Tag Archives: Workers’ compensation

employment

Fisher & Phillips Adds New Practice Group

Fisher & Phillips LLP announced that it has formed a new Government Solutions Practice Group to help employers who are faced with a fluid and evolving legislative and regulatory regime at the federal, state and local levels of government. The practice focuses on labor and employment legislation and regulations in areas such as: workplace discrimination; employee privacy; wage and hour; employee compensation; trade secrets; employment contracts and terms; unionization and organization efforts; healthcare; immigration; workplace accommodations; employee leave; workers’ compensation; workplace safety; affirmative action; and employee benefits.

Practice Group Chairman Rick Grimaldi of the firm’s Philadelphia office said: “It’s critical that employers remain well-informed about proposed legislation and regulation at any level of government. Our clients want their opinions heard by Congress, the executive branch, and state and local governments, and we plan to help facilitate that.”

The Government Solutions Practice Group is comprised of 26 attorneys who are well versed in the area of government affairs. These attorneys will partner with employers to assist them with navigating and advocating for their interests in the modern legislative and regulatory arenas. Grimaldi added: “By partnering with our firm’s government affairs attorneys, our clients will stay apprised of legislative developments impacting their interests. This gives them a voice for fair and appropriate policymaking at all levels of government throughout the country.”

Working across the firm’s nationwide footprint, the practice offers an array of services including:

· Filing amicus curiae briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court, other federal and state courts, and the National Labor Relations Board
· Representing employer views during formal rule-makings by federal, state and local regulatory agencies by filing comments on behalf of clients, assisting clients to file their own comments, and/or testifying before federal, state and local legislative committees and subcommittees
· Ensuring the availability of high level legal and technical resources to support the important efforts of legislators and executive office staff who are (a) defending employer and employee rights against special-interest groups espousing an “anti-employer” or “pro-union” agenda, and (b) supporting balance in employment and labor laws
· Providing a voice for clients with federal, state and local government officials at general-interest trade associations and business organizations, and with other policy groups and natural allies on labor and employment issues
· Supporting positive initiatives, and opposing and/or improving initiatives that would inappropriately restrict employers and business
· Monitoring relevant legislation introduced in Congress, state legislatures and key local municipalities, and providing regular updates on legislative and regulatory activity

Through these services, the attorneys in the Government Solutions Practice Group partner with clients to cooperatively protect and promote their interests, at all levels of government, in the area of labor and employment legislation and regulations.

The attorneys have been posting updates to the firm’s Government Solutions Blog at www.fpgovernmentsolutions.com.

health

Mesa-based NextCare Expands in Oklahoma

Access Medical Centers of Oklahoma – a brand of Mesa-based NextCare Holdings, Inc., one of the nation’s leading providers of urgent care medicine and occupational medical services – announces the opening of a new center in the Oklahoma City metro area. This new clinic brings the total number of network locations throughout Oklahoma to 16.

“We are excited to be part of Moore’s close-knit community, and offer residents the highest standard for quality and service within the urgent care industry,” said John Julian, CEO of NextCare Holdings. “Access Medical Centers offer a well-connected network of urgent care clinics in Oklahoma. We are honored to provide exceptional health care to communities throughout the state.”

This new location also builds upon the alliance between Access Medical Centers and Integris Health. The two entities have formed an affiliation to ensure patients have a complete continuum of care.
Says Bruce Lawrence, President and CEO for INTEGRIS Health, “The Access Medical Centers urgent care affiliation offers a gateway to INTEGRIS quality care within metro Oklahoma City. This new location helps us better serve the needs of people in the community.”

The Moore clinic is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The clinic accepts most insurance plans, including SoonerCare, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, United Health Care, Medicare, Workers Compensation, and many others.

NextCare has an aggressive growth plan in new and existing markets, having opened 27 new clinics across the U.S. in 2013 alone. For more information, visit www.NextCare.com or call 888-381-4858.

Keep Workers Working

Workers’ Compensation: 3-Headed Dragon for Employers

Workers’ Compensation insurance has become a hot topic, as several recent changes have made this business expense more costly and cumbersome. Companies are facing three primary challenges:

  1. HARD MARKET – higher pricing from insurance carriers
  2. INCREASED (NCCI)  RATES – percentage growth varies by state
  3. EXPERIENCE MODIFIER RULE CHANGES  – adjustments in the primary-excess split point could increase experience modifiers & related costs 

HARD MARKET

For the last 8 years, most businesses have experienced a ‘soft market’, with decreasing insurance rates and increased capacity. In that marketplace combined ratios reached a 10-year high of 117% in 2011, their worst level in 10 years. With significantly less profitability, insurers have reacted to reverse this trend by increasing pricing and reducing available capacity.

David H. Long the CEO of Liberty Mutual, one of the largest providers of workers’ compensation in the world, said that the national rate “increases in the second quarter [of 2012] were in line with increases seen in the first quarter – up about 9 percent.” He also added that “much more is needed for us and the industry to become profitable in that line [workers’ compensation].” Similarly, a survey conducted by the Towers Watson Group found that the ongoing commercial insurance price increase is the largest in eight years, with workers’ compensation and commercial property experiencing the largest price adjustments.

INCREASED (NCCI) RATES

The vast majority of states have approved significant Workers’ Compensation rate increases for 2013. For example, the construction industry rate increase for my home state of Arizona is 6.4%, with an overall increase of 4%. Similarly, Colorado will see a 5.2% overall increase, while Florida and Iowa will experience increases of 6.1% and 7.9% respectively.

