Maryland Workers’ Compensation Claim Benefits
To better your chances of receiving Maryland workers’ compensation claim benefits, you need to work with an attorney. Insurance adjusters have teams of medical professionals ready to contradict the injuries you have sustained in order to avoid paying the compensation you need and they also have an army of skilled, experienced defense lawyers ready to crush your claim.
Against all of the insurance company’s money, lawyers and doctors, you need a legal gladiator on your side.
The Benefits Available to Injured Workers
There are two different kinds of workers’ compensation benefits in Maryland: temporary benefits and permanent benefits. There are two kinds of benefits under temporary and permanent benefits: total and partial. Technically, there is a fifth type of benefit, vocational rehabilitation, but this is not as common.
Temporary total disability (TTD) benefits apply when someone is undergoing active medical treatment. Their condition is still improving and they are not able to return to the duties of the job at which they were hurt. A doctor does not have to say the injured party is completely unable to work. The doctor only needs to impose restrictions that prevent the person from doing their job.
If someone is an electrician and they cannot work overhead, kneel, or carry anything heavy, they are essentially disabled. Temporary total disability benefits pays at two-thirds of the individual’s average weekly wage.
The average weekly wage (AWW) is based on the average of the person’s earnings 14 weeks prior to their work injury. A salaried employee has the same numbers each week. Most people are not salaried; they are hourly, so their weekly pre-tax earnings can vary quite a bit.
The benefits are not always restricted to the 14 weeks because sometimes it is not reflective of the actual income situation. This is another complicated issue that only a lawyer understands. Only an experienced lawyer knows how to fight to achieve the changes and get you more money.
The temporary total disability benefits pay two-thirds, but there is a maximum. Every year, there is a state average weekly wage that is the maximum average weekly wage. For instance, the maximum was $1,116 in 2019, the state average weekly wage. If someone earned $5,000 a week, they are unable to use their weekly wage. They only receive the maximum temporary total of $1,116.
Like TTD, temporary partial disability (TPD) is still temporary because an individual is in active medical treatment and no one knows how what their permanent restrictions are going to be.
It is partial because the injured person has restrictions that they go back to work at a job that is temporarily lower-paying because it either a different job or they just cannot work as many hours. They could be restricted to four hours a day for three days a week, for instance.
Instead of paying the full two-thirds, it pays half the difference between their average weekly wage and what they are actually now earning at the lower pay. It pays half the difference. It is a supplement. Those are the kinds of temporary benefits.
There are permanent disability benefits when someone reaches maximum medical improvement and their doctors agree they are not going to get any better. Even if they get additional treatment, their health would not improve. Additional treatment might help keep them from getting worse, but it would not improve them.
There are three levels of permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits and those levels are based on the number of weeks of disability. The entire body is worth 500 weeks of benefits. Anything less than 75 weeks is considered a minor disability and pays at 1/3 of the AWW up to the maximum for that tear of injury. Between 75 and 249 weeks is regular disability and this pays 2/3 of the AWW, also limited to the PPD maximum for the year of injury. Anything from 250 weeks to just under permanent total disability/lifetime benefits (PTD) is a serious disability and has special rules and higher limits.
In theory, it pays two-thirds of the average weekly wage, but only up to the limits. As an example, in 2019, if someone has a minor injury, for anything under 15 percent of the body being disabled, workers’ compensation pays $187 a week. If they have a more significant injury, but just below 50 percent of the body, it pays $375 a week. Those are permanent partial disability benefits.
Lifetime Disability Benefits
There could be serious disability benefits, which is anything over half the body, but less than 100 percent. That pays much more plus a multiplier. There is permanent total disability (PTD) for someone who is incapable of any suitable gainful employment. There is no job that could reasonably be found for that person that is suitable gainful employment. Those are the operative words.
That pays lifetime disability. The individual receives a certain amount of money per week, two-thirds of their average weekly wage under the cap. It is tricky because if someone gets a part-time job and they are paid anything, their benefits stop. There is no set sum. If someone gets an award of 70 percent. If they had decent earnings, they get $150,000. Perhaps they get a job earning $1,000 a week. That money is theirs, but the permanent total is not theirs, not forever. They could lose it at any time if they are no longer disabled.
The last kind of benefit is mandatory vocational rehabilitation. Maryland is one of the states that has mandatory vocational rehabilitation for someone who was injured at work and, after reaching maximum medical improvement (MMI), they cannot go back to the duties they previously had. If they have restrictions, their employer does not offer them a job within those restrictions.
In that situation, the employer and the insurer help the individual find a new job. That process is called vocational rehabilitation. During the process, the claimant continues to be paid the same weekly amount of money they were getting for temporary total disability; it is just for a different reason. It is because they are participating in vocational rehabilitation.
Let an Attorney Help Recover Maryland Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Maryland workers’ compensation claim benefits offer a way for workers to make a modest recovery and earn a wage comparable to what they made prior to their accident. Insurance adjusters, however, are eager to disprove a claim of disability, so to better your odds at receiving the compensation you are entitled to, choose to work with an experienced attorney.