As I mentioned in my last Capitol Briefing, I’ll be highlighting each one of the “Fix the Six” proposals over the coming weeks. Workman’s compensation reform is one of the several suggestions from the business community and is discussed below. If you have thoughts you’d like to add to the debate, please feel free to let me know.
WORKERS’ COMP REFORM
Two bills are currently moving through the legislative process that address workers’ compensation changes. You can click on the respective bills to be directed to the legislature’s website that has bill’s progress, language, and summary information available. House Bill 162, sponsored by Representative Fisher, will ensure that occupational diseases are covered by workman’s compensation. It will also protect employees from being sued by other employees who are injured on the job while performing normal duties.
At issue are two recent judicial actions. In one instance, a judge recently opined that occupational diseases were not covered under workers’ compensation unless the disease was the result of an injury in the workplace. In the other case, the decision in Robinson v. Hooker allowed an employee to sue another employee, even after the injured individual received a payout from workers’ compensation.
Senate Bill 8, sponsored by Senator Goodman, would prohibit subrogation of claims for employers that cause an occupational disease resulting from exposure to toxic materials. Under current law, an employer may seek to recover payments made to an employee from workers’ compensation if a third-party is later found to be liable in some way for the disease.