In the midst of the novel COVID-19 pandemic, businesses of all sectors have been impacted in some way. This includes the legal community as some courts have closed, deadlines have been postponed, legal professionals are working from home, and even new laws are being passed – please see Kean Miller’s Louisiana Law Blog for continued updates during the COVID-19 outbreak.
On March 26, 2020, the Louisiana Office of Workers’ Compensation Administration issued a notice closing all Workers’ Compensation Courts from March 26, 2020 through April 13, 2020. During this time, no in-person hearings or mediation conferences will be held and all previously scheduled hearing/conferences will be rescheduled after the courts reopen.
While Workers’ Compensation courts are closed, many claimants will continue their medical treatment and will rely on their indemnity benefits now more than ever. It is important that the employers and/or insurers continue to timely respond to requests for medical authorizations and continue the claimant’s indemnity payments. Failure to do so could result in an award of penalties and attorney’s fees.
In addition to the employer and/or insurer’s regular obligation to provide benefits, the Office of Workers’ Compensation issued an emergency ruling on March 23, 2020 that tweaks those obligations in favor of the claimant. The ruling primarily concerns the claimant’s ability to obtain prescription medication and receive medical treatment during this time as many medical facilities have shut down. In turn, the ruling addresses the timelines that employers and/or insurers must comply with in authorizing these treatments and/or prescription refills. Although these obligations are new, an employer and/or insurer should anticipate the failure to comply with these guidelines may result in the imposition of penalties and attorney’s fees.
If you have questions or would like additional information, please contact Kean Miller attorneys, Forrest E. Guedry at 225.382.3464.