Poor administration of workers’ compensation claims leads to real suffering and why stiffer penalties are needed in Michigan.
The New York Times reported in November 2016 that victims of the San Bernardino, CA terrorist attack were having trouble getting medical care approved under workers’ compensation. This workplace shooting killed 14 people and seriously injured another 22. It has now been reported that medical claims are still not being approved.
This tragic situation reminds us of our own struggles representing first responders hurt on-the-job. Alex Berman was interviewed by WXYZ about an EMS worker who saw his weekly checks slashed to just $19 per week. Benefits were reduced based upon “phantom wages” despite his inability to find a job.
Many of our clients have their weekly benefits stopped for no good reason. Medical treatment gets delayed without explanation. Many of these insurance company problems can be attributed to incompetence and can be quickly resolved by an attorney. But sometimes these actions can rise to the level of bad faith.
Michigan courts have been somewhat inconsistent about whether a person can seek additional damages for intentional infliction of emotional distress. Just having your workers’ compensation benefits cut-off would never give rise to such a claim. Actions for bad faith are extremely difficult and require a showing of outrageous conduct.
Michigan law only provides for a $50 per day penalty if wage loss benefits are not paid within 30 days of becoming due. This penalty is subject to a maximum of $1,500. A penalty may also apply to medical bills that are not paid within 30 days after the insurance company gets notice of nonpayment by certified mail. This penalty is limited to $50 or the amount of the bill if it is less. Penalties only apply to claims that are not disputed. Even frivolous defenses allow the insurance company to escape paying.
We hate seeing bad things happen to good people. Stiffer penalties are needed for insurance companies who unreasonably delay payment of workers’ compensation benefits.
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.
Alex Berman interviewed by Channel 7 News
Photo courtesy of Creative Commons, by pbyrne.