Changes to the Louisiana Worker's Compensation Law

Several changes were made to the Louisiana Worker’s Compensation Law in the most recent legislative session.

The judicially created doctrine that the law is to be interpreted in favor of the employee has changed to a statement that the law is “to be construed in accordance with basic principles of statutory construction and not in favor of either employer or employee.

The rules have been liberalized so that employers can now file suit to “controvert benefits or concerning any other dispute under this chapter.” Previously employers were very limited in the number of claims that they could initiate.

State ordered independent medical examinations are no longer available in cases concerning disputes about the current medical treatment of the employee.

Effective February 1, 2013, new procedures have been put in place to resolve the question of the amount of benefits that are due to the injured employee. If he is receiving benefits and he disputes the amount of the benefits, a preliminary hearing is held by a designated worker’s compensation judge. The procedure must be followed before a suit can be filed. There are deadlines primarily aimed the employer.

Utilization review procedures that do not involve an actual examination by a doctor of the employee are now sanctioned. This should at the least avoid the imposition of attorney’s fees and penalties when an employer follows the recommendations of a utilization review. Until now, the courts have indicated that reliance upon a utilization review that does not involve an examination of the employee can subject an Employer to attorney’s fees and penalties.

If you have any questions concerning the changes to the Louisiana worker’s compensation law, please contact Carl Aspelund at cla@chehardy.com

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