Monthly Archives: November 2012

Rehm, Bennett & Moore sponsors recent #TDSMC (Truck Driver Social Media Convention)

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Firm owner Rod Rehm, associate Jon Rehm, and Emily Wray Stander, director of research and marketing, recently attended the 2nd Annual Truck Driver Social Media Convention in North Kansas City.

As the owner of www.truckerlawyers.com, Mr. Rod Rehm has been helping truckers through workers’ compensation and personal injury claims since the mid-1990s. So it was with a good deal of enthusiasm (and the fun of giving away around 125 insulated mugs in about 48 hours) that Rehm, Bennett & Moore chose to be a sponsor for this year’s convention.

Meeting the variety of truckers, trucker advocates, and trucking industry folks made the experience memorable for me, as did learning more about the industry itself with the many regulations, requirements, and challenges that truckers and their families face. And having recently been a volunteer coordinator of a reunion for hundreds of people, I appreciate the work that Allen and Donna Smith of www.askthetrucker.com did before, during, and after the convention!

There was the luxury of meeting others face-to-face who previously were known via “the Internets” and I even got to sit by some folks who I interact with on at least a weekly basis, if not more often. And meeting friends of friends was fun, too. Of course, there were also some excellent speakers who addressed the participants’ wide variety of experiences with social media. But it was pretty funny to look up from my phone and/or laptop to see others’ typing madly away, but also paying attention. That was encouraged by the Twitter hashtag #TDSMC. And speakers also addressed some social issues in trucking, such as stopping human trafficking and having safe places to park, that truckers encounter and can affect through their actions.

I was happy to read via http://www.truckingsocialmedia.com/ that the next convention dates have been announced: “3rd Annual Truck Driver Social Media Convention Tentative Dates: October 12th – 13th, 2013; Harrah’s Hotel and Convention Center; North Kansas City, Missouri.” I look forward to hearing more details as next year’s event approaches!

Temporary Employees Cannot Be Excluded From Workers’ Compensation

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Today’s post comes from guest author Paul J. McAndrew, Jr. from Paul McAndrew Law Firm in Iowa. Most temporary employees are treated the same as any other employee in Nebraska, Iowa, and many other states. There are a few exceptions in Nebraska that include some but not all agricultural workers, for example. If you have questions about a workers’ compensation situation, feel free to contact a workers’ comp attorney to be advised about the details of your case.

According to a recent decision by the Texas Supreme Court, a temporary employee cannot be excluded from an employers’ workers’ compensation policy.

In 2005, Rafael Casados was killed on his third day at work at a grain storage facility owned by Port Elevator-Brownsville L.L.C. Because Casados was a temporary employee of Port Elevator at the time of his death, he was initially awarded a liability ruling of $2.7 million directly from Port Elevator. However, according to the latest Supreme Court ruling, Casados’s family should receive remedy under Port Elevator’s workers’ compensation policy instead. Port Elevator’s insurance provider is liable for Casados’s death benefits, despite the fact that Port Elevator never paid workers’ compensation insurance for any of their temporary employees.

According to the decision: “If Port Elevator’s policy had set out certain premiums solely for temporary workers and Port Elevator had not paid those premiums, Casados would still have been covered under the policy and the failure to pay premiums would be an issue between Port Elevator (their insurance provider).”

 

 

Photo Credit:sixninepixels / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Taking Time to Think: Thanksgiving

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Do you have, take, or make the time to think about what is going well and what could be better in your life? As they say, ’tis the season. But it’s not the Christmas season … yet … no matter what the retailers want! To me, from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day and beyond is a chance to think about the big picture; be thankful for blessings; and be in the moment to participate in relationships (the buzzword for this idea is “being present”). Is it during a certain time of the year that you have the luxury of stopping and thinking about life, or can you do it weekly or even daily?

I know I get very caught up in the day-to-day, hour-to-hour concerns and forget to think about and be thankful for the most-important things that are too-often called the little things: looking at the stars with my family when we’re out in the country and can really see the sky; hearing my 4-year-old son tell his great-grandma he loves her without us reminding him to; remembering to thank my spouse for unloading the dishwasher, even though he does it all the time (let’s face it – his tolerance of clean dishes not being put away quickly is lower than mine); having good health; enjoying a roof over our heads; and being productive at work. And I am glad for relationships that are good in my family; among the friends I choose to call family (my son thinks many of our friends’ children are his cousins because he sees them so often and we don’t correct him because he’s growing up with them); and at work with colleagues, whether in person or via social media.

