Work Comp Cost-Containment: IME Company May Fetch Billions

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In January, I wrote about how workers’ compensation has a cost-containment industrial complex that not only harms workers but also is a potential profit generator for groups like private-equity firms.

According to this link from The Wall Street Journal, a private-equity firm named Leonard Green & Partners LP recently submitted an offer to buy an IME company called Exam Works for $2.2 billion. Yes, that’s billion with a B.

“The insurance-defense-industrial-complex has become a multi-billion dollar enterprise,” as was noted on Aleksy Belcher Law Firm’s Facebook page earlier last week (Aleksy Belcher is a workers’ compensation plaintiff’s firm based in Chicago).

The Wall Street Journal article linked above talks about the hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue that Exam Works posted last year and also its purpose.

“It said it serves more than 6,000 clients globally, including property and casualty insurance carriers, law firms, third-party claim administrators and government agencies, helping them manage costs and enhance their risk-management and compliance processes,” according to The Wall Street Journal.

What this means for injured workers and their loved ones is that the big business and added bureaucracy of “cost-containment” may translate to even more profit at the expense of injured workers, going into the private-equity company’s pockets if the sale goes through.

The way IME companies are seen as potential profit centers for private-equity firms is one of the many reasons that if an IME – Independent Medical Exam – or DME – Defense Medical Exam – is ordered for an injured worker, that injured worker should seek the advice of an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer. Workers’ compensation lawyers advocate for injured workers and help them understand the workers’ compensation process, including IMEs, so the playing field of the workers’ compensation process might be a little more even. That way, cost containment, though not as profitable for private-equity firms, can give way to injured workers getting the medical treatment and compensation that they need to move on with their lives.

For those who do not subscribe to The Wall Street Journal, here’s a link from Reuters that includes information about the multi-billion dollar deal.

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore, which also sponsors the Trucker Lawyers website, are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Five attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 95 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska, Iowa and other states with Nebraska and Iowa jurisdiction. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

This entry was posted in Defense Medical Exam, DME, IME, Independent Medical Exam, legal and tagged , .

Remember Workers’ Memorial Day

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Workers' Memorial DayToday, April 28, 2016, is Workers’ Memorial Day. Every year, Nebraska honors workers who lost their lives on the job and their families with a ceremony on the steps of the State Capitol building, 1445 K St., in Lincoln. The ceremony begins at 7 tonight.

When I am in town, I attend. I am always angered, saddened, moved and ultimately encouraged after each ceremony. All of the deaths were preventable with more attention to safety. The pain and distress of the families is hard to see. The words and musical performances are heartfelt and genuine. The crowd, regardless of the weather, seems to be growing, which shows more concern for worker safety and workers’ compensation.

Come to the Capitol this year. Honor the departed workers and their families. Keep caring about workers and the laws that protect and compensate them. We have to remain vigilant and involved. I hope to see more new faces this year.

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore, which also sponsors the Trucker Lawyers website, are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Five attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 95 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska, Iowa and other states with Nebraska and Iowa jurisdiction. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

This entry was posted in Events, holidays, Workers' Compensation and tagged , , , .

NPR: Coffee Workers’ Concerns Brew Over Chemical’s Link To Lung Disease

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Today’s post comes from guest author Kristen Wolf of Causey Law Firm, a respected group of workers’ advocates in Seattle.

Although Seattle is obviously known for its coffee, boutique gourmet coffee roasting companies are popping up almost everywhere, even in our corner of the Great Plains. As this NPR article shows, there are some potential occupational concerns with a chemical called diacetyl that is a byproduct of the roasting process. This chemical, which is a natural, but not necessarily safe byproduct, contributes to lung disease and respiratory illness, particularly if the coffee that’s being roasted is flavored and if the chemical is found in high concentrations in the air. It is only a concern for those who are roasting or grinding a commercial amount of coffee, so most coffee drinkers need not worry.

Unfortunately, as is seen in the article below, regulators are slow to catch up with many workplace harms, especially when they cause occupational diseases. However, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) – “which can’t pass regulations on this, but can make recommendations – issued a draft version of guidance for safe exposure in August 2011 and expects to release a final version later this year,” according to the article. The article also explains that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) currently has “no plans to make rules regulating diacetyl exposure in workplaces.”

