Client Alerts, News Articles & Blog Posts

Everything you need to know about BMD and the industry.

CLIENT ALERT: Bureau of Workers' Compensation Budget Amends Law

As we head into 2018, you should be aware of some recent changes made in Ohio’s laws concerning Workers’ Compensation. These changes became effective September 29, 2017.   Some will affect business more than others, but these are changes you should really know about. 

>A notice of intent to settle can be filed by the Injured Worker or Employer within thirty (30) days of receipt of an order being appealed (or, apparently which could be appealed), or the Industrial Commission’s refusal to hear an appeal. If filed, this filing extends the time for filing an appeal to Court to one-hundred and fifty (150) days (unless the other party files an objection to the notice within fourteen (14) days of receipt). This provision may assist parties in settling claims before invoking judicial machinery.

>Changes increased Injured Worker Attorney fees from $4,500.00 to $5,000.00.

>The BWC medical section is required to schedule a medical examination to determine the employee’s continued entitlement to initial compensation no later than thirty (30) days following the initial consecutive ninety (90) day period.   While the BWC may waive the scheduling of a medical examination for “good cause,” if the employee’s employer objects to the waiver, then the administrator will refer the employee to the bureau medical section to schedule the examination or the administrator will schedule the examination.

>Section 4123.56(E) provides that if an injured worker is awarded temporary total disability compensation before the full weekly wage is determined, s/he will be compensated at the statewide average weekly wage rate.  Discrepancies will be accounted for and adjusted once the full weekly wage is calculated.

>A Permanent Partial Disability Application (C92) will be dismissed (without prejudice, which means it can be refiled if the statute has not already run) if the injured worker fails to respond to an attempt to schedule an examination by the bureau medical section or fails to attend a scheduled medical exam without notice or explanation.

>Various provisions amend sections which address fire fighter cancer presumption.  Changes to this the section, among other things, amend the fire fighter cancer presumption to permit rebutting the presumption by demonstrating that exposure to the carcinogen could not have caused that type of cancer.  Changes to this section also limit the presumption to situations where the fire fighter has not worked in hazardous duty for more than fifteen (15) years.  Other changes  permit a fire fighter to receive working wage loss if s/he has a scheduled claim for cancer contracted by a fire fighter.

>The time limit for filing a claim is reduced from two years to one year.  It is important to note, however, that the statute of limitations for occupational disease claims has apparently not changed.

>Also, while not a legislative change, an important new medical rule goes into effect January 1, 2018.  A section of the Ohio Administrative Code will be enacted, which covers Lumbar Fusions.  Under this new rule, before approving lumbar fusion surgery, certain medical criteria generally must be met.

For more information about the law changes or other employment, labor and workers' compensation matters, contact Richard L. Williger

CLIENT ALERT: New Opportunity Zone Incentives Promise to Spur Economic Development

Created as part of the recently passed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, “Opportunity Zones” are designed to encourage long-term investments in underserved communities. By offering tax benefits to private investors who choose to invest their capital at the nexus of need and opportunity, the program supports a broad array of investments and offers opportunity for creative problem-solving strategies to address community needs. The program offers investors tiered tax benefits depending on the term of the investment, including a temporary deferral and partial reduction of unrealized capital gains, as well as the potential to exclude all future appreciation on the investment. The program is designed to tap into the estimated $6T+ of unrealized capital gains held by U.S. individuals and companies by incentivizing investors to re-invest that capital in low-income communities to spur economic development and job creation.

CLIENT ALERT: Medicare Trust Fund to Run Out of Funding Beginning in 2026, Likely to See an Increase in Audits, Overpayment Demands and Extrapolations

Pursuant to a Medicare Trustee Report released on June 5, 2018, the Medicare trust fund will run out of funding beginning in 2026, which is three years earlier than previously expected. Although the Trustee’s report requests that Congress and the President act with urgency to remedy this problem, in the short term, we expect to see an increase in government payer audits, overpayment demands, and extrapolations.

CLIENT ALERT: The European Union's New Data Privacy Law Goes Into Effect

On May 25, 2018, the European Union’s (“the EU”) new data privacy law went into effect. The General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) concerns the processing of personal data that can be searched according to specified criteria such as geographical scope.

CLIENT ALERT: Class Action Waivers in Employment Contracts Upheld by Supreme Court

On May 21, 2018, in a 5-4 decision and a major win for employers, the United States Supreme Court upheld the legality of waivers in employment contracts that prohibit employees from grouping claims together in collective or class actions in favor of individual arbitration proceedings. See Epic Sys. Corp. v. Lewis, ___U.S.___ (2018).

CLIENT ALERT: Prohibition on Recoupment Prior to Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies

In April, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, in Family Rehabilitation, Inc. v. Azar No. 17-11337 (5th Cir. 2018), held that district courts are authorized to enjoin the Centers of Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) and its contractors from recouping alleged overpayments prior to the completion of the administrative appeal process.