For any Maryland Workers Compensation case the legal proceedings begin at the administrative level and are held before the Maryland Workers Compensation Commission. After almost any administrative hearing the parties have an opportunity to appeal the decision to the judicial system. Jurisdiction over the first appeal is held by the County Circuit Court in which the accident arose, or in which the parties live or do business.
A decision by the insurance company, the adjuster, the case worker, or an employer can not be appealed to the circuit court. In fact it should not be appealed until the case is before the Commission. The Maryland Workers Compensation Commission must make a decision before a case can be appealed to the Circuit Courts. If you have been injured on the job and are being denied by the insurance company, the insurance adjuster, the case worker, workers comp, or an employer do yourself a favor and contact a qualified and experienced workers comp attorney!
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Maryland Workers Compensation Cases at the administrative level
The Maryland Workers Compensation Commission has sole jurisdiction to hear Maryland Workers Compensation cases. It is only after a decision has been rendered that the aggrieved party can request an appeal and move the case into the court system.
The need for a hearing before the Commission can arise for a number of reasons including to obtain a permanency award, seek medical treatment authorization, recover lost wages, reimbursements, or for any issue that may arise in a Maryland Workers Comp case. While most hearings are requested by the injured worker and their Maryland work injury lawyer, hearings can also be requested by the defense, medical providers, or set in by the Motion of the Commission.
Some examples of why the defense would file for a hearing: to seek a credit for over payment of lost wages, seek approval for a drug reduction program, to determine the correct average weekly wage, challenging the accident took place, or challenging the cause of the injuries.
Treating physicians can file for a hearing before the Maryland Workers Compensation Commission in order to obtain payment for medical services provided. This can be done by requesting a hearing for payment of bills, or by filing a claim for medical services. Read more about this process here.
On occasion a Maryland Workers Compensation Commissioner will set a case in for hearing. This is most often done when there are complications with a settlement but can also be set in for any number of reasons.
Decisions that can be appealed
Almost every decision that the Maryland workers compensation commission makes is subject to an appeal to the applicable Circuit Court however there are some exceptions that require an abuse of discretion by the Commission. These include awards of penalties, attorney fees, and sanctions.
Taking a Maryland Workers Compensation case on Appeal to the Circuit Court
Appealing a Commission decision to a Maryland Circuit Court is not an easy undertaking and whenever possible legal representation should be retained. The process is much more time consuming and intricate, furthermore can cost $3,000 or more before a new trial even takes place.
Filing an appeal of a Maryland Workers Compensation Commission decision
An appeal of a Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission decision is similar to an appeal de novo, however in practice they are actually appeals are quasi de novo in nature. A true de novo appeal is a trial “of new” meaning the parties will have an opportunity to litigate the case all over from the very beginning. A quasi de novo Maryland Workers Compensation appeal can take the form of a de novo appeal however they are presented to the judge or jury in a less formal fashion. The parties may chose to present all new evidence ( like de novo), or they may chose to present the same evidence, less evidence, or on rare occasions no evidence.
An appeal of a Commission decision must be done within 30 days from the date the Order is mailed, however best practice is to file an appeal within 30 days from the date of the Order. The first procedural step in filing an appeal of the Maryland Workers Compensation Commission decision is to file a petition for judicial review with the applicable circuit court. The petition must include a copy of the original claim form, all the prior orders, a copy of the order being appealed, and specific language within the petition. Along with the petition there should be a certificate of mailing to the defense. It is good practice to include a request for jury at this time as well.
Discovery during the Appeal
The workers compensation insurance defense team will file a response to the petition for judicial review and the discovery process will begin. The ordinary appeal process will include depositions, interrogatories, and production of documents. See definitions. Depositions can be taken of any party, representative, witness, or person involved in the case and often are the first significant cost for the injured worker.
At some point early on in the Appeal process the Circuit Court will issue a scheduling order or will hold a hearing to determine deadlines for the process. The scheduling order will consist of deadlines for conclusion of discovery, expert witness designations, mediation or alternative dispute resolution, and joiner of parties. Depending in which court the appeal was filed the scheduling order may also contain a date for a pre-trial hearing and trial date or deadline.
Some form of alternative dispute resolution is required in almost every Maryland workers compensation appeal, however the courts can not force the injured Maryland worker to pay for such a service. Mediation usually costs around $200 an hour and will consist of the parties in the appeal and an impartial mediator who will work to resolve the case and avoid a trial.
A pre-trial hearing will take place at some time during the appeal process and will involve the parties to the appeal and a circuit court judge. The purpose of the pre-trial hearing in a Maryland workers compensation appeal case can vary depending on the Circuit Court in which the appeal was filed. Some courts use the pre-trial hearing to provide one last effort to settle or resolve the case before it goes to trial. Other courts will use the pre-trial hearing simply to establish deadlines for the case and establish a trial date.
If the parties fail to resolve the issues that are on appeal the case will go to trial. Ordinarily workers compensation appeal trials will last no more than two days. The judge or jury will render their decision which may uphold, or reverse the Maryland Workers Compensation Commission decision.