With a mix of brand new, evolving and old issues, here are 10 workers’ comp cases from 2016 that show the questions courts have faced in the last 12 months on who gets to participate in the system known as the grand bargain:
- Can worker receive smaller comp payments because he’s undocumented? State courts have been ruling that undocumented workers aren’t exempt from workers’ comp coverage. Sometimes they even point out that exempting these workers would create a situation in which it would be more profitable for companies to hire them if they weren’t included in the comp system. In this case, a court considers a state law that would put a cap on comp payments to injured undocumented workers.
- Did taking prescription meds prevent injured employee from getting workers’ comp? This case shows it’s no longer just whether workers are taking illegal drugs that companies have to be concerned about. Legal, prescription medications can be a problem, too.
- Will workers’ comp cover outdoor employees who get Zika virus? This case is among the first to address this growing problem for outdoor workers.
- Can seasonal employee get workers’ comp for carpal tunnel? With the gig economy revving up, the issue of how to cover employees who work only part of the year is now more of a concern.
- Is worker totally disabled because of injuries and depression? How are mental illnesses covered under workers’ comp?
- Workers’ comp must pay for medical marijuana in third state: More states will face this decision now that another handful approved either medical or recreational marijuana in the November election.
- Employee waited a month to report injury: Did he get workers’ comp? It seems as though as long as employees become injured on the job, some will decide not to report their injuries quickly, despite being encouraged to do so for their own health.
- Wife finds husband dead at work: Can she sue for bystander emotional distress? In this case, the court had to decide whether the exclusive remedy of workers’ comp barred this lawsuit.
- Worker dies from on-job heart attack: Should widow get comp? Can you prove that work stress caused a fatal heart attack?
- Did dust and mold at work cause asthma? Can employee get workers’ comp? Proving that an illness was occupational in origin can be tricky.
Part 2 of our top workers’ comp cases of 2016 will look at some decisions involving unique circumstances.