Important "Time" Factors and Information for Teamsters Under
THE MAINE WORKERS’ COMPENSATION ACT
We have decided to use the website library to keep our members informed about the important issues that effect you in the workplace. The information is provided to give you a better understanding and deals with the problems workers face when it comes to your rights under the Maine Workers’ Compensation Act of 1992.
Our members have very little knowledge concerning the important time frames the Law requires a worker to operate under. The Law, its changes and interpretations are hard to keep up with, even those who work at it daily.
We asked our attorney, Howard T. Reben, of Reben, Benjamin, & March, to condense for us an explanation of the Law that can be understood by us laypersons. He has done a fine job putting words to paper in such a way that we understand our obligations under the Law as far as time frames are concerned. Everyone should take the time to read his advice. We never know when we might have to put it to use.
Into all our lives a little rain is going to fall. Maybe not the rain of an on the job injury, but something. Based on that pessimistic note, also located in our library are books that deal with your rights under the Family Medical Leave Act and The Americans With Disabilities Act. Both of these laws deal with our rights to be secure in our efforts to retain our employment, even during times of illness, accident, disability, family trials and tragedies, as well as the joy of child birth.
We will appreciate your response to this format. Please feel free to call or write us to let us know what you think of the website, any suggestions you may have that could help the membership gain the knowledge that they may need should they fall into needing the assistance of any of these laws. Thank you.
Robert L. Piccone
WHAT TO DO AFTER AN ACCIDENT
Just have an accident? Away from work? While driving or riding in an automobile? Then read and follow these instructions. Carefully.
If you are involved in an automobile accident or injured in any manner not related to your work.
Do not admit fault. Do not apologize.
Get medical attention quickly.
Immediately take pictures of the auto or product damage and any injuries you incurred.
Call Reben, Benjamin and March at 874-4771/1-800-852-8554. Legal advice is free for Union members. Do not speak with an insurance company investigator or sign any papers before talking with these attorneys. Do not complete 48-hour report before talking with these attorneys. Each day, write down how the pain from your injury is effecting you and anything that you do.
Maine’s laws were created to protect its citizens from the negligence of others and ensure, when negligence is the cause of accidents, those injured receive fair compensation for their losses.
If your accident was outside of work, following these instructions will insure you receive fair compensation for your losses.
The following information has been contributed by:
Howard T. Reben
General Council, Local 340
REBEN, BENJAMIN & MARCH
(207) 772-5496 (800) 852-8554
POST 1993, WORKERS’ COMPENSATION-TIME DEADLINES
FROM DATE OF INJURY
If inured before January 1, 2013: 90 Days Notice
If injured after January 1, 2013: 30 Days Notice
2 Years: File Initial Petition Regarding Injury
BE WARNED: YOU HAVE AN ABSOLUTE TIME LIMIT TO FILE ANY BENEFITS FROM DATE OF LAST PAYMENT.
If injured Before 10/17/91: Time limit is 10 years from last payment.
If injured After 10/17/91: Time limit is 6 years from last payment.
Delay can cost you your rights under the Workers’ Compensation Act. Failure to give notice within 30 days of the injury and failure to file a petition within two years of the injury can eliminate your claim. If payments are being made you have 6 or 10 years to file additional claims (depending on the date of injury). If you receive no benefits within an applicable time period, your rights to collect in the future will be lost.
Any injury arising out of and in the course of employment regardless of who was at fault is compensable. The work related injury need not be the sole cause of the disability as long as it significantly contributed to the symptoms.
BEING TOO TOUGH TO COMPLAIN OR ADMIT INJURY WILL COST YOU!
If you are injured at work, it is important that you tell your employer as soon as possible that you have been injured. An employer or its agent can be your supervisor or a member of management where you work. If you do not tell your employer that you have been injured at work, you will lose the right to claim Workers’ Compensation benefits. You must tell your employer within 30 days of your injury, or when you learn that your condition is work related. Failure to give timely notice will result in the loss of the right to be compensated.
WHICH DOCTOR DO I HAVE TO GO TO?
You have the right to receive treatment until you recover from your work-related injury. Your employer must pay for reasonable and proper treatment related to your injury. For the first 10 days, your employer has the right to select a health care provider unless you tell your employer that you wish to have a different person treat the injury. It is usually better to be treated by your own doctor, rather than the company selected doctor.
