Monthly Archives: September 2011

5 Things to know if you get injured on the job

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Here are five critical things to keep in mind if you ever find yourself injured while at work.
  1. Report your injury immediately with as much detail as possible. Keep telling them until they fill out accident forms. Get copies of the forms if possible.
  2. Seek medical treatment immediately with your family doctor if you have one. Tell the doctor that your injury is work-related and explain exactly how the injury happened. If a repetitive injury, explain what you do at your job. Then follow your doctor’s treatment plan and attend all medical appointments.
  3. Get documentation of your work restrictions and keep a copy with you at work at all times. If an issue comes up about your ability to do a specific task notify your supervisor of your restrictions immediately. Don’t assume your human resources manager has informed every one of your specific restrictions.
  4. You have the right to choose your own surgeon if surgery is recommended. Don’t assume the doctor your employer has chosen has your best interests at heart.
  5. You have the right to receive compensation for the time from work you miss until you reach maximum healing from your injury. If it takes you more than a week to heal, keep that in mind.

Should I trust the nurse case manager for my workers’ compensation claim?

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Some nurse case managers may not be acting in your best interests.

The short answer is, “be careful.”

In many workers’ compensation claims, an insurance adjuster hires someone called a nurse case manager, or NCM. The workers’ compensation insurance adjusters claim that the purpose of the NCM is to help coordinate doctor appointments or work as a go-between with the adjuster and the injured worker.

Simply put, it’s important to remember where the NCM’s paycheck comes from: the insurance company.

Often times, however, the NCM will attempt to direct you to doctors that might not be in your best interest for treatment purposes, or direct you to doctors that are well-known to release patients back to work before they’re ready. Similarly, the NCM will attempt to influence your doctors into signing reports that may be detrimental to your workers’ compensation claim, or worse: your health.

Even the Supreme Court of Nebraska has stated that NCMs hired by the insurance companies are not considered a benefit to the injured employee.

Simply put, it’s important to remember where the NCM’s paycheck comes from: the insurance company. Consequently, a good “result” for a NCM (released back to work with no additional medical treatment) might not be a good “result” for you. So be careful. Just because your NCM claims that he or she is acting in your best interest, that may not actually be true.

Nebraska Law Would Deny Disability and Death Payments to First Responders in a 9/11-Type Event

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Nebraska State Capitol

Nebraska State Capitol

As we shared in an earlier post, the first responders in the 9/11 attack are being diagnosed with cancer and other diseases at a rate higher than the general public, most likely because of their exposure to the World Trade Center’s deadly dust. But it can take 30 years or more for many of the diseases, disabilities and deaths to actually strike. Many, if not most, of the victims will be retired and earning no wages by the time they get sick.

Bottom line: Nebraska law needs to be changed to treat our workers and their families better

If an event like 9/11 tragically took place in Nebraska, what would happen to the first responders? If, many years later, they got sick and disabled or died because of things they were exposed to in the line of duty, would they receive workers’ compensation payments? Continue reading

New Workers’ Comp Travel Reimbursement Rates Go Into Effect

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The current workers’ comp reimbursement rate is $.55.5 per mile.

Effective July 1, 2011, the Nebraska mileage reimbursement rate for travel while on workers’ compensation became 55.5 cents per mile. This is for travel to seek medical treatment, pick up medications, or while participating in a vocational rehabilitation plan. This conforms to the reimbursement rate paid to State of Nebraska employees.

As the economy continues to struggle and money is tight, injured workers should make sure to keep track of their miles of travel so they can be reimbursed for their out of pocket expenses.

Make sure to keep track of miles to be reimbursed for out of pocket expenses.

Travel reimbursement is limited to agreed upon or court approved treatment and some limitations may apply. If you have a question about what workers’ compensation benefits are due to you, contact an attorney.

Mental Injuries in Workers’ Compensation

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Today we’re featuring another guest post by our colleague Tom Domer of Wisconsin. Here Tom shares the legal tests that establish whether damages for mental injury will be awarded. For mental injuries following a physical injury, the standard is “Is the mental disability… related to the work injury?” For cases that don’t involve a physical injury, some states require that the stress that triggered the mental injury be extraordinary “beyond those stresses than the day to day emotional strain and tension which all employees must experience.” While these criteria can be difficult to meet, mental injuries are real and can be as debilitating as physical ones.

From time to time, headline stories appear in the national news about workers claiming compensation benefits for “mental stress” injuries.  Continue reading

Cell phone ban for commercial drivers could affect truckers’ workers’ compensation claims

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On Tuesday the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued a recommendation that could affect millions of truckers. The NTSB proposed that commercial drivers be banned from using both hand-held and hands-free mobile phones while driving on the job.

While the NTSB is a U.S. government organization, their recommendation is not a law. However the board’s actions may prompt local, state, and federal governments to pass laws that make driving while talking on the phone illegal, even if the driver is on a hands-free device.

If such a law were passed, and a commercial driver is using a cell phone while in an accident, in certain cases the driver would be unable to collect workers’ compensation benefits.

In Nebraska, and in some other states, a law banning the use of cell phones could affect the ability of truckers to collect workers’ compensation. Continue reading

Employee Penalized For Not Following Safety Rules

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In this guest post our colleague Jon L. Gelman of New Jersey highlights a worrisome recent ruling. In the state of Missouri, if an employee does not follow their employers’ safety rules and is injured, their award may be significantly reduced. He points out that this logic works in opposition of what the workers’ compensation act was originally supposed to do, which is to protect workers. With that as its goal, “It would be far more logical to… prevent the unsafe work in the first place.”

An employee’s workers’ compensation award maybe be reduced for failing to follow an employer’s safety rules.

An employee’s workers’ compensation award maybe be reduced for failing to follow an employer’s safety rules. A Missouri Court ruled that reducing an injured employee’s award by 25% to 50% for failing to follow an employer’s safety rules was not unconstitutional. Continue reading

World Trade Center dust and 9/11 first responders with cancer, time for U.S. Government to stop withholding benefits

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This guest post comes to us from our colleague Edgar Romano at Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano, LLP in New York.

First Responders at the World Trade Center

first responders remove smoldering debris

Many courageous first responders, who saved lives at Ground Zero, have since been diagnosed with cancer, and yet the U.S. government does not pay for their treatment. This Saturday, September 10, CNN will air Terror In The Dust, an investigation by chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta into the consequences of the deadly dust produced by the World Trade Center’s collapse. Gupta speaks with 9/11 heroes and medical experts about the consequences of the carcinogen-filled dust.

A new study released earlier this week by the New York City Fire Department provides good evidence of a link between 9/11 first responders and cancer. The study showed a 32% greater incidence of cancer among firefighters who worked at Ground Zero than those who did not.

The NIOSH study concluded that the 9/11 debris did contain known carcinogens.

The U.S. government does not pay for cancer treatments of 9/11 first responders. This is because Continue reading