Monthly Archives: August 2012

What is the Most Common Mistake People Make When They File for Unemployment?

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Cooperating with the unemployment claims adjudicator can help you get benefits.

Answer your phone.

This is the advice a friend of mine who works as an unemployment claims adjudicator would give to people filing unemployment. Oftentimes people are denied unemployment benefits they earned through their employer because they neglect to cooperate in the initial investigation of their claim. An adjudicator is assigned to determine eligibility for unemployment benefits. In short, they talk to you and your employer about why you are no longer employed. If the adjudicator determines that your were fired for intentionally disregarding reasonable work-related expectations of your employer or that you quit without good cause, then you will be found not to be eligible for unemployment benefits. Of course, you can appeal that decision, but that will lead to a delay in you receiving benefits, and it might also mean finding a lawyer to represent you in the appeal hearing.

The problem someone creates for themselves when they don’t talk to the adjudicator is that the adjudicator will only hear the employer’s side of the story. If an employee has documents that would show they did not commit work-related misconduct or that they quit with good cause, they should give those to the adjudicator as well.

Unemployment is stressful. Failing to communicate with people who might be able to help you just makes matters worse for yourself and family.

Misconduct, Good Cause, and Why It’s Better to be Fired than to Quit

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People who quit their jobs may not be eligible for unemployment benefits.

A worker in Nebraska can be penalized on their unemployment benefits for two reasons:

  1. they quit their job without good cause, or
  2. they committed misconduct in connection with their employment.

Why it is better to be fired than to quit

If you are fired, your employer must be able to prove that you committed misconduct in connection with your employment. In layman’s terms, they have to show that you made a decision or decisions to intentionally disregard reasonable standards related to your job. However, my experience is that if you appeal an adjudicator’s initial decision, many employers don’t understand they have the burden to prove that it is more likely than not that you did something wrong. Also, oftentimes managers and HR professionals do not understand the nuts and bolts of how to prove their case.

But, if you quit, then you have to prove that you quit for good cause. Nebraska law defines good cause.

This puts the burden on you to prove the case. This means that not only do you have to Continue reading

The Origins of Workers’ Compensation in the United States

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Today’s post comes from guest author Jay Causey from Causey Law Firm in Seattle. Mr. Causey is a longtime friend, and we are members of the Board of Directors of WILG: the Workers’ Injury Law & Advocacy Group. He is also a past president of the group. Attorney Jon Rehm in our office also serves WILG on its Board of Directors and recently represented the firm at a WILG meeting. Members of WILG meet four times a year to share resources, advocate for legislation, participate in training, and enhance relationships with other lawyers to better serve clients. The video below is just one example of the resources available through WILG. It is a powerful reminder of why our firm does what we do to represent workers and their families. It shows not only how far workers’ protections have come but reminds us to be vigilant and make sure employees’ rights and health continue to be protected through legislation and the courts.

Today’s post is a film on the history of workers’ compensation, presented by the Workers’ Injury Law & Advocacy Group at the National Symposium on the 40th Anniversary of the National Commission on Workers Compensation, which in 1972 found the state workers’ compensation systems to be inadequate and unfair.

This film is a great reminder that the workers’ compensation systems we work under today were created to correct issues with unsafe workplaces and the effects of injuries on the job during a time when workplace safety was not yet a reality.  We need to remember our history, lest the lessons hard-won be forgotten.

Why Should I Return to Work?

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Even if you don’t miss time from work, you might still have a workers’ comp case.

We appreciate all of our social-networking followers on Facebook and Twitter. This blog post is in response to questions posed by one of those followers.

Upon reading another blog post, we received commentary on Facebook saying: “…if you can work you dont [sic] have a case…you could still collect for time missed but you dont get to work and get paid for nothing…”

The answers to these questions vary depending on the situation, but hopefully these links provide more information about the benefits of filing a workers’ compensation claim and why returning to work does not mean you don’t have a case as implied by the comment above.

For example, even if your employer accommodated your work restrictions from your doctor or your employer paid your salary while you were off work, you still have a workers’ compensation claim and you are entitled to all of the rights that are provided under the workers’ compensation laws. Click here for more information.

In fact, it is possible to Continue reading

Can I Collect Social Security, A Pension AND Workers’ Comp?

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Today’s post comes from guest author Matthew Funk from Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano. Different benefits like SSD, a pension, and workers’ compensation can be combined, but care needs to be taken when approaching that situation. Working with a lawyer who knows the details of how these potential benefits interact means peace of mind that a client will benefit from available resources without potential troubles.

