect on August 1, 2011. OSHA reports the amended safety standards could potentially save hundreds of dock worker lives every year, by putting safety measures in place that can prevent fatal work accidents.

Related Maryland Injury Attorney article:

Construction Worker & Garbage Collector Among 10 Worst Jobs for 2010 (And Maryland -- Stevedores / Dock Workers Made the List, Too)

U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) resources:

US Department of Labor issues final rule to protect shipyard workers: Rule reflects advances in industry practices and technology (press release)

General Working Conditions in Shipyard Employment (website)

Regulatory Text (PDF)

April 12, 2011

Baltimore Traffic Accidents that Happen While at Work : Call the Police Before Your Boss (And Don't Lie to Maryland Law Enforcement)

Getting in an auto accident while on the job in Maryland can be the worst of both worlds.

As if a car or truck accident isn't stressful enough, when a traffic crash occurs while you're on the road for a Maryland employer -- it's easy to feel pulled in multiple directions at once. There's the hassle of dealing with insurance companies, auto body shops, doctors, and lawyers. Throw in a company car or even your own car used for business, and then bring your employer (and all that potential drama) into the mix, and it's no wonder accident victims get quickly overwhelmed.

Let's say you're driving to a sales call at a company in Baltimore City. All of a sudden, BAM! You are sideswiped at a downtown Baltimore intersection. The knee-jerk reaction if you're involved in a work traffic accident is to call the boss immediately. Makes sense, right? Wrong!

As experienced Baltimore County work accident lawyers, we've heard about well-meaning employees who make mistakes at the traffic collision scene that can have lasting ramifications. A common mistake is calling one's employer from the accident scene before the police arrive -- and getting talked into falsifying details of the accident to police. This can happen when an employer gets upset about a company car involved in a Maryland traffic crash, and then begs the employee not to disclose they were working for fear their insurance rates will go up.

That really puts the worker in a bind because you have your employer -- the person who signs your paycheck -- telling you to lie. Employees may be coaxed into misrepresenting the facts of the auto accident. DON'T DO IT. Giving a false statement to a Maryland police officer is a crime, and if caught, you will probably be charged criminally. In addition…

  • If you fail to disclose that you were driving for work at the time of your auto accident -- and it's discovered you were -- then the insurance company could disclaim coverage.

  • Or if you need to file a Maryland Workers Comp claim for work injuries suffered in that accident -- and you did not report that you were working -- your claim could be invalidated.

The best thing you can do when in a car accident in Maryland while working is call the police first. Let them come to the accident scene and make their official police report. Then call your employer. But for heaven's sake, don't let your boss push you around and coerce you into changing the facts and/or lying to Baltimore or other Maryland police officers. Once a lie is hatched, there's no erasing it.

Related Maryland Injury Attorney Articles:

Maryland Car Accident Lawyer Advises: Always Call the Police from the Scene

Maryland Car Accidents While at Work : How MD Workers' Compensation Works with a Motor Vehicle Accident Liability Claim

March 1, 2011

Avoiding Work Injuries in Maryland : March Is Workplace Eye Wellness Month

In Maryland, work-related injuries make the news from time to time, particularly when a serious construction accident or accident on the loading docks of the Baltimore waterfront occurs. Slip and fall accidents from roofs and scaffolding, and crane, forklift, truck and other construction vehicle accidents are all hazards that come with the job in the construction and longshoreman trades.

As Baltimore work accident injury attorneys, we've assisted many hard-working individuals in Maryland who've been injured on the job. But one type of workplace injury we hear less about -- which can have serious, lifelong consequences -- is eye injury. The National Safety Council reports that eye injuries in the workplace are on the rise. According to advocacy group Prevent Blindness America, some 2,000 people sustain eye injuries at work every day.

The organization is offering free tools to employers to help raise awareness of eye safety and eye health among employees (see link below). Prevent Blindness America cites the most common causes of workplace eye injuries are flying objects (e.g., pieces of metal or glass), tools, particles, chemicals, and harmful radiation. Of the 2,000 people who sustain eye injury at work yearly, some 10 to 20 percent will suffer temporary or permanent vision loss. Computer related eye strain is another common form of eye injury in the workplace.

Filing a Workers' Compensation claim in Maryland can be a long and confusing process, so it's best to consult an experienced Md. work comp lawyer as soon as possible after a work accident has occurred. Not wearing proper eye protection is a common cause of sustaining eye injury at work, according to the National Safety Council.

