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Showing 11 posts in Case Law Updates.

Compensability of a Work-Related Suicide Claim

Workplace DepressionIn recent years, mental health issues and suicide have become increasingly prevalent among Americans. The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated this crisis. According to a CDC survey from June 2020, the pandemic has “considerably elevated adverse mental health conditions” in U.S adults. Data from the survey indicates that 42 percent of essential workers reported struggling with anxiety and/or depression. Most notably, 11 percent of all respondents seriously considered suicide within the preceding 30 days.

Overall, studies have shown that suicides related to workplace issues are on the rise, and the cause is often increased workplace stress and excessive workloads. Under what circumstances should the family of a worker who takes his or her own life be awarded workers’ compensation benefits? Below, we discuss a recent instructive case from Pennsylvania followed by an overview of how Michigan law handles this increasingly important issue. Read More ›

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

New State Recreational Marijuana Law Hints at the Hazy Future of Workplace Drug Testing

Drug Test FormCurrently, there are 17 states (plus two United States territories and the District of Columbia) that permit the use of recreational marijuana. The trend across the country seems to be in favor of legalization of cannabis-related products for both medicinal and recreational use. As that trend continues and the use of recreational marijuana increases, we anticipate new challenges will arise for employers and their insurance carriers. For instance, how will this trend impact post-injury drug screenings?

If the use of recreational marijuana is legal in a given jurisdiction, will it remain permissible for an employer to terminate an employee based solely on a positive drug screening? Read More ›

Categories: Case Law Updates, Employment, Legislative Updates, Workers' Compensation

The Compensability of After-Hours Work Injuries

Night Shift EmployeeRecently, several clients have posed questions regarding the compensability of after-hours injuries that occur on the employers’ premises. While the compensability of these injuries is often in the “grey area,” your determination will be heavily dependent upon the facts of each situation.

What follows is a brief overview of the prevailing case law and a basic framework for making a compensability decision in these types of scenarios. Read More ›

Categories: Case Law Updates, Workers' Compensation

COVID-19: Is It An Occupational Disease or Personal Injury – And Does It Really Even Matter?

Warehouse Workers with MasksUnfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage worldwide. At the time of this article being published, there have been nearly 28,000,000 cases and over 485,000 deaths in the United States. Over 600,000 cases and almost 16,000 deaths have occurred in Michigan, alone.

In response to the pandemic, many jurisdictions have implemented various Emergency Rules and Orders to all but ensure compensability for certain delineated essential, frontline and first response employees who contract COVID-19. Other states, like Illinois, have enacted actual legislation that similarly relaxes the burden of proving compensability for some of these favored workers. We have written about these Rules, Orders, and legislation on several occasions over the course of the last year. You can read our most recent article on this topic here. Read More ›

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

Appeals Court Rejects Comp Benefits in ‘Special Mission’ Case

ClassroomOn December 17, 2020, in an unpublished per curium decision, the Michigan Court of Appeals reversed an award of workers' compensation survivor’s benefits that had been given to a widow whose spouse had been killed while he was traveling to a class the employer had encouraged him to attend and for which the employer had paid pursuant to its employee education assistance and tuition reimbursement program. See Lewis v LexaMar Corp, Mich App __ (2020)Read More ›

Categories: Case Law Updates, Employment, Workers' Compensation

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

Is an Employee Injured before December 19, 2011 Obligated to look for Work?

Broken FootThe Supreme Court of Michigan recently issued a decision addressing a plaintiff’s obligation to make a good faith job search where the injury arose prior to the 2011 amendments to the Worker’s Disability Compensation Act. Bell v. City of Saginaw. Plaintiff Bell was injured in the course of his employment on October 16, 2011. Benefits were voluntarily paid from the date of injury until his return to work. He subsequently went back off when he failed his fitness for duty physical. Workers’ compensation benefits were not reinstated and plaintiff filed suit. To read more about this case and its implications, see full article here.

Categories: Case Law Updates, Workers' Compensation

Appeals Court: J-1 Visa Employee at MSU Ineligible for Workers' Compensation

Work Injury Claim FormIn May 2019, the Michigan Court of Appeals decided Kuhlbert v Michigan State University. This case examines several interesting workers' compensation issues which we will analyze in a three-part series. Today, we discuss the case’s complicated facts and procedural history, and whether the plaintiff should be considered an “employee” pursuant to Michigan’s Workers' Disability Compensation Act (the “Act”). For more on the facts surrounding this case, see full article here.

Categories: Case Law Updates, Workers' Compensation

Employee or Independent Contractor? The Appellate Commission Applies its Own Facts to Overturn Magistrate’s Decision

BusinessmenIn July 2019, the Michigan Compensation Appellate Commission (“the Commission”) issued an Opinion in the case of Christopher Parshall v Worden & Company, Inc. In Parshall, the Commission reversed the magistrate’s factual determination that Mr. Parshall was an independent contractor and not an employee as defined by the Workers’ Disability Compensation Act (“Act”). To read more on this case and its classification of employee vs. independent contractor, see full article here.

Categories: Case Law Updates, Workers' Compensation