Author Archives: Rod Rehm

April 28: Celebrate Workers’ Memorial Day and World Day for Safety and Health at Work

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Workers’ Memorial Day and World Day for Safety and Health at Work is set for April 28 this year. The history of Mary “Mother Jones,” whose name graces a progressive magazine, is noteworthy. She fought tirelessly to improve worker safety, and events such as Workers’ Memorial Day are part of her legacy. 

A recent article from John Speigelhoff and Dale Moerke, a pair of Minnesota labor leaders, shares some of her history and calls attention to Workers’ Memorial Day.

I agree with the authors’ closing thoughts, quoted below, and encourage all of our readers to remember and observe Workers’ Memorial Day in some way. I also encourage all worker advocates and activists to keep up the hard work and dedication, because the efforts to limit and outright take away worker protections seem to be like the coming and going of the tide. It never ends.

“On April 28, 2015, take a moment to reflect upon those who have come before us and tirelessly championed the cause of a safer workplace, oftentimes being beaten and imprisoned for their advocacy. Every worker deserves to come home safe to their family. It is only when we remember our history, view ourselves (workers) as having a common bond and demand better working conditions will we prevent tragedy.  Observing Workers’ Memorial Day is the first step.”

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore and Trucker Lawyers are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Six attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 90 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska and Iowa in state-specific workers’ compensation systems. 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 AFL-CIO, Legislation, Memorial Day, OSHA, worker rights, Workplace Injury, Workplace Safety and tagged , , .

Nebraska Legislature Should Act on Medical Marijuana Bills

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A columnist in one of our local newspapers, the Lincoln (Nebraska) Journal Star, recently wrote a feature story about the experience that one couple had with traveling to Colorado for medical marijuana to deal with Christy Gibson’s pain from “CRPS, a chronic pain syndrome that made her leg feel like it was plunged in ice or stuck in scalding water.”

Gibson told columnist Cindy Lange-Kubick about what happened to her when she used medical marijuana.

“I tried various strains of cannabis, in various forms,” she wrote. “And. It. Worked. It not only managed my pain, it allowed me to FUNCTION; I could manage my pain without being in a pharmaceutically induced, drugged-out zombie state.”

Because of her positive experiences with medical marijuana in Colorado, Gibson has written her state senators about LB643, a bill from Sen. Tommy Garrett that would legalize medical cannabis.

According to Lange-Kubick’s article, however, “the bill is stuck in committee.” It is helpful that Lange-Kubick wrote the article to bring additional light to one of the issues that affects real people on a daily basis: treating chronic pain through medical marijuana.

CRPS (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome) is a very real diagnosis for many injured workers. It is promising to read about Gibson’s success managing her pain. Her success is a great illustration of how medical marijuana works for a very “Nebraska Nice” citizen in her struggle with chronic pain.

The firm’s lawyers represent literally hundreds of workers who are injured on the job. Chronic intractable pain such as CRPS is becoming more common, while at the same time, efforts that limit traditional pain medication are hot topics in the legislative arena nationwide.

As I wrote in a recent blog post, I would encourage the Legislature to keep moving forward on both Sen. Garrett’s priority bill and also a priority bill from Sen. Sue Crawford, LB390, that advocates for marijuana-related research at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC). “The pilot program would give patients who suffer from severe, untreatable or treatment-resistant epileptic seizures access to low-THC cannabidiol oil for the purpose of the study,” according to an article earlier this year in the Daily Nebraskan, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s independent student newspaper.

That way, Gibson and other Nebraska citizens in chronic pain, as well as those suffering from epileptic seizures that disrupt lives, wouldn’t have to travel great distances for well-deserved relief. Over the years, I have observed that seeing loved ones in pain rightly affects and challenges that person’s family and friends, so any steps that can be taken to alleviate this pain are positive.

I urge the legislature to act on and pass both of these bills, and I wish Gibson, and others who suffer, the best in their journey to control their pain.   

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore and Trucker Lawyers are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Six attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 90 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska and Iowa in state-specific workers’ compensation systems. 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 Government, Legislation, Workers' Compensation and tagged , , , , , .

