Bill Summary for S 692 (2011-2012)

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Summary date: 

Apr 20 2011

Bill Information:

View NCGA Bill Details2011-2012 Session
Senate Bill 692 (Public) Filed Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Intro. by D. Berger, Daniel.

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Bill summary

Amends the definition of injury in GS 97-2(6) to treat injuries to the extremities of the body like injuries to the back for the purposes of construing an “injury by accident.” Adds new GS 97-2(22) to define “suitable employment” as rehabilitative employment that exists within the competitive job market that is procured for an employee prior to or after he or she reaches maximum medical improvement that offers an opportunity to restore the employee as soon as possible to pre-injury wage. Defines “rehabilitative employment” in GS 97-2(23) as employment not available in the competitive marketplace but nonetheless necessary to return an injured worker to suitable employment after he or she reaches maximum medical improvement.
Amends GS 97-18(e) to provide that an employee may, at any time where liability has previously been established, request modification or reinstatement of compensation, and that requests that are challenged by the employer or insurer shall be heard by the Industrial Commission on an expedited basis.
Adds new subsection GS 97-18.1(f) to set out a procedure for an expedited hearing for termination or suspension of compensation. Provides in new subsections GS 97-18.1(g) and (h) that the deputy commissioner’s decision approving or disapproving the employer’s application to terminate compensation must be rendered within five days of the hearing, and that the employer may only terminate or suspend compensation if its application is approved.
Amends GS 97-25 to provide that medical compensation to an employee must be provided by the employer or insurer (was, employer). Further provides that in order to change health care providers or select a provider of their own choosing, employees must show by a preponderance of the evidence that the selected provider is reasonably intended or required to effect a cure, give relief, or lessen the period of disability.
Adds new subsection GS 97-25.6(b) to set out the procedures through which an employer or insurer may communicate with an employee’s authorized health care provider in cases of accepted compensability where the employee has chosen his or her own provider.
Adds new section GS 97-25.7 to require employers or insurers to provide vocational rehabilitation services in cases where an employee has not returned to employment paying the same or greater wages.
Raises the limit on compensation for loss of or permanent injury to any important external or internal organ or part of the body in GS 97-31(24) to $50,000 (was, $20,000).
Amends GS 97-32 to provide that orders suspending an employee’s compensation based on an unjustified refusal to return to suitable employment must specify what actions the employee should take to end the suspension, and to further provide that those actions, if taken, will automatically result in reinstatement of the employee’s compensation.
Adds new subsection GS 97-32.1(b) to provide for reinstatement of compensation for certain employees who return to rehabilitative or other employment prior to reaching maximum medical improvement.
Amends GS 97-53 to make changes to the rules for determining eligibility for compensation for compensable hearing loss, and adds new subdivision (30) covering myocardial infarction and other heart-related maladies of certain firefighters.
Adds new section GS 97-78.1 applying the standards of judicial conduct for judges to commissioners and deputy commissioners of the Industrial Commission. Amends GS 135-51 to allow a judicial retirement for commissioners and deputy commissioners serving on or after July 1, 2011, and makes conforming changes throughout GS Chapter 135. Adds new subsection GS 135-58(a7) to set out the formulae for calculating the retirement allowance for certain members who retire on or after July 1, 2011, after turning 65 or after completing 24 years or more of creditable service.
Transfers the Fraud Unit operating within the Industrial Commission to the Department of Insurance, with the Fraud Unit intact and with management functions to be performed under the direction of the Commissioner of Insurance.
Effective when it becomes law, except for the transfer of the Industrial Commission Fraud Unit, which is effective July 1, 2011.