Several bills affecting workers' compensation passed during the 2019 Connecticut General Assembly session and await the governor’s signature.
First responder benefits. SB 164 was amended before passage. It extends workers' compensation benefits to police and firefighters suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
It provides up to one year of benefits while the affected person seeks treatment after witnessing a tragic event.
A compromise will have the Labor and Public Employee Committee in the next session study the feasibility of including EMS and corrections officers.
The events that trigger eligibility include witnessing the death or disfigurement of a person, viewing a deceased child, and treating or caring for a person who dies shortly afterward.
Employees must seek treatment to receive benefits and be cleared by a licensed professional to return to work.
Commissioners. HB 7241 makes minor changes to the statute, replacing workers' compensation commissioners with an administrative law judge title, and has the advisory board meet once a year instead of twice.
Delayed, contested claims. As originally drafted, HB 6916 allowed a claimant to bring a cause of action for "unreasonably delayed or contested" claims under the Connecticut Unfair Insurance Practices Act in a civil court, outside the realm of the workers' compensation system.
The claimant could bring a cause of action before all workers' compensation remedies are exhausted.
This was amended to establish a task force to identify the extent of unreasonably contested or delayed workers' compensation claims.
The task force is also charged with studying methods to expand remedies regarding potential liability for unreasonably contested or delayed claims, and clarify the law regarding bad faith handling of claims.
The task force will report its findings and recommendations to the General Assembly by Jan. 1, 2020.
Detoxification treatment. HB 5883 requires workers' compensation benefits to include detoxification treatments for prescription drugs used to treat an injured employee.
The treatments must be deemed reasonable or necessary by the treating physician or surgeon.