Workers Comp Lawyer Handling Subsequent Injury Fund Claims
The purpose of the Maryland Subsequent Injury Fund (SIF) is to encourage businesses to employ disabled individuals by limiting the employer’s liability in the event that the disabled or previously-injured employee would sustain a subsequent injury or work-related disease. Prior to the passing of SIF, there were two rules governing this area of workers’ compensation: the “full responsibility rule,” which required employers to pay the entire disability following an accident or work-related disease and the “apportionment rule,” which required that employers pay benefits only for the second accident or work-related disease. The SIF provides that the total compensation to which a covered employee is entitled is equal to the amount of compensation that would be payable for the combined effects of the previous impairment and the subsequent accidental injury or occupational disease.
If you or a loved one has suffered a work-related injury or disease, contact workers’ compensation attorney John G. Turnbull III. Attorney Turnbull provides legal representation to residents of Annapolis, Baltimore, Bel Air, Ellicott City, and Towson, Maryland. Call 410-321-8860 for a free consultation. Read on to learn more about Maryland’s subsequent injury fund.
Factors Used to Determine SIF Eligibility
Several factors are used to determine a worker’s eligibility to collect benefits from the SIF:
- The worker must have sustained an accidental injury or occupational disease at work;
- The worker must have had an permanent impairment or disease that existed prior to the present accidental injury or occupational disease;
- The previous impairment was, or was likely to be, a hindrance or obstacle to the worker’s employment;
- The combined effects of the recent accident and the previous impairment are substantially greater than the effects of the recent accidental injury or occupational disease alone;
- The previous impairment and the recent accidental injury each result in permanent disability for at least 125 weeks; and
- The overall disability must cover more than 50% of the body as a whole.
It is important to note that the SIF makes payments only for permanent partial disability (“PPD”) or permanent total disability (“PTD”) and does not make payments for temporary benefits or medical treatments. Furthermore, any previous award of compensation or settlement for PPD will be deducted from an SIF award, provided that the prior PPD contributes to the claimant’s current PPD. The previous PPD is evaluated as of the date of the current accidental injury or occupational disease.
One additional point to consider is the “Thomas Doctrine.” This doctrine provides that if a previous impairment worsens and is not the result of a current work-related injury or illness, it will not compensable. The current disability does not need to be apportioned to a past accident in order for a claimant to receive PPD or PTD. In addition, the SIF does not pay benefits at state disability rates.
Contact a Baltimore Workers’ Compensation Attorney
An experienced attorney will evaluate your current injury, whether it is a back injury requiring disc surgery or an injury that appears slow in healing or has the potential to create a true industrial disability or occupational disease. An experienced attorney will know that in order to meet the 125-week requirement, there must be a disability award of at least 25% from the accidental injury or occupational disease. Finally, an experienced attorney will evaluate any pre-existing injuries and conditions and compare them to your current conditions in order to determine the percentage of impairment.
If you believe that an experienced attorney could help you and you live in the Annapolis, Baltimore, Bel Air, Ellicott City or Towson, Maryland areas, please contact Attorney John G. Turnbull, III. Attorney Turnbull is an experienced workers’ compensation attorney who understands the SIF and would like the chance to work with you. Remember that failing to file a timely workplace injury claim can result in you not being able to obtain the benefits you deserve.