Related Maryland Work Injury Attorney Article:

Maryland Work Injury Update: BLS Issues Revised Fatal Occupational Injuries Report -- Work Related Deaths on the Decline June 8, 2010

Sources:

New Program Provides Employers with Free Tool to Educate Workers on the Importance of Eye Health
Prevent Blindness America Press Release Feb. 28, 2011

Prevent Blindness America: Workplace Eye Safety

Eyewear: Too many options can cause confusion
National Safety Council: Safety + Health

June 8, 2010

Maryland Work Injury Update: BLS Issues Revised Fatal Occupational Injuries Report -- Work Related Deaths on the Decline

Last fall, we posted a blog article on the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) preliminary results for its 2008 census of fatal occupational injury rates. The BLS recently released its final numbers, which were slightly higher than originally reported based on identification of new cases of work-related injuries and deaths. The final data offer the following insights regarding worker safety in the U.S.:

o A total of 5,214 work fatalities occurred in the U.S. in 2008 -- the lowest number of work-related deaths since the BLS began conducting its census in 1992. This represents a national fatal work injury rate of 3.7 per 100,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers.

o Private industry construction accidents causing death have declined (975 deaths in 2008 -- 19% lower than in 2007); and the fatal work injury rate for this sector is down by 10%. However, even with these notable statistical gains -- which translate to lives saved -- construction remains one of the most hazardous forms of work, with a 9.7 fatal work injury rate (per 100,000 FTE workers).

o Fatal work-related highway accidents (including truck accidents) numbered at 1,215 -- 14% lower than in 2007 and the lowest since the census began in '92.

o Work deaths caused by falls amounted to 700 -- 17% lower than in 2007 (though the U.S. Department of Labor is advocating for greater slip, trip and fall prevention in the workplace; look for a future blog article on this issue. Falls from ladders, roofs, scaffolding, and other high elevations are a major cause of brain and spine injury in construction workers).

o One negative note: Workplace suicides were up to 263 cases -- the most ever reported.

Maryland Worker Injury Fatality Rates on the Decline
As fatal occupational injuries have declined across the U.S., Maryland has also seen reductions in work fatalities -- 60 work related deaths occurred in 2008, compared to 82 deaths in 2007 and 105 deaths in 2006. Causes of Maryland work-related deaths include transportation and trucking accidents, falls, contact with objects or equipment, exposure to harmful substances, as well as assaults and other acts of violence.

As an experienced Baltimore, Maryland work accident lawyer, I have worked with individuals and families who have experienced these types of work-related injuries and fatalities. Often people hurt at work are unsure what to do and whether to file a Maryland Workers Compensation claim along with a possible lawsuit. Which is why it's so important to contact an experienced work injury attorney if you're hurt in course of performing your job in Maryland, or if a family member is killed due to a work accident.

For more on this issue, read my blog post on Maryland Workers' Compensation Liens and Construction Accident Injury: "Can I File a Work Comp Claim AND a Third Party Lawsuit?”

Sources:

Revisions to the 2008 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) Counts (PDF)
U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 22, 2010

Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (Current and Revised data)
U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics

Fatal Occupational Injuries in Maryland
U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics

Related Web Resources

Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation

U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (homepage)

April 1, 2010

Maryland Workers' Compensation Liens and Construction Accident Injury: "Can I File a Work Comp Claim AND a Third Party Lawsuit?”

Construction work in Maryland often involves long hours, hard labor, modest wages, and job security that's entirely dependent on the season, the market, and the employer. As experienced Baltimore, Maryland Construction accident attorneys, we've represented many clients over the years who were injured while performing their construction jobs. One question we get asked all the time is...

"Can I file a claim under Maryland Workers' Compensation and a lawsuit against the at-fault party (or parties) at the same time?"

The answer is YES. However, as with most things legal, there are many factors to consider.

Maryland Workers Compensation Liens Against Third-Party Recovery
Construction accidents in Maryland may frequently involve Workers Compensation claims and liability lawsuits. In Maryland, if you're a construction worker and you get hurt on the business premises, in the course of your employment, while performing your job -- you can pursue a workers comp case. But what if you believe your injury was caused by a third-party's negligence or recklessness -- be it another contractor, a subcontractor, equipment operator, or some other worker or party involved at the construction site?

