Notable Changes in State Workers' Comp Laws

Posted by Scott Helfrich on Aug 22, 2016 4:11:00 PM

State Workers' Comp laws change yearly, and small businesses need to be up to date to avoid penalties and fees.


A new database produced by the media outlet ProPublica has tracked the changing Workers’ Compensation regulations in each state.


At a high level, Workers' Compensation is a compromise between employees and employers that protects both parties from liability in the event of a work-related injury. This compromise allows employees to work with peace of mind, knowing that injuries they sustain will not be their financial responsibility. At the same time, employers can operate confidently, knowing that their employees are unlikely to sue them over a work injury.

Understanding how Workers’ Compensation works, and especially how it works in your state, is critical for successfully operating your business. But with different regulations in each state, and reforms continually being made (at least 33 states have changed their Workers’ Comp laws in the last 10 years), keeping up to date can be incredibly difficult.


As part of their coverage of the ongoing reforms of America’s Workers’ Compensation system, ProPublica has catalogued the changes in workers’ compensation legislature in all 50 states, as well as Washington D.C. Per ProPublica:

Over the past 10 months, ProPublica has analyzed reams of insurance industry data, studied arcane state laws, and interviewed hundreds of workers, businesses, attorneys, policymakers, doctors and insurance experts. Journalists obtained often confidential medical and court records and reported on the ground in 10 states and the District of Columbia.

Among their notable state-specific findings are:


-Massachusetts: in 2014, nannies, housekeepers and other domestic workers are now required to be covered by Workers' Comp.


-Nevada: in 2009, doubled payments for funerals from $5,000 to $10,000; allowed spouses to continue receiving death benefits after remarriage.


-Oklahoma: in 2013, limited psychiatric claims to victims of violent crimes; reduced insurers' and employers' liability when the work injury aggravates an existing condition caused by aging or prior injuries.


-Alabama: in 2014, increased payments for funerals from $3,000 to $6,500.


For a complete listing of changes to each state’s workers’ compensation laws, read here.


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