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What should I know about Maryland’s Workers’ Compensation Commission?

Lawmakers put together a workers’ compensation system to help provide benefits to injured workers in a timely manner. This system is meant to take the place of litigation allowing workers to file a claim for benefits instead of filing a lawsuit against an employer. This should result in funds to cover wages, medical treatment, and other benefits.

Although present throughout the country the system operates a little differently in each state. Maryland has an independent agency that carries out its workers’ compensation system. This agency is the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission (the Commission).

How does the system work?

It begins after an employee reports a work-related injury or illness to their employer. At that time, the employee generally files a claim for benefits with the Commission. The Commission then starts a file and will either approve or deny the claim. The system works in a way that is like a traditional courtroom. Injured workers may need to attend hearings to fight for their benefits. Those who receive a denial of benefits may also have the right to move forward with an appeal.

The system is constantly evolving. In 2020, the Commission implemented new software that included automated and artificial intelligence processes to help ease the flow of these claims. The goal of the system is to reduce the backlog of claims and process applications in a more efficient manner. Other factors that result in changes to the system include the passage of new laws and court rulings as court rulings provide guidance on how the Commission will process claims.

How many workers’ compensation claims did workers file in Maryland?

The Commission reports that in 2020 it received 21,706 claims. There were 21,842 filed in 2021 and 22,075 in 2022. It is important to note that, like everything in the country, the Commission was set back by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Commission entered 2022 with over 6,000 pending workers’ compensation cases that were still waiting for a hearing. They were able to reduce this number and entered 2023 with 1,900 cases pending a hearing.

These claims are either settled, stipulated, tried before the Commission, or Dismissed.,  The Commission increased its settlement rate in 2022, settling 7,838 claims. This is almost a thousand more than it was able to settle in 2021. The Commission also has a high rate of disputed workers’ compensation claims. Data from 2022 shows that the Employer/Insurers disputed almost half of the total claims. Some claims are initially returned to the worker who filed the claim application.

Why would the Commission return a workers’ compensation application?

The Commission may return an application for any number of reasons, but the two highest causes are inaccurate or missing information. Common examples of missing information include a failure to sign forms and provide employer information. The Commission will not fill in missing information. Instead, the claimant will need to file additional forms to fix the issue.

How can I increase the likelihood of getting my workers’ compensation benefits?

It is important to complete the forms and provide all necessary documentation. The process is not easy and or intuitive. Thankfully you do not have to go through it alone. You can seek legal counsel to help with the initial application for benefits or to provide guidance after a denial of benefits. An experienced Workers’ compensation attorney can assist with the pursuit of a claim including the seeking of medical benefits.

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