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Deputy Director of LEO Issues New Emergency Rule Affecting Workers’ Compensation

Workers' Compensation Claim FormOn October 2, 2020, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that the law upon which Governor Gretchen Whitmer relied to extend the State of Emergency after April 30, 2020 is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court's ruling, which we discuss here, invalidates the Governor's Executive Orders issued during the extended State of Emergency. Executive Order 2020-128, issued on June 18, 2020, established a rebuttable presumption that a "COVID-19 Response Employee" (a term which was not well-defined within the Executive Order) has sustained a compensable injury when he or she is diagnosed with COVID-19. Executive Order 2020-128 contained language quite similar to the March 30, 2020 Emergency Rule issued by the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity ("LEO"). Read More ›

Categories: COVID-19 and Workers' Compensation, Legislative Updates

Recent Michigan Supreme Court Decision Affects Workers' Comp COVID-19 Rebuttable Presumption

Court RoomOn October 2, 2020, the Michigan Supreme Court issued an opinion regarding whether Governor Gretchen Whitmer had the authority to declare and extend a State of Emergency and issue Executive Orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic. In a lengthy opinion, the Court held that the Governor did not have proper authority because the law upon which she relied is unconstitutional.  Read More ›

Categories: COVID-19 and Workers' Compensation, Legislative Updates

The Safeguarding America's First Responders Act - New Federal Law Provides Access to Death Benefits Program for Families of Public Safety Officers who Die as a Result of COVID-19

Firefighter with MaskThere have been nearly seven million confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States, with over 200,000 confirmed deaths. In Michigan alone, there have been over 130,000 confirmed cases and roughly 7,000 confirmed deaths. Certain employees working in the health field, including first responders, have been impacted significantly by COVID-19.

In a previous article, we discussed the Emergency Rules and Executive Orders promulgated by Governor Gretchen Whitmer, creating a rebuttable presumption that COVID-19 is a personal injury arising out of and in the course of employment for first response employees. Read More ›

Categories: COVID-19 and Workers' Compensation, Legislative Updates, Workers' Compensation

Updated Protections for COVID-19 Response Employees: The Differences Between the Prior Emergency Rules and Recent Executive Orders

Firetruck First RespondersThere have been nearly 70,000 confirmed or probable COVID-19 cases in Michigan. This figure includes over 6,150 deaths. While other areas of the country are experiencing significant increases in confirmed COVID-19 cases, Michigan appears to have flattened the curve for the time being. We are currently averaging around 250 new cases per day. Read More ›

Categories: COVID-19 and Workers' Compensation, Legislative Updates

Experience Rating in a Pandemic – New Proposal would Exclude COVID-19 Claims from Rate Calculation

COVID-19 ClaimTo date, the State of Michigan has over 66,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with roughly 6,000 deaths. While the curve appears to be flattening, the number of individuals who contract COVID-19 will undoubtedly continue to increase until effective treatments or a vaccination can be developed. As a result of this unprecedented pandemic, certain industries are likely to see an increase in the number of workers’ compensation claims filed in the state and around the country. Read More ›

Categories: Case Law Updates, COVID-19 and Workers' Compensation

The CARES Act Unemployment Expansion, Workers’ Compensation Wage Loss Offset, and Refusing to Return to Work During the Pandemic

Unemployment BenefitsThe Unemployment Offset

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was passed by Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support and signed into law on March 27th, 2020. One feature of the CARES Act is the Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (“PUC”) program, which enhances weekly unemployment benefits administered by individual states by adding an additional $600 weekly supplement to an employee’s maximum weekly unemployment benefit rate. A related program created under the CARES Act, called the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (“PEUC”) program, extends the duration of weekly unemployment benefits by adding an additional thirteen weeks to the maximum recovery period each state otherwise allows. Read More ›

Categories: Case Law Updates, COVID-19 and Workers' Compensation, Employee Benefits

Michigan Legislators Propose Amendment to Workers’ Compensation Law to Benefit Certain COVID-19 Positive Employees

Face MasksAs you will recall, the Director of the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity promulgated Emergency Rules (“Rules”) on March 30, 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As we discussed in a previous blog post, the Rules establish a rebuttable presumption of personal injury for “first response employees” who are diagnosed with COVID-19. Now, the Michigan legislature is getting involved in the issue. Read More ›

Categories: COVID-19 and Workers' Compensation, Legislative Updates

Are Death Benefits Owed When an Employee Dies after Contracting the Coronavirus?

Life Insurance PolicyThe Context

There have been over 40,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Michigan. This figure includes over 4,000 deaths.  We are currently averaging about 1,000 new cases and 100 new deaths per day. Fortunately, the curve is flattening and some areas of the state have seen decreases. Read More ›

Categories: COVID-19 and Workers' Compensation, Employee Benefits, Workers' Compensation

The Anticipated Rise in At-Home Work Injury Claims During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Accident Report on LaptopThe Context

We remain in the midst of a worldwide pandemic. The federal government and all 50 states have declared states of emergency. In an effort to mitigate the rapid spread of the coronavirus, Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued a “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order on March 24, 2020 (EO 2020-21). That Order was rescinded and superseded by another expanded stay-at-home Order, issued on April 8, 2020. (See EO 2020-42). Earlier this morning, the governor issued her most recent Stay Home, Stay Safe Order, extending the stay-at-home decree until May 15, 2020. (See EO 2020-59). Read More ›

Categories: COVID-19 and Workers' Compensation, Workers' Compensation

Psychiatric Workers’ Compensation Disability Claims in a Pandemic Environment

Psychiatric ClaimsThere are scores of workers on the front lines fighting the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic – doctors, nurses, EMTs, paramedics, police officers, firefighters, correctional officers, grocery store cashiers, truck drivers, food delivery workers, and those deemed to be “essential workers,” just to name a few. While many of these workers are accustomed to and trained for emergency situations, the current worldwide health crisis is unprecedented in nature and scope. Brick and mortar hospitals are at capacity in many geographic areas, field hospitals are being constructed, protective equipment is in short supply, and the number of people diagnosed with, and who have died of the highly contagious COVID-19 virus are growing. Little is known about the COVID-19 virus – our knowledge about how it is transmitted, treatment options, and prevention is evolving – but much remains unknown. The media has barraged us with around-the-clock news of the human loss and the economic consequences of the pandemic. Read More ›

Categories: COVID-19 and Workers' Compensation, Legislative Updates