I recently attended a nationwide workers' compensation conference in Las Vegas. The conference was really geared towards employers, insurers, doctors who perform Independent Medical Evaluations, private investigators, and others who work directly or indirectly for employers or insurers.
Among the people who spoke at the convention was Bill Minick, a Texas lawyer who has devoted his entire life to getting states to opt out of state workers' compensation laws and write their own rules. Never have I seen such a bald-faced liar. A lobbyist for the insurance industry accurately described the pitfalls associated with Minick's scheme. (Yes, you heard right: The folks defending injured workers were in the workers' compensation insurance industry).
The people in the audience did not know enough about the law to realize what a liar Minick is.
In a nutshell, let me describe the type of system that he wants in every state. Imagine you're injured in a motor vehicle accident caused by the negligence of the other driver. You show up for your day in court, and lo and behold, sitting in the judge's chair is the driver who hit you. You look over the jury box, and they're filled with his relatives. The attorney on the other side? His brother.
That's the system that Bill Minick is pushing for.
Under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), employers can provide disability benefits to employees. The decision they make on whether to grant benefits or not has the same force as a decision by a jury. Your appeal rights are extremely limited, and the federal court to whom you appeal must give the decision of the insurance company the same deference it would give to a decision by an entirely independent judge. Sound fair? It isn't. If you suffer a severe injury in a state where Minick has already done his damage, you can expect your family to be quickly impoverished. To learn more, read “Inside Corporate America’s Campaign to Ditch Workers’ Comp.”