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Workers Compensation Helpline, Maine Workers Comp Lawyers

The Injured Workers Helpline 877-522-2123

MAINE WORKERS COMP. LAWYERS

Androscoggin County, Kennebec County, Piscataquis County, Aroostook County, Knox County, Sagadahoc County, Cumberland County, Lincoln County, Somerset County, Franklin County, Oxford County, Waldo County, Hancock County, Penobscot County, Washington County, Kennebec County

Maine Workers Compensation

The general mission of the Maine Workers' Compensation Board is to serve the employees and employers of the State fairly and expeditiously by ensuring compliance with the workers' compensation laws, ensuring the prompt delivery of benefits legally due, promoting the prevention of disputes, utilizing dispute resolution to reduce litigation and facilitating labor-management cooperation

Maine Workers Compensation Lawyers Can help.

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

What should I do if I am injured at work? You must tell your employer (which can mean a supervisor or a member of management) as soon as possible that you have been injured.

When must I tell my employer that I have been injured at work? You must tell your employer within 90 days of your injury, or when you learn of your injury, that you have been injured. If you wait more than 90 days after the injury, you will lose the right to claim workers' compensation benefits.

What should my employer do when I report an injury? Your employer must complete a First Report of Injury within 7 days. Your employer must give you a copy of the First Report of Injury. If you lose a day's work because of your injury, your employer must also file the First Report of Injury with the Workers' Compensation Board. If your employer does not complete the First Report of Injury, you should call a regional office of the Workers' Compensation Board and ask to speak to a Troubleshooter.

Can I get medical help for my injury? Yes. For the first ten days, your employer has the right to select a health care provider to treat your injury. After the first ten days of treatment you may choose a different health care provider. You do this by telling your employer that you wish to have a different person treat your injury.

Can my employer ask me to see another doctor? Yes. Section 207 of the Workers' Compensation Act says that if you are treating with a health care provider of your own choice, your employer can require you to see a different doctor for another opinion. This is not the same thing as an Independent Medical Exam under Section 312, a process that is explained later in this guide.

Will my employer pay for any other medical costs? Yes. Your employer will pay for medicine and for mileage to and from your visits to health care providers. They will also pay for medical aids such as wheelchairs, crutches and hearing aids.

How long may I receive treatment for my injury? You can receive treatment until you recover from your injury. Your employer must pay for reasonable and proper treatment that is related to your injury.

If I need treatment while my employer disputes my claim, will my health insurer pay my bills? Yes. If the workers' compensation insurer will not pay your claim for medical treatment, you can submit the bills to your health insurer for payment. Your health insurer must pay the bills if the workers' compensation insurer is denying your claim and has not made any payments to you based on your claim.

What if I have to miss time from work because of my injury? 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 would receive 2 days of benefits. If you missed 16 days of work, you would receive 16 days of benefits.

Will my employer pay me my full salary while I am out? No. If you were injured on or after January 1, 1993, your employer will pay you 80% of your after-tax average weekly wage. This is called your compensation rate. There is a limit on how much you can receive. Currently, the maximum benefit you can receive is $471.76 per week.

If you were injured prior to January 1, 1993, your employer will pay you 2/3 of your gross average weekly wage.

When does my employer have to decide if it is going to pay me for my lost time? Your employer must decide whether or not to pay your lost time claim within 14 days of the time you tell your employer about your injury.

What if my employer does not do anything for the first 14 days? If your employer does not dispute your claim within 14 days, it must begin paying you weekly compensation. Your employer must continue paying you at least until it files a Notice of Controversy.

How will I know if my employer is going to pay my claim? If your employer decides to pay your claim, it will send you a Memorandum of Payment.

My Memorandum of Payment says that my claim has been "accepted." What does that mean? This means that your employer agrees that you have been injured at work, and that you are entitled to benefits.

My Memorandum of Payment says that my "claim is voluntary payment pending investigation." What does that mean? This means that your employer is paying your claim even though it is not sure that your injury is work-related. This type of payment is often called "payment without prejudice."

What if I can work but I can not find a job? You may be entitled to receive 100% of your compensation rate if your injury stops you from returning to work. You can show that your injury prevents you from returning to work by doing a "work search", in other words, by keeping a list of the jobs that you have applied for but have not gotten.

What if I can go back to work, but I cannot earn as much as I used to earn? If you can return to work, but your injury stops 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.

Do I have to do anything when I return to work after an injury? Yes. If you are receiving compensation for your injury, you must notify the Workers' Compensation Board and the employer you were working for when you were injured that you have returned to work. You must do this within seven days of returning to work.

How long can I receive benefits for lost time? Regardless of your date of injury, if your incapacity is total, you may receive benefits for as long as you are unable to work. Total incapacity means that you are unable to work at all because of your injury.

