National Association of State Lawmakers Investigating Workers’ Comp Opt-Out Bill
Rock Hill, SC Lawyer
According to a ProPublica report, the National Conference of Insurance Legislators, whose members serve on insurance committees of state legislatures and act as gatekeepers for related bills in their states, will investigate a growing effort to enact legislation that will allow companies to opt out of workers’ compensation insurance and write their own company plan for how they will provide care for injured employees. Texas and Oklahoma currently allow companies to opt out, and Tennessee and South Carolina are seriously considering similar legislation.
The Prevailing Scheme
Currently, most states require employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance to provide medical care and lost wages to workers if they are injured on the job. In exchange, workers are barred from suing their employers. Generally, an employee with a work-related illness or injury can get workers’ compensation benefits regardless of who was at fault. The benefits for employees may include, in addition to medical care and lost wages, rehabilitation benefits including evaluation, retraining, tuition and other expenses associated with regaining the skills and abilities necessary to return to work. With regard to lost wages, workers’ compensation provides disability benefits based on the amount an individual was earning prior to his or her injury (typically, two-thirds of wages). Employees will not have to pay income tax on disability benefits, but most states require them to wait a period of time before they can start collecting them.
Proposed South Carolina Opt-Out Legislation
South Carolina’s proposed opt-out bill requires employers who opt out to pay at least 75% of an injured employee’s wages, when workers’ compensation replaces a lower 66% of wages, although the opt-out bill is taxable. This means that workers eligible for temporary partial disability benefits will receive at least 75% of the difference between their pre- and post-injury average weekly wages. Additionally, these employers would not be allowed to cap medical benefits and would have to match the state maximum of 500 weeks of death benefits. Also, burial benefits are three times higher.
Other provisions include allowing employer benefit plans to provide for lump-sum payouts to satisfy all benefit obligations and settlement agreements, which the stipulation that payouts must be actuarially equivalent to expected future payments. The bill also prohibits employers from charging employees a fee for their coverage under the benefit plan. It requires the state Director of Insurance to maintain a list of all qualified employers and the status of their certification on the Department’s website, and establishes financial responsibility requirements for qualified employer benefit plans and provides that the state may require a deposit by employers to secure the payment of benefit plan liabilities.
If you believe you or a loved one has suffered a compensable work injury, you are entitled to file a claim for benefits. Until the new bill is enacted into law, the existing workers’ compensation scheme (and process) remains in effect. The attorneys at Bice Law, LLC can help you navigate the complex process of filing a workers’ compensation claim. Contact us today for a free initial consultation.
Contact the Personal Injury Law Firm of Bice Law
The personal injury firm of Bice Law will examine your case to determine the type and amount of damages that your injury warrants, including payments for medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and any permanent disability. We’ll determine whether an out-of-court settlement or trial is the best strategy to obtain maximum benefits for you or your family. If you have suffered injury or harm because of someone else’s actions, take the first step to protect your legal rights – contact the personal injury firm of Bice Law serving both North and South Carolina. You only have a limited time after your injury to file a claim, so act quickly. Call 877-BICE-877 today or submit an online request to get a free consultation with a personal injury attorney. We serve families across both North Carolina and South Carolina.