Injured detective vows to deal with disabling condition & change Workers’ Comp law

Kim Frankel was injured as a peace officer and said the worker's compensation system has not treated her fairly. She wants to help others.
Published: Dec. 30, 2022 at 6:23 PM PST
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Industrial insurance--Workers’ Comp--is there to insure timely care for employees injured on the job.

It’s an implied promise to all workers--including those in the public sector, like law officers who can be expected any moment to put their lives on the line. In Kim Frankel’s case, that promise was broken.

In July 2020, she was 16-year veteran at the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office, a decorated deputy, respected by her peers, working at what she describes as her dream job--investigating sex crimes against children.

Then on duty, her county vehicle was struck by a drunk driver. She suffered whiplash and a concussion and soon returned to work on light duty.

Then painful, incessant, involuntary contractions began. Her hands, clenched, her feet unsteady. It was six months before she had a diagnosis and heard the word ‘dystonia’, a neurological disorder that can be caused by damage to regions of the brain that control movement.

That should have been followed by treatment. Doctors advised her there was a narrow window for it to be effective.

In her case, the cruel reality was the county she served denied her that chance, sending her to a series of independent medical examiners, apparently hoping for a different answer, always getting the same diagnosis, all the time the clocking ticking away, her chance for recovery with .it.

She’s won all her appeals, and prevailed in court, but the county has never changed its answer. Why? They’ve declined comment, but a short answer may be because they can.

When the workers’ comp system was privatized in 1995, the legislature removed the bad faith clause, leaving workers who believe they’ve been unjustly denied no recourse. “Erasing the bad faith clause gave employers the power to just dispose of employees,” says Frankel.

She lost her career and her home, but supported by her family, she’s finally found treatment at the Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland, but she’s paying for it herself.

One might expect her to now concentrate on her own health, but she’s discovered there’s nothing unique about her story. “There are thousands of injured Nevada workers that don’t have a support system. They’re single income moms or single income dads or single income families and they need treatment and they’re not getting it.”

She’s determined to help them.

She has gained some allies. Among those who saw our earlier story is a former assemblyman and newly elected State Sen.Richard “Skip” Daly. “Someone needs to step up and say ‘enough’s enough’ and make sure injured are properly take care of.” He’ll be working with Republican Assemblywoman Jill Dickman on a reform bill during the upcoming session..

And Kim Frankel promises to be in Carson City pushing for change.

“My reality now is that this is a permanent condition that I have to learn to live with. but I can make a change for others now and in the future. That is at the top of my list. It’s my new challenge besides learning how to live and fight dystonia every day.”


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