Although the coffee-drinking consumer is not in danger, workers at coffee roasters should explore their employers’ policies regarding workplace safety in general. As business owner Lincoln Fowler in Milwaukee said, he has established best practices in his airflow system to protect against chemicals like diacetyl, but also encourages overall safety, such as training workers to take care when lifting bags of coffee.

“I would argue that potential back problems are probably a much more significant threat,” he said in the article.

If you have an incident at work that results in an injury or an illness that you suspect is related to your work, please contact an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer for advice in the next steps to take to protect both health and safety.

Heard on Morning Edition, April 15, 2016.

Step into Mike Moon’s Madison, Wis., coffee roasting plant and the aroma of beans — from Brazil to Laos — immediately washes over you.

Moon says he aims to run an efficient and safe plant — and that starts the minute beans spill out of the roaster. He points to a cooling can that is “designed to draw air from the room over the beans and exhausts that air out of the facility. So it is really grabbing a lot of all of the gases coming off the coffee,” he explains.

Why are these gases so worrisome? Because they contain a chemical called diacetyl — a natural byproduct of the coffee roasting process that, in large concentrations, can infiltrate the lungs and cause a severe form of lung disease.

You might remember hearing about diacetyl several years ago, when a synthetic version of the chemical, which is used to give a buttery flavor to certain snack foods, was implicated in causing severe lung problems among workers at a microwave popcorn facility.

Now it looks like that chemical could affect the coffee world as well. People at home grinding or brewing up a pot need not worry, but the chemical could pose a danger to people working in commercial coffee roasting plants.

Read the rest of the story here…

 

Photo credit: Nic Taylor Photography viaFoter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

 

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore, which also sponsors the Trucker Lawyers website, are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Five attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 95 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska, Iowa and other states with Nebraska and Iowa jurisdiction. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

This entry was posted in Worker safety and tagged .

Tips on Your Workers’ Compensation Claim

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Today’s blog post comes from lawyer Thomas Domer, who is an advocate for injured workers through Domer Law Firm in Milwaukee, and he also teaches the workers’ compensation course at Marquette University. He writes about a talk he gave in New Orleans regarding three important tips for people making a workers’ compensation claim. These tips generally apply in Nebraska and Iowa, but workers’ compensation laws vary by state. So please speak with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer if you have questions about specifics regarding your experiences. Have a safe, productive day.

I just returned from New Orleans where I made a presentation to about 150 workers’ compensation lawyers (both for workers and for employers) on “Case and Client Evaluation In Workers’ Compensation”.

Since many in the audience represented insurance companies and employers, I paid particular attention to their response to my presentation. As one would expect, their best chance to win a case on behalf of the employer and insurance carrier occurs when several items come into play:

  1. When there is no actual report of the injury. [Worker’s Tip: No matter how small the work injury, make sure it is reported in some fashion – cell phone, voice recording, or Accident Report and the worker keeps a copy (BEST).]
  2. Failure to report that a work injury occurred to the first treating practitioner (whether Emergency Room, employer-directed medical facility, hospital, or primary care physician). The single most difficult hurdle in a workers’ compensation claim involving a traumatic injury occurs when no report of the injury is found in the initial medical record.
  3. In “Occupational Exposure” cases, no discussion with the doctor about work duties or prior incidents. (In Wisconsin, a worker can recover for workers’ compensation in one of two ways:
    1. A traumatic injury where a single incident has caused the disability (lifting a box, falling, etc.)
    2. Occupational Exposure, where the wear and tear of a worker’s job causes the disability over time. In this latter category, workers routinely do not indicate with any kind of specificity the type of work they perform when they see the doctor.

These three tips can help us as workers’ compensation lawyers win claims, more so than any “Clarence Darrow” court room techniques or strategies.

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore, which also sponsors the Trucker Lawyers website, are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Five attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 95 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska, Iowa and other states with Nebraska and Iowa jurisdiction. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

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Holdrege, Nebraska, BD Plant Cited by OSHA Again

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Becton, Dickinson and was recently fined by OSHA for workplace hazards leading to partial amputations of workers’ fingers.

“Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance.”