Most of us have time to count our blessings, living in one of the most fortunate nations in the world, whether we choose to make and take the time or not. But the reality is that there are people who are not as fortunate, even in our own nation. And often that is because challenges with health or work mean a person doesn’t have as many choices as others might due to poverty, mental illness, or getting hurt. A smaller, but still emotional, challenge may include having to work on a holiday, for example. And though some folks would rather work than be with family, many people, like truckers on the roads and health-care workers taking care of the elderly, don’t have a choice, but have a great attitude and make others’ holidays really special through their actions and words.

So if you are working on Thanksgiving (or any upcoming holiday), thank you for your work and be safe! And I hope you have, take, and make the time to think about what is going well and what could be better in your life. Blessings to you and yours this Thanksgiving!

The Costs and Complications of The Other Disease on Workers’ Compensation Claims

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Source: NCCI

Today’s post comes from respected colleague Jon Gelman from Jon Gelman, LLC – Attorney at Law in New Jersey. Mr. Gelman addresses how an injured worker’s treatment rapidly gets more expensive when other health issues are present. And sometimes the workers’ compensation situation causes those other issues, which is important to share with your lawyer. Working with an attorney can help folks sort out the complications of how a workers’ compensation claim interacts with other conditions to make sure the worker gets the best care and coverage possible in each individual situation.

Employers and their insurance companies are responsible for the treatment of all medical conditions that arise from an industrial accident or exposure. A recent study published by The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) concludes that costs are soaring as medical conditions become more complicated by other conditions known as comorbidity diagnoses. These conditions are frequently: obesity, hypertension, drug abuse, chronic pulmonary conditions, and diabetes.

While the average medical cost for a workers’ compensation claim is approximately $6,000, the medical cost of an individual claim can be a few hundred dollars or millions of dollars. In 2010, an NCCI study found that claims with an obesity comorbidity diagnosis incurred significantly higher medical costs than comparable claims without such a comorbidity diagnosis. Relative to that study, this study expands the number of comorbidities examined and provides additional information on both the types of claimants receiving comorbidity diagnoses and the types of providers submitting comorbidity diagnoses.”

KEY FINDINGS

  • The share of workers’ compensation claims with a comorbidity diagnosis nearly tripled from Accident Year 2000 to Accident Year 2009, growing from a share of 2.4% to 6.6%. Claims with a comorbidity diagnosis have about twice the medical costs of otherwise comparable claims.
  • Comorbidity diagnoses for hypertension are the most prevalent of those investigated.
  • The initial comorbidity diagnosis tends to occur early in the life of a claim.
  • Hospital and physician visits account for a majority of visits resulting in a recorded comorbidity diagnosis.
  • Only a small portion of visits result in the recording of a comorbidity diagnosis.

View complete report: Comorbidities in Workers Compensation

 

 

Do I Qualify For Social Security Disability Benefits?

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In order to qualify for Social Security disability benefits, you have to prove that you have one or more physical and/or mental impairments that are severe and that prevent you from engaging in substantial gainful activity. 

Substantial gainful activity is measured by the amount of money per month that you can earn. 

The Social Security Administration will take into account your educational background, job history, and the skills you have acquired in determining whether or not you meet this standard. The fact that you cannot go back to the job you have done for most of your life does not necessarily mean that you can qualify for Social Security disability payments.  

I am licensed in Nebraska and Iowa and handle workers’ compensation, personal injury, and Social Security disability appeals for the firm. If you have questions about Social Security disability benefits or the appeal process in another state, I can refer you to another expert attorney.

Workers’ Compensation Is About Relationships

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Today’s post comes from guest author Ryan Benharris from Deborah G. Kohl Law Offices in Massachusetts. Mr. Benharris talks about the continued relationship a worker has to an employee. Workers should also have the expectation of safety from an employer. And I hope we can work towards the day where Mr. Benharris writes about “no need for workers’ compensation.” Until then, it is important to communicate with and  trust your workers’ compensation attorney.

Prevention of accidents should be the first step in establishing a successful workers’ compensation system. If an employer were truly concerned about the health and safety of the employee there would be no need for workers’ compensation. Unfortunately the profit motive of the employer sometimes corrupts the process, and shortcuts are taken at work to increase production at an anticipated lower cost to the employer.

Employers need to understand that the human and financial costs of industrial accidents and exposures can be devastating. Injured workers, through the workers’ compensation process, may seek the payment of medical benefits, lost time payments and permanent disability awards.

Hopefully, the relationship between employees and employers can improve, and the workplace can become a safer environment.

Will I Be Able To Collect Unemployment Benefits?

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When people are hurt at work, they are often compelled to file for unemployment benefits. This may be because they are fired for not being able to do their job or end up quitting because they are no longer physically able to do their job.

If you quit, you will have to show that you did so with good cause. If you physically can no longer do your job because of your injury, that qualifies.

