This was published on the Las Vegas Review Journal on March 29, 2023.
By Jessica Hill
Reno Police Department Detective Janira Varty was injured in 2019 during a car accident when she slid on black ice while on duty.
Afterward, her entire body was in pain, and she was unable to lift things or raise her arms above her shoulders.
Despite doctors attesting that her injuries were a result of the on-duty accident, her workers’ compensation claim was repeatedly denied. After two years, she was able to get treatment using private health insurance, but that came too late, she said, and she’s still in pain. She’s not sure if she’ll be able to finish out her career in law enforcement.
“My body has been in constant pain for over three years, and I will likely have permanent life altering injuries for the rest of my life,” Varty told the Senate Committee on Commerce and Labor on Wednesday.
Varty was one of several injured workers in Nevada to testify in support of Senate Bill 274, which would revise the workers’ compensation system by allowing injured workers to sue insurers and third party administrators for acting in bad faith when denying their claims or delaying payment to workers.
“What hurts the most is not being able to carry my daughters to bed when they fall asleep on the couch, or carry them whenever they get hurt,” Varty said. “All my daughters want is for their mommy to lift them up, to hug them tight, to carry them … but I can no longer do that for them. The system is broken. The system is harmful for employees seeking treatment as an injured employee.”
The legislation, sponsored by state Sen. Skip Daly, D-Sparks, is the brainchild of former Washoe County sheriff’s Detective Kim Frankel, who, like Varty, was injured on-duty when a drunk driver hit her. She won her case, but the third party administrator is still denying her treatment.
After the Las Vegas Review-Journal published its first article highlighting the issues with the workers’ compensation system, Frankel decided to be the voice and face of all injured workers in Nevada and advocate for change, sharing her own story about her experience.