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House Bill 2468 also amends Section 408.161(a)(7) which pertains to serious burn injuries. Previously, an injured worker would be entitled to LIBs if he/she sustained third degree burns to the majority of either both hands, or one hand and the face. Now, third degree burns to both hands, to one hand and one foot, or to the face and either one hand or one foot can establish LIBs entitlement.
House Bill 2468 further expands LIBs entitlement to certain first responders in the newly promulgated Section 408.1615. Peace officers, EMTs, and firefighters (or those acting as EMTs or firefighters on a volunteer basis) who are rendered “permanently unemployable” following a “serious bodily injury” beyond those specifically enumerated in Section 408.161 may be entitled to LIBs.
Qualifying claimants would be compelled to recertify their total unemployment to Carriers annually. Carriers may audit the worker’s employment status periodically, but not more than once in any five-year window, unless the Carrier can show that the injured first responder’s assertion of non-employment is false. Under such circumstances, the Carrier would be compelled to request a designated doctor to evaluate the claimant’s employability. LIBs may be suspended if the annual certification is not accomplished, or if the first responder is employed in any capacity. Suspension of LIBs is also codified under the new Section 408.0041(k-1).
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