Does the Maryland Workers’ Comp system grind people down?
If you ask most of my clients, the answer is yes.
I have to agree.
The system has always been far from perfect. It is a system run by the insurance companies. They influence the legislature to make the rules more friendly to them – not the claimant.
We are one of the premier law firms in Southern Maryland for Workers’ Compensation claims. Not many attorneys do Workers’ Comp cases. One reason is that the law is completely different from most other areas of law. Most lawyers do not want to learn it, and do not know how to navigate the system.
But another reason is the fact that dealing with the constant barriers put up by workers comp insurers is a big hassle. You need to know how to deal with them, or you will pull your hair out.
How Does The Workers’ Comp System Grind Claimants Down?
The insurance companies have just about perfected the tactic of “deny and delay”. They are quick to cut the claimant off from their weekly check (PPD benefits) or from needed medical care.
Often the claimant’s check is stopped on the thinnest evidence. When that happens, we have to file for a hearing. It takes 30-60 days to get one (usually more like 60). Who can afford to live without income for that long?
The system wears the claimant down, and it isn’t fair.
Worst of all is when the workers’ compensation insurer will deny reasonable requests made by the claimant’s doctor. Fighting over medical care is something that takes a lot of my time.
Often, a request for care will be denied or delayed, and the poor claimant cannot get that medical care for months while we wait for a hearing date. Admittedly, there are some bad doctors out there and it is sometimes reasonable to deny the care requested by some of these guys.
But when a well-respected doctor requests reasonable medical care, it should be approved. Sometimes the denial of that care is downright unconscionable.
How Does the Workers’ Comp System Grind Claimants Down?
More often than not, I suspect this is done just to wear the claimant down. All of these deny & delay tactics have the effect of making people tired. They are tired of fighting. They get sick of dealing with the matter.
Sometimes they give up (always against my advice). Sometimes they just settle. Sometimes they pay for medical care out of their pocket. Sometimes they run it through their own health insurance if they have it.
I suspect (without any real evidence) that the system is set up this way to make sure only those with a real case will file a workers’ comp claim. It simply isn’t worth going through all of the hassle if you don’t have a valid workers’ compensation claim.
How many people ever said “my workers’ comp case was great and easy!” Pretty much nobody. A quick internet search will show a LOT of complaints – and almost no happy stories.
It isn’t a fair system. Until it is reformed, we just have to continue fighting when we have to.
What Can Be Changed?
There is one single reform that would make the entire workers’ comp system more friendly to claimants – and less subject to abuse.
Right now, the insurer can deny you medical care or weekly pay pretty much whenever they want to. If you don’t like it, you have to file for a hearing and wait 30-60 days to get it resolved. The insurer does not have to do anything during that waiting time. The claimant just suffers.
They should change the law to force the insurance company to get approval of the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission before they change the status quo. Anything your own doctor asks for should be approved. If they don’t like it, they should have the burden of filing for a hearing and waiting to get the problem resolved.
If they want your weekly pay to get cut off, the insurance company should have to file for a hearing and pay the claimant until they get an order from the Workers’ Compensation Commission saying otherwise. If they win, they could always take a credit against future benefits. It wouldn’t hurt the insurance company at all to do that.
This one simple change in the law would make a HUGE difference in the lives of Maryland workers’ compensation claimants. It would be fair to all parties.
There is a good reason that very few Workers’ Comp claimants try to handle their claim without an attorney. You will get eaten alive without a good lawyer representing you in a Maryland workers’ compensation claim.
Hopefully, the workers’ compensation system will be reformed one day. But don’t hold your breath!
Want to know more? Discover what you need to know about workers’ compensation in Maryland. Click here to see our Free Legal Consumer Guide to Maryland Workers’ Compensation and get answers to your questions today. Know your options. Be informed. Protect yourself.
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