It’s good news for injured workers that at the last hour of the 2009 legislative session, on May 31, 2009, the Assembly and the Senate reaffirmed Senate Bill 195, overturning the governor’s veto. Section 3 of S.B. 195 requires that permanent partial disability evaluators continue to use the 5th edition of the American Medical Association’s Guide to Evaluation of Permanent Impairment. Had this bill not passed, rating doctors would have been required to use the 6th edition of the Guides. It was the consensus among rating doctors and attorneys for injured workers that most awards for serious injuries under the 6th edition would be significantly lower.
The law regarding notice of claim closure was amended to require that the insurer notify the injured worker whether or not a rating evaluation was being scheduled, and the reason why a rating was not being scheduled, in section 6 of Assembly Bill 281. Currently, the Notice of Claim Closure form does not give the injured worker any information about the scheduling of a rating evaluation. This amendment to the law will at least put an injured worker on notice that his treating physician has informed the insurer that there is no likelihood of impairment, and that a rating is not being scheduled. The injured worker can then evaluate options for obtaining a rating at his or her own expense with a doctor assigned from the rotating list, and perhaps file an appeal of the insurer’s determination to close the claim without a rating.
Section 7 of S.B. 195 allows a rating doctor to consider psychological impairment during a rating for those rare stress claims accepted under the narrow confines of NRS 616C. 180. Only physical impairment can be considered for all other claims.