Arizona Bill Would Ban Lawsuits Against Workers Comp Insurance Companies for Bad Faith, Delays
A bill that is currently making its way through the Arizona House of Representatives would ban lawsuits against workers comp insurance companies for denying claims in bad faith.
The proposed bill, HB 2455, passed the House Committee on Insurance and Retirement 4-3, and will advance to the Rules Committee. HB 2455 proposes to give exclusive jurisdiction of bad faith claims against workers comp companies to the Industrial Commission of Arizona. If the Industrial Commission determines that the workers comp insurance company denied an injured worker’s claim in bad faith, then the commission can award the employee up to $5,000 for personal losses, and $10,000 maximum to the state.
Garrick Taylor with the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, who supports the bill, said that the proposed measure applies only to private sector workers comp insurance claims, and not to public or government employees like emergency workers and firefighters.
“The best place to settle bad-faith claims and workers’ compensation cases is at the Industrial Commission, not in a trial court,” he said.
However, opponents of the bill are concerned regarding the limitation to any employee, whether public or private sector. Constitutional attorney Richard Langerman insists that all employees must have legal recourse to recoup their losses in any bad faith insurance suit.
“If they delay your payments and you lose your home, they don’t have to pay for the economic harm they caused you,” Langerman said about how HB 2455 would affect workers.
One Arizona resident has strong concerns about the potential changes to workers comp law. Shawntelle Allen worked for St. Vincent de Paul last year when a 600-lb refrigerator fell on her lower leg, breaking it. Because the injury did not heal properly, she was unable to return to work and developed a permanent bone infection.
However, her workers comp claim was denied – in bad faith – because of the wound’s failure to heal.
“I definitely want to pursue that bad faith,” Allen said. “I don’t think that it’s fair that they (insurance companies) have that much power.”
Allen says that the cap on workers comp payouts from the Industrial Commission would cover a small percent of her $30,000 in medical bills.
“I think that me being a small, little insignificant person – not having any kind of power – I need someone’s help,” she said. “I need someone to help me fight for what’s fair for me and my family.”
The Strom Law Firm Can Help with Workers Comp Claims in South Carolina
The workers comp lawyers at The Strom Law Firm, LLC proudly seek justice on behalf of employees injured or killed on the job who work for private companies, as well as employees working for local county, city, and state government. We are licensed to practice throughout South Carolina, as well as Georgia and New York. If you are confused about worker’s comp laws, or have had your worker’s comp claim denied, contact us. We offer free consultations to discuss the facts of your case.803.252.4800.