History of the Louisiana Workers’ Comp Act

Posted on March 5, 2015

In 1912 the Louisiana Legislature directed Governor Luther Hall to appoint a commission of five members to consider possible shortcomings in the law of industrial accidents in this state. The commission included both manufacturing interests and labor organizations. The members undertook careful investigation of the problem.

Public hearings were held. Experts in the area of workers’ compensation legislation from other jurisdictions were consulted. In 1914 the commission submitted a detailed report to the Louisiana Legislature.  The commission recommended that the needs of this state would be most effectively addressed with a workers’ compensation act.

The statute which the commission drafted and recommended was adopted almost verbatim by the legislature in 1914 and persisted until 1975 without fundamental change. The legislative adjustments between 1914 and 1975 usually affected the amount of compensation to be allowed, or the various listed disabilities, or other minor corrections based upon experience.

The most significant changes in 1975 were the definitions of total and partial disability. The previous definition of total disability was the inability “to do work of any reasonable character.” The new definition of total disability was the inability to “engage in any gainful occupation for wages.” The definition of partial disability was changed from “partial disability to do work of any reasonable character,” to “partial disability…to perform the duties in which he was customarily engaged when injured.”

In the years since 1975, more changes have been made to the act, most significantly in 1983, 1988, 1989, and thereafter.  Changes continue to be made up to the present time, and we track these changes, in an effort to benefit our clients.


Should I Settle My Workers’ Compensation Case?

Originally Posted on April 26, 2012

The question of settlement is a tremendously important consideration. Most simply stated, once you settle your workers’ compensation claim and receive a lump sum payment, the insurance company will no longer pay you any benefits of any sort.

We tell our clients that the initial decision to consider settlement is entirely their decision. Once the client decides that it is appropriate to discuss settlement, we schedule a meeting to discuss all of the particulars involved in this evaluation. There are many elements involved and failure to consider all elements is a disservice to the client. That is why it is so vitally important to have an experienced and knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney on your side.

Are you permanently and totally disabled? Do you have a permanent impairment? Do you have any wage earning capacity? How many weeks of benefits are you entitled to? What is the medical exposure on your claim? Are you receiving Social Security Disability Benefits? Supplemental Security Income? Do you have a Medicare card? Do you need a special needs trust? Do you need a professionally administered medicare set aside allocation? Should you consider settlement of indemnity only? Is the insurance company entitled to any credit for any amounts they have previously paid to you?

Those are just a few of the many details we discuss with our clients. Once we are satisfied that the client is fully informed and ready to proceed, we prepare an in-depth settlement analysis. From that analysis we prepare a settlement demand which is incredibly specific to the client. We have had tremendous success obtaining settlements for our clients. Those results are directly related to the personalized effort we apply in each case.

 


Our Letter to the Editor

Originally Posted on March 21, 2012

Dear Editor,

Once again the Louisiana Association of Self-Insured Employers (LASIE) is launching its annual attack in the legislature on the Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Act. This year they have managed to convince the Louisiana Association of Business & Industry (LABI) to side with them. Their proposals would eliminate nearly all rights of injured workers.

In 2008, the Jindal Administration passed Medical Treatment Guidelines to streamline medical treatment and reduce litigation in workers’ compensation claims – and these guidelines are working. The Governor confirms that costs and litigation are down. The insurance companies are receiving more profits. LWCC, the largest insurer, just announced a $23.5 million dividend.  LUBA, another large insurer, is doing so well, they are expanding into other states.

Yet, LASIE/LABI are not happy with this progress. They want more profits. The bills they propose will gut nearly all rights of injured workers. The bills will shift the cost of medical care from insurers to Louisiana taxpayers. House Bills 885, 930 and 959 and their Senate counterparts are the main culprits. Among other things, these bills seek to eliminate the right of the injured worker to choose his or her own doctor. The bills would also repeal the Medical Treatment Guidelines, which LASIE/LABI pushed to enact.

LASIE/LABI also want to create a Workers’ Compensation Review Board to review ALL workers’ compensation decisions. Of course, they overlook the fact that this will require a Constitutional Amendment, and they offer no suggestions on how our cash-strapped State will fund this.

The bottom line for LASIE/LABI is profit. These bills will nearly eliminate all rights of injured workers. Where will injured workers turn for the treatment they need? They will have to seek assistance from the government, either through the Charity Hospital System, or Medicaid and Medicare programs. Who funds these programs?  Taxpayers.

These proposals will privatize profits and socialize risks and costs.

Jim Patterson, a lobbyist for LABI, recently said:   “We’re not doing anything to impact the benefits workers receive.”

Au contraire.


Help Resist Workers’ Compensation Reform 2012

Originally Posted on March 16, 2012

The Louisiana Legislature has opened its 2012 Legislative Session in Baton Rouge. There are several major reform packages proposed to the Legislature, but the most insulting to injured workers is the workers’ compensation reform package as proposed by big business and insurance companies. These changes will substantially erode the already limited rights of the injured.

One of the proposed changes involves eliminating the right of the injured worker to choose her own treating physician. The employer or the insurance company would be able to directly dictate who you are allowed to treat with for your injuries. Isn’t that offensive on every level? Can you think of a more basic right that an injured worker should have? In a system already dominated and controlled by insurance companies, this proposed change is terrible and would leave the injured worker powerless. The right of the injured worker to choose her own doctor must be protected!

But that’s not all the insurance companies want to change. The greedy tactics do not end there.

They also propose to limit the way in which doctors can treat your injury. They want to eliminate the right to choose the pharmacy of your choice. They want to reduce already ridiculously low wage loss benefits. They want to further delay the appeals process.

Please contact your Representatives and Senators by clicking HERE and entering your address. That website will tell you the name of your particular legislators. Contact them and tell them that you are opposed to these offensive proposals. The most outrageous bills that we are opposed to are House Bill 885/Senate Bill 613, House Bill 930/Senate Bill 602 and House Bill 959/Senate Bill 560. Please also contact the House of Representative Labor and Industrial Relations Committee as well as the Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee and tell them to vote NO to these proposed bills. Send emails.  Leave phone messages. Send faxes.

Then call 10 people and urge them to do the same!  Together we can protect the hardworking citizens of Louisiana.


How To Find The Workers’ Compensation Insurance Company

Originally Posted on February 26, 2012

What if your employer does not give you the name of the insurance company responsible for handling your workers’ compensation claim? In the past, this proved to be a very difficult situation and further added to the difficulties encountered by the injured worker. Too often, our clients have been delayed or denied benefits due to the mean spirit of the employer. Now, the field has been leveled a bit.

To find the insurance company, access http://www.laworks.net/WorkersComp/OWC_EmployerMenu.asp and click on “Employers’ Workers’ Compensation Coverage Verification”. Once there, you can enter all or part of the name of the employer and a search will soon reveal the name of the insurance company and the insurance policy number. A quick Google search will then give you the contact information for the insurance company.

 


What Is Workers’ Compensation Anyway?

Originally Posted on February 26, 2012

Generally speaking, the Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Act is the only remedy for workers injured while working. An injured worker is entitled to medical benefits as well as a wage loss benefit if she is unable to work. In certain instances, penalties and attorney’s fees may be available.

At Mensman Law Firm, we focus our practice on protecting the rights of the injured worker. Contact us today to discuss your claim and to schedule your free consultation.