New Legislation Shortens Duration of Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Workers’ Compensationis administered in each state individually. The state legislatures have the authority to develop laws that govern how long benefits are paid and under which circumstances benefits can be terminated. A growing number of states, in response to the economic downfall, are amending their Workers’ Compensation laws to limit the benefits received by injured workers. More than ever, injured workers need diligent, knowledgeable Workers’ Compensation attorneys, like those lawyers of Pearson Koutcher, LLP, to fight to protect their rights and get them the full benefits they deserve.
North Carolina is one of those states that has attempted to limit the rights of injured workers. Effective July 1, 2011, the change to the state’s Workers’ Compensation laws shortened the duration of benefits for Workers’ Compensation claimants. It includes a limit on how long an injured worker can receive pay while being out of work, rather than the previous law, which allowed workers to be paid as long as they were unable to work. Now, there is a 500-week (9.5-year) limit, with the option of applying for an extension after 425 weeks.
The definition of “suitable employment” has also changed under this new legislation. Previously, the law stated that determination of disability for an injured worker must include consideration of the availability of an appropriate job with pay close enough to the job of injury. The definition of suitable employment will no longer consider the factor of wages. However, if the replacement job pays less than 75 percent of the pre-injury wages, the insurance company may be forced to pay for vocational rehabilitation to assist the worker in getting an increase in pay.
The legislative changes in North Carolina reflect a trend in financially strapped states, including Pennsylvania and Delaware, to cut spending by rolling back benefits that injured and disabled workers count on for simple survival. Lawyers practicing in the field of Workers’ Compensation often join together to lobby against legislation that aims to increase the burden of employees who have suffereda workplace injury. The Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation attorneysat Pearson Koutcher, LLP, closely monitor the trends and changes in Pennsylvania and Delaware Workers’ Compensation laws, and can help you maximize the benefits to which you are entitled. Contact our offices today to discuss how changes in the Workers Compensation laws can affect your current or anticipated benefits for an injury or illness related to your job.