Legislators in at least six states introduced proposals to halt enforcement of the electronic logging device (ELD) mandated by the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The Final Rule became effective December 18, 2017 and requires truck drivers to replace paper log books with an approved ELD to record their hours of service.
STATES VERSUS FEDS
South Dakota's state legislature introduced a resolution that calls on Congress and FMCSA to overturn the rules regarding ELD because of the unintended consequences and undue financial and administrative burdens placed on drivers and operators. A Tennessee bill would prohibit the use of state funds to implement or enforce ELD regulations. The Missouri bill would prohibit state enforcement agencies from enforcing or keeping records to show compliance with the ELD mandate. Legislators in Alabama, Idaho, and Wyoming also introduced legislation to halt ELD enforcement.
COSTS GOING UP
Retailers and restaurants could see increasing costs with the implementation of ELD since truck drivers aren't covering as much distance or making the same number of runs as before. On top of that, the trucking industry doesn't have enough drivers. According to industry analysts, there was just one truck available for every 12 loads needing to be shipped at the start of 2018. This is pushing retailers to delay nonessential shipments or pay high prices.
FMCSA gave agriculture and livestock haulers an extension until mid-March to adopt an ELD. Members of Congress supported the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) request for at least a 5-year exemption for motor carriers classified as a small business and with a proven safety history. We will keep an eye on the pending bills to see if they stay on course.
Aloha Means Goodbye to Many IME Providers
QUALIFIED INDEPENDENT MEDICAL PROVIDER
The Hawaii House Finance Committee will hold a hearing today on H.B. 2202, which would require doctors who perform independent medical examinations (IME) to be qualified to treat injured workers. The bill requires a qualified physician or qualified surgeon selected and paid for by an employer to perform a medical examination on an employee relating to a work injury under workers' compensation shall be duly qualified to treat the injury being examined, possess medical malpractice insurance, and owe the same duty of care to the injured employee as to a traditional patient.
DUTY OF CARE
The majority of jurisdictions that have addressed duty of care of the IME physician have noted that the physician owes a duty of care to the IME physician's employers for providing the correct diagnosis. However, some courts have recognized a limited duty of care by the IME physician in various circumstances, such as not to injure the patient during the examination, a duty to warn of conditions that pose an imminent danger, and provide correct information about the patient's condition. The Hawaiian legislature is also contemplating H.B. 1694, which would require both sides in a workers' compensation dispute to agree on a doctor to examine an injured worker, and H.B. 1640, which would compel insurers to pay claims for workers not covered by prepaid health plans while the company investigates. Aloha.
Making Our Way Around the Country
Legislators in the Bluegrass State introduced a bill that would cap workers' compensation benefits at 15 years from the date of injury. H.B. 2 would apply to workers filing claims for permanent, partial disability and would not apply to workers currently receiving workers' compensation benefits. The bill would also increase the state's average weekly wage, terminate indemnity benefits at age 67 or two years after injury, whichever is later, put a time limit on the ability of an injured worker to reopen a claim, and increase the cap on attorneys' fees.
AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT
The House of Representatives passed a bill (H.R. 620) that would create additional requirements for filing lawsuits under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The bill would prevent people from filing lawsuits alleging violations of the ADA unless business owners are given written notices and fail to offer a written response describing improvements or to make substantial progress in removing the barrier by the end of a six-month period. The ADA was enacted in 1990. The bill now moves to the Senate.
If you saw advertisements for mattresses or appliances, it must have been Presidents' Day in the U.S. However, if you like Presidential history – like I do – enjoy some significant quotes from U.S. Presidents. (Note: they included one quote from Alexander Hamilton, who was obviously not a President, but he wants to be in the room where it happens.) And in case you're looking for recommendations, John Adams and Truman are excellent reads.