Recent Statutory Enactments Relating to Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Law
Recently, the 2015 Legislative session adjourned. Four bills were passed which will impact employers and insurers in Nebraska, with an effective date of August 30, 2015. Baylor Evnen partner Dallas Jones, who serves as the President of Nebraskans for Workers’ Compensation Fairness and Equity, played an integral role in the passage of these favorable measures.
- Interest Rate on Awarsds: The interest rate on workers’ compensation awards has been reduced from 14% to approximately 8%. Please note that this may vary rate as the statute sets the interest rate at 6% plus the Treasury bill rate which traditionally hovers at approximately 2%.
- Employee Misrepresentation: In what should be considered a victory for employers, the Nebraska Legislature codified the defense of employee misrepresentation. From 1979 until 2011 case law provided that if an employee misrepresented his or her physical condition, which misrepresentation contributed to the employee being injured on the job, benefits could be denied. In 2011 the Nebraska Supreme Court reversed its decision from 1979 and held that the misrepresentation defense was no longer available. Pursuant to the new statute, the employee must misrepresent his or her physical capabilities/condition in writing. A simple discussion, not reduced to writing, will not meet the statutory requirements.
- Balance Billing of Employees: The Legislature also clarified that the “balance billing” prohibition, which disallows medical providers from recouping from the employee the difference between the amount paid by the employer/carrier per the fee schedule and the billed amount for the services provided, extends to finance charges and late penalties.
- Self-Insured Trust Funds: Although not a provision with broad application, but nevertheless favorable, the Act has been amended so that self-insured employers who use a Trust to secure future payments have broader investment options. Those now include investing the funds held in trust in the same manner authorized for corporate trustees holding retirement or pension plans for the benefit of current or former employees of political subdivisions.
For any questions regarding recent amendments to the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation system, please don’t hesitate to contact Dallas Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org.