Once again, the General Assembly's Labor Committee is considering several troublesome workers’ compensation proposals.
This week, CBIA testified against some of these because the bills would significantly raise costs and upset the fairness of the workers’ comp system.
SB 102 deals with when an employer contests an employee's workers’ compensation claim and the employee seeks medical attention via the employer’s health or medical plan.
Under this proposal if the claim is determined to be a legitimate workers’ compensation claim, 20% of any amount the insurer rightfully recovers from the workers’ comp carrier may be transferred to the claimant with no attorney's fees payable from the transferred amount.
In effect this will shortchange health insurers by allowing only 80% reimbursement for the costs they incurred.
This bill disrupts subrogation, undermines a fair and equitable resolution between all parties involved, and essentially provides a windfall for the plaintiff in the workers’ compensation case.
HB 5449 would allow individuals seeking compensation for a workers' comp claim to bring an action against an employer or insurer that they believe has unreasonably contested liability or delayed payments or adjustments of the compensation.
This bill would effectively overturn the U.S. Supreme Court decision in DeOliviera v. Liberty Mutual that rightfully held the Workers’ Compensation Act is the exclusive remedy for injuries arising out of and in the course of employment.
Under the Workers’ Compensation Act, an employee relinquishes the right to sue for damages in exchange for quick and certain compensation for any injury.
This is an effective and efficient bargain between employers and employees that ensures prompt medical attention and compensation is provided for and avoids costly and endless litigation between the parties.
HB 5449 purports to address situations in which there are unreasonable delays in treatment or payment.
However, the Workers’ Compensation Act empowers a workers’ compensation commissioner to take measures and penalize an employer if it finds an employer unduly delays a legitimate workers’ compensation case.
CBIA will continue to oppose these bills and urge legislators to reject them.