Update on workers compensation reform

Michigan Compensation Appellate Commission suggests claimants are receiving less workers compensation benefits due to changes in the law.

Governor Rick Snyder signed House Bill 5002 on December 19, 2011. This legislation brought significant changes to workers compensation in Michigan. It also codified several controversial Supreme Court decisions regarding the burden of proof.

It should come as no surprise that many people are finding their workers compensation benefits disputed. Insurance companies and self-insured employers use a hypothetical “wage earning capacity” to say a person is only partially disabled. These “phantom wages” are then justification to reduce or stop benefits.

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Top Ten Fast Facts (2013-2014 Edition)

Our list of top facts and statistics for workers’ compensation cases in Michigan.

Fact #1: The maximum rate for 2014 is $805.00 per week. This is based upon a state average weekly wage of $893.44.

Fact #2: The average workers’ compensation settlement was $62,198.08 in 2013. This represents a small increase from the previous year.

Fact #3: The Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI), a not-for-profit organization, found that medical payments in Michigan were typically lower than all 16 states in a 2013 study.

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Safety warning for tree care workers

OSHA issues hazard bulletin regarding tree care workers and lists safety precautions for employers.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a hazard bulletin regarding worker fatalities from falls and falling objects in tree care work.

“Too many tree care workers are being hurt or killed by well-known industry dangers that can be prevented if employers take the necessary precautions,” said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. “Employers have a responsibility to ensure workers are protected on the job – this includes providing training and making sure workers have the right tools to stay safe.”

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The most common employee fears in workers compensation

How employee fears in the workers compensation system lead to poorer outcomes and changes that should be made.

We recently blogged about employee outcomes in Michigan. How fear was a major influence on return-to-work programs.

Michigan’s workers compensation system is a safety net for people hurt on-the-job. It was part of a grand bargain between employees and employers.

Here is our list of top fears that our clients express. Addressing these issues will have a positive impact.

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New scheduling rules coming to workers’ compensation

How proposed Michigan Administrative Hearing System (MAHS) rules could affect workers’ compensation practice and procedure.

The Workers’ Compensation Law Section has received proposed rules for MAHS. A public hearing has been scheduled for July 30, 2014. We encourage anyone with concerns to attend and make their voices heard.

Michigan Library and Historical Center
Forum Auditorium
702 W. Kalamazoo Street Lansing, Michigan
48915
9:00 a.m. to Noon

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Facilitation Process Explained

What to expect when your Michigan workers comp case is scheduled for facilitation and how to increase settlement value.

Most workers comp cases are eventually settled though facilitation. This is an informal hearing where both sides present arguments to a neutral magistrate. You are not required to testify and participation is optional.

The magistrate will attempt to come up with a dollar amount to settle the case. Neither party must accept this amount but it helps bring each side closer together. The possibility of losing at trial is a strong motivator to negotiate.

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Eye Injury Prevention Month

A reminder about wearing appropriate eye protection and available Michigan workers comp benefits should an accident occur.

July has been designated as eye injury prevention month. We hope that employers are considering ways to improve eye safety in the workplace.

The U.S Department of Health & Human Services estimates 1,000 eye injuries occur in American workplaces each year. Almost 70% of these eye injuries occur from falling or flying objects, or sparks striking the eye.

The best way to prevent injury to the eye is to always wear appropriate eye protection. It is estimated that over 90% of eye injuries are preventable with the use of proper safety eyewear.

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Hidden costs of truck accidents

Reasons why truck accident victims need more protection and the cost of doing nothing.

Attorney Steven Gursten published an interesting article outlining several reasons truck liability insurance should be raised. Mr. Gursten is an attorney at Michigan Auto Law, founding member of the Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable and a thought leader on auto insurance issues.

Mr. Gursten makes the argument that minimum liability insurance for commercial motor carriers must be raised. It was set 30 years ago and has not been adjusted for inflation. Many people are now being under-compensated after a serious truck accident. If truck insurance policy limits are not raised, liability costs will fall on taxpayers. Potential fixes have been blocked by politicians bowing to the wishes of special interests.

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How long do you have to file a workers comp claim in Michigan?

Important time periods and why you should never wait to report a work injury.

Time is of the essence when you get hurt on-the-job. Many employers think late notice is a red flag and deny these claims. Here is what you need to know about critical time periods in Michigan.

There is no statute of limitations in Michigan workers comp. You can pursue benefits anytime provided that you gave proper notice and claim. This is why it is important to report all injuries and seek appropriate medical care.

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How do I know if the insurance company is following me?

5 ways insurance companies watch you after a workers comp claim.

Insurance companies regularly use private investigators to conduct video surveillance of your activities. It does not matter if your claim has been denied or if you are getting weekly checks.

Investigations are performed with the hope of finding some incriminating evidence. This can be used in court and is often taken out-of-context.

We suggest being cautious at all times. Do not perform any activity that could be use against you. Here is our list of the top 5 places you are typically being watched.

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