If you're a worker injured in a Maryland construction accident, you don't have to choose between filing a Md. Workers Compensation claim and suing the responsible parties for what's called a third-party liability claim. You can do both. Remember, however, if you are awarded a third-party recovery in a construction accident lawsuit, the Workers' Compensation carrier is allowed by law to place a lien against that recovery.

For example, a builder we'll call Joe Mason suffers a neck and spine injury when his pickup truck is rear-ended by another vehicle at the construction site. As a result of this construction truck accident, Joe needs money to pay his medical bills, cover his lost wages, and compensate him for his permanent impairment, so he files a Maryland Workers Comp claim. Joe is awarded $120K in permanent partial disability benefits by his employer's workers comp insurance carrier. At this point, Joe's Maryland injury attorney pursues a lawsuit against the other construction vehicle driver, and Joe receives a third-party recovery settlement of $240K. But, as law would have it, Joe isn't allowed to "double dip."

Under Maryland law, the Workers' Compensation carrier is entitled to a lien against any third-party recovery. So Joe might have to pay the Maryland Workers Compensation carrier some of their monetary outlay back. Special emphasis on some. An experienced Maryland injury attorney can, will and should negotiate with the work comp people to get that lien reduced, so injured construction workers like Joe can benefit from as much compensation for their injuries as possible.

Workers' Compensation liens are just one reason why it's so important to work with an experienced Maryland Workers' Comp lawyer if you're hurt while performing your construction job. This is a very complicated area of the law, and one must proceed with extreme caution in handling such claims. It really is a no-brainer. In a situation like this, the best bet is to focus 100% on getting the treatment you need, feeling better and getting back to full capacity, and let the lawyers handle these complex legal issues.

Related Web Resources

Maryland Workers' Compensation Commission

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health: Construction Safety


January 18, 2010

Construction Worker & Garbage Collector Among 10 Worst Jobs for 2010 (And Maryland -- Stevedores / Dock Workers Made the List, Too)

A career site's list of the best and worst jobs for 2010 reveals something Baltimore County work accident attorneys have known right along: The physically most demanding jobs are also the most dangerous and can lead to serious personal injury, lifelong medical problems, and even death.

Recognizing the risk to life and limb when construction accidents occur, job search site CareerCast.com ranked construction as the no. 8 worst job to pursue this year. The no. 1 worst job was "roustabout," which includes oil rig and pipeline workers, followed by lumber jack and iron worker. The site considered the following factors while conducting research to rank the jobs: Environment, Income, Outlook, Stress and Physical Demands.

Construction Worker made the list due to the physical demands, higher rates of injury, and low median income, though the hiring outlook is "moderate." And Maryland, while our stevedores (dock workers) weren't in the bottom 10 jobs, they weren't far behind -- stevedores ranked 185 out of 200 jobs analyzed, with a hiring outlook of "poor" (besides the challenging work conditions if you can get a job as a dock worker on the Baltimore and Maryland waterfront).

Maryland Workers Comp lawyers know that the most dangerous jobs are also often the least secure -- particularly when workers are injured and unable to support themselves and their families. The Maryland Workers' Compensation insurance system doesn't make it easy for injured workers to file claims. It's a long process, with many places where hurt workers who are inexperienced with the complexities of the insurance system can easily get tripped up and derailed.

That's why we always recommend injured workers of all professions -- construction workers and dock workers, as well as people who work in offices and other environments -- always talk to an experienced Md Work Comp attorney before trying to file a claim on their own.

Oh, and be nice to your taxi driver, mail carrier, and meter reader. Their jobs also ranked in the list's bottom 10.

The Best And Worst Jobs For 2010
Forbes.com Jan. 8, 2010

Related Web Resources

CareerCast.com:

The 10 Worst Jobs of 2010

How We Determined the Top 200 Jobs of 2010


November 9, 2009

Transportation Among Top Causes of Fatal Maryland Work Accidents (but Occupational Death Rates Are Down)

What would you guess are among the most dangerous jobs in Maryland? Construction? Roofing? Electrical work? You'd be right on all those counts, but some of the top causes of fatal occupational injuries in Maryland may come as somewhat of a surprise. According to the U.S. Dept. of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), of the 59 people who lost their lives due to work-related accidents in Maryland in 2008...

> Transportation accidents (which include air, rail, highway transportation including freight trucking accidents, nonhighway transportation, and being struck and killed by a vehicle, e.g., construction site worker pedestrian accidents) accounted for 17 deaths;

> 9 fatalities resulted from Assaults and Violent Acts (including self-inflicted injury);

> 12 were victims of Falls;

> 10 died due to Contact with Objects or Equipment;

> and another 10 perished due to Exposure to Harmful Substances.

