Archive for February, 2009

NEW STATUTORY ENACTMENT

Thursday, February 12th, 2009

Governor Granholm has signed new legislation amending Section 845 of the Michigan Worker’s Disability Compensation Act (WDCA).  This legislation became effective on January 13, 2009.  Prior to this amendment, Section 845 provided the following:

Sec. 845.  The bureau shall have jurisdiction over all controversies arising out of injuries suffered outside this state where the injured employee is a resident of this state at the time of injury and the contract of hire was made in this state.  Such employee or his dependents shall be entitled to compensation and other benefits provided by this act.

Following the amendment, Section 845 now provides the following for Applications for Mediation or Hearing filed on or after January 13, 2009:

Sec. 845. The worker’s compensation agency shall have jurisdiction over all controversies arising out of injuries suffered outside this state if the injured employee is employed by an employer subject to this act and if either the employee is a resident of this state at the time of injury or the contract of hire was made in this state. The employee or his or her dependents shall be entitled to the compensation and other benefits provided by this act. [emphasis added].

On its face, this amendment adds a requirement of having the Claimant’s employer being subject to the act, but, by replacing the word “and” with “either” the amendment makes it easier for Claimant’s to assert jurisdiction in Michigan.  In other words, prior to the amendment, those Claimant’s employed by Michigan-based companies who were injured out-of-state, normally qualified for workers’ compensation benefits under the law of the state in which they were injured.

The amendment to the Section 845 of the WDCA makes it easier for such Claimants to also qualify for Michigan statutory workers’ compensation benefits. Under the amended Section 845, a Claimant may elect to receive benefits from one or both states.

However, it should be underscored that Michigan law provides that a Michigan-based employer is entitled to a credit for those benefits received from another state against the benefits a Claimant may receive under Michigan law.

In effect, the amendment to Section 845, supercedes the Michigan Supreme Court’s ruling in Karaczewski v Farbman Stein & Co 478 Mich 28 (2007).  In Karaczewski, the Court held that the WDCA should be strictly construed to require that a Claimant prove that the contract of hire was entered into in Michigan and that the employee was a resident of Michigan at the time of injury in order for the Claimant to recover worker’s compensation benefits from a Michigan employer.

A link to the actual executed legislation can be found at the following web address:
http://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/2007-2008/publicact/pdf/2008-PA-0499.pdf