If your incapacity is partial, and you were injured on or after January 1, 1993, you can, with a couple of exceptions, receive benefits for a maximum of 260 weeks. 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. There are three exceptions to the 260 week limit on benefits. First, if your injury has caused more than 15% permanent impairment, you can receive benefits for as long as your injury lasts. Second, if you were injured between January 1, 1993 and January 1, 1998, and your injury has caused permanent impairment of 11.8% or greater, you can receive benefits for as long as your injury lasts. Third, you can ask the Workers' Compensation Board to order the employer to continue paying benefits after the 260 week cap has been reached. To do this, you must prove that you will suffer an extreme financial hardship because you cannot return to work.

If you were injured between October 17, 1991 and December 31, 1992, you may receive partial incapacity benefits for a maximum of 520 weeks.

If you were injured between November 20, 1987 and October 16, 1991, you may receive partial incapacity benefits for a maximum of 400 weeks after you have reached maximum medical improvement. (Maximum medical improvement means the date after which further recover is no longer reasonably anticipated.)

If you were injured prior to November 20, 1987, there is no limit on the amount of partial incapacity benefits you can receive.

Can my employer stop paying benefits without my agreement? Yes. If your claim is "accepted," your employer can stop paying benefits if you return to work for your employer, or if you receive an increase in pay from your employer. Your employer may also file a Petition for Review to stop or reduce your weekly benefits.

If your claim is being paid without prejudice, your employer can stop paying benefits if you return to work for your employer, or receive an increase in pay from your employer. In addition, the employer can stop your benefits by filing a 21-day certificate of discontinuance.

What is a 21-day certificate of discontinuance? If your employer is paying you without prejudice, it can notify you that it intends to discontinue weekly benefits no earlier than 21 days from the date that it mailed the notice to you. Your employer must state the reasons it is going to stop your benefits.

What can I do if I receive a 21-day certificate of discontinuance? You can file a Petition for Review and request a provisional order. When you file these forms, you will be asking a Hearing Officer to decide, within about 21 days, whether or not the employer should be able to stop your benefits before a hearing is held. You can contact a regional office of the Workers' Compensation Board and speak to a Troubleshooter who will help you fill out these forms.

What if my injury bothers me in the future? You can ask that your employer or your employer's insurer pay for more medical care and lost time. You can make a claim only if the statute of limitations on your claim has not run out.

What is the statute of limitations? The statute of limitations is the time limit within which you must file a claim for benefits. Once the statute of limitations expires, you cannot make a claim for further benefits. The statute of limitations is different for different dates of injury. If your employer makes a payment for workers' compensation benefits within two years of your injury or the last time they made a payment, your statute of limitations will not expire for at least two years. If they have not, you need to file a petition within two years of the date your employer filed a first report of injury with the Workers' Compensation Board. There are certain cases where a longer period between payments can go by without your statute of limitations expiring. If you have questions about your statute of limitations, you should call a regional office of the Workers' Compensation Board and ask to speak to a Troubleshooter.

What if my employer refuses to pay my claim? If your employer refuses to pay your claim they will file a Notice of Controversy. A Notice of Controversy is often called a "NOC". The Notice of Controversy should indicate why the employer is not agreeing to pay your claim.

What happens if my employer files a Notice of Controversy? If your employer files a Notice of Controversy, your case will be sent to a Troubleshooter. The Troubleshooter will try to contact both you and your employer and try to resolve the disagreement. If you receive a Notice of Controversy, and you do not hear from a Troubleshooter within 2 weeks, you should call a regional office of the Workers' Compensation Board and ask to speak to a Troubleshooter.

What if the Troubleshooter cannot resolve the dispute? If the Troubleshooter cannot resolve the dispute, then your case will be sent to a Mediator. The Mediator will meet with you, your employer and the employer's insurance company. The meeting will be held in an informal setting. The parties, with the mediator's help, will attempt to come to an agreement. The Mediator will not take sides at the mediation. Any agreements you reach must be reached voluntarily.                                                                                                 My case is sent to mediation, will someone be available to help me? Yes. There are Worker Advocates at each regional office who help injured workers with their claims. You can receive assistance from a Worker Advocate if you were injured on or after January 1, 1993, have participated in troubleshooting, do not have an attorney, and request the services of a Worker Advocate. The addresses and phone numbers of the Worker Advocate offices are listed at the back of this guide.

What will the Worker Advocate do? The Worker Advocate will help you prepare for mediation, and will attend mediation with you. They will also help you negotiate with your employer to resolve your dispute.

Can I get a lawyer to help me? Yes. If you were injured on or after January 1, 1993, you will be responsible for paying your attorney for his or her services.

If you were injured prior to June 30, 1985, your employer will pay your attorney's fees if yo make a claim in good faith, or if your employer begins the process.

