Warnken, LLC Attorneys at Law, Attorneys & Lawyers, Pikesville, MD

Workers’ Compensation Statistics and Trends

Every year, the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission publishes an annual report. In carefully looking at the report, much can be gleaned.

Workers’ Compensation Claims

From 2008 to 2009, the Workers’ Compensation Commission saw a 5.9 % drop in the total number of filed claims. The total number of filed claims did not return to the 2008 level until 2014, with a total of 24,113 claims.

Increase in Tier One Awards

Between 2008 and 2014, Tier 1 awards went from 61.8% to 68.7% – a notable decline of 11.17%. Tier 2 awards decreased from 35.3% to 29.3% of the total. Tier 3 awards – serious or permanent total disability – decreased by 2.9% to 2%.

 

Year                                        1st tier                   2nd tier                  Serious or Perm Total

2008                                       61.8%                    35.3%                    2.9%

2009                                       62.7%                    34.5%                    2.8%

2010                                       63.8%                    33.5%                    2.7%

2011                                       65.7%                    31.8%                    2.5%

2012                                       67.2%                    30.4%                    2.4%

2013                                       66.4%                    31.1%                    2.5%

2014                                       68.7%                    29.3%                    2.0%

 

What does the increase in first-tier awards mean? It means one of three things…

  • More injured workers are filing for permanency on minor injuries.
  • There has been a creeping up of first-tier for unknown reasons no one is conscious of.
  • The Workers’ Compensation Commission is deciding close cases to the first-tier instead of the second.

If you do not understand the difference between first-tier and second or mid-tier injuries, and what it can mean for compensation, let me highlight the issue for you.

Hypothetical client has a knee injury requiring surgery. Client has the surgery and a three-month recovery process. Client is rated for permanency at 35% by the claimant IME and 15% with 5% pre-existing by the insurer IME. If the case were to be stipulated, just based on the numbers, it would be close to mid-tier. The E/I defense attorney won’t stipulate because he doesn’t want to go second tier and we won’t either because we don’t want to go first. Let’s have a hearing.

Under our current system of workers’ compensation, the Commissioner will make this decision. It’s relatively subjective. Second vs. first tier could go either way. Who wins? The one with the better lawyer? The better IME report? The one who looks more sympathetic? Does each Commissioner have their own scientific method for deciding first vs. second? It’s a little hard to say.

Workers’ Compensation Appeals

With the exception of 2010, the number of appeals filed by Claimants has increased each year from 2008 and 2014. With the exception of 2014, the number of appeals filed by Employers and Insurers has continued to decrease since 2008. In 2014, there were 1,206 appeals filed on behalf of Claimants and 783 filed by Employers and Insurers. In 2008, Employers and Insurers filed 1,052 appeals, while Claimants only filed 885 appeals. The percent of total claims appealed has remained around 8% from 2008 to 2014.

Workers’ Compensation Vocational Rehabilitation

Between 2008 and 2014, the total number of cases with Vocational Rehabilitation Dispositions decreased from 2,494 to 1,445 despite the mere 0.2% difference between the number of total filed claims. There is significance to this drop. It clearly says something about workers’ compensation vocational rehabilitation in Maryland.

Data is according to Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission Pubs and Reports

h/t: Frank Muher

Byron B. Warnken