This article explains Orders of the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission and how you can appeal them if you do not like the result.
I always call people about these Orders, but I often see my mail early or late so we may not be able to talk immediately.
And you may need to review this information more than once. So I made this post you can read at your convenience.
I have never liked the format of these Workers’ Comp Orders because they can be difficult to understand. This is particularly true of Orders for permanent partial disability benefits.
We will discuss the exact details of your Order, but here are some tips to help you figure out the details of your Order based on what was awarded.
Orders for Permanent Partial Disability Benefits
The Order will usually first state what your temporary total disability benefits were, and when they were paid. This has almost always been paid already, and is usually not something we fought about at the hearing. But the Commission will set it out in your award anyway.
The actual award of permanent partial disability is usually set forth in a separate paragraph. When the Order awards money, they make that money payable over a certain period of time, at a certain rate per week – and you have to do the math to figure out the total.
I will break it down for you when we talk, but if we haven’t spoken about it yet, here is how to figure it out.
Multiply the weekly payment by the total number of weeks awarded to get the total. Then subtract the fees and costs at the bottom (under the paragraph that starts “It is further Ordered . . . “). The amount remaining is what you will get in your pocket.
My fees are never more than 20% of the total award. Sometimes my percentage goes down if you get more money, but it will never be more than 20%. Costs that we expended are reimbursed in this final award, and they should be stated clearly in this Order.
THERE ARE TWO PARAGRAPHS IN ALL CAPS THAT SHOW UP IN EVERY PPD ORDER. PAY NO ATTENTION TO THEM. THIS IS AIMED AT THE INSURANCE COMPANY – NOT YOU. THEY HAVE TO PAY A TAX ON TOP OF YOUR AWARD TO FUND THESE TWO ORGANIZATIONS. THAT TAX DOES NOT COME OUT OF YOUR AWARD.
I REALLY WISH THE WCC WOULD CHANGE THEIR ORDERS TO MAKE THIS CLEAR. AND I REALLY WISH THEY WOULD STOP WRITING THOSE PARAGRAPHS IN ALL CAPS LIKE THIS. IT IS ANNOYING.
Pay attention to the start date of the weekly payments. The WCC backdates the start of the weekly payments to the last date you received a check from the insurer. So the actual check you receive will be a “catch up” check covering all the payments due from the start date to today, and future checks every week until the total is paid off.
If you last received a payment some time ago, this catch up check may be large. If that last payment from the insurer was far enough in the past to make all the payments due and owing today, then you will get it all in one check. (This is confusing as heck and I hate how they do this. Don’t blame the WCC though. It’s because of how the Maryland workers’ compensation statute is written by your politicians in Annapolis.)
The insurer must pay within 15 days of date of the Order. They will likely send the first check to me directly, and we will call you when we get it.
Orders for Medical Care
If the Order approves medical care, go ahead and schedule it now. Tell the doctor’s office you won. Give them a copy of the Order. I can also send them a copy of the Workers’ Compensation Commission’s Order if they need it.
Any treatment ordered will now be approved. Tell them to call the insurer for payment. If they have any problems, have them call my office.
If your claim was contested from the beginning, the Workers’ Compensation Commission should have decided whether the claim is “allowed” (which means you won) or “disallowed” (which means you lost). Apparently we lawyers we can’t just say “won” or “lost” like normal people!
If you wish to contest this decision by an appeal, there are tight time limits in which to do so. You can appeal this decision within 30 days of the date of the Order (not the date you received it – the actual date of the Order) by filing a Petition for Judicial Review in the Circuit Court of the Maryland County in which you live.
This is like filing a lawsuit in Circuit Court and asking for a jury trial.
An appeal will usually request a jury trial, and the jury will make the ultimate decision. The party filing the appeal is asking the jury to overturn the decision of the Commissioner.
Like any other jury trial, it can take up to a year to have your trial. There is nothing we can do about that. The Court is already forced to set it as early as possible under Maryland law. The Courts are just that backed up.
Failure to file your appeal at the Courthouse within 30 days of the date of the Order will forever prevent you from appealing this decision. Call me immediately if you think we need to appeal, and be mindful of that deadline.
Obviously, the insurer can file an appeal too. However, if the WCC Ordered benefits paid to you, the insurer does not normally get to delay paying them simply by filing an appeal. They still must pay, and you do not have to pay them back if the insurer eventually wins the appeal. They will instead receive a credit against any future benefits they may have to pay you.
Again, call me if we haven’t spoken yet. If not, I will be calling you soon. Each Workers’ Compensation Order is unique, and most of the time they are a little confusing unless you are used to seeing them.
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