In our fast paced culture, one thing remains true despite the economic hit we have all taken – people at work suffer physical injuries. And, because Nevada’s two major industries, mining and resorts/gaming continue to do relatively well, one would assume that the rate of filing workers’ compensation claims would remain fairly constant despite the great recession.
However, based on many discussions I have had with multiple workers’ compensation claims adjustors, as well as my personal observations related to the reduction in the volume and number of litigated workers’ compensation matters, it appears as if our fellow employees are either experiencing fewer injuries than several years ago or, more likely, they are not reporting such injuries. Although much of the reduction in the sheer number of claims filed is clearly related to the dramatic depression in the Nevada construction industry, that problem does not explain the reduction in the rate of filing in the gaming and mining industries.
My friends in the insurance business believe that much of that reduction is based on fear; something, unhappily, all working folks have in common. Specifically, the fear is of losing your job while you are treating, and possibly off work, for an injury you suffered while doing that job. Luckily for all Nevadans, and Southern Nevadans in particular, the Las Vegas office of the Attorney General has an active and very competent fraud unit which, combined with the Nevada Division of Industrial Relations, aggressively regulates and punishes employers who fraudulently terminate their injured employees. The real problem is addressing the lack of knowledge both employers and employees have with respect to their rights under workers’ compensation law. So, if you are an employer or employee who has questions regarding what to do and what are the consequences of an injury at work, I encourage you to telephone the Nevada Division of Industrial Relations at (702) 484- 9080 or the Nevada Department of Insurance.