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Workers' Compensation

Legislative Update for Workers’ Comp

Legislative Update for Workers’ Comp
Co-Authored By Meghan E. Trahan Associate, Lafayette

The 2019 Louisiana Regular Legislative Session convened on Monday, April 8, 2019, and formally adjourned on Thursday, June 6, 2019. Heading into the fall elections, it was a relatively quiet session with regard to workers’ compensation. However, there are a few notable changes of which employers and insurers should be aware.

Senate Bill No. 88 was signed by Governor Edwards on June 11, 2019, as Act 345 of the session. The bill amends La. R.S. 23:1203.1(K) to specify that persons who disagree with a decision by the OWC medical director now have 45 days to appeal the decision by filing a LWC-WC-1008/Disputed Claim for Compensation with the OWC district court. Previously, the delay was not addressed in the statute but was set at 15 days by administrative rule. The bill was offered on behalf of claimant attorneys to address a perceived gap ostensibly opened as the result of the Louisiana Supreme Court’s decision in Arrant vs. LWCC, (La. 1/27/16). Opponents of the bill argued that it does not resolve that issue, nor does it correct other procedural deficiencies in the statute.

Act 306 [formerly House Bill No. 285] enacts La. R.S. 23:1036.1 to allow municipalities, parishes, and other public entities discretion to provide medical benefits for volunteer reserve police officers or reserve deputies. The payment of these benefits is limited to those individuals defined by the Act who sustain injuries in the course and scope of their employment with that entity. The Act does not mandate that such entities will be responsible for the payment of workers comp indemnity benefits. It was signed into law by Governor Edwards on June 11, 2019, and becomes effective on August 1, 2019.

Act 122 [formerly Senate Bill No. 107], addresses posttraumatic stress injuries suffered by certain fire employees and other first responders, and creates a presumption that such injuries are compensable. Nevertheless, those injuries that arise solely from legitimate personnel action, such as a transfer or termination, remain non-compensable. The Act signed into law by the Governor on June 5, 2019.

Act 109 [formerly House Bill No. 288] was signed by Governor Edwards on June 4, 2019. It enacts La. R.S. 22:2013.1 to enhance the rights of guarantee associations, and applies to all workers’ compensation large deductible policies issued by an insurer that is subject to delinquency proceedings. Large deductible claims against such insurers must be turned over to the responsible guaranty association for handling unless the association agrees otherwise. The guaranty association may take all reasonable action to collect reimbursement of payments owed by the insured on the deductible. To the extent a guaranty association pays a deductible claim that is not reimbursed from collateral or by the insured, or incurs expenses that are not otherwise reimbursed under the statute, it is entitled to assert a claim in the insurer’s delinquency proceedings.

Act 109 becomes effective on January 1, 2020. The remaining Acts are effective August 1, 2019.

Coauthored by Meghan E. Trahan

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.