The Compensation Law, according to Legislative History, was designed to provide injured workers with relatively quick wage replacement payments and treatment for causally related injuries in exchange for giving up claims of negligence against the employer or coworker. It was expected that this would eliminate delays due to extensive litigation. Somewhere along the line of cases and applications of the law, contested cases became the norm on the very issues of compensabilty and medical care. This has been made more devastating by the Workers’ Compensation Board’s use of the Medical Treatment Guidelines effective December 1, 2010.
Recent statistic show more than 250,000 variance applications have been filed with the WCB, contesting the restrictions and interpretations of the Medical Treatment Guidelines. This contest has back logged the hearing process and presently clogs the system. Only so many cases can be heard and processed by the WCB at a given time. The State Legislature, as stated earlier in this blog, has been grappling with this problem and beginning last summer, has indicated a bill would reach the Governor’s desk soon. At this time, only the State Assembly has approved legislation limiting the retro-activity of the Medical Treatment Guidelines referenced above. We await further governmental action on this issue.