Maryland Occupational Injury Death Rates Decline
The good news from the Bureau of Labor Statistics is fatal occupational injuries are down across the United States, including significant reductions in Maryland (59 work related deaths occurred in 2008, compared to 82 deaths in 2007 and 105 deaths in 2006).

Total U.S. workplace deaths in 2008 amounted to 5,071 -- down from 5,657 in 2007. Deaths from falls -- a major hazard for construction workers -- were down, as were fatal transportation accidents. Workplace homicides declined, but sadly, workplace suicides went up in 2008. The BLS reports all these numbers are preliminary, and final figures will be made available in April 2010.

As Maryland Work Injury Lawyers, we have seen all these types of work-related injuries and fatalities. Many families are unaware that they may be entitled to Maryland Workers' Compensation benefits even after their family member has died. That is why it is so important to contact an experienced Md workers' compensation attorney to find out what benefits you may be entitled to -- before accepting an offer from the employer or speaking to their attorney or insurance company representative.

NATIONAL CENSUS OF FATAL OCCUPATIONAL INJURIES IN 2008
United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Aug. 20, 2009

Maryland Division of Labor and Industry
Fatal occupational injuries by industry and event or exposure, Maryland, 2006 (XLS doc)

Related Web Resources

Maryland Division of Labor and Industry Research and Statistics
Maryland Occupational Safety and Health (MOSH)

Bureau of Labor Statistics, State Occupational Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities

October 28, 2009

Maryland Medical Malpractice and Negligence: How Do I Know If I Have a Case?

During the course of our work as Maryland and Baltimore County injury lawyers over the last two decades and counting, we've met so many nice families and individuals who needed our legal help to get through some very difficult situations. Often it's because they went out one day and through no fault of their own, they got injured -- or killed -- in a traffic accident.

Other times, the cause of their injuries, or even their death, is due to medical malpractice. And in those types of personal injury cases, the cause is often not as clear cut as in auto accident or Maryland work accident cases. It is not always a single event that caused their injuries, disabilities, or wrongful death.

Medical malpractice or negligence often occurs as the result of the poor judgments and/or ill actions of more than one professional, over time, possibly at more than one institution. It can be a complex sequence of events leading up to a patient not being cured or helped, but instead, being permanently harmed. It can involve prescription error, surgical error, misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose, and failure to provide standard levels of care.

Maryland Medical Error and the Law of Contributory Negligence
As we've written about regarding car and truck accidents, Maryland has a contributory negligence law that says if you, the victim, are even a small fraction responsible for the cause of your accident -- your insurance claim can be denied. This also applies to medical malpractice in Maryland.

Say you have bad headaches, but you don't see a doctor for six months. The doctor says, "It's probably nothing" and sends you home with Tylenol. The headaches get worse and you return a month later. The physician delays another couple weeks in ordering you an MRI. Bad news: The test shows you have brain cancer. However, you'd have a hard time meeting your burden of proof simply because you didn't seek treatment in a reasonable timeframe. It doesn't sound fair, but that's the law of contributory negligence in Maryland. In the eyes of the state, you fooled around while Rome was burning.

The best advice: Don't doodle with your health care decisions. And if you think you may have suffered permanent injury due to the actions of medical professionals, consult an experienced Maryland medical malpractice law firm. Here are several important points to remember regarding almost any contemplated malpractice claim:


  • Malpractice claims require expert testimony from other medical professionals to prove liability. Without an expert (or frequently several experts), you cannot prove your claim.
  • There are also frequently issues of "informed consent" and patients' understanding that all medical procedures involve risk.
  • Maryland has a statute of limitations for filing malpractice lawsuits. If you miss the statute, you are forever barred from pursuing your claim.
  • An unfavorable outcome isn't necessarily malpractice, as even doctors cannot guarantee results.

The bottom line with any contemplated malpractice claim is that you need to retain legal counsel early in the process, and most certainly before contacting physicians, hospitals, nursing homes and their insurance carriers. Also, find an attorney that you like and can communicate effectively with. It’s going to be a long haul, and you need to be comfortable with your partner in the process.

