Senate Bill 335, recently approved in the Senate Labor, Public Employment and Retirement Committee and recently sent to the Appropriations Committee, is best known for its proposal to decrease the time for employers or claims examiners to accept or deny liability for an alleged work-related claim.  However, SB 335 is set to make a total of four substantial changes, outlined as follows:   

  • Shorten the time an employer has to deny liability from 90 days to 45 days;
  • Shorten the time an employer has to deny presumptive injuries for firefighters and first responders from 90 days to 30 days;
  • Potentially increase compensation for claims “unreasonably delayed or refused” by 10% with no cap (changed from a 25% increase and cap at $10,000);
  • Increase the amount of employer-funded medical care while the claim is being investigated to $17,000, up from $10,000.

Opponents of the bill point to conflicting existing law, including the fact the qualified medical evaluators have 60 days to schedule an evaluation and 30 days to complete a report.  Additionally, opponents argue the bill attempts to resolve a non-existent problem and points to statistics by PRISM that 13% of claims are denied and 10% remain denied after investigation. 

Undoubtedly, the shortened decision time of 30 and 45 days under SB 1159 for COVID-19 work-related claims is an unmentioned influencer of Senate Bill 335.