April 15, 1999
Bill urges key workers' comp reforms
The Business Council is strongly supporting a new bill that would enact two critical reforms to the state's workers' compensation law.
The bill sponsored by Senator James Alesi (R-Rochester) and Assemblyman Robin Schimminger (D-Buffalo) would:
- Deny workers' comp claims if the injury or occupational disease was sustained by an employee during the commission of any illegal act.
- Deny workers' comp claims if the predominant cause of the injury or disease is shown to be the employee's use of alcohol or illegal drugs.
In 1986, the state Court of Appeals ruled that the state's Workers' Compensation Law does not preclude workers' comp coverage in cases where the injury or illness was sustained during commission of a crime. This bill would effectively reverse that ruling.
Requiring employers to prove that alcohol or drug use is the predominant cause of illness or injury would be an easing of the burden of proof, said Stacey Hengsterman, The Council's workers' comp specialist. Employers now must show that such use is the sole cause.
The Council is also urging lawmakers to enact its top priority in workers' comp reform: creation of a cap on benefits in cases of permanent partial disability. Most other states have such a cap.