Client story: Recently, a young automotive technician working at a small, independent repair shop, got a shard of glass embedded in his wrist when he got into a car that had recently had the windshield broken. The wound became infected, and “Joe” (who was only 24 at the time) required intravenous antibiotics and surgery to remove the piece of glass. The incident left him with limited mobility, which affected his ability to work as efficiently as he had prior to the accident. While he was recuperating, he received Workers’ Compensation at 40 percent of his pay. Additionally, after working with an experienced Workers’ Comp attorney, he was awarded a settlement of $7,000 for lost mobility. Last spring, the New York State Assembly asked the Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) to make recommendations for revising the payments workers such as Joe receive when they are injured on the job. According to Germain Harnden, executive director of the Western New York Council on Occupational Safety and Health (WNYCOSH), the Worker’s Compensation Board took the request of the legislature as an opportunity to reduce workers’ comp expenses for business. Their recommendations will cut protective regulations and affect the amount of benefits to injured workers. These… Continue Reading Businesses pressure Workers’ Comp to cut protections for workers injured on the job
After 18 months of review, VA Secretary David Shulkin announced last Wednesday that he will “further explore” adding ailments to the list of conditions that are compensable under the VA’s presumption that they were caused by exposure to Agent Orange. Veterans were hoping conditions like bladder cancer, Parkinson’s-like tremors, hypertension, and hypothyroidism would have been added to the list after the latest and final review of medical and scientific literature on Agent Orange was reported by the National Academy of Medicine. The NAM’s report found limited or suggestive evidence of association to herbicide exposure for bladder cancer and hypothyroidism. It also studied whether conditions with Parkinson’s-like symptoms should fall into the same category as Parkinson’s disease and found “no rational basis” for excluding them from the same risk category.
Col. Christopher de Los Santos’s family recently filed a lawsuit against University of California, Davis, after his suicide in October 2015. After leaving the military, Santos began working for UC Davis, but got into trouble during a weekend retreat with co-workers. One witness stated it was a booze cruise, and Santos misbehaved. After the incident, the university launched an investigation and the following day placed Santos on leave. He killed himself hours after receiving the email. The lawsuit alleges that the university administrators violated federal and state discrimination laws by treating him differently because he was a veteran. As his family’s attorney stated: “For them to have a knee-jerk reaction because an administrator in the Air Force might somehow be violent because he’s been in the military, I mean that’s blatant discrimination.”
In Somerset County, New Jersey, a woman recently suffered broken bones, had part of her ear bitten off, and required 60 stitches after an attached by her neighbor’s 150-pound dog. The dog apparently charged at the woman when she knocked on her next-door neighbor’s door. Her injuries include a broken hip and broken fingers. The dog that attacked her is a Dogo Argentino, also known as an Argentine Mastiff. The dog was taken into quarantine by animal control. The dog’s owner was issued three summonses, and a notice was filed in court to request a hearing to determine whether the dog is dangerous. On November 15, the judge will decide if the dog should be euthanized. In 2016, the same dog bit a man’s calf, which left him with a large laceration that required four stitches.
In Kansas City, MO, the now-closed Bannister Federal Complex was the site of exposure to toxic chemicals while the plant was in operation. This exposure may have caused severe illnesses and even death. More than 700 workers are now saying they are having a difficult time getting workers’ compensation benefits as they fight rare forms of cancer or severe diseases. EPA records show that there was a toxic spill of promethium 147 discovered in 1989 that had gone undiscovered for years. At the plant, safety measures were oftentimes not taken, nor protective gear provided. Those affected hope that the chemicals will be contained as part of the demolition process of the plant. Cleanup of the facility could begin before 2018.
Many myths surround personal injury claims, but it is important to have correct information in the unfortunate event you suffer an injury. Consulting with an experienced attorney is the first step to take. Even though you can technically represent yourself in court, you will have to contend with the defendant’s attorney and other representatives like claims adjusters. Secondly, most attorneys work on a contingency basis, which means they do not collect a fee unless you win your case. Additionally, this means that attorneys do not take frivolous personal injury cases just to win a plaintiff easy money because these are the cases most likely to get thrown out, which would be a waste of the attorney’s time and money. Furthermore, filing a personal injury claim does not necessarily mean you will have to go to court. Many cases are settled, which means your attorney will be in a position to negotiate a fair settlement that will take into account your best interests. You may also be compensated for emotional and psychological pain and suffering you experience as the result of a physical injury. Settlements and jury awards are not limited to compensating you for physical ailments.
Navy veteran Dan Parks was stationed at a submarine base in New London where he was exposed to ionized radiation. His discharge paperwork even includes a stamp that says he was being discharged, in part, because of his radiation exposure. Now, Mr. Parks has developed throat cancer, and VA doctors have written letters to the Department of Veterans Affairs stating there is a better than ever chance that the cancer was caused by his radiation exposure. The VA, however, has denied his claim, stating there is no proof he was exposed to radiation in the Navy. Mr. Parks received his denial three years after he filed his initial claim, and his appeal will not be looked at for another 18 months. As he stated: “If the VA won’t accept their own doctors, where does a veteran turn?”
During last month’s mass shooting in Las Vegas, several off-duty California police officers took decisive action and some were even injured. When they returned home, their workers’ compensation claims were denied. The California statute states that public agencies must pay benefits to off-duty officers hurt while they are involved in the protection or preservation of life or property, or the preservation of peace anywhere in the state, but it makes no mention of out-of-state incidents. Some attorneys believe that ambiguities in the legislation should be resolved by lawmakers. Others believe that preservation of life leaves no restrictions on the officer’s location at the time of the incident. The Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs stated: “Where the law is vague, the legislature has instructed the courts to liberally construe workers’ compensation statutes in favor of injured workers.” If the claims are approved, taxpayers may have to pay the officers’ medical bills, and the officers could be eligible for paid time off and early retirement.
More and more states are legalizing marijuana use for medical conditions, and employers are struggling to keep up with the changing laws. Courts in at least six states where medical marijuana use is legal have held that employers have a right to enforce zero tolerance drug policies. But recent cases in Rhode Island and Massachusetts could set a different precedent. In Rhode Island, the Superior Court held that an employer could not refuse to hire a cardholder for medical marijuana, even if the employee would fail a mandatory drug test as a prerequisite for employment. Similarly, in Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Supreme Court held that an employee who was terminated after testing positive for marijuana as a result of a lawful prescription may assert a claim of handicap discrimination under state law. They stated further that even if an employer has a drug policy prohibiting the use of medical marijuana, the employer has a duty to engage with the employee to determine if there are other equally effective alternatives. If not, the employer must show that the marijuana use would cause the company undue hardship.