Rod Bordelon, the Commissioner of Texas’ Division of Workers’ Compensation, abruptly resigned from his position last week, possibly due to criticism that his division was too cozy with the insurers it was supposed to be regulating.
Bordelon’s resignation will officially take effect on August 1. In the meantime, both workers’ advocates and insurers alike have been buzzing about his reasons and how it could affect his division. Lawyers who represented the injured in disputes with insurance companies had claimed that Bordelon’s sympathies were tilted toward the insurers. Meanwhile, the insurers claimed that Bordelon treated them fairly.
Prior to the resignation, state lawmakers were in the process of studying the way Texas treated those who were injured or killed while working. Texas is the only state in the country that does not require all private employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance or a private equivalent. Although two-thirds of employers still carry workers’ compensation insurance, that leaves a substantial number of businesses that do not. With regard to the injured workers who are covered, the Division of Workers’ Compensation acts as a court-like system in order to determine whether injured workers are entitled to benefits. Bordelon recently acknowledged to members of the Business and Industry Committee that these injured workers lost a sizeable percentage of disputes in front of his agency.
At the same time, one attorney who represented injured workers claimed that Bordelon had “good intentions.” He noted that the true problem appeared to be a loss of autonomy. Bordelon was responsible for overseeing rules changes that removed autonomy from the hearing officers at his agency, who acted as judges by hearing and deciding cases that involved benefit disputes. As a result, injured workers were losing their claims at a “historically high” rate. Over the past six years, it had grown increasingly difficult for injured workers to even receive hearings and prove their claims.
Bordelon had insisted that Texas had a “terrific” system for workers who were injured on the job, and that during his time as head of the agency, the workers’ compensation claims and coverage rates had dropped significantly. He also claimed that more insurance carriers were getting punished with fines for behaving irresponsibly. Prior to his work with the Division of Workers’ Compensation, Bordelon occupied the position of Chief of Office of Public Insurance Counsel under Governor Perry.
Typically when a worker is injured, and the employer carries insurance, the worker will first file a claim. Workers’ compensation pays medical bills and replaces a portion of a worker’s lost wages. If an employer does not carry workers’ compensation insurance, he or she is required to notify the workers. For an injured worker, the compensation payments may be all he or she has to rely upon, which is why it is so important to ensure that the system treats workers fairly.
Those who have been injured in a workplace accident could be entitled to workers’ compensation, as well as compensation from any third party responsible. The experienced San Antonio personal injury attorneys at Carabin & Shaw may be able to help. Call our office today for more information at 1-800-862-1260.