Our firm was active in drafting recent changes to Nebraska workers’ compensation law
Two changes to Nebraska workers’ compensation law that became effective today could speed up receipt of settlement proceeds for injured workers.
LB 953 will allow settlements to be approved quicker if lawyers representing the injured worker certify the settlement is in the best interest of the worker. These changes should result in more settlements being paid within weeks rather than months. The current law requires court approval of many final settlements.
Another change this year to workers’ compensation laws came with the passage of LB 957, which allows for electronic payment for workers’ compensation indemnity benefits. As of July 19, 2018, if a worker is entitled to indemnity workers compensation benefits, he or she may be paid via direct deposit, prepaid card, or other electronic means. The employee must agree to be paid via electronic payment and the employer must notify the employee of each electronic payment. If handled properly, this could mean quicker payment of workers compensation benefits to the employees.
Workers compensation law was created by the Nebraska legislature. The legislature changes the law occasionally. Rehm, Bennett, Moore, Rehm & Ockander monitors those proposed changes and was involved in drafting these changes working on behalf of the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys.
Nebraska requires under Neb. Rev. Stat. 48-139 that all workers compensation settlements involving workers not represented by counsel be approved by the workers compensation court. Last week I came across an example of why this law is good policy.
Luckily for my client, this “agreement” is not valid so he can compensated to the full extent of the law for his work injuries.
I signed up a client who was injured in a roof collapse while doing demolition work at a local bar last Sunday. The employer drafted a “full satisfaction and release” of client’s work comp claim for $45 and for payment of my client’s emergency room visit the day of the accident. For an injured worker without health insurance the prospect of having not having potentially expensive ER treatment paid for is a powerful incentive not to pursue their rights under their jurisdiction’s workers compensation statute. Luckily for my client, this “agreement” is not valid so he can compensated to the full extent of the law for his work injuries. In my experience, this type of interference with the exercise of an injured employee’s right to workers compensation is not typical. Thankfully, Nebraska law recognizes that some employers will try to interfere with an injured workers right to compensation and provides procedural safeguards to prevent employer abuse.