Need a Baltimore workers compensation attorney for police officers? Our law firm of Pinder Plotkin represents public safety employees and law enforcement officers on workers’ compensation cases. Like with all legal issues, it is essential to keep in mind that the experience and skill of a lawyer can be invaluable when you are attempting to keep your rights protected. Insurance companies are represented by experienced and skilled attorneys who do their best to protect the insurance company’s interests.
As a result, employees should think twice about trying to represent themselves in a workers’ compensation issue. If you are a law enforcement officer who is filing a Maryland workers’ compensation claim, do not try to do this on your own. Call one of the best personal injury lawyers in Baltimore at Pinder Plotkin to receive the very best legal representation available for your workers’ compensation case.
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How Workers Compensation Benefits Differ for Police Officers
Police officers in Maryland are provided with special privileges that are not available to the general public. The following are a few of the benefits:
1. Higher Rate of Compensation
In many claims, police officers are eligible to receive a higher rate of compensation compared to other injured workers. Officers are allowed to receive around twice the amount that someone else would get for the identical injury suffered by a police officer.
2. High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
When police officers are diagnosed with hypertension, they are entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits. To file a hypertension claim is a really simple and straightforward process as long as you have the right legal representation. After your claim has bee accepted, you will not need to ever pay for your medications again (and no co-pays either!). You are also eligible to receive financial compensation after your claim has been accepted.
3. Heart Disease
Police officers are also eligible to receive worker’s compensation benefits if they have heart disease. It includes a number of different heart conditions, including sudden heart failure, cardiac arrhythmia, and coronary artery disease.
What Is Covered Under Workers Compensation for Police Officers in Baltimore?
The following is what is paid for by workers compensation to police officers in the state of Maryland:
Benefits for a Temporary Total Disability
When a temporary total disability (TTD) is sustained for a maximum of 14 days, Workers’ Compensation Claims (WCC) benefits will not start until three calendar days after the disability began, except for paying for funeral expenses, medicine, medical services, nursing, and hospital bills. When a TTD lasts longer than 14 days, then compensation will be allowed from when the disability started. WCC benefits are not taxed and are “capped” at two-thirds of an employee’s AWW (average weekly wage) and cannot exceed 100% of SAWW (state average weekly wage). The benefit is paid without any time limit until the employee can go back to work. Usually, the employee’s AWW is calculated based on the most recent 14 pay periods before the worker was injured.
Sick leave (SL), if this is available, it can be taken at the full pay rate – and not two-thirds. Whether administrative leave (AL) or sick leave is used is decided on a case-by-case basis. At times, SL less withholding taxes is close to being two-thirds of non-taxable AL benefits. The police officer will usually need to apply internally in order to qualify to receive AL benefits.
Usually, all expenses that are the result of medical treatments for work-related injuries are eligible for compensation under WCA. Also, a majority of health care providers do not accept third-party coverage like Blue Shield, Blue Cross, and other HMO’s whenever treatment is for a job-related injury. Also, if medical treatment is paid for by health insurance that arises from a compensable work-related injury, the insurance company might seek subrogation from the employee’s Workers’ Compensation insurer. Therefore, it is essential for employees who have suffered from a work-related injury to seek professional legal advice and to ensure that all necessary paperwork is filed in order to avoid any unnecessary complications in getting medical expenses paid for.
Benefits for a Permanent Partial Disability
Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI) refers to the state where the treating physician believes that the injured worker’s medical condition will not improve from further treatment. At this time, the extent, if any, of permanent partial disability (PPD) must be determined by two doctors – the insurer’s doctor and the worker’s doctor. Some permanency is caused by most injuries, especially orthopedic, lumbar, or back injuries. The injured worker’s lawyer will coordinate a “rating” with an experienced and reputable doctor, and the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company will do the same and coordinate a “rating.” In most cases, the claimant’s rating will be higher compared to the insurer’s rating. The claimant’s attorney and insured will often negotiate a rating somewhere in the middle.
Cases can be stipulated or settled. When a case is settled, usually the insurer will pay a higher amount of disability since the case is closed and an injured worker cannot seek compensation for any future treatment or reopen the claim. Conversely, if a stipulation is made, usually the permanency award that is offered is less. However, the claim will remain open for a period of time years following the final payment. If the worker’s condition becomes worse and more medical treatment is required, the insurer will still be liable.
Every year, a statewide AWW is established by the State. Weekly compensation cannot exceed the statewide AWW amount for the year that the injury was sustained. It is normally paid as a lump sum award. The specific number of compensable weeks is established by the WCA and will depend on what body part was injured. The number of compensable weeks ranges from 25 weeks for a little finger to 500 weeks for a back or head injury. To calculate the total number of compensable weeks, the allowable weeks for the specific body part is multiplied by the percentage of the disability. So if a compensable back injury was suffered by an injured employee, and it was determined to be at 10% PPD, then the benefit would be 500 (number of compensable weeks) x 10% (percentage of PPD) = 50 weeks.
Three weekly compensation tiers are set by the WCA. The minor tier is for injuries that result in a compensable disability of fewer than 75 weeks. The claimant will receive one-third of the AWW, multiplied by the number of compensable weeks, but not to exceed one-third of SAWW. The mid-tier is for injuries that result in 75-249 compensable weeks. The claimant will receive two-thirds of AWW, multiplied by the number of compensable weeks, but not to exceed 50% of SAWW. The mid-tier is used to determine the compensation for police officers.
For injuries that result in 250 compensable weeks at least, the injury is considered to be a serious disability. This results in the number of compensable weeks being increased by one-third. The claimant will receive two-thirds of AWW for those increased compensable weeks, which is not to exceed 75% of SAWW.
Special Workers Compensation Provisions For Maryland Law Enforcement Officers
Maryland police officers, along with other public safety employees, are given significant additional consideration under the WCA for those injuries that fall within the mid-tier of compensable injuries. For example, when a civilian employee has suffered a 10% disability, due to a back injury, the worker is entitled to receive 500 (number of compensable weeks) x 10% (percentage of PPD) = 50 weeks. The total benefit will be $5,700 based on the minor tier’s AWW ($114). If a similar injury is suffered by a law enforcement officer, the compensation for the officer will be based on the mid-tier, or 500 X 10% = 500 weeks x $257 = $12,850. So the difference between the tiers is quite significant.
Also, the prevalence of heart disease and hypertension among public safety personnel has led to legislatively created presumptions that favor employees who suffer from these conditions. The WCA specifically provides that heart disease and hypertension among paramedics, firefighters, and law enforcement officers are presumed to be work-related, and the employer has the burden to prove otherwise. Also, due to employers having certain restrictions placed on them, it is very difficult to disprove the work-relatedness for these conditions.
Call Our Baltimore Workers Compensation Lawyers for Police Officers Today!
Whenever you need legal counsel from a law firm that will take the time to thoroughly understand your individual goals and case, trust the workers’ compensation lawyers at Pinder Plotkin, to provide you with aggressive and honest representation. Contact us by phone at (410) 525-5337 or contact us online to get your free initial consultation scheduled.