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NATL. - Clock Ticking for Reauthorization of Terrorism Risk 'Backstop'

By Elaine Goodman (medical/business Reporter)
05/20/2019 | 181 | 0 | 29 min read

Insurance industry anxiety is starting to build over whether Congress will reauthorize the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act, which provides a “backstop” for insurers if there is a large loss due to a terrorist event. The program is set to expire at the end of 2020 unless Congress takes action. The American Property Casualty Insurance Association would like to see TRIA reauthorized this year, giving insurers and policyholders certainty when they start renewing policies that will extend beyond 2020, according to Bob Woody, APCIA vice president for policy. APCIA is also hoping for ... Read More

IL - State Leads in Lump-Sum Settlements; Court Ruling Could Reinforce Trend

By William Rabb (Reporter)
05/20/2019 | 105 | 0 | 11 min read

Illinois leads the pack in settling claims and in lump sums payments, and the trend may continue as a result of a case now before the Illinois Appellate Court. The total cost per claim in the Land of Lincoln was about 22% higher than the median for 18 states the Workers Compensation Research Institute studied, according to the 2019 CompScope Benchmarks report for Illinois released last week. The report shows indemnity benefits remain the largest component of comp costs in the state, accounting for 44% of total payments in 2015. But the report also shows that Illinois continues to s... Read More

AZ - Multiple Contractors Can Qualify as Injured Worker's Statutory Employer

05/20/2019 | 75 | 0 | 6 min read

The Arizona Court of Appeals has ordered an administrative law judge to revisit a construction worker’s comp case and evaluate the liability of each contractor made a party to the claim.  Since the ALJ hadn’t addressed the status or liability of every contractor identified as a defendant in Victor Reyes’ claim, the court said the award had to be set aside. Reyes had suffered injuries in December 2015 while working on a framing project for a residential development in Gilbert. Taylor Morrison had contracted with the Younger Brothers Group to complete the framing work f... Read More

TX - Business Owner Can Assert Exclusive Remedy Defense

05/20/2019 | 86 | 0 | 3 min read

A Texas appellate court ruled that the owner of a gas cylinder exchange facility was entitled to assert exclusive remedy as an affirmative defense to tort claims. Case: AmeriGas Propane v. Aboytes-Muñiz, No. 09-18-00122-CV, 05/16/2019, published. Facts: AmeriGas Propane L.P. owns a cylinder exchange facility in Conroe. There was a gas leak and fire at the site in November 2012. Employees Roberto Cabrera, Jose Francisco Aboytes-Muñiz, Andy Medina-Cardenas and Bernabe Bustillo Rivera suffered injuries. Procedural history: Cabrera filed suit against AmeriGas Propane L.P. Abo... Read More


Column

CA - Weinmann: Reneging on AB 1107

By Robert Weinmann
05/20/2019 | 99 | 1

In its original form, Assembly Bill 1107 was supposed to give relief to injured workers who were being wrongly denied access to treatment. It was supposed to ease the administrative burden on treating physicians whose time for patient care was being diluted by unreasonable requests for documentation to entertain utilization review (UR). The main thrust of AB 1107 was to facilitate treatment by primary treating physicians by exempting them from UR under specific circumstances. This plank has now been removed and replaced by language that may actually increase legal costs.  As a... Read More

OH - Company President Gets Benefits After Car Accident

05/20/2019 | 83 | 0 | 7 min read

An Ohio appellate court upheld an award of benefits to a company president injured while traveling to a breakfast meeting. Case: Stewart v. Bear’s Tire, No. CA2018-08-162, 05/13/2019, published. Facts: Larry Stewart Jr. was the president of Bear's Tire Inc. and worked from his home office managing finances, billing and customer relations. On the morning of Feb. 18, 2009, Stewart arranged for employee John Dillon to meet him at a restaurant. Stewart was on his way when a vehicle crashed head-on into him. Procedural history: Stewart filed a workers’ c... Read More

LA - Worker's Dual Employers Held Solidarily Liable for Benefits

05/20/2019 | 56 | 0 | 56 min read

A Louisiana appellate court upheld the division of liability for an injured worker’s medical benefits between his dual employers for successive back injuries. Case: Circle Bowl v. Corrosion Materials, No. 2018 CA 1355, 05/09/2019, published. Facts: Barry Coon worked full time for Corrosion Materials and Circle Bowl. In August 2009, he was working for Corrosion when he experienced a sharp pain in his back. Doctors diagnosed him with lumbar spondylosis. He began receiving epidural steroid injections and pain management so that he could remain functional and employed. In February 2015,... Read More

NY - Worker's Estate Can't Pursue Labor Law Claim Against Homeowners

05/20/2019 | 71 | 0 | 33 min read

A New York appellate court ruled that a homeowner had no liability under the Labor Law for a worker’s fatal fall, but triable issues remained as to the general contractor’s potential liability. Case: Urquiza v. Park and 76th Street Inc., Nos. 158295/13, 590917/13, 9318N, 590134/14, 9318NA, 5901180/14, 595081/14, 595287/17, 9317, 9316, 05/14/2019, published. Facts: Antonio Urquiza worked for Stephen Gamble Inc. Nordic Custom Builders hired SGI as a subcontractor for a construction project at an apartment owned by Edmund and Mary Carpenter. While working on a rainy day, Urquiza st... Read More

