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ACT NO. 97

(H.185)

Workers' Compensation; Vocational Rehabilitation; Lump Sum Payments

This act provides that the employer shall designate the initial vocational rehabilitation provider to work with an injured employee. However, if the employee is dissatisfied, the employee may select another vocational rehabilitation provider from a list of providers registered and deemed qualified by the Commissioner of Labor and Industry. The employee shall also give the employer written notice of the reasons for the dissatisfaction and the name and address of the newly selected vocational rehabilitation provider.

The act also gives the Commissioner the discretion to order a lump sum payment of permanent disability benefits if it is found to be in the best interest of the injured employee or the employee’s dependents.

Further, the act permits the Commissioner to consider individual characteristics of an injured employee, such as age, experience, training, education and mental capacity, in determining whether the employee is permanently totally disabled.

The act also permits the Commissioner to order a dispute between employers and insurers be resolved through arbitration.

Lastly, the act requires the Commissioner of Labor and Industry to recommend to the Senate Committee on General Affairs and Housing and the House Committee on General, Housing and Military Affairs measures to improve return to work opportunities for employees who have suffered a work injury.

Effective Date: July 1, 2000