No matter what your job description or where your job site, accidents happen. For Ron Jerew, a bus mechanic in Prince George’s County, it happened when a fragile bulb shattered in his hand while he was on the job, the thin glass slicing through his skin to vital nerves and tendons.
It looked bad, but not serious. Ron followed protocol and immediately filled out the necessary workers’ compensation forms to document the accident. Four days and two emergency room visits later, a doctor finally found and removed a piece of glass from his throbbing thumb and treated the infection. A few days after that, his thumb swelled to twice the size. “Surgery,” the doctor said, but he couldn’t schedule it until Ron got a workers’ compensation claim number in the mail.
“I called MSEA to see if they could help. I talked to MSEA’s workers’ comp attorney Bryan Marshall, and he got the claim number for me within a few hours,” Ron recalls. “I called the doctor and had the surgery the next day. Soon after that, I got the workers’ comp card with my claim number on it and used it for the prescriptions I needed after surgery.”
Despite some early problems with care, Ron’s outcome was good—he followed the guidelines and used MSEA’s legal services to make sure his Workers’ Compensation benefits were there when he needed them.
“Sometimes we need to speed up the paperwork or cut through the bureaucracy to get the services our members need when they need them,” said Marshall, to whom MSEA refers workers’ compensation cases. While all MSEA attorneys are well-versed in workers’ compensation law, Marshall specializes in such cases and has been MSEA’s “go to” attorney for job-related injuries for nearly 10 years.
If a workers’ compensation injury happens to you, immediately report the injury to your supervisor, and contact your MSEA UniServ representative, like Ron did.
Remember, an “incident report” is not a workers’ compensation claim—you must file both to ensure the coverage provided by your board of education, which includes payment for all reasonable and necessary treatment needed as a result of your injury.
Workers’ comp covers “accidental injuries” and “occupational diseases.” An accidental injury occurs while working and as a result of your job. An occupational disease is one that occurs slowly over time, such as a repetitive motion injury. You are also covered if you are assaulted or injured while intervening in a fight while at work.
If you’re injured on the job, you’ll receive lost wages up to two-thirds of your average wage when your doctor provides a note that says you need to stay home to recuperate. By law, the first three days of lost wages are not paid until the employee is off for 14 days, although your local may have negotiated a better benefit.
“Members must keep in mind that it’s their responsibility to protect his or her health and career, not the board of ed’s,” Marshall adds. “MSEA and I can do the best when members follow the guidelines posted at every worksite. “If you are injured on the job, the most important things to do right away are to file an accident report and contact your local UniServ, who will advise you on the next steps.”
“If a workers’ compensation injury happens to you, immediately report the injury to your supervisor, and contact your MSEA UniServ representative.”