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Workers' Compensation Reforms in House

This week, the Michigan House of Representatives will consider reforms to Michigan's Workers' Compensation Act. 


In August, the state announced the pure premium advisory rates for worker's compensation insurance dropped by an average of 7.4 percent.  The goal of HB 5002 is to address problems with the Act, which do not reflect nearly 100 years of legal, economic and medical developments.   


This proposal will be heard by the House Commerce Committee on September 27. 

See the full bill with the changes outlined here:  http://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/2011-2012/billintroduced/House/htm/2011-HIB-5002.htm

Pros

The Michigan Workers' Compensation Act will create efficiency and consistency and reduce employer costs by providing increased certainty for employees and employers, keeping workers' compensation premiums affordable for job providers and making Michigan more economically competitive.   

For too long, the workers' compensation law has depended upon what judge hears a case, creating inconsistency, confusion and ambiguities resulting in high premiums for job providers.  This disarray is exactly what plaintiffs and personal injury attorneys' desire:  higher confusion and higher costs to employers.  HB 5002 would put an end to the flip-flopping. It is in the best interest of workers and employers alike because it provides increased clarity and certainty to common disputes job providers are often forced to spend thousands of dollars litigating. 

Cons

The proposed legislation would impair an employee's ability to obtain lost wage benefits, even if they are unable to work or unable to find alternate work, by imposing a complex and confusing definition of disability, among other restrictive changes.

Under the new definition of disability, employees would no longer be eligible to receive full benefits if they are able to perform any other job suitable to their qualifications and training. Individuals would now be deemed partially disabled if they are able to earn a wage at any pay level in a job that is within their qualifications and training.  The new legislation will elevate the standard of proof required to show that an injury has occurred. The amended law would limit an employee's ability to recover for mental disabilities. The new law would limit an employee's ability to choose their medical care provider for a full 90 days following their injury.

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