Washington DC 2017 Updates


For further inquiries, please contact F&P Principal, Bert Randall, at (410) 230-3622 or by email atarandall@fandpnet.com.

I.        New District of Columbia Benefit Rates

a.    Effective January 1, 2017, the following are the benefit rates for District of Columbia:

                                  i.    Maximum Weekly Compensation Rate– $1,467.46

                                ii.    Minimum Weekly Compensation Rate –  $366.86

                               iii.    Supplemental Allowance for Permanent Total and Death Benefits – .08% increase

 

II.        Recent Cases in Workers’ Compensation

a.    Consideration of Personal and Social activities requires a nexus to an employee’s wage earning capacity.

                                  i.    M.C. Dean, Inc. v. District of Columbia Dept. of Employment Services, 146 A.3d 67 (2016). 

1.    The D.C. Court of Appeals discussed the consideration of non-occupational consequences of an injury in issuing a disability award.

2.    This case places limits on the scope of an ALJ’s discretion in assessing the economic disability resulting from a claimant’s impairments. Because personal and social activities are not independently compensable harms, an ALJ is required to demonstrate a nexus between a claimant’s personal and social activities and wage earning capacity. Otherwise, a disability award should not be increased by non-occupational consequences of an injury.

b.    Injuries that stem from horseplay and constitute a substantial deviation from a claimant’s employment are not compensable. 

                                  i.    Hamilton v. Megabus, et al. (2015).

1.    The ALJ considered whether a Claimant’s injuries stemming from horseplay constituted a deviation from Claimant’s employment, such that the incident did not arise out of and in the course of employment. 

2.    This case demonstrates the application of D.C.’s four-part test for determining whether horseplay constitutes a deviation from a Claimant’s employment: (1) the extent and seriousness of the deviation; (2) the completeness of the deviation; (3) the extent to which horseplay was an accepted part of employment; and (4) the extent to which horseplay may be expected given the nature of the employment. The incident does not arise out of and in the course of a Claimant’s employment when these four factors are met.

c.    Employers seeking to end workers’ compensation payments for disabled workers must prove that the worker is no longer disabled.

                                  i.    Ross v. D.C. Dept. of Employment Services,125 A.3d 698 (D.C. 2015)

1.    The D.C. Court of Appeals discussed whether a claimant carries the burden of proving that he or she remains disabled in order to rebut an agency-employer’s request to terminate or modify benefits.

2.    This case establishes that a burden-shifting framework applies when considering an agency-employer’s request to terminate a claimant workers’ compensation benefits. Under this new standard, the burden is no longer on the disabled worker to prove that he or she remains disabled. Rather, the ultimate burden of persuasion rests on the employer at all times to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that circumstances have changed such that the claimant is no longer entitled to disability compensation.  

d.    The payment of interest on accrued workers’ compensation benefits is authorized. 

                                  i.    D.C. Public Schools v. D.C. Dept. of Employment Services, 123 A.3d 947 (D.C. 2015).

1.    The D.C. Court of Appeals addressed whether, if a claimant wins reinstatement of terminated benefits on appeal, the Department of Employment Services is authorized to award interest on accrued benefits that were not paid to an employee pending the appeal.

 

2.    This case clarifies that the “no-interest” rule only applies to challenges against thefederal government’s immunity from interest payments, not the states. Accordingly, an explicit waiver of immunity from paying interest is not required to authorize an interest award under a D.C.’s workers’ compensation statute.