QUESTION: IF I AM GETTING SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY (SSD) AS WELL AS A PENSION DOES THAT MEAN I CANNOT GET WORKERS’ COMPENSATION AS WELL?

ANSWER: YOU CAN GET STILL GET WORKERS’ COMPENSATION WHEN YOU ARE RECEIVING A PENSION AND SSD.

At 55, Joe was a walking museum of every accident he had ever had in his 30 years of working the job. That last accident put him out of work for almost two years. Luckily, he filed all the paperwork, submitted all the forms, crossed all his ‘Ts’ and received Social Security Disability (SSD).

But after three decades of hard work, Joe had had enough and so he started the paperwork to retire. But he was worried. He had planned on applying for Workers’ Compensation, but he wasn’t sure he’d could since he was already on SSD and about to receive his pension. What should he do?

File, Joe! File!! The combination of Workers’ Compensation, Social Security Disability and a pension is called the Trifecta, a Triple Crown of benefits, so to speak. Continue reading

Can I Get Workers’ Comp If I Am Hurt By Somebody Not In My Company?

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Today’s post comes from colleague Matthew Funk from Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano in New York. If you are hurt at work, you are covered by workers’ compensation, even if the person who was involved isn’t a fellow employee. It is important to know how the law protects you in regards to vehicle accidents and work, as no one can control what “the other car” does, even if you’re driving defensively during work time. Nebraska is just like New York in that if the workers’ compensation claim involves a vehicle accident, a personal injury case may also be pursued.

QUESTION:  SOMEONE NOT EMPLOYED BY MY COMPANY HURT ME.  AM I STILL COVERED?

ANSWER: YOU ARE COVERED NO MATTER WHO EMPLOYED THE PERSON AT FAULT.

It was right before Mother’s Day and Joe’s job as a deliveryman for Flowers R Us was in high gear. He had eight bouquets to deliver before noon and time was tight. At the corner of 88th and Broadway, the light finally turned green. Joe checked for the all clear and then hit the accelerator. Out of nowhere a yellow cab barreled across 88th Street, running a red light and ramming smack into Joe’s delivery van. Luckily, Joe was wearing his seat belt so he didn’t go flying through the windshield. However, his neck suffered the worse case of whiplash the EMS technicians had ever seen.

After the ER visit, the X-rays, the brace, the painkillers and a lot of police reports and insurance paperwork, Joe called his boss.  He was definitely in no shape to pick up vases of flowers, let alone get behind the wheel of a vehicle. He was going to be out of work for a couple of weeks.

Was Joe covered by Workers’ Comp? Since the accident was caused by someone who was not a Flowers-R-Us employee, Joe and his boss didn’t know if Joe was eligible for coverage. What should Joe do!? Continue reading

What’s so dangerous about hotel room cleaning? It turns out, a lot.

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Today’s post comes from guest author Edgar Romano from Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano. Lots of potential injuries lurk for hotel housekeepers going about their daily tasks. Mr. Romano has some good advice for all workers to be sure they don’t ignore short-term pains because those issues can come with long-term consequences. And as a hotel guest, I think about leaving my towels by the sink, for example, instead of throwing them on the floor, because that’s one less time a hard-working housekeeper has to bend down to retrieve those items.

Hotel housekeeping may not seem dangerous, but it can be grueling physical labor. A recent study published by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health reported that tasks including dusting, vacuuming, changing linens, making beds, and scrubbing bathrooms may lead to a range of injuries. Some of the most common ones include: Continue reading

If I am Hurt on the Job, What Should I Tell My Doctor?

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One of the most important parts of any case is the history of your injury that you provide to your doctor when you first see him or her.

If you were hurt during a specific incident, make sure to tell your doctor how you were hurt, when you were hurt, where the injury took place, and who else was present. Tell him about the pain and symptoms that you have been experiencing. Also be sure to describe in detail all of the body parts that you have injured. Even if one injury hurts more than the others, make sure to tell your doctor about every single injury.

If you have been hurt by repetitive-work activities, be specific about the number of movements that you make. For instance, tell your doctor about the number of times you lift or grip things in an hour, day, or week.

If you have been hurt by exposure at work, whether it is to a hot, humid environment, chemicals, or any other environmental condition, be specific when you tell your doctor about the pain and symptoms that you have due to that exposure.

If you leave work and become better, and then return to work and experience an increase in your symptoms, be specific when you tell your doctor about any changes in your condition.

It is important to be accurate and honest the first time that you seek treatment with your doctor, for both your health and your workers’ compensation claim.