What if the Mediator cannot resolve the dispute? If the Mediator cannot resolve the dispute, then either you or your employer can file petitions that request a formal hearing. There are different petitions which you can use to request different benefits. For example, if you want your employer to pay lost time benefits, then you would file a Petition for Award. If you want your employer to pay medical bills, then you will file a Petition to Fix. These forms are available at the different regional offices.

After an unsuccessful mediation, you, your employer, or a Hearing Officer may request an independent medical exam. Independent medical exams are explained later in this guide.

Will the Worker Advocate be able to help me after the mediation? Yes.  If your claim goes to formal hearing, the Worker Advocate will help you prepare for the hearing, and will attend the hearing with you.

What is a formal hearing? The formal hearing is your opportunity to present your case to a Hearing Officer. The Hearing Officer will listen to your evidence, and the evidence that your employer wants to present. After the Hearing Officer has heard all of the evidence, the Hearing Officer will write a decision. The decision is binding on you and your employer.

What if I disagree with the Hearing Officer? You may appeal the decision of the Hearing Officer to the Supreme Judicial Court of Maine. (The Supreme Judical Court is also known as the " Law Court".) The Supreme Judicial Court does not have to hear your appeal. They can choose which cases they want to hear. Get a Workers Comp Lawyer to help prior to a hearing.

What is an independent medical exam? When a request for an independent medical exam is granted, the Workers' Compensation Board will ask a doctor to examine you, and whatever records you and your employer want him/her to. The independent medical examiner will write a report that explains whether or not your injury is related to work. The independent medical examiner's decision will be binding on you and your employer if you agreed on an examiner. If the Workers' Compensation Board appointed the examiner, the examiner's decision will be binding unless there is clear and convincing evidence that the examiner's findings are wrong.

What is the difference between an independent medical exam under Section 312 and a medical exam under Section 207? An examination under Section 207 is an examination by a doctor that your employer has chosen. The doctor's medical opinion is not binding on the parties. An independent medical exam is an exam under Section 312 by a doctor that the Workers' Compensation Board has chosen. Unlike a Section 207 exam, the findings of an independent medical examiner are binding unless there is clear and convincing evidence that the examiner's findings are wrong. You should have a Workers Comp lawyer help to protect your rights.

Does my employer have to give me my job back? If you are able to return to work, and your job is open, your employer must offer you your previous job. If your old job has been filled, or if your injury prevents you from doing that job, your employer must give you a job that you can do even with your injury. Your employer must also make reasonable accommodations for your injury. That means that your employer must make changes to a job that will allow you to return to work, as long as the changes would not impose an undue hardship on your employer.

What if I cannot return to my old job, and there is no other work at my employer's business? If you cannot return to your old job because of your work related injury, you may be entitled to receive vocational rehabilitation. Vocational rehabilitation may include job retraining and job placement. A workers Compensation lawyer can help

What if my employer will not pay for vocational rehabilitation? If your employer will not voluntarily pay for vocational rehabilitation, you can ask the Workers' Compensation Board to recommend a vocational rehabilitation plan. If your employer refuses to pay for the plan, the Workers' Compensation Board will pay for you to go through with the rehabilitation plan. You will not be responsible for any of the cost of a plan that the Workers' Compensation Board pays for. Get a Workers Compensation lawyer.

Can my employer discriminate against me if I file a workers' compensation claim? No. Your employer cannot discriminate against you for filing a workers' compensation claim. Your employer cannot discriminate against you for testifying in a workers' compensation claim. If you think your employer has discriminated against you because you filed a claim or testified, you can file a Petition to Remedy Discrimination.

Are there penalties in the Workers' Compensation Act? Yes. Employers and employees can be penalized for not filing required reports and forms, and for not filing required reports and forms, and for willful violations of the Workers' Compensation Act, fraud or intentional misrepresentation. Employers can be penalized for making late payment of benefits

 

 The worker Advocate offices                                                                                         The addresses and phone numbers of the Worker Advocate offices are listed below. If you have not spoken to a Troubleshooter, please use the addresses and phone numbers listed at the beginning of this guide. If you have already spoken to a Troubleshooter, and need to contact a Worker Advocate, please use the addresses and phone numbers listed below. Call For the injured Worker Maine for help locating a  Workers Compensation lawyer.

AUGUSTA
24 Stone Street
Augusta, ME 04330-5220
(207) 287-2266
1-888-645-2266 (Maine Only)

BANGOR
106 Hogan Road
Bangor, ME 04401-5640
(207) 941-4556
1-888-594-4556 (Maine Only)

CARIBOU
One Vaughn Place
10 Washburn Ave, Suite 110
Caribou, Maine 04736-2347
(207) 498-6428 or 800-400-6855 (Maine only)

LEWISTON
36 Mollison Way
Lewiston, Maine 04240-7761
(207) 753-7700 or 800-400-6857 (Maine only)

PORTLAND
62 Elm Street
Portland, Maine 04101-0840
(207) 822-0840 or 800-400-6858 (Maine only)

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