This was published on the Las Vegas Review Journal on April 12, 2023.
Voting along party lines, the Senate Committee on Commerce and Labor passed a heavily amended bill Wednesday that will make significant changes to the workers’ compensation system.
Senate Bill 274, sponsored by Sparks Democrat state Sen. Skip Daly, initially would have allowed injured workers to sue insurance companies and third-party administrators for handling their cases in bad faith, but that part of the bill was removed. Instead, it will focus on penalties awarded to injured workers if insurance companies violate workers’ compensation laws and regulations.
The bill was amended to change the fines from a proposed minimum of $15,000 to $17,000 and a maximum of $200,000 to $120,000 against insurance companies for violating workers’ compensation laws and regulations, according to the amendment.
The time frame for when the penalty must be paid to the injured worker was increased from 10 days to 15 days, and the bill would require the administrator of the Division of Industrial Insurance to publish information about benefit penalties imposed on various entities.
When the administrator receives a complaint or suspicion of a violation, the administrator must inform the parties involved promptly and must initiate an investigation within 30 days.
The time frame for when an injured worker can file a request for a hearing before an appeals officer was increased from 100 days to 120 days after the date on which an unanswered written request was mailed to the administrator.
The bill would only apply to claims filed after it goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2024, assuming it passes the Legislature and is signed into law by the governor; it would not apply to claims filed before that date.
Republicans Jeff Stone and Carrie Buck, both R-Henderson and Scott Hammond, R-Las Vegas, all voted against the legislation.