South Dakota Officials Consider Speedy Claims Process for Injured Workers

February 1, 2006

Workers in South Dakota with medical bills from job-related injuries or illnesses could find it easier to recover expenses by using a procedure similar to small claims court, according to an Associated Press story.

The South Dakota House Judiciary Committee approved a bill 11-2 that would allow recovery of expenses up to $8,000 when insurance companies that provide workers’ compensation coverage question paying it or if self-insured businesses do not pay those claims.

State legislators were told that attorneys often don’t want to take on such small cases because there’s not enough profit in them.

James Marsh, director of the state division of labor and management, said a small claims procedure for some worker’s compensation claims would eliminate legal fees since neither side would need to use lawyers. Marsh did not support or oppose the proposal.

An official from the State Bar agreed that the procedure would be efficient and economical.

HB1165, which will be considered next by the full House. If enacted, the Labor Department would be charged with establishing the program.

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