Louisiana Workers Compensation Changes Again, Less Than a Year After Substantial Reform
In this summer’s session, the Louisiana Legislature made numerous changes to the Workers’ Compensation laws. Businesses and employers should be sure to work closely with counsel to ensure they are in compliance with the new laws. Some of these changes include:
- Act No. 337 enacts the most substantial changes, particularly with respect to new processes and laws that were only enacted last year.
- La. R.S. 23:1121 now provides that an injured employee’s benefits may be suspended for failing to return the initial choice of physician form, failing to appear for a properly noticed SMO, failing to appear for a Court ordered IME and failing to return the monthly report of income form 1020.
- Amendments to La. R.S. 23:1124 provides for expedited hearings when an employee refuses to attend an SMO or IME, refuses to cooperate with vocational rehabilitation efforts and allows, if certain conditions are met, to terminate benefits without the necessity of a court order.
- La. R.S. 23:1314 restricts the employer’s right to file a Disputed Claim for Compensation except for situations involving fraud.
- Changes to La. R.S. 23:1201 and the newly enacted La. R.S. 23:1201.1 change the process for employers to contest benefits, and how to limit their liability for penalties and attorney’s fees if certain enumerated rules are followed.
- Act No. 314 repealed La. R.S. 23:1371.2, which contained a sunset date for the Workers’ Compensation Second Injury Fund.
- Act No. 317 amended La. R.S. 23:1203.1 and enacted La. R.S. 23:1203.1.1. La. R.S. 23:1203.1.1 creates a new position within the Office of Workers’ Compensation, the Associate Medical Director. La. R.S. 23:1203.1 now expands the process for addressing potential conflicts of interests to be within the scope of responsibility of the new Associate Medical Director.
So what does this mean for Louisiana business and employers?
While some of these provisions could potentially be beneficial to the business community, such as the limitation on penalties and attorney’s fees if certain procedural rules are followed, it remains to be seen how the courts will apply these new provisions. These are only highlights of all of the changes, and as some of the new provisions are quite complex, businesses and employers should consult with their attorney to make sure they are in compliance with the new rules.
Allen & Gooch is providing this legal update for informational purposes only. This article should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion as to any specific facts or circumstances. You should consult your own attorney concerning your particular situation and any specific legal questions you may have.