H.B. 81 became effective on September 15, 2020, and was originally designed to expand the post-exposure testing law to detention facility employees. When specified employees (now including detention facility employees) come into contact with the blood or other bodily fluid of another, the Administrator of Workers’ Compensation, or a self-insured detention facility, must pay for post-exposure diagnostic services to investigate whether the contact resulted in an injury or occupational disease. In addition to this change, H.B. 81 provides several other updates, which impact employers.
Importantly, H.B. 81 codifies the voluntary abandonment doctrine, superseding any previous court opinion in which the doctrine was applied to a temporary total disability (TTD) claim. In short, this means that if an employee is not working or has suffered a wage loss as a direct result of issues unrelated to the allowed injury or occupational disease, they are not entitled to receive TTD compensation.
Additionally, H.B. 81 reduces the statute of limitations for claims seeking an additional award for a violation of a specific safety rule (i.e., claims to allege a person suffered an injury, contracted an occupational disease, or died in the course of employment because the employer violated a specific safety rule). For claims arising on or after September 15, 2020, the time limitation is 1 year (rather than 2 years) after the date of injury, death, or contraction.
H.B. 81 also changes the continuing jurisdiction of the Industrial Commission and Administrator from 5 years from the date of payment of medical bills to 5 years from the rendering of medical services. This change applies to claims arising on or after July 1, 2020.
Also, under existing law, when an employee dies from a compensable injury or occupational disease, the administrator (or a self-insuring employer) must pay a reasonable amount to cover funeral expenses. H.B. 81 raises the amount the administrator is authorized to spend on funeral expenses from $5,500.00 to $7,500.00.
Lastly, H.B. 81 prohibits state-funded employers from denying or withdrawing consent to a proposed settlement agreement (to settle a claim) if (1) the claim is no longer within the date of impact pursuant to the employer’s industrial accident or occupational disease experience and (2) the injured worker is no longer employed with the employer of record.
If you have any questions regarding the new law and its effect on your business and its employees, please contact Attorney Matthew R. Hunt (MHunt@kwgd.com) or any other member of the Workers’ Compensation Section at Krugliak, Wilkins, Griffiths & Dougherty Co., L.P.A.
NOTE: This general summary of the law should not be used to solve individual problems since slight changes in the fact situation may require a material variance in the applicable legal advice.