Workers' Compensation Legislation Enacted in 1998
Whittington, Glenn, Monthly Labor Review
Activity was very light with no sweeping changes; several States enacted or strengthened provisions to protect against fraudulent claims for benefits
Workers' compensation legislation was very light during 1998, with no sweeping changes occur ring in any State.
Fraud provisions were enacted or expanded in Georgia, Kansas, Missouri, and Rhode Island. Maximum burial allowances were doubled in Maryland and Virginia. Missouri and South Dakota established scholarship funds for dependents of employees who die as a result of a compensable work-related injury. Iowa renamed its Department of Industrial Services to the Division of Workers' Compensation; in addition, it tripled payments to the Second Injury Fund for a compensable injury resulting in death to $12,000 for cases in which the deceased has dependents, and to $45,000 for cases in which there are no dependents. In Kansas, a lump-sum payment will be paid to the deceased employee's legal heirs in a no-dependency death claim, unless a life insurance policy in the amount of at least $18,500 has been provided by the employer.
For the purposes of workers' compensation, Arizona now considers peace officers and firefighters, injured or killed while traveling to and from work to have been within the course and scope of their employment. Similarly, Ohio extended, the definition of "employee" to include off-duty peace officers, firefighters, and emergency medical personnel who respond to all inherently dangerous situation that calls for an immediate response--regardless of whether or not they were within the limits of their jurisdiction of regular employment or voluntary service when responding.
Following is a summary of significant workers' compensation legislation enacted by individual States during 1998.
A person employed as a player or coach by a professional hockey team is not covered under workers' compensation if the person is covered under a health care insurance plan provided by the team.
For the sole purpose of eligibility for workers' compensation benefits, and provided they are not engaged in any criminal activity at the time, peace officers or firefighters who ate injured or killed while traveling directly to or from work are considered within the course and scope of their employment.
Services provided by physician's assistants and nurse practitioners now are included in the schedule of medical lees.
Educational agencies may elect to provide workers' compensation coverage to students who receive cash wages or salaries from private employers while in supervised work experience education or cooperative vocational education, for a transitional period not to exceed 3 months.
Firefighters employed by private entities are provided workers' compensation coverage.
The Director of the Division of Workers' Compensation may now impose a fine of not more than $500 per day in lieu of closing a business for not maintaining workers' compensation coverage. When collected, the fines are credited to the Workers' Compensation Cash Fund.
For claims that have a settlement amount of $75,000 or more, a written notice of the settlement agreement win be provided to the employer.
The Director of the Division of Worker's Compensation and administrative law judges may permit parties to engage in discovery proceedings at hearings.
Procedural requirements were set forth for the selection of an independent medical examiner in disputed cases.
When an injured employee who has been receiving disability benefits dies, employers or insurers are required to notify the employee's dependents within 30 days from the last payment of disability benefits that they may be eligible for death benefits.
Employers are required, within 14 days of receiving the bill, to pay the funeral expenses of an employee killed on the job; the employer then must file the appropriate report with the Division of Workers' Compensation. …