Maryland's system of workers' compensation is compulsory, meaning that employers are required to provide workers' compensation insurance to their employees. Workers' compensation insurance may be provided through private insurance carriers or self-insurance. Waivers may be permitted to exclude certain employees from coverage, including corporate officers, children working on family farms, and certain real estate workers.
Exemptions from coverage may apply to certain employees, including employees of small agricultural businesses and certain low-earning domestic employees.
Medical Benefits are provided to employees entitled to workers' compensation benefits, with the injured worker receiving reasonable and necessary medical care.
The employee chooses the treating physician, and may change physicians at any time.
Indemnity benefits are payable to injured workers to help make up for lost income. There is a waiting period of 3 days before a worker is eligible for indemnity benefits, but if the worker's disability lasts more than 14 days indemnity benefits become retroactive to the date of the injury.
Benefits available to injured workers include the following:
Temporary Total Disability (TTD)
Temporary total disability (TTD) benefits are paid to workers who are unable to work due to injury, but who are expected to make full or partial recovery such that they may return to work. Benefits are based upon 2/3 of the worker's average pre-injury weekly wage, subject to a cap, and continue for the duration of the temporary disability. Offsets may apply for certain retirement benefits.
Permanent Total Disability (PTD)
When a worker is not expected to recover from a total disability caused by a work-related injury, and as a result suffers a total loss of earning capacity, the worker becomes eligible for permanent total disability (PTD) benefits. In Maryland PTD benefits are calculated based upon 2/3 of the injured worker's pre-injury weekly wage, subject to a cap, and may continue indefinitely. The worker's estate may be eligible for a death benefit, depending upon how much the worker received in PTD benefits prior to death. Benefits are periodically adjusted for inflation. Offsets may apply for Social Security disability benefits, and certain disability retirement benefits.
Permanent Partial Disability (PPD)
Once an injured worker has recovered to the maximum possible extent, the worker may be able to return to employment but nonetheless remain partially disabled, and may potentially qualify for permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits. In Maryland PPD benefits are determined based on a statutory schedule. Benefits for unscheduled injuries are calculated based upon an assessment of the injured worker's functional impairment, and other factors including occupation, age, education, and whether the injured worker has returned to work. Where the benefit is based upon less than 75 compensable weeks, benefits are based upon 1/3 of the employee’s average weekly wage, subject to a cap. For PPD benefits based upon 75 or more compensable weeks, but less than 250 weeks, benefits are based upon 2/3 of the employee's average weekly wage, subject to a cap. For awards based upon more than 250 weeks, benefits are also based upon 2/3 of the employee's average weekly wage, but the cap is increased.
Temporary Partial Disability (TPD)
When a worker suffers an injury that limits his ability to return to work, resulting in a reduction of income as a result of reduced hours or wages, the injured worker may be eligible to receive a benefit based on the difference between the worker's pre-injury earnings and their reduced, post-injury earnings. In Maryland, TPD benefits are paid based upon 50% of the difference between the injured worker's pre-injury and post-injury wage, subject to a cap.
For some, more serious injuries, workers' compensation indemnity benefits may be paid according to a statutory schedule, instead of following the standard model of the weekly benefit based on the duration of the disability. Scheduled injuries include such injuries as the amputation of an arm, the loss of a dominant hand, the loss of a leg, the loss of a foot, the loss of an eye, or loss of hearing in an ear.
Coverage may be available for cumulative trauma, disfigurement, mental stress and occupational hearing loss.
When a worker dies as the result of a work-related injury, workers' compensation pays additional benefits, including a burial allowance, and benefits for a surviving spouse and dependents. Survivor benefits are calculated based on the worker's average weekly wage and household income, subject to a cap in amount and duration. Benefits may continue for minors until the age of 18, the age of 23 if the dependent is a student, or indefinitely in the event of disability. Spousal benefits end two years after remarriage.
Attorney fees for PPD claims are limited by statute to 20% of the first 75 weeks of benefits awarded, up to 15% of the next 120 weeks, and up to 10% of any amount awarded in excess of 195 weeks. Attorney fees must be approved by the workers' compensation commission.
This article provides a quick overview of the benefits available to injured workers, but the full formulas used for assessment of benefits, coordination of different types of benefits, and assessment of injuries and disability ratings can quickly complicate the determination of benefits. Also, states frequently revise their workers' compensation laws. Most workers who suffer a significant injury or wage loss as the result of a workplace injury will benefit from consulting a workers' compensation lawyer.
The state agency responsible for workers' compensation is:
Maryland Workers' Compensation Commission
10 East Baltimore Street
Baltimore, MD 21202
(410) 864-5100 or 1-800-492-0479 (Outside Baltimore)