On August 15-16, the Division of Industrial Relations (DIR) held its annual educational conference for anyone interested in the Nevada workers' compensation system. I was unable to attend many of the break-out sessions, but was present for the panel discussions with the key DIR employees responsible for insurer compliance with the law.
Previously, I wrote in a blog post that DIR had provided me with statistics on the number of complaints that result in actual violations of the law by insurers, the number of fines assessed, and the number of cases in which a benefit penalty is awarded to an injured worker. It is generally the feeling among attorneys who represent injured workers that the DIR was not doing an adequate job in ensuring that insurers comply with the law. I had asked for statistics on complaints to determine whether this perception had a legitimate basis.
The first time I asked questions regarding the DIR's research department's recent email to me with last year's statistics, I was told to return the next day to ask the questions. I did, and I wasn't at all satisfied with the answers. Don Smith, Esq., Senior Division Counsel, and Chuck Verre, Chief Administrative Officer for DIR told me that they didn't think the statistics I had been given by Ruth were accurate. However, they couldn't give me actual numbers themselves because they said they had a bad computer system. They both thought that the number of benefit penalties that had been awarded was greater than 8 for the last fiscal year.
Several of us trouble-maker attorneys reminded DIR that they are obligated to keep statistical information pursuant to statute and to make the information public. I think Donald Jayne, Administrator for DIR was sincere in his promise to us that DIR would get better computer programs so that accurate statistical information is available. While the answers DIR gave us about their investigation process were lame, I think the conference did hammer home the point that DIR needs to do a better job for injured workers.