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Nine Potential Changes to Workers' Compensation

Posted:

Revisions to workers' compensation laws could take effect this year and next.

Workplace Injury
Workplace Injury

These reforms prioritize swift access to medical care and compensation for injuries.

The forthcoming changes also address emerging issues such as mental health support. By mandating comprehensive coverage for psychological injuries and expanding resources for mental health treatment, the revised laws seek to foster healthier work environments and ensure that workers receive the support they need to recuperate.

Workers' compensation laws by state

Workers' compensation is regulated on the state level, and each state has its own requirements and penalties.

Below are a few examples of new legislation made or proposed by various states (for the years 2024/2025) to expand and enhance workers' rights.

1. Expansion of PTSD Coverage

Arizona: A bill recently filed in the Arizona State Legislature would widen the existing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) presumption coverage to include 911 dispatchers. The bill (HB 2492) extends coverage from policemen to peace officers and public safety telecommunicators. It also expands the list of qualifying events or conditions to include using deadly force and witnessing the death of a public safety colleague.

2. Require Workers' Compensation From All Licensed Contractors

California: By 2025, all licensed contractors in the state of California must ensure they have workers' compensation insurance. The Contractors State License Board has stated that this new workers' compensation requirement will apply to contractors who hold an active license and are engaged in the construction industry. This includes general contractors, subcontractors, specialty contractors, and home improvement contractors.

3. Injured Workers Choose Their Treating Doctor

Indiana. Introduced earlier this year, Indiana House Bill 1246 would (if passed and signed into law) amend the state workers' compensation law to allow injured workers to choose their attending doctors. Employers, however, would be allowed to choose the physician if the injured worker is not able to make the decision or if immediate medical attention is required.

4. First Responder Injury Presumption Law Expanded

New Jersey. A bill expanding New Jersey's current workers' compensation presumptive coverage law for cardiovascular or cerebrovascular injury or death of a first responder was signed into law earlier this year. It added any career emergency medical technician or paramedic engaged in public emergency medical and rescue services to the list of eligible personnel. Volunteer firefighters, members of a volunteer first aid or rescue squad, and career EMTs or paramedics are among those now covered.

5. Cover Medical Use of Marijuana

New Jersey. Another recently introduced bill in New Jersey would require both workers' compensation and automobile insurers to cover costs associated with a claimant's medical use of cannabis.

6. Improve Safety for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Workers

New York City. Introduction 126-A would require that the Fire Department of New York provide body armor to employees within the Bureau of Emergency Medical Services (EMS). This would primarily formalize current procedures while instituting mandates for protective gear to adhere to the ballistic and stab resistance standards set by the National Institute of Justice.

7. EMS Training to De-Escalate, Self-Defend

New York. Another law would require that Fire Department of New York provide de-escalation and self-defense training to EMS workers who often experience health and safety risks during the course of their work. These risks include assaults, trauma, emotional stress, and inadequate financial compensation.

8. Workers' Compensation Weekly Benefit Rate Increase

New York. As of January 1, 2024, the minimum weekly workers' compensation benefit will increase annually. For the first two years, the increase will be a specified dollar amount. Starting July 1, 2026, the minimum weekly benefit will be indexed to the New York State Average Weekly Wage. The change also affects permanency awards, nearly doubling the baseline.

9. Presumptive Coverage for Employer-Required Vaccine

Wisconsin. Presented in early 2024, Wisconsin Senate Bill 923 would (if passed and signed into law) provide that if an employee is required or pressured by their employer to take a vaccine and suffers an injury as a result, it is presumed that the injury is work-related for the purpose of workers' compensation. Such a presumption would require a diagnosis and may be rebutted by specific evidence that the injury was caused outside of employment.

Posted In: Wisconsin; Workers' Compensation; Workplace Policies/Rules

Want to know more? Read the full article by at HR Morning

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