Most workers in Maryland, especially those who make a living working in particularly dangerous industries like manufacturing and construction, know that workers’ compensation is available if they get hurt. Employers typically have to post information about workers’ compensation and other worker protections to help educate their employees about their rights.
Even though the average worker knows about workers’ compensation, they may shy away from filing a claim for benefits despite recognizing that they would likely qualify. A surprising number of injured workers use their personal health insurance coverage and possibly paid time off benefits instead of filing a workers’ compensation claim. Taking this approach can be a mistake for two significant reasons.
1. Health insurance doesn’t cover everything
The average health insurance policy in the United States puts a lot of responsibility back on the patient. There is often a deductible that requires someone to pay thousands of dollars before the insurance company will cover their treatment costs. There may also be a copay that they will have to provide at every appointment or whenever picking up a prescription from the pharmacy. Finally, there might be coinsurance that makes them responsible for a specific percentage of their treatment costs. By contrast, workers’ compensation health benefits in Maryland provide complete, no-fault coverage. Employees won’t have to cover any of their treatment costs if they qualify for benefits.
2. The required time off may exceed what someone has available
Someone with a broken bone may need six to eight weeks, at minimum, to be back to full functionality. The average worker will not have six to eight weeks of accrued paid time off benefits to help replace their wages while they recover. Additionally, if they failed to notify their employer of their injury and medical treatment means, the company might be able to terminate them for taking an unwarranted leave of absence. Those who pursue workers’ compensation benefits be qualified for disability benefits that will replace some of their lost wages.
They will also have documentation of their medical condition, which will make it easier for them to request accommodations from their employer, including a leave of absence or adjusted employment responsibilities until they recover. Workers unfamiliar with the benefits available to them may put themselves at a disadvantage trying to handle their injuries without support.
Seeking legal guidance to learn more about workers’ compensation benefits can empower people to make use of the systems that are in place for their protection and their benefit.