This paragraph from a recent news release gives an overview of OSHA’s role. In Nebraska, that role comes into focus when investigators look for safety violations, often after a workplace incident that causes injury, as was the case at Becton, Dickinson and Co. in Holdrege in 2015.

Earlier this month, the news release at the link describes how BD was cited for machine hazards in both April and September of 2015. However, in October, in two separate incidents, two different workers “suffered partial amputations of their index fingers” at the Holdrege manufacturing plant.

“The agency has proposed penalties of $112,700,” after finding one repeat and 12 serious safety violations when the amputations were investigated. Best wishes are being sent to the two workers whose lives were altered after their on-the-job injuries.

In this case, it is obvious that the workers’ injuries were related to these specific workplace incidents, because their amputations resulted in an OSHA investigation of the business. But sometimes there are questions when it comes to workers’ compensation in Nebraska. If a business or its insurance company questions or denies a workers’ compensation claim, then it’s time to get help from an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer. Our attorneys are licensed in both Nebraska and Iowa and have decades of experience helping injured workers in situations like the one above, so please contact us if you or a loved one have been hurt on the job.    

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore, which also sponsors the Trucker Lawyers website, are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Five attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 95 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska, Iowa and other states with Nebraska and Iowa jurisdiction. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

This entry was posted in OSHA, Penalties, Safety violations, workers' law and tagged , , .

Was It a Happy Equal Pay Day?

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On Tuesday, April 12, Equal Pay Day was observed. This is “the date that symbolizes how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year,” according to USA Today.

The date is April 12, unless you’re a mother (June 4), African American (July 8), Native American (Sept. 8), or Latina (Oct. 8). Though these dates vary according to the source used, they are all are relatively close to each other. The dates listed above were from 2015 and the source was an infographic from Family Forward Oregon that a friend recently posted on social media to promote discussion and awareness on Tuesday.

There are two questions that arise from this awareness. First, why care if you’re not in any of these categories? And second, now that you know equal pay is an issue, what can be done about it?

A couple of thoughts about question one – though you may not be represented in any of the categories above, 50.8 percent of people counted in the 2010 census were female and 47 percent of the total labor force are women. In addition, almost everyone has loved ones who are women, and for some family units, women are the primary wage earners. Equal pay is an issue of fairness that has both economic and social consequences when one person earns less than another for the same work, regardless of the reason why.

Regarding question two, the infographic from Family Forward Oregon has a few suggestions about actions to take, including making sure “all workers have access to paid family leave and paid sick time,” “making childcare more affordable,” and “STOP discriminating against women!” I would also encourage discussion with policymakers about the effects families when it comes to lack of equal pay. Though not impossible, I think it’s harder for a policymaker to look a worker in the eye and justify to her face why she is not worth just as much as her male counterpart.

Finally, there is the notion that certain jobs are less valuable than others, which is a societal issue, to be sure, as they have been called “women’s work” in the past. But these jobs can still be dangerous and should still justify living wages for a full day’s work to support loved ones, whether the worker is a man or women. This excellent article, “The Workers Caring For Our Grandparents Are Paid Poverty Wages,” by Bryce Covert via Twitter explains the situation for some workers, the majority of whom are women, in one such job. Please take the time to read it, as there is insightful information on a variety of issues and concerns that nursing assistants, people we are relying on to provide professional care for others, face. These issues include pay, training, understaffed facilities, safety, high injury rates, and high turnover rates.

There is nothing fair or equal about a worker who, while providing for her own family on a very meager salary, has the care and compassion to “buy soap, gloves, and even diapers when the supply runs out and the owners won’t buy more” because the elderly or disabled people who they are working for are also someone’s loved ones, and most importantly, it’s the right thing to do.

That’s why Equal Pay Day matters and why people should get paid the same for a similar position, regardless of gender, race, or family status. Because it’s the right thing to do.

*Image courtesy of FamilyForwardOregon.org

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore, which also sponsors the Trucker Lawyers website, are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Five attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 95 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska, Iowa and other states with Nebraska and Iowa jurisdiction. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

This entry was posted in rights for women and tagged , .

Back Injuries in Nursing – One Nifty Idea to Avoid Them

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Today’s post was written by guest author Kit Case from Causey Law Firm in Seattle, which is known for its advocacy for workers and issues in workers’ compensation.

