Get Ready: New Maryland Workers’ Compensation Laws Set to Take Effect on October 1, 2017

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The date for your new workers’ compensation laws to take effect is now upon us. The Maryland legislature passed several workers’ compensation bills in early 2017 that will be taking effect on October 1, 2017.

The law that will likely have the greatest effect on claims handling in Maryland is the requirement that medical providers submit their bills for payment within one year from the later date of: (1) the date of service; (2) the date the claim was accepted as compensable by the employer/insurer; or (3) the date that the claim was found compensable by the Workers’ Compensation Commission (WCC). Based on these criteria, this deadline is not a true one-year statute of limitations from the date of service. The law extends out this “statute of limitations” even further by providing that the WCC can excuse a late submission by the medical provider if the medical provider submits the medical bill within three years from the later date of (1) the date of service, (2) the date the claim was accepted as compensable by the employer/insurer, or (3) the date that the claim was found compensable by the WCC, and the medical provider can show good cause. Accordingly, although this law does allow for discretion by the WCC, it does provide a firm three-year statute of limitations; not necessarily from the date of service, but still within a time-specific framework.

The statutory cap on permanent total disability claims will be increased from $45,000 to $65,000. This cap applies to unpaid benefits that survive to a claimant’s dependents or spouse when the claimant was receiving permanent total disability benefits and died from causes unrelated to the claim. This increased cap only applies to claims arising after October 1, 2017.

Employers will now face increased sanctions for failing to report accidents. The new law provides that an employer who “knowingly” fails to report an injury is subject to a misdemeanor and a fine of $500 (up from $50). This notice requirement applies to any accidental injury that causes death, a disability for more than three days, or disablement due to an occupational disease.

On the ever-increasing significant issue of opioids, the legislature has specifically stated that a provider shall provide the lowest effective dose of an opioid at a quantity no greater than needed for the duration of the pain unless prescribed for substance related disorders, pain associated with cancer, pain experience while receiving end-of-life care, or chronic pain. The dose, quantity, and duration must be based on evidence-based clinical guidelines and violations can subject the provider to disciplinary action and a fine of up to $50,000.

Stay tuned on how these new laws will be interpreted by the courts and the Commission.

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