As the 2012 legislative session moves forward, two bills affecting workers? compensation remain up for consideration, including:
SB 173 which addresses the coverage of ?mental-mental? claims. Under current law, an employee may not maintain a workers? compensation claim for a psychiatric condition unless that condition is linked to a physical injury. SB 173 would carve out a small exception to this rule allowing an employee witnessing a violent crime at work to receive workers? compensation benefits if the employee developed a psychiatric condition as a result of witnessing that crime.
The second bill, SB 395, would require legislative approval of regulations passed by the Workers? Compensation Board of Managers. Essentially, all past and future regulations addressing workers? compensation would be required to obtain approval from the Legislature.
Also of note, the Workers? Compensation Subcommittee of the Access to Justice Commission has been formed to address the concerns of individuals to obtain fair access to the workers? compensation litigation system.
A focus of this committee is the difficulty faced by employees in obtaining legal representation on medical treatment issues. Currently, an attorney cannot receive a fee for services rendered to an employee on a protest to a denial of medical treatment. Additionally, the committee hopes to develop a plan to better educate and assist both claimants and employers as they navigate West Virginia?s insurance-based workers? compensation system.
S&J workers? compensation attorney and president of the West Virginia State Bar, Gary Nickerson, has been appointed by Justice Brent Benjamin to serve as one of the employer counsel representatives on this subcommittee.
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