Nurses have many challenges at work to consider, because healthy, happy people rarely have a need for regular nursing care or face a hospital or nursing home stay. Safety at work should be a priority for all, but it can be hard for nurses when needs are great, staffing is short, and the focus is on quality care for the patient and efficiency is important in a very hectic environment.

Did you know that “nursing personnel are among the highest at risk for musculoskeletal disorders”? That risk is right up there with the risk in professions like truckers, laborers, and other health care workers, according to the blog post below.

Examples of fixes for increased safety include a combination of increased staffing, more training for concerns like proper lifting techniques, and hospitals and institutions providing equipment that helps nurses and other health care workers avoid lifting challenges that lead to back problems.

If you or a loved one have been hurt at work, please contact an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer. In addition, when you (and loved ones) need nursing care, please take the time to thank nurses for their help in an environment that is often challenging.

The American Nursing Association’s Handle with Care campaign seeks to educate, advocate, and facilitate change from traditional practices of manual patient handling to emerging, technology-oriented methods. The campaign seeks to highlight how safe patient handling produces benefits to patients and the nursing workforce.  The ANA’s Handle with Care Fact Sheet provides the following thought-provoking data:

A Profession at Risk

  • Compared to other occupations, nursing personnel are among the highest at risk for musculoskeletal disorders. The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists RNs sixth in a list of at-risk occupations for strains and sprains that included nursing personnel, with nurses aides, orderlies and attendants (first); truck drivers (second); laborers (third); stock handlers and baggers (seventh); and construction workers (eighth).
  • Additional estimates for the year 2000 show that the incidence rate for back injuries involving lost work days was 181.6 per 10,000 full-time workers in nursing homes and 90.1 per 10,000 full-time workers in hospitals, whereas incidence rates were 98.4 for truck drivers, 70.0 for construction workers, 56.3 for miners, and 47.1 for agriculture workers.
  • Lower back injuries are also the most costly musculoskeletal disorder affecting workers. Studies of back-related workers compensation claims reveal that nursing personnel have the highest claim rates of any occupation or industry.
  • Research on the impact of musculoskeletal injuries among nurses:
    • 52 percent complain of chronic back pain;
    • 12 percent of nurses “leaving for good” because of back pain as main contributory factor;
    • 20% transferred to a different unit, position, or employment because of lower back pain, 12 percent considering leaving profession;
    • 38 percent suffered occupational-related back pain severe enough to require leave from work; and
    • 6 percent, 8 percent, and 11 percent of RNs reported even changing jobs for neck, shoulder and back problems, respectively.

One Possible Tool

The website idées créatives posted this elegant video of an automatic bed that could allow for patient repositioning and assist with moving into and out of the bed, shown in a nursing home or hospital setting.

 


 

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore, which also sponsors the Trucker Lawyers website, are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Five attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 95 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska, Iowa and other states with Nebraska and Iowa jurisdiction. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

This entry was posted in Safety and tagged .

Status of Worker’s Compensation in the United States

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WILG_logoLawyer Charlie Domer, from the Domer Law Offices in Milwaukee, originally wrote today’s blog post. This report from WILG (the Worker’s Injury Law & Advocacy Group) should be required reading for all who care about worker safety and workers’ compensation, as Domer writes below.

All of our firm’s lawyers are members of WILG, and Jon Rehm and I serve on the Board of Directors.

Here’s WILG’s mission statement: “Worker’s Injury Law & Advocacy Group is the national non-profit membership organization dedicated to representing the interests of millions of workers and their families who, each year, suffer the consequences of workplace injuries and illnesses. The group acts principally to assist attorneys and non-profit groups in advocating the rights of injured workers through education, communication, research, and information gathering.”

After reading the report, contact an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer with your questions or concerns about specifics.

For all those concerned about worker’s compensation in our country—which really is all citizens—take a look at this important report on the current status of worker’s compensation systems.  The report, from the Worker’s Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG) highlights the scary place where some legislators and big businesses want to take worker’s compensation.

Click here for the report. (PDF)

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore, which also sponsors the Trucker Lawyers website, are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Five attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 95 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska, Iowa and other states with Nebraska and Iowa jurisdiction. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

This entry was posted in Workers' Compensation and tagged , .