IL - Legislature Approves Tougher Stop-Work, Penalties Bill

05/20/2019 | 69 | 0 | 70 min read

A bill that would make it easier to issue stop-work orders and would make it more costly for employers that avoid workers' compensation responsibilities has passed the Illinois legislature and is on its way to the governor. House Bill 269, sponsored by Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Swansea, was approved by the full Senate 57-0 on Thursday, after passing the House in April by a vote of 104-10. The bill would allow a single workers' compensation commissioner, not the full commission, to issue a stop-work order. If the employer's business is considered to be especially hazardous, a commis... Read More


ND - Columnist Weighs In on Teacher Mental Injuries

05/20/2019 | 63 | 0 | 4 min read

Although a North Dakota lawmaker has suggested that teachers in the state sue their school districts over mental health conditions that arise from work, an opinion column published last week disagrees with that approach. “The problem is, teachers who take on their employers to get compensated for something like anxiety or PTSD might end up worsening their symptoms just by the stress of having to battle it out in court,” Larry Alton wrote in the American Thinker. “Worse, they could be retaliated against pending the outcome of the case, and that possibility will deter many fro... Read More

OR - Max Attorney Fee Increasing 3.7%

05/20/2019 | 49 | 0 | 3 min read

Attorney fees will increase by 3.7% to match the increase in Oregon’s average weekly wage, the Workers’ Compensation Division announced. The maximum attorney fee that can be awarded absent a showing of extraordinary circumstances will increase, to $4,582 from $4,418, the division announced in Bulletin No. 356. The increased rate applies for orders issued between July 1, 2019, and June 30, 2020. Maximum attorney fees are adjusted only in years when the state’s average weekly wage increases. ... Read More

VT - Senate Committee Approves Fund Mechanism for Safety Programs

05/20/2019 | 47 | 0

Two months after the House passed a measure that tweaks what the Workers' Compensation Administrative Fund can be spent on, Senate committees have followed suit. House Bill 351 would allow the state's workers' compensation commissioner to use the funds for administration of the agency, and also for occupational safety and health programs that are not funded by federal and state grants. Current law limits the expenditures to occupational disease programs. Revenue for the fund comes from an assessment of 1.4% on direct written workers' compensation premiums and 1... Read More

VA - Mail Carrier Seeks Benefits After Encounter With Unstable Man

05/20/2019 | 79 | 0 | 32 min read

A U.S. Postal Service employee in Richmond said she hasn’t been able to get workers’ comp benefits after being traumatized on the job by an apparently deranged man. Wanda Bennett, a 20-year Postal Service worker, was on her delivery route last month when a man carrying a Bible insisted that she had his mail. When the man threatened her, Bennett ran to get in her vehicle. The man jumped up on the vehicle, CBS 6 in Richmond reported. Bennett said the incident was especially traumatizing because it brought up memories of her sister, who had been murdered while eight months pregnant.... Read More

NY - More Scrutiny on IME System After 21 Doctors Resign

By William Rabb (Reporter)
05/17/2019 | 520 | 0 | 23 min read

Three months after 21 New York doctors agreed to stop providing independent medical exams, the Workers' Compensation Board has not offered an explanation of what happened, despite growing concerns about the brevity and quality of some IME reports. The board periodically posts the names of doctors who have been removed from the list of providers authorized to treat injured workers. But it's rare for so many IME providers to resign at once, in part because the exams have been seen as very lucrative for many physicians. “There's something going on there. There's a scandal,... Read More

NATL. - NCCI: Cost Impacts of Disease Presumption Laws Remain Unclear

By Elaine Goodman (medical/business Reporter)
05/17/2019 | 161 | 0 | 123 min read

As firefighter disease presumption laws continue to expand across the nation, the long-term costs of the measures remain largely unknown, according to an analysis from the National Council on Compensation Insurance. “You might think that these presumptions would increase the number of claims and the overall cost of workers’ compensation to the system. And you would be correct,” Fawn Racicot and Bruce Spidell said in an NCCI article this month. “But just how many additional claims and how much extra cost is a tough thing to predict.” One issue is that many firefi... Read More

IL - Split Court Addresses Proper Application of 'Neutral Risk' Analysis

05/17/2019 | 98 | 0 | 35 min read

The Illinois Appellate Court on Thursday issued a 61-page decision detailing the difference between an employment-related risk and a neutral risk. A majority of the court in McAllister v. IWCC (North Pond) said that an employment-related risk is one that is “distinctly associated with employment” and falls into one of three categories: acts the employer instructs the employee to perform; acts the employee has a common law or statutory duty to perform while performing duties for his employer; and acts the employee might be reasonably expected to perform incidental to his ... Read More