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Email: Chapter 23, Article 1, Section 1

§23-1-1. Regulation of the workers’ compensation system by the Insurance Commissioner; findings.

(a) As recognized by the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia in Wampler Foods, Inc. v. Workers’ Compensation Division, 216 W.Va. 129, 602 S.E.2d 805 (2004), and in recognition that a deficit of such critical proportions existed in the workers’ compensation fund that it constituted an immediate and long term threat to the solvency of the fund, as well as a substantial deterrent to the economic development of this state, and further that lawmakers are uniquely charged with the responsibility for passing laws designed to cure such serious concerns and that substantial deference is accorded to legislative actions aimed at doing so, it was and remains the intent of the Legislature that the amendments to this chapter enacted in the year 2003 be applied from the date upon which the enactment was made effective by the Legislature.

(b) It is the further intent of the Legislature that this chapter be interpreted so as to assure the quick and efficient delivery of indemnity and medical benefits to injured workers at a reasonable cost to the employers who are subject to the provisions of this chapter. It is the specific intent of the Legislature that workers’ compensation cases shall be decided on their merits and that a rule of “liberal construction” based on any “remedial” basis of workers’ compensation legislation shall not affect the weighing of evidence in resolving such cases. The workers’ compensation system in this state is based on a mutual renunciation of common law rights and defenses by employers and employees alike. Employees’ rights to sue for damages over and above medical and health care benefits and wage loss benefits are to a certain degree limited by the provisions of this chapter and employers’ rights to raise common law defenses, such as lack of negligence, contributory negligence on the part of the employee, and others, are curtailed as well. Accordingly, the Legislature hereby declares that any remedial component of the workers’ compensation laws is not to cause the workers’ compensation laws to receive liberal construction that alters in any way the proper weighing of evidence as required by §23-4-1g of this code.

(c) It is the intent of the Legislature, expressed through its enactment of legislation, to transfer the regulation of the workers’ compensation system to the Insurance Commissioner. By proclamation of the Governor, as authorized by §23-2C-1 et seq. of this code, the Workers’ Compensation Commission was terminated on December 31, 2005. To further the transition from the state-operated workers’ compensation system to a system of private insurance, the duties and responsibilities of the Workers’ Compensation Commission and the board of managers, including, but not limited to, ratemaking and adjudication of claims now reside with the Insurance Commissioner.