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