If as a result of the injuries received at work you are no longer able to do the type of work you were doing before the accident, then the workers’ compensation insurance company must pay to provide either job placement or vocational rehabilitation to retrain you for a new type of work. Under Maryland law if the insurance company finds you work or trains you for a new job, they must provide suitable gainful employment which is defined as work providing wages as close to as possible as to what you were making before the accident, taking into consideration your injuries, your education, your work experiences and any other relevant factors.
You will not automatically receive vocational rehabilitation and/or retraining if you are unable to return back to the type of work you were doing before. The Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission favors job placement over vocational rehabilitation. Vocational rehabilitation is only provided as a last resort when other employment is not obtainable at a suitable wage. All efforts are exhausted in order to find work either with the old employer or a new employer before providing any kind of vocational rehabilitation, including training or schooling.
When you are unable to return back to the type of work you were doing before the work-related accident, the insurance company will assign a vocational rehabilitation counselor to assist you in your job search. You and your lawyer do have input on who will be your counselor. Once a counselor is chosen, you will meet with the counselor. In theory, your counselor is an expert on what types of jobs are available for people with your physical limitations, education, work experience, transferable skills, and age. They also know the availability of such jobs in your area as well as how much they pay. These counselors can be extremely helpful in guiding you in the right direction. Too often, employees continue to look at jobs that they once were able to do but can no longer physically do.
The vocational counselor is an excellent resource to lead you in a new career direction that you may not have thought of on your own. It is not the job of the counselor or your former employer or the insurance company to provide you with a new job or give you a job, but only assist you in your search. While participating in your search, you will continue to receive temporary total benefits. In fact, you are being paid by the insurance company to look for work and you must make it your full- time job to do so.