Many workers fear filing for workers’ compensation benefits because they think they’ll get fired. However, the workers comp system exists to relieve the financial burden on employees who develop occupational illnesses or suffer injuries on the job. Under Maryland’s laws, you can’t be fired for filing a claim. It is a criminal offense for any employer to do this and they could face up to a year in jail and a fine of $1,000. That being said, it is unusual for an employer to be charged with this crime since they usually find another reason to get rid of the employee. To protect your rights after a work-related injury or illness, you need to hire a Maryland workers compensation attorney.
How to Secure Your Job After Filing for Workers Comp
Even though it’s illegal for your employer to fire you just because you filed for workers comp benefits, it doesn’t mean your job will be waiting for you when you get back. If your role is deemed essential, your employer has the right to replace you so someone else can do the work. This means there may no place for you when you recover. If you can prove that your workplace let you go solely for filing a claim, you may be able to file criminal charges as well as a civil lawsuit. If you are replaced with another worker, you may also be eligible for vocational rehabilitation benefits.
In order to avoid losing your job, you should stay in frequent contact with your employer. Let them know about how your treatment is going and when your doctor expects you to return to work. If you don’t communicate with your employer, they may assume that you aren’t returning to work or at least that’s what they’ll argue. Since the work still had to be done, they would say they were justified in replacing you.
While you shouldn’t rush to return to work before you’re ready, you should try to go back as soon as you are able, and your doctor clears you. You don’t need to take extra time off work to get workers comp benefits so there’s no reason to delay your return. If you can’t resume all your duties, your doctor may allow you to take on light duty with specified restrictions.
Discuss those restrictions with your employer and see if they would be willing to accommodate you. Some employers will meet you halfway when they see that you’re making an effort to return to work. However, light duty isn’t always an option. If your employer can’t accommodate you, at least they’ll know you tried. Often, the employer’s workers comp insurer will tell them to accommodate you, so the insurance company doesn’t have to keep paying you.
The Importance of Filing a Timely Claim
Some workers are so afraid that they’ll lose their job that they keep putting off the submission of their claim. Before they know it, it’s too late to seek benefits. If you’re worried about filing for workers comp, you should consult an attorney and then submit your claim as soon as possible. In Maryland, if you suffered an accidental injury, you have two years from the date of the accident to file a claim. Accidental injuries usually stem from one specific incident and you usually notice the injury right away. Injuries resulting from slips and falls or car accidents fall into this category.
Meanwhile, if you have an occupational disease, you have two years from the date you became disabled or the date you learned that your disability was due to your job. Occupational illnesses don’t typically result from a single event. Rather they are caused by repetitive actions or long-term exposure to toxins or other hazards. Carpal tunnel syndrome and hearing loss are examples of occupational illnesses.
It is important that you file your claim within the statute of limitations. Otherwise, you may not be able to get the compensation you need and deserve. You shouldn’t let fear keep you from filing a prompt claim.
Get Help from Pinder Plotkin LLC and Claim Your Workers Comp Benefits
If you suffered a work-related injury or illness, you should be able to get workers compensation benefits while you recover. However, employers don’t always hold up their end of the bargain, especially when workers have a long recovery period. If you want to improve your chances of being treated fairly, reach out to a Maryland workers’ comp lawyer at Pinder Plotkin LLC for guidance and representation.