Recently, there has been a significant debate in the New Hampshire house legislature about a rather mundane bill to most people. For the past year or so, Attorney Rory Parnell has attended multiple hearings and spoken to many legislators in New Hampshire in support of a direct deposit bill in workers’ compensation cases.
The bill itself is very straight forward. If an injured employee is out for six weeks or more, the employee can elect to receive their indemnity benefits (a weekly wage check) via direct deposit. The current rule allows for insurers to mail the wage checks each week the worker is out due to a work injury. Unfortunately, the mail is unreliable due to issues with mail carriers, holidays, and delays by the workers’ compensation insurer delaying payments. For those that are reliant on the check each week to pay bills, even a day or two delays can cause havoc on their finances. Now, with the bill set to be signed into law by Governor Sununu, such delays should be a thing of the past.
While this is an important victory for workers’ compensation claimants, it took many meetings and hours of work by many New Hampshire attorneys and their clients to get this passed. When the original bill was proposed, Marissa Chase, the legislative lobbyist for the New Hampshire Association for Justice (NHAJ) put in countless hours to lobby senators and house members alike in support of this bill. This bill will save insurers time and money, and provide the reliability our injured clients need during the stressful time they are unable to work.
However, there are many hearings, meetings, and committee meetings for such bills. It is important for the legislature to know that the work they are doing will help their constituents. And, while we met resistance from the insurance lobbyists, ultimately through testimony and hard work the bill was able to be passed by the House and Senate.
This civic duty of engagement is something many more people should think about exercising. The State of New Hampshire publishes pending bills and invites the public to speak in support of or against such proposals. However, many people are either unaware or unable to attend such meetings or hearings, as it is often inconvenient and difficult to attend. Attorney Parnell and the rest of NHAJ are proud of all the work the plaintiff’s attorneys and their clients put into getting this bill passed.
At Parnell, Michels & McKay, we try to stay involved in both our community and the formation of the laws that regulate us when we can get an opportunity to do so. If you are interested in the ways our firm can help you when you face problems under the law, or with a particular pending bill, contact us and find out how we can help you.