Detroit News Editorial: Our 2 cents on workers comp changes

Michigan work injury lawyer responds to Detroit News editorial supporting workers comp reform.

The Detroit News recently published an editorial urging lawmakers to balance fairness to injured workers with reasonable cost controls. The editorial describes House Bill 5002 as “presenting worthwhile proposals to give employers and employees more certainty about reimbursement for on-the-job injuries.”

It is clear that the Detroit News has not done its homework and is just relying on talking points from the proponents of this legislation. House Bill 5002 provides no certainty for employers or employees and will actually create much more litigation. The introduction of partial disability and hypothetical wage earning capacity will make the workers comp rate a question of fact in nearly all cases.

What House Bill 5002 will really do to workers comp in Michigan

“The legislation would make a distinction between total and partial disability resulting from a job-related injury. An employee’s compensation award could be reduced if he or she still was able to handle a lighter job that pays less. This seems reasonable. The program is supposed to be injury protection, not a retirement plan.”

This is already the law. An employer or insurance company already receives a credit for any wages that a partially disabled employee is able to earn. House Bill 5002 changes the law to allow an employer or insurance company to reduce wage loss benefits based upon a hypothetical wage earning capacity. This means that wage loss benefits will be automatically cut whether  or not an injured worker can find work.
The current law also allows for wage loss benefits to be stopped if a worker refuses reasonable employment. Work avoidance is not allowed under the current system.  However, these must be real jobs that pose no danger to the workers health and safety.

It is shameful that the Detroit News would imply that people use workers comp as their retirement plan. Wage loss benefits are limited to approximately 60% of gross earnings and are only paid if a person is disabled. No one gets rich on workers comp and most people fight just to survive. Once an injured worker reaches retirement age, his or her wage loss benefits can be coordinated with Social Security retirement benefits.

House Bill 5002 will destroy the workers comp system in Michigan

Workers comp provides medical treatment and wage loss benefits to disabled workers. In exchange for these benefits, employers receive immunity from civil lawsuits. The system is not perfect but has worked for 100 years in Michigan.

If you take away these basic workers comp benefits, the system will collapse. People will find themselves with no avenue of recovery after an injury at work.

While the cost of medical is skyrocketing around the country, workers comp insurance premiums are expected to decline over 7% next year. Special interest groups only want these changes so they can pay less on legitimate work comp claims.

To speak with an experienced workers comp lawyer, call (855) 221-2667 for a free consultation. We will fight to make sure that your legal rights are protected.

Alex Berman is the founder of Michigan Workers Comp Lawyers. He’s been representing injured and disabled workers exclusively for more than 35 years.  Alex has helped countless people obtain workers compensation benefits and never charges a fee to evaluate a case.

Related information:

House Bill 5002 (2011)

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