Judge strikes down Alabama workers’ comp law

May 09, 2017 0 COMMENTS

by Al Vreeland

In a potentially monumental decision, Jefferson County Circuit Judge Pat Ballard struck down the Alabama Workers’ Compensation Act as unconstitutional on May 8.

Specifically, Judge Ballard held that 1989 limits on compensation payments to injured workers and fees for their attorneys were so low that they violated the Alabama Constitution. Currently, compensation payments to an injured employee are capped at $220 per week, no matter how much the employee is paid regularly. Attorneys’ fees are capped at 15 percent of an employee’s award. The judge noted that the compensation payment amount was below the poverty line for a family of four.

The implications are monumental. Although the decision focused on payments and fee caps, the effect would be to strike down the entire Workers’ Compensation Act if the decision holds. If the Act is unconstitutional, employees would be allowed to sue employers for work-related injuries. Employees would be able to recover for medical treatment, pain and suffering, and—potentially—punitive damages.

read more…

New Mexico workers’ comp law addresses workers under the influence

May 02, 2016 0 COMMENTS

by Barbara J. Koenig
Foster, Rieder & Jackson, P.C.

A new law in New Mexico is designed to clear up confusion on how workers’ compensation benefits can be lowered when a worker is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The law will go into effect on May 18.

The new law was enacted because New Mexico Workers’ Compensation Administration (WCA) judges have faced troubling issues raised by two conflicting statutes. One law said a worker found to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of an injury wouldn’t be entitled to any workers’ comp indemnity benefits at all. Another law said the judge must reduce benefits by 10%.

read more…

Colorado civil union law means change for employers

March 25, 2013 0 COMMENTS

The Colorado Civil Union Act, which takes effect May 1, requires changes in employer-provided insurance plans and makes changes to the state’s workers’ compensation law.

Effective for plans issued, delivered, or renewed on or after January 1, 2014, a party to a civil union may cover his or her partner as a dependent. Employers providing insurance through fully insured plans must offer the same coverage for an employee’s civil union partner that it provides for an employee’s spouse. Unless an employee can claim a civil union partner as an IRS-eligible dependent, the employee must pay federal taxes on the fair market value of group healthcare benefits provided for the partner through a private employer.

The Civil Union Act also affects workers’ compensation by making survivor benefits and wage payments that are available to spouses also available to civil union partners.

read more…

New Maine law on independent contractors goes into effect December 31

December 17, 2012 0 COMMENTS

by Peter D. Lowe

Maine employers need to pay attention to a new Maine law on the definition of “independent contractor” that goes into effect December 31.

Legislative Document 1314, passed in Maine earlier this year, outlines two sets of conditions that must be in place for an individual to qualify as an independent contractor for purposes of workers’ compensation and unemployment compensation. In the first tier of criteria, to meet the definition of an independent contractor, an individual must:

  • Have the “essential” right to control the particulars of the work (except the final results);
  • Be engaged in an “independently established” business;
  • Have the opportunity to experience either a profit or a loss as a result of the services performed;
  • Hire, pay, and supervise the work of any assistants; and
  • Make his services available to other clients or consumers in the community.

read more…

Utah Supreme Court Issues Major Workers’ Comp Ruling

March 06, 2009 0 COMMENTS

In a very recent decision handed down by the Utah Supreme Court, the court has substantially limited the protections afforded to employers under the workers’ compensation statute.

This decision involved an industrial accident at a Chevron refinery near Salt Lake City. According to the facts of the written opinion, Chevron tried a new, less expensive method of neutralizing spent toxic sludge that backfired, causing a number of workers in the vicinity to fall ill.

read more…