Overhaul of Workers’ Compensation Rules Sought by Republicans
Workers in Michigan who are hurt on the job could face diminished workers’ compensation benefits if the legislative measure passed by the state House becomes a law.
Introduced by Brad Jacobsen, a Republican from Oxford, House Bill 5002 would revamp the Worker’ Disability Compensation Act and modify how the benefits are calculated.
Since 1912, the workers’ compensation law of Michigan has guaranteed that employees who get injured at work will receive medical treatment and compensation. Under the present law, injured employees who perform lower paying jobs are entitled to a benefit of 80% of the after-tax difference in income.
This formula would be modified by HB 5002 and cause benefits to be decreased by wages “whether or not earned.” If the worker is believed to be capable of performing a job, the amount he would earn at that particular job is subtracted from his benefits, regardless of whether the job is actually available or not.
John Sims, an attorney based in Marshall, who has represented defendants and plaintiffs in workers’ compensation lawsuits for the last 34 years, said, “It is a bad law.”
He said that the 56-page bill was drafted by a Michigan Self-Insurers Association representative and was written without receiving any input from the Workers’ Compensation Law Section of the state Bar Association.
Sims also said, “It creates a virtual wage earning capacity. The new law says that if we can think of a job that you can do, we can reduce your benefits by this hypothetical rate.”