Each state has its own laws and regulations that deal with workers’ compensation. Some states tilt the law more towards hurt workers, while others favor business interests, like in Missouri. As the political atmosphere changes, workers’ compensation laws tend to follow.
The state of Maine is going through just such a change, now. Amendments to the state’s workers’ compensation structure are currently moving through their legislature that could help thousands of injured workers in that state. The movement comes on the heels of a huge shift in state politics.
Maine Eyeing Overhaul to Their Workers’ Compensation Laws After Political Change
The workers’ compensation laws currently in place in Maine were written in the early 1990s. Back then, Maine had the highest cost for workers’ compensation insurance – nearly 2.5 times the national average. Providing workers’ compensation insurance was such a bad business that the only insurance company to offer it was threatening to leave the state.
Republican Governor John McKernan Jr. initiated a government shutdown in order to overhaul workers’ compensation laws. The resulting law limited the amounts and the duration of the compensation that hurt workers could receive. It also made it more difficult for injured workers to receive workers’ compensation payouts, at all.
In 2018, though, Maine Democrats flipped both the state’s senate and the governor’s house to achieve a trifecta. They are now seeking to use that political tide to pass a new workers’ compensation system that would tilt the law back in favor of hurt workers, rather than businesses.
Details of Proposed Workers’ Compensation Bills
Nearly two dozen workers’ compensation bills have been proposed in the Maine legislature. Among them are bills that would annually adjust the workers’ compensation payout based on cost-of-living, extend the window during which injured workers can apply for compensation, remove many of the damage caps and benefits restrictions, and make it easier to recover workers’ compensation for mental health injuries. Other provisions would raise the maximum weekly workers’ compensation award and increase the benefits available to workers who were partially disabled.
Opponents of the bills claim that they would hurt local businesses and cost the state jobs: With higher premiums to pay for workers’ compensation, businesses would leave.
Supporters point out that workers have suffered in every single workers’ compensation law passed in the state since the 1990s.
St. Joseph Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at the Smith Law Office
While the workers’ compensation reforms being considered are happening in Maine, they can impact workers’ compensation law here in Missouri, as well. The success or failure can serve as a lesson for other states who are considering similar overhauls.
One lesson the situation already illustrates, though, is that workers’ compensation is an inherently political environment. When political power shifts, workers’ compensation is often high on the list of things to change.
The resulting instability makes it even more important to have a workers’ compensation lawyer on your side if you have been hurt in St. Joseph. The personal injury lawyers at the Smith Law Office can help. Contact them online or call them at (816) 875-9373.