eNotes: Workers’ Compensation – May 2022 – Maryland
May 25, 2022
SIGNIFICANT LEGISLATIVE UPDATE
MD LEGISLATIVE UPDATES
2022 Legislative Session ends with regulatory changes, but two failed pieces of legislation
While no legislation was passed in the Workers’ Compensation area, some proposed legislation shows interesting issues that the legislature is considering:
– SB0010-A: Workers’ Compensation Occupational Disease Presumption regarding COVID-19
– HB614/HB628: bill regarding compensation and benefits related to use of Medical Cannabis; HB 628-Workplace discrimination related to use of Medical Cannabis
– SB 433/HB 501: Fees for Attorney Services related to seeking authorization for medical benefits that go to hearing (see Regulatory Change to COMAR 14.09.04.01 below)
The regulatory changes involved discuss withdrawal of counsel. The new language applied to 14.09.04.01 is as follows:
Termination of Representation. E1. An attorney may withdraw an appearance by filing a notice of withdrawal if: (a) The client has another attorney of record; or if the claim has been settled and there is no possibility of any future medical benefits. (E2) By Motion. If an attorney is not permitted to withdraw an appearance by notice under §E(1) of this regulation, the attorney wishing to withdraw an appearance shall file a motion to withdraw. The motion shall be accompanied by the client’s written consent to the withdrawal or the moving attorney’s certificate that notice has been mailed to the client at least 5 days prior to the filing of the motion, informing the client of the attorney’s intention to move for withdrawal and advising the client to have another attorney enter an appearance or to notify the Commission in writing or electronically of the client’s intention to proceed in proper person. The Commission may deny the motion if withdrawal of the appearance would cause undue delay, prejudice, or injustice. (3) An attorney whose appearance has been entered on behalf of a party to a claim remains the attorney of record for the party to that claim unless the appearance was terminated under §E(1) or (2) of this regulation.
This new language does apply to attorneys for Claimants, Employers and Insurers alike. However, this regulation is likely to be most frequently applied to Claimants’ attorneys who wish to withdraw from the claim after indemnity has been awarded but medical is open. The failed legislation referenced above, SB433/HB 501, was likely an effort to give the WCC Commissioners the authority to order a fee to an attorney who remains in their claim even when there is no indemnity against which an attorney’s fee can be applied. In the absence of legislation, it may be that Commissioners will use ‘their broad powers’ under the WC statute to order an attorney’s fee if medical authorization is granted by the Commission after a hearing and there is no further indemnity exposure in the claim.
Questions about this legislative update can be directed to Ruth Jacobs at (443) 641-0573 or firstname.lastname@example.org.