It was on March 17, 2020, that Nevada Governor Sisolak closed all casinos and gaming establishments in Nevada and recommended the closure of all “non-essential” businesses. This has led to non-essential surgeries being cancelled, massive layoffs/furloughs, and the partial closure of the Department of Administration. Below is an update on how Coronavirus impacts workers’ compensation.
I have been very impressed with how the workers’ compensation insurance companies/ adjusters and the workers’ compensation doctors have been working to accommodate Nevada’s injured workers. I have not had any more than the usual difficulty getting a hold of adjusters, in fact I have found that most adjusters are even easier to get a hold of! From what I can tell all adjusters are working from home and have gone great lengths to be able to have full access to their files.
Workers’ compensation doctors have been continuing to treat injured workers. Most have established telemedicine capabilities and have been treating injured workers over the phone. This has been instrumental in the ability for injured workers to continue treatment with out negative implications on their claim. Doctors are continuing to give work restrictions if necessary, so injured workers can continue to receive TTD. Some doctors are still seeing patients in person, while complying with the CDC guidelines for cleanliness and minimal close contact.
Most employers have offered full pay to injured workers, while their businesses are shut down. The employers who cannot offer full pay have been proactive in informing their workers’ compensation insurance company that they no longer have light duty and that temporary total disability (TTD) benefits need to be paid. For employer who have not been proactive in informing the insurance company, it has been my experience that when I inform the insurance company, TTD is being processed and approved quickly.
The Department of Administration (workers’ compensation courthouse) tried hard at first to accommodate telephonic hearings and appeals, but quickly became overwhelmed as they had to minimize their staff. Unfortunately, this has led to an inability to conduct hearings or appeals. However, attorneys, claimants, insurers, and employers are still able to timely file hearing and appeal requests, no dates are being calendared yet. Rumor has it, the Department of Administration is working on their abilities to reopen in some capacity that may allow for the hearing of contested issues sooner rather than later.
The way the Las Vegas community comes together during a crisis never ceases to amaze me. While there is no doubt that Coronavirus is and will continue to effect Nevada workers’ compensation claims, I am incredible impressed with the efforts of attorneys on both sides, workers’ compensation insurers, adjusters, and doctors during these times. Injured workers’ and the community as a whole have continued to be #VegasStrong!
Let’s continue to work on our social distancing and follow the CDC guidelines for preventing the disease from spreading, so that we can stop the spread and return to normal as quickly as possible! In the meantime, my office continues to stay open and I can be reached by phone or email!