Semmes Featured in Law.com’s Legal Intelligencer Article

August, 2023  | By Todd E. Saucedo

Todd E. Saucedo and Hudson T. Sauls recently authored an article for Law.com’s Legal Intelligencer on the proposed legislation in Washington D.C. and its impact on workers’ comp claims in other jurisdictions.

Todd and Hudson provided a comprehensive overview of the recent legislative changes impacting the realm of workers’ compensation in the District of Columbia. The District has witnessed a transformative moment with the enactment of a temporary statutory amendment to D.C. Code Ann. Section 32-1503(a-1), which allowed individuals to receive workers’ compensation benefits under D.C. law even if they were already receiving benefits for the same injury or death under the law of another jurisdiction. Although the temporary status of this amendment has lapsed, discussions are underway to make it a permanent fixture in D.C.’s legal landscape.

The passage of this temporary legislation marked a significant shift from the established interpretation spanning over two decades, which previously held that receiving benefits in another jurisdiction prevented seeking additional compensation within the District. This alteration had profound implications for employees and legal representatives, impacting decisions regarding jurisdiction selection and defense strategies. Proponents of this amendment argued that it aimed to prevent claimants from being maneuvered into jurisdictions with lower benefit rates, thus ensuring they can seek more favorable outcomes under D.C. law.

However, it’s worth noting that the District’s caselaw under Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority v. D.C. Department of Employment Services emphasized that claimants themselves, not employers or insurers, have the sole right to choose the forum in which they seek benefits. The focus should now shift towards analyzing whether this proposed change aligns with the original intention of the statute, which was to curb escalating business costs and attract employers to the District.

While discussions are ongoing regarding the future of this amendment, its potential implications are immense. If it becomes a permanent part of D.C.’s statute, it could enable claimants to strategically file claims across neighboring jurisdictions, and subsequently move their cases into D.C. at the most opportune moment, potentially amplifying both opportunities and challenges for employers and insurers.

Click here to read the full article (subscription may be required). Stay tuned for more updates on this pivotal development as it unfolds and continue to follow our news page for the latest insights and analysis on significant legal changes affecting our community.

For any inquiries or further information, please don’t hesitate to contact Todd E. Saucedo or Hudson T. Sauls.