And this is a blog dedicated to Mississippi Workers' Compensation
This was the first year we actually went trick-or-treating with our kids, as they are 2 and 3. Sawyer went as Dash Incredible (The Incredibles), Charlotte went as some version of Poppy (Trolls), I went as Mr. Incredible (bonus costume to follow) and my wife went as herself, “mommy”, AKA my beautiful wife. Daddy gets to be silly and eat chocolate all night while mommy makes sure the kids don’t get sick eating too much candy and still take a bath before bed. Some of you can relate!
We rode through our neighborhood on the golf cart, going door to door, while I secretly hoped the kids would get the Halloween edition of the pumpkin Reese’s at each stop. I have no idea why they are so much better than the normal version, but I can eat my weight in them. Nonetheless, Sawyer would do most of the talking when someone actually answered the doorbell, but if candy was left unattended, Charlotte felt as though all the pieces were there especially for her. After filling both of their baskets with candy, Sawyer finally insisted we go home “to eat it all”. We still haven’t eaten it all, but I certainly gave it my best effort. Below are random pictures and a short video from our various Halloween adventures and parties.
On October 25, 2018, the WC Section of the Bar presented a CLE to go over some of the recent Rule changes, and current issues at the Commission. The speaker was Megan Garrott, who is one of the staff attorneys at the Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Commission. For those of you who may not know, Mrs. Garrott has been with the Commission for a number of years now, and is most certainly part of the brain trust there. If you ever have questions, she is not only smart and accessible, but also very friendly and easy to talk to. I would highly recommend you reach out to her with any questions or concerns you may have.
Nonetheless, we went through all the important rule changes, which I have previously detailed. Afterwards, there was a Q/A session, which brought forth several interesting discussions. One discussion we all had collectively was with respect to attorney’s fees. While there were multiple topics discussed, I felt as though this topic created the most interest.
Specifically, the issue revolves around claimant attorneys receiving fees for work performed on medical only claims. In the past, some claimant attorneys, after settling a claim on a 13(j) basis, or indemnity only, would withdraw from the claim, leaving a claimant with no legal representation in the event further action is needed with respect to the ongoing medical. Whether you believe this is a good practice or not is really immaterial for these purposes.
There are certainly times when a claimant can and will need legal representation on medical only claims. If certain medical treatment is being denied by the employer and carrier, it stands to reason a claimant would need his/her interest protected. However, some claimant attorneys will not take on these particular claims as there is no way to get paid for the services rendered. As you all know, attorneys are generally not interested in working for free.
To alleviate those concerns, the Commission is now allowing for an avenue for claimant attorneys to be paid for work performed. How, you might ask? The Commission is taking the stance that the employer and carrier may be responsible for paying attorney’s fees associated with the work performed by the claimant’s attorney if requested. That can be done through motion practice, either along with any motion filed, or independently. The rate of pay the employer and carrier are to pay said fees to the claimant’s attorney would be up to $225.00/hour. The payment would be considered on a quantum meruit basis, which in layman’s terms is a reasonable sum of money for services rendered. They would still be responsible for submitting itemized bills like your defense attorney submits to substantiate the work performed.
In summary, using an elementary example, if a claimant has a medical only claim and the employer and carrier dispute recommended medical care. A claimant can obtain legal counsel to file a motion to compel said medical benefits, and the Commission may now order the employer and carrier to pay for the claimant’s attorney’s time expended on the case for up to $225.00 per hour. It is assumed the claimant must prevail in the motion hearing at issue, but this is currently unknown for certain. Of course, that is in addition to the legal services paid to your attorney.
As the old saying goes, a closed file is a good file. If you have medical only claims that you would like closed, I am certainly willing and able to evaluate those and help you get them settled. Please just keep in mind moving forward that, if the claimant does have legal counsel in certain medical only scenarios, there may be an instance where you pay both parties’ legal bills in a motion hearing, though that is not to be considered punitive towards the employer or carrier.
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Attorney with Markow Walker in Ridgeland, MS