Five ways to restore fairness and improve our Michigan workers’ compensation system.
Michigan underwent significant workers’ compensation reforms in 2011. This has resulted in more litigation and less benefits. We are still feeling these changes today. Here are five simple ways to restore fairness and improve our broken system.
1. Treating physician rule
Most of our clients find their workers’ compensation benefits stopped after the so called “independent” medical examination. Insurance companies use the same doctors over and over again because they know what to expect. These examinations usually take less than fifteen minutes and more time is spent writing a negative report. We need a rule that puts emphasis on medical opinions from treating doctors.
2. End phantom wages
The insurance company gets a credit for jobs in a labor market survey created by their own vocational expert. It does not matter whether a disabled employee is actually earning real wages. This has resulted in some individuals receiving less than $20 per week. Let’s end the abusive practice of “phantom wages.”
3. Expanded 70% rule
Disabled employees who win their cases at trial are entitled to 70% of benefits during appeal. We should expand this rule so individuals with pending claims can also support their families. Benefits should be temporarily reinstated once an Application for Mediation or Hearing is filed.
4. Harsher penalties
Employers who misclassify workers or intentionally avoid paying benefits should be penalized. There must also be consequence for insurance companies who act in bad faith. Magistrates should be given expanded authority to order payment of attorney fees when appropriate.
5. Fix small claims process
Many employees are unable to find a lawyer because their cases involve a relatively small amount. Claims for medical bills or lost time less than $2,500 should be decided without formal proofs. A summary proceeding can be held over the telephone. This ensures small claims do not fall through the cracks.
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.
Photo courtesy of Creative Commons, by Joe Gratz.