One of the ways an insurance company manages its risk of losses is to require insured people to sign damage release forms. A damage release provides that the insurer has satisfied its obligations with respect to a particular claim. The typical case where a release form is requested comes when an insurance company makes a payment which, in its view, satisfies its obligations toward the insured with respect to a claim.
In a simple case, such as when the insured has made a claim for well-understood and easily quantified property damage, providing a release may have little downside. But in more complex cases, damages may only come to light over time. Cases involving personal injury are often like this, simply because recovery doesn’t always follow a predictable course. People who are dealing with complicated situations should be mindful of a couple important features of damage releases.
The first is that a release may not be completely obvious. Although an insurer may risk being accused of bad faith or unfair tactics, it may nevertheless try to “hide” a damage release. It might do this by incorporating the release into a bigger document that it asks the insured to sign. Or it may make the release automatic upon the insured cashing a check. Reading everything the insurance company sends to you is critically important. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
A second important feature is that a valid damage release may prevent reopening a claim. The reason insurance companies ask for releases is to give them certainty that their obligation with respect to a claim is finished. There are perfectly valid reasons why insurers want to do this. It helps them close their financial books and keep tabs on their risk. But for the insured it can also create a significant problem if the initial claim didn’t capture the full scope of losses from an incident. By signing a damage release the insured may close—and lock—the door to getting additional coverage for a loss. A sympathetic agent at the insurer may have no option to reopen the claim once the release has been signed.
In a case where the injured person is being helped by an attorney the best course of action is to let the attorney handle the insurance process. An experienced personal injury attorney has the training to understand the technicalities of insurance claims and can recognize when something isn’t right. Protecting clients from inadvertently signing away their rights to better coverage is just one small part of the bigger picture.
For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury cases. Our attorneys are available for free consultations to discuss your injury, your insurance options, and the legal particulars of your case. We can be reached at 702-388-4476, or ask us to call you through our contact page.
Just about every kind of work involves the possibility of injury. People who work in risky professions like construction, law enforcement, or firefighting know that the risk of injury comes with the job. But even desk workers can develop repetitive motion injuries. Fortunately, Nevada’s workers’ compensation law provides injured workers with a range of protections and benefits to help them get back on their feet after suffering an injury at work.
1. Medical treatment.
The most important benefit of workers’ compensation coverage is medical treatment for injuries. Serious injuries can require treatments with costs ranging into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. By requiring employers to carry insurance, Nevada protects employees from being financially ruined solely because of a work-related injury.
The scope of medical treatment coverage is not boundless. A few of its characteristics include the following:
- Only treatment for conditions related to an injury that arises out of and in the course of employment will be covered. NRS 616C.137. An insurer, third-party administrator, or employer may review each invoice and deny coverage for any services that they believe fall outside the scope of the work-related injury. This can be a problem when an insurer believes that an injury is not as serious as the worker’s physician believes, or if the worker needs care that appears to be outside the scope of the injury, even though it is appropriate (for example, psychological counseling after a serious fall).
- Injured workers have the right to choose a doctor from a prescribed list of approved physicians, however the insurer can require evaluations by a doctor of the insurer’s choosing.
- Doctors who prescribe medication to workers’ comp recipients must prescribe generic versions, unless the generic form is not medically beneficial or more expensive than the branded version. NRS 616C.115.
- If problems from an injury persist after the initial period of coverage has closed, the worker may request a reopening of benefits.
2. Disability benefits.
An injured worker is entitled to temporary and permanent disability benefits when appropriate. The level of disability determines the kind of compensation that is available:
- Workers are placed on temporary total disability if they are unable to return to work for more than five days. Such workers are entitled to receive two-thirds of their average monthly wage, up to a maximum of about $3,700 per month, until they return to work or until their medical treatment has run its course.
- Workers are placed on temporary partial disability if their injuries prevent them from returning to their old position, but they can still return to work on light duty. Such workers receive two-thirds of their normal pay, less the amount they earn doing light duty work for up to 24 months.
- Workers are placed on permanent total disability if their injuries are serious enough to make working impossible. Such workers receive the same rate as someone who is temporarily totally disabled, but for the duration of the permanent disability (possibly for life).
- Workers are placed on permanent partial disability if their injuries impair part, but not all of their ability to work. A permanent partial disability is given a percentage value to reflect the amount by which it impairs the person’s ability to work. The percentage is used to determine how much monthly compensation the worker is entitled to receive.
3. Vocational rehabilitation services.
Injured workers who aren’t able to return to their old positions may qualify for vocational rehabilitation services. These services help injured workers find other work or get retrained. The length of time such benefits will be available depend on how the worker’s disability is categorized.
GGRM is a Las Vegas workers’ compensation law firm
For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped clients protect their rights to workers’ compensation benefits. If you have questions about Nevada’s workers’ compensation laws, reach out to us today for a free, confidential attorney consultation. Call us at 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site.