June 10, 2021 Article

Maine Workers' Comp Alert: WCB Meeting Notes for June 2021

Maine Workers' Comp Alert

The following are highlights from the Maine Workers’ Compensation Board’s meeting of June 8, 2021.

Attorney Kate Gatti Rooks Appointed for Partial Term as Administrative Law Judge in Portland

Attorney Kate Gatti Rooks was appointed to fill Administrative Law Judge Sue Jerome’s seat for a partial term, which will expire in 2024. Judge Gatti Rooks will hear cases in formal hearings from the Workers’ Compensation Board’s Lewiston Regional Office. The remaining Administrative Law Judges include Tim Collier, Mike Stovall, David Hirtle, Tom Pelletier, Bryan Chabot, Elizabeth Knopf, and Betsy Elwin. These other Judges hear cases in Bangor, Caribou, Lewiston, Augusta, and Portland.

Workers’ Compensation COVID Numbers Are Declining

There were 36 new COVID-coded First Reports of Injury (FROI’s) this past week. There has been an average of about 30 such FROIs per week since case numbers began to decline in Maine at the end of February. The age demographic for COVID claims remains unchanged; about 25 percent of cases are in the 30-39-year-old demographic and 24 percent of cases are in the 20-29-year-old demographic.

Possible Legislative Amendments to the Workers’ Compensation Act

The Legislature is still reviewing possible amendments to the Act, including presumptions of work injuries extending to additional groups (See LD 575: An Act To Establish a Conditional Presumption of Compensability for Corrections Employees in Cases of Impairment from Hypertension or Heart Disease). There is also proposed legislation (LD 1430) to eliminate the waiting period for employees of the State or a county whose place of employment is a correctional facility and an employee of a county or municipality whose place of employment is a county or municipal detention facility to receive compensation from the date of incapacity. This proposed legislation would also allow certain employees of a state mental health institute, incapacitated because of an infectious disease or an assault by a resident of the institute, to receive compensation from the date of incapacity.