BJ 08-87

Emergency Suspension of Certain Workers Compensation Laws

WHEREAS, pursuant to the Louisiana Homeland Security and Emergency Assistance and Disaster Act, R.S. 29:721, et seq., a state of emergency was declared through Proclamation No. 51 BJ 2008;

WHEREAS, Hurricane Gustav struck the state of Louisiana causing severe flooding and damage which has threatened the safety, health, and security of the citizens of the state of Louisiana, along with private property and public facilities;

WHEREAS, Hurricane Gustav, and its aftermath, has displaced workers, employers, healthcare professionals and workers' compensation payors;

WHEREAS, in addition to the displaced individuals and businesses, there are thousands of individuals impacted by Hurricane Gustav who have numerous communication challenges due to the mass extended interruption of mail service, phone service and electricity;

WHEREAS, the evacuations, displacements, communication issues, as well as the inability of workers' compensation claimants, payors, and their representatives to gain access to their files has resulted in challenges to the administration of the workers' compensation system;

WHEREAS, R.S. 29:724, authorizes the governor during a state of emergency to suspend the provisions of any state regulatory statute prescribing procedures for conducting state business, or the orders, rules or regulations of any state agency, if strict compliance with the provision of any statute, order, rule or regulation would in any way prevent, hinder, or delay necessary action in coping with the emergency; and

WHEREAS, the executive director of the Louisiana Workforce Commission has requested, due to the mass displacement of claimants across our state and our nation, as well as displacement of employers and payors across our state and our nation, that portions of R.S. 23:1124, regarding consequences for failure to timely submit to a medical examination, R.S. 23:1203(A), regarding out-of-state healthcare providers, and portions of Office of Workers Compensation Hearing Rule 6009 be suspended;

NOW THEREFORE I, BOBBY JINDAL, Governor of the state of Louisiana, by virtue of the authority vested by the Constitution and laws of the state of Louisiana, do hereby order and direct as follows:

SECTION 1: R.S. 23:1124 which suspends an employee's right to workers' compensation benefits for failure to timely submit to a medical examination, and provides employers and insurers the right to an expedited hearing for the purpose of seeking an order compelling an employee ’ s compliance with a medical examination, is hereby suspended for those persons for whom a medical examination is not reasonably possible due to the effects of the storm.

SECTION 2: R.S. 23:1203(A) is hereby suspended to the extent that such statute differentiates between in-state and out-of-state providers and facilities. The suspension shall only apply for a claimant who evacuated to a location outside of Louisiana and for the time period that such claimant remains residing outside of Louisiana. In such instances, medical care, services and treatment shall be provided as though the provider or facility was located in Louisiana.

SECTION 3: The portion of Office of Workers' Compensation Hearing Rule 6009 which requires that the parties to workers' compensation mediation conferences appear in person is hereby suspended. The suspension of this portion of the rule will minimize disruption to the orderly conduct of mediations in instances in which Hurricane Gustav has displaced the parties too far to participate in person, and will allow them to participate in the mediation via telephone instead.

SECTION 4: This Order is effective upon signature and shall apply retroactively from Thursday, August 28, 2008, through Sunday, September 21, 2008, unless amended, modified, terminated, or rescinded by the governor, or otherwise terminated prior thereto.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have set my hand officially and caused to be affixed the Great Seal of the state of Louisiana, at the Capitol, in the city of Baton Rouge, on this 4th day of September, 2008.

Bobby Jindal

Jay Dardenne
Secretary of State