Kim Frankel, a detective for the Washoe County sheriff’s office, was hit by a drunk driver while on duty. Fortunately she survived the crash, but was left with a traumatic brain injury, back injuries and whiplash, which left her facing extensive medical treatment. 

Randall Ralphs inhaled dangerous chemicals at work and developed reactive airway disease, leaving him with a total disability and unable to return to work. 

Since Frankel’s injuries and Ralphs’ illness occurred while they were on the job, who was liable for her medical bills, lost income and pain and suffering? 

If you’re an employee in Nevada, it’s important to understand your rights if you’re injured on the job. One of the most important laws to be aware of is workers’ compensation. Under this law, employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance to provide benefits to employees who are injured on the job. These benefits can include medical treatment, wage replacement, and compensation for permanent injuries or disabilities.

What Benefits Are Available Under Workers’ Compensation in Nevada? 

Medical treatment is perhaps the most critical benefit of workers’ compensation. If an employee is injured on the job, they have the right to receive medical treatment for your injuries, including doctor’s visits, hospitalization, surgery, and medication. It’s important for an injured employee to seek medical attention as soon as possible after an injury, even if it seems minor at first. A delay in seeking medical attention could jeopardize your claim for workers’ compensation benefits.

Wage replacement is another benefit of workers’ compensation. If the injury prevents an employee from working, they may be eligible for wage replacement benefits. These benefits can help to cover lost wages and can be paid for a limited period or until the worker is able to return to work.

In cases where an injury results in permanent impairment or disability, workers’ compensation benefits may include compensation for future medical treatment and loss of earning capacity. If the victim is unable to return to your previous job due to their injuries, they may be entitled to vocational rehabilitation to help them develop new skills and find new employment.

If an employee is unable to work due to a work-related injury, they may be eligible for temporary disability benefits to replace a portion of their lost wages. These benefits are designed to help injured workers maintain their financial stability while they recover from their injuries. Temporary disability benefits are typically paid at a rate of two-thirds of the worker’s average weekly wage and can be paid for up to 24 months. 

In some cases, a work injury or disease may result in a permanent disability that affects an employee’s ability to work and earn a living. If this happens, the employee may be eligible for permanent disability benefits to compensate for the long-term effects of their injury. Permanent disability benefits are typically calculated based on a worker’s impairment rating and their pre-injury wages. These benefits can help provide financial stability to injured workers and their families for the rest of their lives.

If a worker dies as a result of a work-related injury, their dependents may be eligible for death benefits. These benefits can include compensation for funeral expenses and ongoing financial support for the worker’s dependents. In some cases, death benefits may also include a lump sum payment to help cover immediate expenses. 

Are Pre-existing Conditions Covered Under Workers’ Compensation? 

If an employee has a pre-existing condition that is aggravated by a work-related injury, they may still be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. However, they will need to demonstrate that their job duties caused their condition to worsen. This can be a complex and challenging process, as insurance companies may try to argue that the pre-existing condition is solely responsible for the employee’s injury. 

Can a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Nevada Be Denied? 

Work Personal Injury

There are several defenses that can be used to deny a workers’ compensation claim. In most cases, there are strict deadlines that must be followed when an employee is injured on the job. The injured worker must provide notice of their injury within seven days and file a claim for compensation within 90 days. Failure to meet these deadlines may result in the claim being denied. 

Additionally, if drugs or alcohol are found in the injured worker’s system following the injury, the claim may be denied as it is assumed that they were the cause of the injury. Similarly, if the injury was intentionally caused by the worker, the claim may be denied. In cases where the worker has intentionally misrepresented information to obtain benefits, the claim will be denied and they may face prosecution.

New Nevada Legislation: the “Bad Faith” Clause

For Kim Frankel, her workers’ compensation case has yet to be resolved. After suffering injuries in her car accident with a drunk driver, she was diagnosed with a movement disorder called dystonia that causes muscles to contract voluntarily.  She has since struggled to receive compensation and treatment from her workers’ compensation claim

Frankel has pushed Nevada state senator Skip Daly to sponsor legislation in the 2023 Legislature to help her and others who have been stuck in the workers’ compensation system. The proposed bill aims to sunset the statute that limits insurers’ or third-party administrators’ liability and allow for “bad faith civil remedies.” The legislation would also raise penalty thresholds from around $5,000 to $15,000.

Though the bill has faced opposition from insurance companies, Frankel believes that a “bad faith” clause is essential for deterring malicious and retaliatory mishandling of claims. The clause would not erode the state’s “exclusive remedy” provision, which prevents injured employees from suing their employers if they have workers’ compensation insurance.

Navigating the legal landscape after an accident can be complex. For instance, understanding the timeline for filing a car accident lawsuit or knowing the appropriate timeframe to report an accident is crucial. Additionally, with the advent of technology, being aware of Nevada’s self-driving laws can be beneficial. These procedures and regulations are in place to protect individuals and ensure a fair legal process.

Despite skepticism from some about the bill’s chances, Frankel hopes that the legislation will provide recourse for injured workers, as she believes her own claim was handled maliciously, resulting in a denial of treatment and a worsening of her condition.

If you have been injured or developed an illness in the workplace, you need an experienced legal team to fight for your rights and the compensation you are entitled to. Contact us or call 702-680-1111 for a free consultation. 

As founder of Gina Corena & Associates, she is dedicated to fighting for the rights of the people who suffer life-changing personal injuries in car, truck and motorcycle accidents as well as other types of personal injury. Gina feels fortunate to serve the Nevada community and hold wrongdoers accountable for their harm to her clients.

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