Engler Majority re-writes workers comp this week
That the insurance-friendly Engler-appointed majority of Michigan's Supreme Court would have re-written the workers compensation statute to favor insurers will come as no surprise to Michigan residents who pay attention. This week, the Court changed the landmark view of how the workers comp rules are interpreted: the four arch-conservative Justices re-wrote the rules so that a disabled worker must also prove that he could find no other jobs.
In the past, the injured worker satisfied his initial proofs by proving that he was disabled from his work: the employer had the initial burden of showing that there were other jobs the disabled employee could perform. Now, every injured employee will have to satisfy the latter burden--and prove that there are no jobs he can qualify for--even if the employer does not seriously contest the issue. In the past, the worker was not faced with this burden unless the employer contested his claim and argued that he could, in fact, perform other jobs. The Court's insurer-friendly majority also granted the employer the right to seek formal court discovery during the pendency of the proceedings, despite the fact that the statute does not confer such a right among the enumerated tasks assigned to the work comp magistrate.
The net effect is a more expensive, time-consuming and risky procedure before disabled workers can collect partial wage loss and medical payments.