If you have experienced an injury or illness at work in Maine, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. For over two decades, the Portland workers' compensation attorneys of the Maine Employee Rights Group have helped injured workers statewide, across a variety of industries, get the benefits they deserve.Workers' Compensation Benefits
Workers' compensation benefits can include wage replacement, payment of medical bills, payment for vocational rehabilitation, and in some cases, payment of schedule benefits for a specific loss. Nearly all Maine employers, both public and private, are required to obtain workers’ compensation coverage. There are narrow exceptions for certain types of agricultural workers, charities and non-profit organizations, domestic servants, and those employed by family members.
Workers’ compensation wage replacement benefits are paid at two-thirds of your gross average weekly wage subject to a maximum rate. Benefits should continue for as long as you lose time from work or are unable to earn your pre-injury wage. You may receive partial or total benefits, depending on the extent of your incapacity. Since the Workers’ Compensation Act was amended in 2013, in most cases, entitlement to benefits ends after 520 weeks (10 years). You may be entitled to benefits beyond that time if your injury is totally medically disabling or it results in a permanent impairment rating over 18%.
Employers are required to pay medical bills that are reasonable and proper and related to the work injury. This can include hospital and surgery, doctor visits, diagnostic testing, physical therapy, medications, and durable medical equipment.
Vocational rehabilitation is available under the Workers’ Compensation Act for employees who lack transferable skills and need help in order to replace their pre-injury wage. Plans must be approved by the Workers’ Compensation Board and are typically limited to one year of services, sometimes two. While you are participating in a Board-approved vocational rehabilitation plan, the insurance company may not reduce or suspend your workers’ compensation benefits.
An employer that fails to obtain workers’ compensation coverage is still liable in the event of an injury. That employer may be ordered to pay a civil penalty of up to $10,000 or 108 percent of the premium that it should have paid during the time that it failed to get coverage, if that amount exceeds $10,000.How To Pursue A Claim For Workers' Compensation Benefits
First, you must notify your employer of your illness or injury within 30 days . The 30 days begins to run from the date you knew or should have known that your injury resulted from work. You must tell your employer if you need medical treatment or time off from work due to your injury. Your employer must then report the claim to its insurance company, which has 14 days to accept the claim or deny it. If the insurance company accepts your claim, you will receive a Memorandum of Payment explaining your benefits. If the insurance company denies your claim, you will receive a Notice of Controversy explaining the denial. This is where a skilled workers’ compensation lawyer can help.Serving Injured Workers Throughout Maine
Workplace injuries can range from minor to extremely severe, including traumatic injuries to muscles, back and spinal cord injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder, and lung conditions caused by exposure to toxins. Getting workers’ compensation benefits can be a critical step toward recovery, alleviating a financial burden as you cope with the physical and sometimes psychological healing process. Our capable workers' compensation lawyers at the Maine Employee Rights Group represent injured workers statewide from Portland to Bangor, Lewiston to Machias. If you have a workers’ compensation dispute, call 207.874.0905 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a consultation.Case Examples
Maine Employee Rights Group represented a 50 year-old nurse who injured his elbow and wrist when he tried to prevent a patient from falling. While the initial injury was minor, our client developed constant, severe burning pain in his elbow, wrist, and hand. His doctors diagnosed him with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome and recommended a pain management and pain psychology program. The insurance company disputed the diagnosis and tried to reduce his compensation saying he could return to nursing. Maine Employee Rights Group convinced the Workers’ Compensation Board to award total incapacity benefits, even though our client retained some work capacity, because he had looked for work in good faith, but his restrictions prevented him from getting hired. The case resolved in a substantial settlement for the client, who was ultimately able to return to work in an administrative nursing position.
Maine Employee Rights Group represented a 40 year-old telecommunications worker who fell 25 feet from a cherry-picker to the ground when his harness was not properly fastened. The client suffered severe injuries to his neck, back, pelvis and leg requiring hospitalizations, multiple surgeries, extensive rehabilitation, and home modifications. Maine Employee Rights Group worked with the client and the insurance company to ensure that medical treatments were promptly authorized and convinced the insurance company to pay an hourly wage to the client's wife who had to take leave from her job to care for him. The case resulted in a substantial settlement with a separate medical account to pay for future medical treatment. The client then went on to collect Social Security Disability benefits as well.
