Workers' Compensation

Show me the money: DE IAB rules medical expense check can issue directly to claimant (and her attorney) in lieu of provider

This is a great week for the claimant's bar in Delaware. An order has just issued that answers the question of whether an attorney can demand that a medical expense award be issued to him and his client over the objection of the defense that checks be cut directly to the medical providers.  Following a hearing on the merits, the Board ruled that claimant sustained an injury to her cervical spine causally related to a work accident occurring in 2004 and awarded medical treatment expenses.

At some juncture thereafter, the claimant's attorney requested that Target's counsel send the payment for the medical bills to his office rather than directly to the providers, admittedly to allow for the deduction of a contingency fee from the payment.  Counsel agreed to issue a "hold harmless" indemnification agreement in favor of Target to insulate it from any medical provider claims relating to these same expenses.  Target challenged this request for direct pay in light of the recent implementation of the new Act, specifically Section 2322 and the Health Care Payment System.

I bless you all with a copy of Colleen Sanitate v. Target Corporation, IAB # 1259830 (8/30/10) (ORDER), just released by Chief Hearing Officer Christopher Baum, a brief but scholarly legal analysis of whether this practice is permitted under the new statute.  The answer is "heck, yes!"

It's a Chris Baum decision and it speaks for itself.  Like a tabletop Christmas tree decorated only with Swarovski ornaments, it needs no further adornment or commentary from me.  But whatever you do, make sure you print a copy for your research drawer.  It is as precious as one of those Swarovski's.....:>)

Still clingin' to endless summer,

Cassandra Roberts

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