WHEN DOES PAYMENT START?
If you miss more than 7 days of work because of an injury, you are entitled to receive weekly compensation benefits. If you lose between 7 and 13 days, you will be paid for those days. If you miss more than 14 days, you will be paid for all of the days that you have missed. For example, if you miss 9 days of work, you will receive 2 days of benefits. If you missed 16 days of work, you will receive 16 days of benefits. Your employer is not obligated to pay your full wage while you are unable to work. If you were injured on or after January 1, 2013, your employer will pay you 2/3 of your after-tax average weekly wage. Any concurrent earnings or employer-paid fringe benefits (if they have ceased) should also be included in these payments, up to a maximum benefit rate provided by law. The maximum rate is established by the Workers' Compensation Board and increases every year.
Note: For injuries that occured between January 1, 1993 and January 1, 2013, the compensation rate is 80% of a worker's average weekly wage.
DO THEY HAVE TO PAY RIGHT AWAY?
Your employer must decide whether or not to pay your lost time claim within 14 days of the time you gave notice of the injury. If your employer does not dispute your claim within 14 days, they must begin paying you weekly compensation. Your employer does, they must continue paying you until they file a Notice of Controversy (NOC). If your employer files a Notice of Controversy, your case will be sent to a person called a "Troubleshooter", who is an employee of the Board, to resolve disputes between the parties.
HOW MUCH/HOW LONG WILL I BE PAID AND HOW WILL IT BE DETERMINED?
If you return to work, but your injury prevents you from earning as much as you used to earn, you may receive partial benefits. Partial benefits are equal to 80% of the difference between what your average weekly wage was before your injury and your earnings after you return to work.
If your incapacity is total, which means that you are unable to work at all because of your injury, you may be entitled to receive benefits, which are equal to 2/3% of your after-tax average weekly wage, but not more than $458.83 per week. The length of time the benefit is available depends on the amount of permanent impairment. Partial incapacity benefits are due if you are able to work, but still have some restrictions on what you can do because of your injury. For most injuries after January 1, 1993, there is a 364-week limitation on weekly benefits, (not medical care). There are two exceptions to the 364-week limitation. First, if your injury has caused a whole body permanent impairment of 11.8% or greater, you can receive benefits for as long as your work incapacity lasts. Second, you can ask the Board to order the employer to continue paying benefits after the 364-week cap has been reached. You must however, prove that you will suffer an extreme financial hardship because you cannot return to work.
WHAT ABOUT MY INJURY IN RELATION TO THE FUTURE?
If your injury will require attention and inability to work in the future, you can ask your employer or your employer's insurer to continue to pay for medical care and lost wages. You can make a claim only if the statue of limitations on your claim has not run out. The statue of limitations is different for different dates of injury. If your employer makes a payment for Workers’ Compensation benefits within two years of injury, the statue of limitations will not expire for at least two years. If they have made no payments, you need to file a petition within two years of the date of injury. No petition of any kind may be filed more than six years following the date of the latest Workers’ Compensation payment (Ten years for pre 10/17/91 injuries).
IN OTHER WORDS, TIME REALLY IS MONEY?
The process of filing your claim must comply with the law. Time is the most critical factor. If your employer does not act timely in his/her response to your action, the law may impose a penalty. Complying with the law is a difficult and complicated process. In many cases, you may benefit by being represented by an attorney when your dispute involves mediation or a hearing. Obtaining counsel has been difficult as a result of recent changes in the law, hostile to workers’ rights. Regardless, if you are injured at work, to protect your rights, you should call Teamsters Local 340 or Reben, Benjamin & March.
WHAT RIGHTS DO I HAVE IF I AM INJURED BY OTHERS?
Under the Workers’ Compensation Act, an employee may not sue an employer for pain and suffering and other general damages. If the cause of the injury was a vehicle driven by someone working for another employer, a faulty product or medical negligence, a suit may be brought. Reben, Benjamin, & March, Local 340’s attorneys, have been successful in bringing such suits on behalf of Union members. They are available for advise and handling all injury lawsuits and can be reached at 1-800-852-8554 and 207-874-4771.