Maine Employee Rights Group represented a 55 year-old custodian who wore out his knees from kneeling, squatting, and lifting over the years at work. The client needed bilateral total knee replacements. The insurance company denied the claim and refused to pay for the surgeries - saying the client's knee injuries were due to arthritis or normal wear and tear. Maine Employee Rights Group enlisted the client's doctor to advocate for the client on the issue of medical causation and convinced the Workers' Compensation Board to award total benefits and order payment of both surgeries. The case resolved in a substantial settlement for the client, who then went on to collect Social Security Disability benefits as well.
Maine Employee Rights Group represented a 30 year-old professional hockey player from Canada who injured his back playing in Maine. After back surgery, he developed a spinal fluid leak which lead to a bacterial infection, a second surgery and weeks of intravenous antibiotics before he could start physical therapy. The insurance company refused to pay for the second surgery and post-op care, saying our client did not follow his surgeon’s advice regarding his level of activity after surgery. Maine Employee Rights Group enlisted the surgeon to convince the insurance company that this was a known complication of surgery and that the client’s activities did not cause it. The insurance company reversed its position and paid the medical bills. The case was settled without a hearing, for an amount that reflected the fact that our client would never play pro hockey again.
Maine Employee Rights Group represented a 42 year-old machinist who hurt his back lifting heavy equipment at work. During a CT myelogram, a doctor mistakenly injected dye into the client’s spine, compounding the injury tenfold. The client was now permanently and totally disabled. Maine Employee Rights Group secured top notch medical malpractice counsel for the client. In the workers’ compensation case, we convinced the insurance company to pay for specialist treatment in Boston, including all travel expenses. The case resulted in a very substantial settlement and the creation of a separate account for future medical expenses. Together with medical malpractice counsel, we negotiated with the insurance company to reduce its lien on the medical malpractice settlement, maximizing the monetary recovery for our client.
Maine Employee Rights Group represented a 32 year-old behavioral therapist who injured her back while working with therapy patients. While painful, her back injury was not severe, and she only required a few weeks off work to recover. Her employer initially granted her Family Medical Leave, but while she was decided to fill her position and told her she would have to reapply for a new position when one became available. Maine Employee Rights Group achieved a negotiated resolution whereby the employer reinstated the client to her former position, with back pay and attorneys’ fees. The client is back at work, doing well.
Maine Employee Rights Group represented a 25 year-old roofer who fell through the roof he was working on and fractured his femur and his skull. Our client’s injuries required hospitalization, multiple surgeries, and rehabilitation. The employer tried to claim he was not an employee, but an independent contractor, not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. The employer alternatively claimed that our client was working for another roofer on the job. There was a multi-day hearing just on that issue. The Workers’ Compensation Board ruled that our client was in fact an employee because he did not have the essential right to control the means and progress of the work, was paid by the hour, did not have the opportunity for profit or loss on the job, did not have a substantial investment in the tools or equipment being used for the job, and did not have a contract. The decision resulted in our client receiving total incapacity benefits retroactively to the date of injury and ongoing and the insurance company taking care of all his medical bills, which were substantial. The case remains open at this time.Additional Maine Workers Compensation topics
- Workers’ Compensation Claims Process
- Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome and Workers’ Compensation
- Repetitive Motion and Overuse Injuries
- Reporting a Work Injury
- Workers Compensation and the Family Medical Leave Act
- Permanent Impairment
- Offers of Suitable Work
- Specific Loss Benefits
- Workers’ Compensation: Speaking the Language
- Injuries Resulting from Slipping and Tripping
- Failure to Maintain Proper Guards and Other Protective Gear
- Assault and Violent Acts at Work
- Crush Injuries and Other Injuries Due to Being Caught or Stuck Between Objects
- Electrocution & Burn Injuries
- Injuries Caused by Being Struck by an Object
- Injuries Due to Overexertion
- Injuries Due to Repetitive Motion or Cumulative Trauma
- Injuries Due to Bending
- Injuries Resulting from Climbing Accidents
- Injuries Due to Falls
- Lack of Safety Equipment and Hazardous Work Environment
- Motor Vehicle Accidents While Driving On the Job
- Defective Equipment
- Poor Ergonomic Set-Up
- Workers’ Compensation FAQ