Maine Workers’ Comp Reform Bill Signed Into Law

A new Maine bill that brings wide-ranging changes to the state’s workers’ compensation system was signed into law last week.

The bill, signed into law by Maine Gov. Paul LePage, is called An Act to Review and Restructure the Workers’ Compensation System.

One of the changes is the way the maximum benefit for total disabilities is calculated. Previously, it was 80 percent of the employee’s after-tax average weekly wages, but now it will be two-thirds of the gross average weekly wages for injuries that occur on or after Jan. 1, 2013. “That’s a simpler calculation for all involved,” Paul Sighinolfi, executive director of Maine Workers’ Compensation Board, told Insurance Journal.

Under the new law, an employee would have to have a minimum of 12 percent impairment to qualify for permanent disability benefits for injuries that occurred between 2006 and 2012.

Also under the new law, an employer or insurer would no longer be required to continue to pay benefits to an employee during the appeals process. The law also shortens the time period an employee can notify their employer of an injury. Under the old law, it was 90 days but that has now been shortened to 30 days. “If there is a dangerous condition at work that is causing people to be injured, it makes sense to have people report that sooner rather than later,” Sighinolfi said. A number of changes in the law only impact employees who are injured after Jan. 1, 2013. The new law can be viewed on the Maine legislative website.