Like other states, Maryland’s workers’ compensation program is designed so that injured or disabled workers can get benefits following a work-related illness or injury efficiently.
In many cases, an employer, including the employer’s insurer, will pay benefits for medical bills and lost wages. However, they can and do often exercise their option to contest a claim. After all, the more claims they have, the higher the cost of maintaining a workers’ compensation program.
There are many reasons why an employer might contest a claim. One common reason is that the employer does not believe the worker’s injury is related to their job.
The employer may also contest the extent of a worker’s injury or the amount of time off they need to recover from it.
Contested claims may involve a hearing before a Commissioner
If an employer or insurer challenges a claim, they will generally let the worker know the reasons. They also must tell the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission.
Although there may be opportunities to negotiate, the Commission will schedule a hearing in front of a Commissioner. The Commissioner is a person with expertise in resolving workers’ compensation claims.
Much like a judge, they will hear evidence and arguments and then make a decision. A Commissioner’s decision may be appealed to the proper Maryland court.
The important thing for a worker to remember is that these hearings are contested legal proceedings, like trials, that will involve an area of the law with which they may not be too familiar.
As a result, if they try to handle it alone, they may not understand what sort of information to present. The end result is that they could wind up having a claim denied or reduced even if they had a right to the benefits.