HB 5002 passes both State House and Senate

Michigan workers comp lawyer explains why you should be angry about this legislation and what you can do to protect your rights.

Michigan workers were dealt a significant blow last week when HB 5002 passed both the State House and Senate. It now goes to Governor Snyder for his signature. It will become yet another law that sacrifices the rights of working people to enrich big corporations.

Special interest groups like the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, Michigan Manufacturers Association, and Michigan Self-Insurers’ Association used enormous political pressure to ensure passage of this legislation. Their lobbyists talked about modernizing the law and preventing fraud but this was really just a money grab. These changes ensure that their members will pay significantly less on workers comp claims in the future.

It is no secret that this bill was passed along party lines. The Republicans rammed this legislation through in less than 90 days and held hearings during the week of Thanksgiving when not many people were around. It took only three months to change nearly 100 years of law.

Republicans now control the State House, State Senate, and Governor’s office. Their agenda is clear and working people are not their priority. Police, firefighters, union workers, teachers, retirees, and the jobless are learning this first hand.

Elections have consequences and we must make the Republicans pay a political price for choosing special interest groups over regular people. We encourage you to talk to 10 friends and family members. Ask them to vote in the 2012 elections. Tell them your story of how these workers comp changes will affect your life. The fight is far from over and together we can still make a difference.

HB 5002 was never really about workers comp fraud

Some of the misinformed have applauded these changes. Here is some information that many of them are shocked to learn.

Workers comp is not welfare or some other free ride. It is a type of insurance that most employers are required to purchase by law. It is intended to protect both employers and employees in the event of a work-related accident. It costs relatively little and premiums were already projected to decline 7.4% next year.

Workers comp is a compromise between employee and employer interests. Injured workers gave up their right to sue their employers in exchange for guaranteed medical care and lost wages. The system has worked in Michigan for nearly 100 years.

Workers comp pays wage loss benefits to individuals who are disabled because of a work injury. Benefits are limited to 60% of gross pay or a maximum of $742.00 per week. If a person returns to work or refuses reasonable employment, benefits stop immediately.

HB 5002 changes the law so that wage loss benefits can be reduced based upon a hypothetical wage earning capacity. If your employer or its insurance company decide that you are only partially disabled, they can use imaginary wages from a made up job to reduce your wage loss benefits. This means that people may find themselves in a situation where they cannot find a job because of injury but still get cut off from workers comp.

Fraud has nothing to do with the amount of wage loss benefits that must be paid. It is a red herring used to justify sweeping changes to the workers comp law. If an employer or insurance company believes that a claim is fraudulent, they can always stop the payment of benefits.

You can still fight an unfair decision from workers comp

While the law is stacked against you, there is hope. An experienced workers comp lawyer can help you challenge a bad decision in court and prove that no jobs really exist. Never blindly accept what your employer or its insurance company tells you about your workers comp benefits.

To speak with a workers comp Michigan lawyer, call (855) 221-2667 for a free consultation. There is no fee unless workers comp benefits are recovered for you.

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 comp benefits and never charges a fee to review a case.

Related information:

House Bill 5002 (2011)

Workers compensation benefits denied or terminated

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