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Lawmakers in Maine introduced legislation to create protections for injured workers whose employers did not have workers compensation insurance at the time of their accident.
S.B. 1500, introduced Thursday by Sen. Troy Jackson, D-Aroostook, would amend the Maine Workers Compensation Act that would create liability for situations when an employee is injured while working for an uninsured subcontractor. The legislation would make primary contractors responsible for the payment of workers comp benefits as if they were the direct employers of the injured workers, unless there is an immediate subcontractor with workers comp coverage, in which case the subcontractor’s insurer would become responsible for all of the benefits under the act.
If the legislation passes, it would take effect Jan. 1, 2020, but would only be in effect until July 1, 2022. The bill also dictates that the during that two-and-a-half-year span, workers who are injured working for illegally uninsured employers will receive benefits through the Employment Rehabilitation Fund. The bill says 100% of the penalties recovered from violations of the state’s workers compensation act will go into the Employment Rehabilitation Fund during that time period, rather than being shared with the state’s general workers comp fund.
The bill also stipulates that if there is not an ongoing dispute, insurers must pay bills for medical care or health care services within 30 days of the insurer’s notice of payment or face penalties, and allows the Workers Compensation Board to assess civil penalties not to exceed $25,000 for a pattern of questionable claim-handling techniques or repeated unreasonably contested claims.
The 1st U.S. District Court of Appeals in Boston ordered a Maine roofing contractor to implement a comprehensive safety and training program and demonstrate the ability to pay $389,685 in fines following investigations by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, according to an announcement issued Friday.