My legislator said he voted to make our workers compensation laws better for the people of our state, is he telling the truth?
No, the new laws do not help the worker at all. One major change that was made is a new law was written to say:
§ 71-3-7 In all claims in which no benefits, including disability, death and medical benefits, have been paid, the claimant shall file medical records in support of his claim for benefits when filing a petition to controvert. If the claimant is unable to file the medical records in support of his claim for benefits at the time of filing the petition to controvert because of a limitation of time established by Section 71-3-35 or Section 71-3-53, the claimant shall file medical records in support of his claim within sixty (60) days after filing the petition to controvert.
Prior to this law, anyone had access to the court system for workers’ compensation claims. Now you either have to hope and pray the insurance company does the right thing and accepts the claim, or you have to go out and pay for medical records and find a doctor willing to say that your symptoms were caused by a work injury. Often this is difficult early on because not enough information is known about the injury early in the process, and unless you can afford your own treatment you can’t get what you need to prove that the injury was work related. This is a bit of a chicken before the egg problem that will prevent a new class of people who cannot afford their own doctor from having access to the Court system.
It is unfortunate that our lawmakers saw fit to pass a law like this, and we expect to see challenges to the constitutionality of the law in the future. In the meantime, if your claim is being denied by an employer or workers’ compensation carrier, you should seek legal advice from a reputable workers’ compensation lawyer to see how you are affected by this new law and what your options are.
Rogen K. Chhabra