Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission Annual Report 2011

Summary

 

Highlights and Process Improvements:

The Subsequent Injury Fund Assessment (LE § 9-806) & the Uninsured Employers’ Fund Assessment (LE § 9-1007) are billed by two separate funds as of July 1, 2011. Employers/ Insurers are required to pay the assessments to the two funds within thirty days of their respective invoices.

In the IT Division new and improved software applications have led to improvements in Claims Administration efficiencies. Data sharing with other agencies has proven to achieve significant process improvements. There has also been improved business analysis/ intelligence of diverse data/ source utilizing SQL Server Reporting Services.

Graph Information Summaries:

Filed claims are up 1.6% from 23,003 to 23,366.

Policemen- Security had the most claims. The top 5 industries for filed claims are Policemen – Security, Truckmen N.O.C., Colleges or Schools including day care, Building Raising or Moving – Construction and Hospitals – all other employees. These five industries account for 33.3% of all claims with 7,774 claims total.

The Thorax – Lower (Back) was the most often disabled body part involved in 25.4% of disabilities. Most permanency awards in 2011 were for 1-74 weeks. Shoulder injuries were the only category that had more permanency awards that lasted from 74–249 weeks.

Fatality awards rose from 2010 to 2011 as were permanent partial disability awards but permanent total disability awards fell.

Disputed claims fell from 7,957 to 7,632.

Actual fatalities were down in both the Government and Private Sectors with only two industry groupings in the private sector reporting an increase.

The age group among males with the most claims was 40–49 year olds with 4,123 claims filed. Among females the age group with the most claims was also 40-49 year olds with 2,414 claims filed.

Claimants were the most likely source of appeals with 989 filed, up from last year’s 856 filed.  The employer/ insurer filed 811 claims.

Baltimore County had both the most claims and the most appeals and both were the highest they’ve been in the last two years.  Baltimore City had the second highest amount of claims and Prince George’s County had the second highest number of appeals. The six major metro areas of Maryland, Baltimore County, Prince George’s, Montgomery County, Anne Arundel, Harford, and Baltimore City, are the source of 66.7% of claims and 77.1% of appeals.

Interpreter requests fell. A majority of the interpreter requests were for a Spanish/ English interpreter.

The number of covered self-insured employees went down from 429,600 to 422,500.

No new Workers’ Compensation Premium Ranking. Maryland’s 2010 ranking was 42nd out of 51.

The number of licensed insurers writing workers’ compensation insurance rose between 2010 and 2011 but not as high as the 651 from 2009.

Insurer assessment and the Commission’s expenses were up from 2010.

Legislation Update:

HB244/ Ch. 584: Extends the presumption of a compensable occupational disease under workers’ compensation law to include Anne Arundel County deputy sheriffs who suffer from heart disease or hypertension resulting in partial or total disability or death under specified circumstances; requiring that workers’ compensation benefits received under the Act are in addition to certain retirement benefits, subject to a specified adjustment.

SB568/ Ch. 256 & HB392/Ch. 257: Altering the venue available to individuals & employers appealing a decision of the Workers’ Compensation Commission.

SB212/Ch. 435 & HB417/ Ch. 436: Provides that specified death benefit provision of the workers’ compensation law apply only to specified covered employees of a municipal corporation or a county, and their dependants; altering the authority of the Workers’ Compensation Commission to make specified determinations of dependency; altering the provisions relating to calculation of death benefits for individuals who are wholly or partly dependent; providing for the amount of death benefits to specified dependents.

SB269/Ch. 45 & HB453/Ch. 46: Worker’s Compensation Commission now has jurisdiction over a request for approval of a proposed settlement of all or part of a claim when an appeal of a Commission order is pending.

SB693/Ch. 276 & HB598/Ch. 132: Employees of the Injured Workers’ Insurance Fund are not subject to specific laws, regulations or executive orders governing State employees compensation; and repeals a requirement that the Fund’s Board set compensation for its employees in accordance with the State pay plan.

SB1/Ch. 5: Joint Committee on Workers’ Compensation Benefit and Insurance Oversight now includes a member that is a representative from a self-insured local government entity.

Regulation Update:

14.09.02.01: requires the Commission to adopt regulations to establish guidelines governing the investment of surplus monies in equities by a governmental self-insurance group. Effective: 3/7/11

14.09.01.06: employee’s weekly wage is no longer a mandatory element required to process a claim form for workers’ compensation benefits. Effective: 3/21/11

14.09.01.05: Commission’s regulation now conforms with statutory requirements related to the filing of notices of cancellation of insurance. Effective: 5/16/11

Appellate Opinions:

Jeffrey Lecronier v. United Parcel Service, 196 Md. App. 131 (2011). Venue can be based on a residence or the place where the individual regularly conducted business or is employed.

Pro-Football, Inc. v. Tupa, 197 Md. App. 463 (2011). For a claimant covered by Md. Code Ann. Lab. & Empl. § 9-203,  Maryland has jurisdiction over the individual’s workers’ compensation claim and a forum selection clause in the employment contract, requiring him to file his workers’ compensation claim in Virginia, contravened Maryland’s public policy- Compensation may not be denied because of the degree of risk associated with the employment.

Sanchez v. Potomac Abatement, Inc., 198 Md. App. 436 (2011). Md. Code Ann. Lab. Empl. § 9-742 does not deprive the Commission of jurisdiction while a previous award is on appeal, and the agency retains jurisdiction if the new claim is properly authorized under § 9-736(b).

 

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