Workers’ compensation is the primary source for payment for lost time from work and medical expenses for Maryland workers who have been injured at work.
Although the workers’ compensation system is designed to provide timely payment of all benefits, there can often be issues that arise that can potentially stop or limit benefits. Being represented by an attorney well versed in Maryland workers’ compensation law can often make the difference between a claim that is readily paid and one that is challenged by the insurance company.
Reasons Your Workers’ Compensation Claim Could be Denied
There can be any number of reasons why your benefits for workers’ compensation could be delayed or denied outright. These can include:
(1) Did the injury arise out of and in the course of your employment?
(2) Were you an employee or an independent contractor at the time of the injury?
(3) Have the appropriate and necessary medical records been presented to the insurer?
These are only some of the reasons that your benefits could be delayed or denied. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney is invaluable in these circumstances in sorting out these issues and presenting your case to the Workers’ Compensation Commission (WCC).
Failing to Meet Deadlines
There are strict deadlines that must be met for in order to obtain benefits. An employee must report a workplace accident to his or her employer within 10 days of the incident. You must then submit an Employee’s Claim for Compensation and your employer must submit an Employer’s First Report of Injury to begin the process. All claims must be submitted within two years of the injury.
Hearing Before the Workers’ Compensation Commission
If your employer or insurer disputes any part of your claim, it has 21 days to file Issues with the Workers’ Compensation Commission. Once these are filed, a hearing will be scheduled before the Commission.
At the hearing, the Commissioner will admit written evidence, listen to the testimony of witnesses and consider the arguments of the attorneys. The Commissioner will not decide the case on the day of the hearing, but instead will issue a written Order usually within two weeks of the hearing.
If you lose, you may file a request for rehearing within 15 days of the date of the decision, or you may file a direct appeal to the Circuit Court within 30 days of the decision.
Requesting a Rehearing
To request a rehearing, a written request for rehearing must be filed with the Commission within 15 days of the date of the decision. Requests for rehearing are infrequently granted. They will only be granted for a legal error or “newly discovered evidence” that was not available at the time of the hearing.
While a request for rehearing is pending, it stays the time to file an appeal. If the request is denied, the next step to challenge a decision is to file an appeal to the Circuit Court for the appropriate county.
Appealing to the Circuit Court
You have 30 days from the date of the decision or the denial of a request for a rehearing to an appeal to the Circuit Court. A Petition for Review must be filed in the appropriate circuit court. In addition, the party who is taking the appeal must arrange to have the hearing transcript transcribed and to make sure that the entire record is transmitted within 60 days.
Once your claim is appealed to the Circuit Court it is subject to all of the same court rules and procedures as any lawsuit.
There will be a period of discovery before the case goes to trial before either a judge or a jury. At the time of trial, the law provides that the Commission’s decision is presumed correct. The judge or jury, based on the testimony of witnesses and evidence submitted in accordance with the court’s rules will decide the case. The decision will be if the Commission’s decision was correct or incorrect. If all or part of the decision needs to be heard, it will be sent back down to the Commission for another hearing.
Because the process for obtaining workers’ compensation can be complicated, it is always best to hire a skilled workers’ compensation attorney from the very beginning of your claim. Our team will guide you through every step of the process and will help you get the compensation you need.