Electronic filing, or “E-filing,” of legal pleadings is a growing trend in jurisdictions across the state and country. There have been recent developments in both Maryland courts and at the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission with respect to E-filing.
The Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission recently introduced a new option to electronically file an Employee Claim Form. Claimants and their attorneys will not be required to use the online form and still have the option to mail the form to the Commission if so desired. However, the Commission does require the updated formatted version to be used if mailing.
The E-filing option will largely affect claimant’s attorneys, as the process allows counsel to obtain an electronic signature and submit the form without the tedious logistics of mailing the Claim Form to a claimant and possible delayed filing. E-filing does, however, provide benefits for defense counsel and their clients as well. For example, although a medical authorization has always been part of the Claim Form, some claimants do not sign the authorization with their submission. Now, if a claimant files the form online, he cannot submit it until the Medical Authorization is likewise signed and submitted. This helps to expedite the employer and insurer’s ability to seek medical records directly from providers and can potentially alleviate the need for hearing continuances.
Of note, the Claim Form cannot be filed with the Commission online if all fields are not completed. This should help to reduce the amount of mistaken omissions. Moreover, the electronic data entry will help to avoid any question over a claimant’s handwriting or otherwise unclear entries. In this way, the more streamlined approach afforded by E-filing is arguably more efficient and reliable.
For all four Maryland court levels (District, Circuit, Court of Special Appeals and Court of Appeals), E-filing is mandatory for all matters (except landlord/tenant) if you are filing in a county that has been converted to the new Maryland Electronic Courts (MDEC) system. Currently, the counties that have converted to E-filing include: Anne Arundel, Caroline, Calvert, Cecil, Charles, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s, Somerset, St. Mary’s, Talbot, Wicomico and Worcester.
For more information about this article, please contact John Archibald at 410.230.3064 or jarchibald@ fandpnet.com.