EXPERIENCE MODIFIER RULE CHANGES

As you have likely heard from your broker or risk manager, NCCI has changed the experience rating formula – thus potentially altering employers’ experience modifiers (also known as an E-mod or Ex-mod) and directly affecting workers’ compensation premiums. The primary-excess split point, which is the claim amount at which the burden is lessened in regards to your E-mod, will be increased over a three year transition period. Beginning in 2013, it will move from $5,000 to $10,000, and then increase incrementally to $13,500 in 2014, and $15,000 in 2015. The key rationale for this change pertains to claims inflation and the fact that NCCI did not previously shift the split point to mirror actual claims data. It has been over two decades since the last split point update, whereas the cost of claims has more than tripled during that time frame.

How this will affect your organization depends on whether you have an above or below average number of losses under the split point. If the majority of your claims are less than $5,000 (the current split point) you will likely see a decreased E-mod. Conversely, if many of your claims are greater than $5,000 you should expect an increased E-mod. In a nut-shell, this new rule change will result in a wider range of E-mods, extrapolating them from the average (1.0). Experience modifiers greater than 1.0 (aka – debit mods) will likely increase, causing higher premiums. Conversely, experience modifiers less than 1.0 (aka – credit mods) will likely decrease, causing lower premiums.

CONCLUSION

In summary, the Workers’ Compensation market is hardening considerably. With the additional impact of increased NCCI rates in many states, and E-mod rule changes, challenges will persist for the foreseeable future. The only way to secure protection from this three-headed dragon that is Workers’ Compensation is to have a plan to reduce and control claims exposures, thus minimizing the effect of these new rules and rates.  Now is the time to have a proactive strategy with a team, of either in-house or outside experts that will keep a strong focus on safety, claims management and your return to work programs.

J. Michael Schmidt, CRM, CIC, CLCS is a Certified Risk Manager and Insurance Broker for Hub International Insurance and can be reached at michael.schmidt@hubinternational.com or on Twitter: @SafeWorkProgram

 

Workers' compensation laws for injured employees/employers

Workers’ Compensation Laws Provide Protection For Employers And Employees

Workers’ compensation insurance is like an old sweater — it’s there when you need it, but you may not think about it much until that time comes. However, it’s not a bad idea to pull it out every now and then to make sure it still fits.

Here are some points to keep in mind as you look in the mirror.
Workers’ compensation laws in Arizona are designed to protect both the employer and the employee when the latter is injured on the job. The most important thing to know about workers’ compensation in Arizona is that insurance is mandatory for every business — public and private — that has one or more employees.

It also is important to understand that workers’ compensation is a “no fault” system, meaning that insurance benefits generally are made available no matter who is to blame for the employee’s injury. Injured employees are entitled to full-medical benefits and lost-wage compensation while they are unable to work, with no cost or time limits. Job retraining benefits are sometimes provided, as well.

Although workers’ compensation insurance is mandatory for employers, Arizona law allows an individual employee to opt out of the system.

Those who choose to remain covered by an employer’s insurance — and the vast majority of workers do — generally give up the right to sue their employer or co-workers for their injury in exchange for the security of receiving insurance benefits as provided by workers’ compensation laws.

Those who opt out retain the power to sue their employer for damages resulting from on-the-job injuries. However, they are required to prove negligence, which can be a difficult task.

Arizona businesses have three options for obtaining workers’ compensation insurance: they can purchase coverage through a private insurance carrier, they can self-insure or they can be part of a competitive state fund, such as the privately operated State Compensation Fund, or SCF.

Small businesses also may have the option of joining with others in related fields to purchase a group insurance plan.

The most important thing to keep in mind if an employee is injured on the job is that a claim with the workers’ compensation insurer must be filed as soon after the incident as possible. Thus, employees should be trained to notify their supervisors as soon as they are injured to ensure timely claims reporting.

Workers suffering temporary or permanent total disability receive payments determined by a percentage of their wages with a maximum weekly pay out. Benefits continue for as long as the employee is disabled. In the event of an on-the-job death, benefits based on a percentage of the worker’s wages are paid to his or her survivors.

Although workers’ compensation laws are designed to curtail lawsuits, there are situations where employers or insurance carriers may face legal action by an employee and will require legal counsel.

The most obvious case of liability exposure is when an employer fails to carry workers’ compensation insurance and a worker is injured on the job.

Another legally hazardous situation is when there are multiple employers on a single job site. A construction site is a good example of this, as is an office setting with an independently operated print shop or snack bar. If a person employed by one company is injured by an employee of another company, the injured worker may be allowed to sue the company that does not employ him or her for damages. An employer is only protected against suit by its own employee, not someone else’s employee. Therefore, it is important to make sure the work site is as safe and hazard-free as possible to prevent on-the-job injuries.


Those who opt out retain the power to sue their employer for damages resulting from on-the-job injuries. However, they are required to prove negligence, which can be a difficult task.


Finally, when a workers’ compensation claim is denied and the employee appeals, the case works its way through the Industrial Commission of Arizona and, eventually, into the courthouse. At that stage, we recommend the employer seek assistance from an employment law specialist.

Thankfully, most of the time, the system runs as it should, the old sweater still fits, and it stays on the shelf, waiting for that rare bad-weather day.

Greg Coulter and Steve Biddle are shareholders in the Phoenix office of Littler Mendelson, an employment and labor law firm representing management. They can be reached at (602) 474-3600, or GCoulter@littler.com or SBiddle@littler.com