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Two changes posed to Maryland's workers' comp system

Luckily for Maryland employees, a workplace accident is not the end of the world. The state's workers' compensation system is set up so that employees injured at work or during the course of employment have a way to recover money to pay for the costs incurred as a result of the accident. While workers' comp might cover lost earnings or medical bills, it acts as a substitute to a personal liability claim against the employer.

On the down side, employers might often try to get out of paying a workers' compensation claim. An employer might deny that the employee suffers from an actual workplace injury or they may say that the employee is ready to return to work far earlier than the employee is able. Even worse, is that some employers may retaliate against an injured employee for even filing a workers compensation claim. Retaliation can come in all forms but it can include termination.

Maryland's legislature is considering how to prevent these retaliation tactics and reform the state's workers' comp system. There are currently two bills under examination.

The first bill addresses retaliation. Retaliation against an employee for filing a claim is already illegal but proponents of the bill say that it is hard to enforce because workers have to prove that the retaliation or firing is a direct result of the filed claim and not for any other reason. This can be difficult, if not impossible, to prove. Businesses are opposed to the bill because they say the definition of retaliation is too broad and that it would subject businesses to all sorts of false claims.

The second bill places a limit on what employers can pay doctors who examine the workers' comp cases and the doctors who testify in front of the Maryland Workers' Compensation Commission. The legislation builds on current law, which does cap what businesses can pay doctors who testify on their side.

The two bills have not yet reached a vote but both have the potential to drastically change the state's workers' compensation system and employees should pay attention to how these changes affect them.

Source: The Washington Examiner, "Maryland workers' comp bills called 'anti-business'," Andy Brownfield, Feb. 19, 2013

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