The amount of money employers would have to pay for employee discovery costs in workers’ compensation cases that go to settlement would increase under a measure introduced Thursday by New Mexico lawmakers.
New Mexico House Bill 455 would require employers to advance up to $10,000 in worker’s compensation cases where discovery is requested, up from the current maximum of $3,000.
Under the bill, if the injured worker prevails on the claim, any discovery costs advanced by the employer would be considered paid by the employer, but if the worker does not win, he or she would be required to reimburse the employer for those advanced. costs.
The measure would also raise the cap on total attorneys̵7; fees in comp cases by $10,000, stating that any attorneys’ fees on behalf of a plaintiff or an employer for a single injury claim cannot exceed $32,500, up from the current cap of $22,500.
The bill would allow a workers’ compensation judge to exceed the maximum amount of attorneys’ fees ordered to be paid if the judge finds there is “good cause” to do so, which could include the worker’s claim for permanent total disability benefits, if the worker’s injuries are severe, if further litigation occurs or if the arbitrator finds that a breach of the settlement has occurred.
The bill would also amend current law to remove language that makes it a misdemeanor punishable by fine and imprisonment to violate any provision of this part of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.