Workers Compensation Litigation Trends – 2012 Edition

Michigan workers compensation attorney lists four trends that are influencing our practice and changing how we handle cases.

Social Media: Surveillance and activities checks are nothing new in the field of workers compensation. Insurance companies have always followed our clients looking for evidence of fraud or deceit. Social media websites are providing a brand new set of problems. Our clients are posting pictures and comments that can be used against them at trial, most of the time out of context. We have seen claims adjusters make snap decisions based solely upon what is found on Facebook or Twitter. Some employers are even requiring employees turn over login credentials as a condition of employment.

Partial disability: House Bill 5002 was signed by Governor Snyder in December 2011. This legislation changes how wage loss benefits are calculated. If an insurance company or employer determines that a person is only partially disabled, wage loss benefits can be reduced or even eliminated. This is based upon “wage earning capacity” which is the person’s theoretical ability to find post-injury employment. Since it does not matter whether or not wages are actually earned, a person could find themselves with no wage loss benefits and no job.

More disputed medical: House Bill 5002 gives employers more control over the choice of medical providers. The injured worker must now wait 28 days to select his or her own doctor. This is significant because most minor injuries are resolved within a month. This effectively eliminates employee choice. Our experience shows that this also delays correct diagnosis and treatment. As a result, we are seeing more cases where the insurance company refuses to authorize reasonable and necessary medical care.

Pre-existing conditions: Insurance companies are now saying more conditions are related to old age. The facts surrounding an injury are often disregarded if an MRI shows arthritis in a person’s back or neck. Conditions like degenerative disc disease or stenosis are often used as a magic bullet to stop the payment of benefits. This problem has become even worse as magistrates try to adapt to a heightened evidentiary standard for these types of claims.

To speak with one of our workers compensation attorneys in Michigan, call (855) 221-2667 for a free consultation. There is no fee unless workers compensation benefits are recovered.

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 review a case.

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