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Introduced Version House Bill 2209 History

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H. B. 2209

 

         (By Delegate Walters)

         [Introduced January 12, 2011; referred to the

         Committee on the Judiciary.]

 

 

 

 

A BILL to amend and reenact §23-5-1 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, relating to improving claimants’ access to workers’ compensation adjusters by requiring that all workers’ compensation adjusters employed by a private insurance carrier shall be located within the geographic borders of West Virginia.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:

    That §23-5-1 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended and reenacted to read as follows:

ARTICLE 5. REVIEW.

§23-5-1. Notice by commission or self-insured employer of decision; procedures on claims; objections and hearing.

    (a) The Insurance Commissioner, private carriers and self-insured employers may determine all questions within their jurisdiction. All adjusters employed by a private insurance carrier shall be located within the geographic borders of West Virginia. In matters arising under subsection (c), section eight, article two-c of this chapter, and under articles three and four of this chapter, the Insurance Commissioner, private carriers and self-insured employers shall promptly review and investigate all claims. The parties to a claim are the claimant and, if applicable, the claimant's dependants, and the employer, and with respect to claims involving funds created in article two-c of this chapter for which he or she has been designated the administrator, the Insurance Commissioner. In claims in which the employer had coverage on the date of the injury or last exposure, the employer's carrier has sole authority to act on the employer's behalf in all aspects related to litigation of the claim. With regard to any issue which is ready for a decision, the Insurance Commissioner, private carrier or self-insured employer, whichever is applicable, shall promptly send the decision to all parties, including the basis of its decision. As soon as practicable after receipt of any occupational pneumoconiosis or occupational disease claim or any injury claim in which temporary total benefits are being claimed, the Insurance Commissioner, private carrier or self-insured employer, whichever is applicable, shall send the claimant a brochure approved by the Insurance Commissioner setting forth the claims process.

    (b) (1) Except with regard to interlocutory matters, upon making any decision, upon making or refusing to make any award or upon making any modification or change with respect to former findings or orders, as provided by section sixteen, article four of this chapter, the Insurance Commissioner, private carrier or self-insured employer, whichever is applicable, shall give notice, in writing, to the parties to the claim of its action. The notice shall state the time allowed for filing a protest to the finding. The action of the Insurance Commissioner, private carrier or self-insured employer, whichever is applicable, is final unless the decision is protested within sixty days after the receipt of such decision unless a protest is filed within the sixty-day period, the finding or action is final. This time limitation is a condition of the right to litigate the finding or action and hence jurisdictional. Any protest shall be filed with the office of judges with a copy served upon the parties to the claim, and other parties in accordance with the procedures set forth in sections eight and nine of this article. An employer may protest decisions incorporating findings made by the Occupational Pneumoconiosis Board, decisions made by the Insurance Commissioner acting as administrator of claims involving funds created in article two-c of this chapter or decisions entered pursuant to subdivision (1), subsection (c), section seven-a, article four of this chapter.

    (2) (A) With respect to every application for benefits filed on or after July 1, 2008, in which a decision to deny benefits is protested and the matter involves an issue as to whether the application was properly filed as a new claim or a reopening of a previous claim, the party that denied the application shall begin to make conditional payment of benefits and must promptly give notice to the office of judges that another identifiable person may be liable. The office of judges shall promptly order the appropriate persons be joined as parties to the proceeding: Provided, That at any time during a proceeding in which conditional payments are being made in accordance with the provisions of this subsection, the office of judges may, pending final determination of the person properly liable for payment of the claim, order that such conditional payments of benefits be paid by another party.

    (B) Any conditional payment made pursuant to paragraph (A) of this subdivision shall not be deemed an admission or conclusive finding of liability of the person making such payments. When the administrative law judge has made a determination as to the party properly liable for payment of the claim, he or she shall direct any monetary adjustment or reimbursement between or among the Insurance Commissioner, private carriers and self-insured employers as is necessary.

    (c) The office of judges may direct that:

    (1) An application for benefits be designated as a petition to reopen, effective as of the original date of filing;

    (2) A petition to reopen be designated as an application for benefits, effective as of the original date of filing; or

    (3) An application for benefits or petition to reopen filed with the Insurance Commissioner, private carrier or self-insured employer be designated as an application or petition to reopen filed with another private carrier, self-insured employer or Insurance Commissioner, effective as of the original date of filing.

    (d) Where an employer protests a written decision entered pursuant to a finding of the Occupational Pneumoconiosis Board, a decision on a claim made by the Insurance Commissioner acting as the administrator of a fund created in article two-c of this chapter, or decisions entered pursuant to subdivision (1), subsection (c), section seven-a, article four of this chapter, and the employer does not prevail in its protest, and in the event the claimant is required to attend a hearing by subpoena or agreement of counsel or at the express direction of the office of judges, then the claimant, in addition to reasonable traveling and other expenses, shall be reimbursed for loss of wages incurred by the claimant in attending the hearing.

    (e) The Insurance Commissioner, private carrier or self-insured employer, whichever is applicable, may amend, correct or set aside any order or decision on any issue entered by it which, at the time of issuance or any time after that, is discovered to be defective or clearly erroneous or the result of mistake, clerical error or fraud, or with respect to any order or decision denying benefits, otherwise not supported by the evidence, but any protest filed prior to entry of the amended decision is a protest from the amended decision unless and until the administrative law judge before whom the matter is pending enters an order dismissing the protest as moot in light of the amendment. Jurisdiction to issue an amended decision pursuant to this subsection continues until the expiration of two years from the date of a decision to which the amendment is made unless the decision is sooner affected by an action of an administrative law judge or other judicial officer or body: Provided, That corrective actions in the case of fraud may be taken at any time.



 

    NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to improve claimants’ access to workers’ compensation adjusters by requiring that all workers’ compensation adjusters employed by a private insurance carrier be located within the geographic borders of West Virginia.


    Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from the present law, and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.

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