Related Web Resources

Maryland Board of Physicians

Maryland State Law Library: Going to Court in Maryland


October 7, 2009

Deterring Baltimore County Traffic Accidents: Speed Camera Laws Go Into Effect

The Baltimore County City Council passed an act concerning speed cameras designed to thwart motor vehicle accidents and pedestrian accidents that occur in school zones. Bill 61-09 Speed Monitoring Systems, which went into effect Oct. 1, 2009, authorizes county law enforcement, in consult with other agencies, to use and enforce citations issued by speed monitoring systems in school zones.

The bill defines "speed monitoring systems" as "a device with one or more motor vehicle sensors producing recorded images of motor vehicles traveling at speeds at least 12 miles per hour above the posted speed limit." Drivers will be subject to a $40 fine. An amendment to the bill limits the number of cameras to 15. The one councilor who dissented felt that more police -- not speed cams -- was a better way to address the problem.

In addition to the county bill targeting speeders in school zones, a separate state law now allows speed cameras at work zone sites; two have been placed in Baltimore County -- one on I-695 at Charles Street and another on I-95 between I-895 and White Marsh Blvd.

Baltimore County car accident lawyers may provide legal assistance in cases where serious car crashes, motorcycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and truck accidents occur due to drivers speeding through school and work zones -- where people on foot are moving in and out of the roadway.

The National Safety Council (NSC) reports that school zones as well as construction work sites are particularly hazardous areas when motor vehicles travel too fast. The Council estimates that every year, some 15,000 people perish and hundreds of thousands suffer personal injuries due to motor vehicles speeding in these high foot-traffic areas. Children getting on and off school buses are especially vulnerable, as are road workers and police who direct traffic at work sites.

Two speed cameras will operate in Baltimore County starting today
ExploreBaltimoreCounty.com Oct. 1, 2009

School speed cameras get Balto. County nod
BaltimoreSun.com Sept. 9, 2009

Related Web Resources

COUNTY COUNCIL OF BALTIMORE COUNTY, MARYLAND
Legislative Session 2009, Legislative Day No. 13
Bill No. 61-09 (PDF file)

Safe Speed - Automated Enforcement Program
Baltimore County, Maryland

Baltimore County Police Department: Speed Cameras

September 22, 2009

Maryland Workers Compensation Cases and Injury Due to Occupational Disease

People get hurt at work in the course of performing their jobs, whether it's unloading cargo on the docks at the Port of Baltimore, working on a factory floor, or performing white collar jobs in downtown Baltimore office buildings. As Maryland Workers Comp lawyers who've served the people of Baltimore County and neighboring communities for decades, we've seen a wide spectrum of work-injury cases as a result of everything from heavy lifting to heavy typing.

Fact of the matter is, while certain occupations -- construction, for example -- are more hazardous than others, you don't have to fall off scaffolding or have an accident as such to suffer injury as a result of your work. We can break down types of work related injuries into two broad categories: Accidents and Occupational Disease. We've discussed what to do if you are injured in an accident at work (see our Workers Compensation webpage for more, as well as our Work Comp blog archive). Let's discuss occupational disease here.

Maryland Law & Occupational Disease / Work Related Injuries
The Maryland statute defines "occupational disease" as an "injurious exposure" that occurs in the course of a person's work. Carpal tunnel syndrome -- which has afflicted so many of today's professionals, from secretaries to computer programmers to people who simply need to type a lot as part of their jobs -- is the most well-known type of occupational disease. Other examples include respiratory damage from prolonged chemical exposure or neck/arm/hand problems from operating heavy machinery that causes vibrations, such as a jack hammer -- that can be directly linked by a doctor to the person's work.

A doctor's written testimony is essential to file a successful Workers Comp claim in the State of Maryland. As with accidental injuries that occur on the job, a claim of occupational disease requires undeniable medical proof. A doctor needs to put in writing that Suzy Jones's carpal tunnel syndrome is a direct result of her typing 40 hours a week on a flimsy keyboard for XYZ Corporation. The insurance companies may try to put the blame on some other activity, such as lifting up a small child, knitting, or playing tennis (all of which can cause carpal tunnel syndrome).

This is why it is so important, if you feel you've been hurt at work, to contact a qualified, experienced Maryland Workers' Compensation attorney right away. Getting hurt on the job is bad, but getting turned down for a claim due to inadequate reporting and documentation -- and lack of medical proof -- is even more painful.

Related Web Resources

NIOSH: Ergonomics and Musculoskeletal Disorders

OSHA Safety and Health Topics: Ergonomics

Maryland Workers' Compensation Commission