Blog

https://pretimaineworkerscomp.blogspot.com/

Maine Workers' Comp Blog

The Preti Flaherty Maine Workers' Comp blog provides up-to-date news and discussion on issues and emerging trends in Maine workers' compensation law.

Recent Blog Posts

  • The Maine Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) Rules Task Force has worked on developing a set of rule proposals since October 2016. These proposed rules will go before the WCB for a vote on April 3, 2018, at which time the formal rule-making process may begin. The following are some highlights: Notice to an Out-of-Business Employer (WCB Rules c. 1, § 1-A) A proposed amendment would provide a claim notice mechanism when an employer is out of business and there is no... More
  • There are key differences between a § 207 exam and a § 312 exam that must be understood to have a proper grasp on medical evaluations under the Maine Workers’ Compensation Act.A § 207 examination is performed by a doctor chosen by the employer and insurer. The key provision is as follows:An employee being treated by a health care provider of the employee’s own choice shall, after an injury and at all reasonable times during the continuance of disability if... More
  • Women who suffer from anxiety, depression, and fatigue are at a heightened risk for work injuries, according to a new study led by researchers from the Colorado School of Public Health's Center for Health, Work & Environment and published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Nearly 17,000 employees, ranging from executives to laborers, were part of the study. Over 300 claims from a range of industries were examined. The study found that these health factors significantly affected women’s... More
  • The nature, extent, and/or level of incapacity often becomes a disputed issue in workers’ compensation claims. This could be due to a medical release assessing work capacity for an individual who was previously medically totally incapacitated, or a medical release assessing less stringent restrictions for an individual previously partially incapacitated with stricter restriction. It could also be a job offer, labor market findings that the employee has earning capacity within physical limitations, or surveillance evidence, among other things. The simplest approach... More
  • Maine’s Superintendent of Insurance Eric Cioppa recently announced approval of the National Council on Compensation Insurance, Inc.’s (NCCI) 2018 loss costs for Maine, which proposed an average loss cost decrease of 12%. With this approval, the new NCCI loss costs go into effect for new and renewing policies as of April 1, 2018. NCCI is the advisory rating organization for Maine workers’ compensation insurance companies. Loss costs are based on previous and projected losses and benefit payments employers are expected... More
  • In workers’ compensation settlements, depending upon the status of the injured worker, interests of Medicare must be protected. If an injured employee has a reasonable expectation of becoming or is a Medicare beneficiary at the time of settlement of the medical portion of a claim, Medicare is considered to be a “secondary payer.” In the event of the settlement of the medical portion of a claim, some settlement funds must be allocated to bills Medicare has paid on behalf of... More
  • The Maine Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB), in conjunction with the Superintendent of Insurance and the Director of the Bureau of Labor Standards, has issued its 2018 Annual Report on the Status of the Maine Workers’ Compensation System. The report can be found online at: http://www.maine.gov/wcb/Departments/administration/troika.html.The Report notes that dispute resolution continues to perform well. Compliance with the Workers’ Compensation Act is generally high. Claim frequency and compensation rates are stable. The Report states that the WCB, over time, has transitioned... More
  • Through LD 958, Maine is considering enacting the Uniform Emergency Volunteer Health Practitioners Act (UEVHPA). The UEVHPA is model legislation developed in 2006. During declared emergencies, states enacting the model UEVHPA recognize the licensure of physicians and health practitioners in other states if those professionals have registered with a certain registration system. The UEVHPA allows those professionals to come into a state and provide services without having to obtain a license in the state where the emergency has been declared. Among other... More
  • Permanent impairment has been in the news in recent months. With the Law Court’s decision in Bailey v. City of Lewiston (2017 ME 160), it has held that an established permanent impairment rating is not subject to revision, even in the face of changed medical circumstances. In Somers v. S.D. Warren Co. (Maine Workers’ Comp Board [WCB] App. Div. No. 17-38 [November 13, 2017]), the Appellate Division held that the WCB may not revise a previously established permanency rating in... More
  • Penalties for Reducing Benefits After Years of Improper CalculationsIn Puiia v. Rumford Paper Co. (Me. WCB App. Div. No. 17-34), the Maine Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) Appellate Division will hear oral argument in a case in which the employee sought the imposition of penalties based on the employer/insurer’s reduction of incapacity benefits. The employee had been paid 100% partial benefits pursuant to a March 2008 Decree that stated, “The employee is entitled to 100% partial benefits (limited by the statutory... More
  • In 2016, the Maine State Legislature enacted Public Law 2015, Chapter 488, “An Act to Prevent Opiate Abuse by Strengthening the Controlled Substances Prescription Monitoring Program.” This statute established limits on the duration and dosage of prescriptions that healthcare providers may write for opioid medications. The statute also tasks the Bureau of Insurance with studying the effects of this legislation on claims paid by health carriers and the out-of-pocket costs (coinsurance, copayments, and deductibles) paid by policy holders and certificate... More
  • The Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) recently hosted an open forum featuring input from the WCB Executive Director, Paul Sighinolfi, and Director of Audits at the WCB’s Office of Monitoring, Audit and Enforcement (MAE), Gordon Davis. The following are some takeaways which clarify previous areas of concern.Discontinuance of benefits for incarcerated employees A WCB-8 (i.e., a 21-day certificate) is not necessary to discontinue benefits for an incarcerated employee. Instead, a WCB-4 discontinuance may be used, and the “other” box should be checked,... More
  • In a unanimous vote, the Maine Workers’ Compensation Board recently approved Dr. Benjamin Branch, a physiatrist, and Dr. Howard Glass, a cardiologist, as independent medical examiners (IMEs) pursuant to 39-A M.R.S.A. §312 of the Maine Workers’ Compensation Act. Section 312 IMEs render medical findings on the medical condition of an employee and related issues. The IME in a case may not be the employee’s treating healthcare provider and may not have treated the employee with respect to the injury for which... More
  • In Davis v. Boise Cascade, WCB App. Div. No. 17-41 (December 1, 2017), the Appellate Division weighed in on a case involving in-house medical treatment and tolling of the statute of limitations under the former and current Maine Workers’ Compensation Act. The statute of limitations for injuries prior to January 1, 1993 (39 MRSA § 95), does not contain a provision tolling the time for filing claims in the event that in-house medical care was provided by an employer for... More
  • The Workers’ Compensation Board Rules Taskforce has proposed changes and amendments to various Board Rules. The following are highlights of what has been proposed. WCB Rules c. 1 may be amended to provide that if an employer is out of business, has been sold, or changed its name since the last time the employee worked there, an employee’s failure to give notice of the injury does not bar a claim unless the employer designated a person or entity to receive notice... More