What to Expect in the Workers' Compensation Process

Help for Injured Maryland Workers

If you were hurt on the job or developed an occupational illness, your injuries can impact all aspects of your life and livelihood. Fortunately, Workers’ Compensation benefits can provide you with the monetary recovery you need to move forward. While the process for filing a claim for Maryland Workers’ Compensation can be overwhelming at times, you don’t have to go through it alone. The Law Office of Sara El-Shall is committed to pursuing and defending claims on behalf of injured workers — and obtaining successful results.

The Initial Steps in Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim

The first step in the process of securing Workers’ Compensation benefits is for an injured employee to provide notice to their employer. This can be done either orally or in writing, but notice must be given within 10 days of sustaining the injury. If the employee passed away due to their injury, the family must tell the employer within 30 days. In cases involving occupational illnesses, the employee or their family has one year from the date the illness was discovered or the employee died from it to notify the employer. However, it’s important to note that in certain situations, the Commission can excuse failure to timely report a claim.

In the event an employee informs the employer in writing, the notice must include the following information:

  • The employee’s name and address
  • The time, place, nature, and cause of the injury
  • The employee’s signature (in cases involving fatality, a dependent may sign on the employee’s behalf)

After the employer has been formally notified, the injured employee must file a claim with the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission (WCC). This must usually be done within 60 days of incurring the work-related injury. The employer’s insurance carrier then has 21 days to provide benefits or dispute the claim.

Attorney Sara El-Shall understands that the procedures associated with filing a Workers’ Compensation claim can be confusing. Aiming to simplify the process and ensure you satisfy the statutory requirements to obtain the benefits you deserve, Sara is dedicated to fighting for your future.

Obtaining Medical Treatment for Your Injuries

The most important thing you can do if you’ve been hurt during the course of your employment is get the medical attention you need. Critically, in Maryland, you are permitted to seek treatment from any healthcare provider you choose for a workplace injury — whether it be your primary care physician or a specialist. While some doctors may not accept Workers’ Compensation cases, it’s essential to ask your preferred physician in advance whether they treat these cases.

Although an employer cannot insist you see a particular doctor, the insurance company can require that you attend an “independent medical examination” conducted by a doctor of its choice. Commonly referred to as an “IME,” this evaluation is not for the purpose of treatment, and it does not create a patient-doctor relationship. Instead, a Workers’ Compensation IME is used by the insurance company to obtain an opinion regarding an employee’s recovery, deny medical treatment, or return the employee to work.

When a physician determines that maximum medical improvement has been reached, it means that no further treatment is likely to improve the condition. But this does not always mean a patient has fully recovered — and sometimes ongoing palliative care is needed. In other cases, a patient may have a permanent partial or total disability.

With a deep understanding of Workers’ Compensation law, Attorney Sara El-Shall knows how important it is for you to get the continued medical care you need. She provides effective advocacy on behalf of clients whose claims have been denied by the insurance company and strives to ensure it covers all related medical expenses.

Resolving Your Claim

Following your doctor’s determination that maximum medical improvement has been reached, the next step is securing compensation for any permanent injury that has been sustained. To determine the permanency of an injury, you must be seen by a specialist who is qualified to make this evaluation. After the insurer receives the permanency evaluation, negotiations for compensation can ensue.

If a settlement cannot be reached in the case, a hearing with the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission may be necessary. These hearings are relatively informal and held before a Workers’ Compensation Commissioner. At the hearing, you will typically testify about the accident, the medical treatment that was rendered, and how your injuries continue to impact you. The Commissioner will also review expert testimony including the permanency evaluation, medical records from the physicians who provided treatment, as well as the insurance company’s IME doctor.

In addition to situations in which an employee seeks compensation for a temporary or permanent disability, a Workers’ Compensation hearing may also be held in cases where liability is contested — or when medical care has been denied.

Contact a Compassionate Maryland Workers’ Compensation Attorney

The Maryland Workers’ Compensation process can be confusing to navigate. It’s best to have a knowledgeable attorney to guide you every step of the way. The Law Office of Sara El-Shall is dedicated to advocating for clients facing Workers’ Compensation claims to help ensure they obtain the benefits to which they are entitled. Attorney Sara El-Shall works with clients in the Baltimore area, as well as in Anne Arundel, Montgomery, Frederick, Harford, Howard, Cecil, and Prince George's counties, as well as throughout southern Maryland. Call (410) 656-2909 to schedule a consultation.