The National Association of Independent Insurers (NAII) objected to a recent New Hampshire Supreme Court ruling determining that interest on workers’ compensation payments run from the date of loss rather than the date the employer first became aware of the impairment, arguing that such an arrangement could result in abuses by trial lawyers and expansion into other workers’ comp areas.
“Because of the possibility of abuses on this ruling, we’re focusing on drafting legislation to clarify the Supreme Court ruling,” said Gerald L. Zimmerman, senior counsel for the National Association of Independent Insurers (NAII). “It’s not fair to whack industry and insurers with interest from the Department of Labor because a disability can’t be determined permanently until the end of the medical treatment. This will hurt industry because workers’ comp rates will increase.”
Zimmerman pointed out that the Supreme Court ruling could be applied to other workers’ compensation areas such as late TTD or medical payments. “Imagine if employee attorneys start requesting copies of insurance company payments and start going after interest on all areas of the case,” he said. “The implications are sobering and the plaintiff’s trial bar will now have an economic incentive to delay settlement.”
NAII is currently drafting language to address the case in the 2003 legislative session, which specifies that interest on fees and interest be computed from the date the employer is notified of the permanent partial disability.