by | Aug 28, 2019

Changes to Nebraska Workers Compensation Act come into effect on September 1, 2019. In the last session, the Nebraska Legislature adopted Nebraska Revised Statute § 48-148.02 governing debt collection and workers’ compensation. This bill was supported by the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys.

The new law prevents collection by any “provider of services, supplier of services, collection agency, collector, or creditor” of a debt “incurred against an employee or his or her spouse for treatment of a work-related injury while the matter is pending in the compensation court until final adjudication of the case regarding such debt” after appropriate notice. The statute also provides that the notice given to providers regarding debt collection, requiring that the notice contain pertinent information about the injury under litigation. In addition, the statute provides that a second notice, sent 30 days after the first, shall list the pertinent date upon which collection should be stayed. Failure to provide this notice nullifies the protection in the act.

If debt collection efforts continue after proper notice is identified, the improper notice of collection or collection attempts are supposed to be forwarded to the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office/. The Attorney General then has the power to “take such reasonable steps as is necessary to ensure compliance with the act.”  Interestingly, the statute does not provide a specific private cause of action against those companies that violate the act. Finally, the act states the statute of limitations on debts tolled during the pendency of workers’ compensation litigation.

In short, these new laws are designed to protect workers’ compensation plaintiffs from debt collection while their case is under litigation.  If a medical bill is disputed during the course of a workers compensation action, collected efforts must be halted until the action has concluded.  For questions regarding Nebraska Workers’ Compensation, please contact attorneys Eric Sutton or Paul Barta at 402-475-1075.