If you have been terminated, your employer may attempt to withhold unemployment benefits. To do this, your employer will have to demonstrate that you were terminated because of a misconduct on your part. Misconduct is intentional behavior by you. For example, if you are not performing at work even though you are medically capable of doing your job and have been told to improve, if you call in sick numerous times for unnecessary reasons, or if you don’t show up for work, these behaviors would qualify as misconduct.

Your employer would have to show documentation of these behaviors at an unemployment hearing. If documentation is not available and it comes down to your word versus your employer’s word, the likelihood is that you will win your case and will be able to collect unemployment benefits.

If you have questions about employment issues or unemployment benefits, our attorneys are licensed to practice in Nebraska and Iowa. I can also refer you to an expert attorney in another state if needed.

The 11 Most Life-Threatening Jobs on the Planet

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Today’s post comes from guest author Paul J. McAndrew, Jr. from Paul McAndrew Law Firm in Iowa. As written below, it is amazing what kinds of risks workers need to take to feed their families. And sadly in some places in the world, these are actually the jobs that pay better or are the only ones available for many workers. Notice that some of these risky jobs are in the United States, and truck driver is among those listed. Attorneys at Rehm, Bennett & Moore have represented many injured truckers, construction workers and agricultural workers. And it gives me pause to read about struggling workers throughout the world and in our own country whose lot and risk of injury could be improved through safety efforts. Take care.

Today’s post comes to us from our colleagues at insurancequotes.org.

The danger workers face on the job is not always compensated by higher pay. Life-threatening jobs can be mind-numbingly simple, easily performed by unskilled workers or children, or as physically and mentally demanding as one can imagine. Cable television shows like Deadliest Catch and Ice Road Truckers give some sense of the dangers faced by workers in the sea fishing and truck driving industries respectively, while films like Workingman’s Death (2005) document examples of dangerous, and almost pointlessly unproductive manual labor. Below are 11 life-threatening jobs ranging from the banal to the bizarre.

Photo by Nate Robert, licensed through Creative Commons.

  1. Street Sweeper (Rwanda)The most humble of jobs can be the most dangerous. On the streets of Kigali province, in the country of Rwanda, women dressed in blue work from dawn to dusk sweeping the roads and highways. Drivers, going several miles per hour, zoom past, their cars missing the street-sweeping women by just inches. The women wear no reflective clothing, and there are no cautionary signs or pylons alerting drivers of the presence of these women on the road. In a country with 30% unemployment, street sweeping, which pays approximately $3 a day, is a sought-after job.
  2. King Crab Fisherman (Alaska, United States)
    More dramatic than street sweeping, crab fishing in the Bering Sea is one of the world’s most dangerous professions. The fishing takes place night and day in rough waters that constantly and violently rock the boats, sending high waves crashing over the decks. Fishermen can slip on the soaked deck, get hit by flying objects, or fall overboard into freezing water. In the 1990s, the Alaskan fishing industry experienced 400 deaths per 100,000 employees. That number has increased since.
  3. Sulfur Miner (East Java, Indonesia)Java’s sulfur miners gather chunks of yellow sulfur located next to a steaming, acidic volcano crater lake. The men hold their breaths and run into the clouds of hydrogen sulfide and sulfur dioxide, gases that burn the eyes and throat, and grab as much sulfur as they can carry before returning to relative safety away from the lake. The miners gag, choke, and spit before repeating the process again and again. The sulfur they gather is used to bleach sugar, make matches, and vulcanize rubber. The miners are paid $10 to $15 a day, with some extra income coming from posing for photographs taken by curious tourists well away from the poisonous gas. Gloves and gas masks are unaffordable luxury items.
  4. Police Office (Kabul, Afghanistan)
    As recently as December 2011, police officers and police stations in war-torn Kabul, Afghanistan, have been targeted by the Taliban soldiers and suicide bombers. CBS News reports that every day, five out of 10 Kabul police officers die on the job. Lack of training and high-tech tools, as well as government-level corruption and an economy based on the heroin trade, prevent Kabul’s police force from performing their job with any degree of safety or effectiveness.
  5. E-Waste Recycler (Guiyu, China)
    Old discarded electronics, including laptops, home entertainment systems, and smart phones, are exported to Guiyu’s electronic waste sites to be gathered and broken down, by hand, for scrap metal by thousands of low-paid workers and their children. The electronics release toxic metals and chemicals into the workers and the environment, poisoning families and their environment. The amount of e-waste on the planet is increasing at an alarming rate, mostly in developing countries, with illegal exporting and dumping contributing to the glut of toxic electronics.
  6. Truck Driver (United States)
    Driving a truck is one of the most dangerous jobs in the United States. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports that truck drivers are “more likely to die in a work-related accident than the average worker,” Continue reading