Issues to watch in 2016

What challenges will Michigan injured workers face in 2016?

5374200948_539b10fb1c_mWe thought it would be appropriate to address some of the future challenges in our workers’ compensation system. Here is the annual list of top issues to watch.

1. Opioids

Insurance companies are trying to crack down on the use of opioids. These medications are used to control pain and can be very expensive. Common names include hydrocodone (e.g., Vicodin), oxycodone (e.g., OxyContin, Percocet), and morphine (e.g., Kadian, Avinza). We anticipate even more restrictions on the use of these medications. All reasonable and necessary medical treatment is supposed to be covered and bureaucratic hurdles only make it difficult for our clients.

2. Social Media

Many of our clients use the Internet to keep in touch with friends and family members. This fact is not lost on insurance companies who use social media to cut-off benefits. Status updates from Facebook and pictures from Instagram are taken out-of-context to show a claim is fraudulent. We tell people to disable these accounts until their claim is resolved.

3. Scheduling Orders

New administrative rules necessitate a scheduling conference within 90 days of pretrial. This allows the magistrate to issue a scheduling order with important deadlines. A status conference is also to be held within 180 days of the scheduling conference so the magistrate can monitor progress of the case. It will be interesting to see if these changes actually speed up the process in 2016. We will keep you posted.

4. Phantom wages

Legislative reforms in 2011 allow insurance companies to reduce benefits using “wage earning capacity.” It does not matter whether a person has actually returned to work. These “phantom wages” are used to offset weekly payments resulting in severe financial hardship for our clients. We anticipate even more litigation in 2016 as insurance companies abuse the system.

Michigan Workers Comp Lawyers never charges a fee to evaluate a potential case. Our law firm has represented injured and disabled workers exclusively for more than 35 years. Call (855) 221-2667 for a free consultation today.

Related information:

Video: Injured at work? Advice from a Michigan workers comp lawyer

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons, by DafneCholet.

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