New Maryland Workers’ Compensation Opinion

On Thursday, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals decided a workers’ compensation case in Montgomery County, Maryland in Montgomery County v. Willis. This case involves an interpretation of the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Act regarding when an injured worker can appeal a decision from the Workers’ Compensation Commission denying a request to have the Commission refer the case to the Insurance Fraud Division in the Maryland Insurance Administration, pursuant to Maryland Labor & Employment. Code Ann. § 9-310.2.

The case’s facts deal with an old friend of the Maryland accident lawyer: the subsequent injury. The Claimant was a police officer with the Montgomery County Police Department when she injured her knee at work on July 20, 2001. The Claimant then had another knee injury off the job. The Claimant played it straight and told her employer about both injuries. She got the idea for a workers’ compensation claim from her supervisor, and her employer did not contest the claim.

So far, so good. But five years later, the Montgomery County Self-Insured Fund who provided the workers’ comp insurance for the Montgomery County Police, claimed it was not aware of the subsequent injury and requested a hearing for a referral to the Maryland Insurance Fraud Division.

A Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commissioner, R. Karl Aumann, found no fraud. Montgomery County Self-Insured Fund filed a Circuit Court appeal. Montgomery County Judge Robert A. Greenberg found that Commissioner Aumann’s order was not subject to appeal.

The Maryland Court of Special Appeals found that when an employer seeks a fraud review of workers’ compensation benefits based on its belief that an employee wrongfully obtained those benefits, the Commission’s determination is subject to full review in Circuit Court. Accordingly, the Court of Special Appeals reversed and remanded the case to the Montgomery County Circuit Court.

I’ll bet you $10 the Circuit Court affirms the Workers’ Compensation Commissioner in this case.