Safety, Health a Struggle at Wal-Mart, Nation’s Biggest Employer

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Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is the nation’s largest employer, according to USA Today. Including Sam’s Club, 2.2 million people worldwide work there, and more than 1.3 million work for the company in the United States.

Being the nation’s largest employer also should mean being responsible for employees’ health and safety. Sadly, that’s not really the case.

Charlene Obernauer, executive director of the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) recently wrote this blog post for HuffPost Business.

Her framework starts with OSHA’s citation of $7,000 when security guard Jdimytai Damour died after being trampled on Black Friday almost 7 years ago. Earlier in March, after spending more than $1 million fighting the fine, “Wal-Mart decided to withdraw their appeal and pay up, not because they admitted wrongdoing, but because of a desire to put the matter to rest,” according to Obernauer’s article.

She goes on to list examples of health and safety violations by “Wal-Mart-affiliated warehouse distributors” and Wal-Mart stores themselves.  This included the following scenario:

“The company was also cited several serious violations for not immediately providing employees with adequate personal protective equipment and never offering a Hepatitis B shot after they cleaned up blood on the job, along with a number of other violations of OSHA’s bloodborne pathogen standard.”

In addition, the firm’s blog has previously featured posts that include Wal-Mart’s attitude toward injured workers on transitional duty and paying workers so little that they need public benefits.

I agree with Obernauer’s final paragraph completely.

“While finally agreeing to stop appealing a $7,000 fine after a worker died on Wal-Mart’s watch is a step in the right direction, it is a puny step down a prolonged path towards creating healthier, safer and more just jobs at Wal-Mart. They have a long way to go.”

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore and Trucker Lawyers are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Six attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 90 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska and Iowa in state-specific workers’ compensation systems. 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 Workplace Injury, Workplace Safety and tagged , , , , .

Workers’ Compensation Covers Truckers’ Injuries from Falling Asleep at Wheel

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASleep disorders are a significant health problem for truck drivers.  Trucker injuries resulting from falling asleep at the wheel can be compensated by workers’ compensation, as shown in this recent article from the LexisNexis Legal Newsroom.

Former FMSCA administrator Anne Ferro put it this way in remarks she made at the 2010 Sleep Apnea and Trucking Conference in Baltimore.

“I count fatigue among those high risk behaviors and sleep apnea is a condition that contributes to fatigue. This is a highly sensitive subject which is why this meeting is so important. The challenge here is to focus on sleep apnea as a serious medical condition and identify affordable screening and treatments that work in the truck driving environment.

“In many cases, truck drivers experience poor health because of the challenges associated with their job and lifestyle.

“According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average life expectancy for a driver is less than 61 years – is 16 years younger than the average American. That is simply not acceptable.

“From our own estimates, almost three out of 10 truck drivers currently suffer from mild to severe sleep apnea. And we know from our research that drivers with severe sleep apnea are known to be at a much, much greater risk of being involved in a severe crash.

“Fatigue is estimated to be an associated factor in 13 percent of all truck crashes annually and 28 percent of single vehicle truck crashes, based on the Large Truck Crash Causation Study.”

As has been written on the firm’s blog before, “sleep is essential for health and well-being. And not getting enough sleep is a compensable condition.”

In a guest blog post a few years ago, respected lawyer Jon Gelman of New Jersey shared information from the National Sleep Foundation and CDC. In addition to falling asleep when a person was planning to stay awake, people who don’t sleep enough are at “increased risk of motor vehicle accidents; increase in body mass index – a greater likelihood of obesity due to an increased appetite caused by sleep deprivation; increased risk of diabetes and heart problems; increased risk for psychiatric conditions including depression and substance abuse; and decreased ability to pay attention, react to signals or remember new information.”

Please contact an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer with questions about specifics in yours or a loved one’s case. In addition, please work to get both the quantity and quality of sleep that is needed to be safe and healthy.

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore and Trucker Lawyers are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Six attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 90 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska and Iowa in state-specific workers’ compensation systems. 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 Business Travel, Driving, Health, mental health, Night Shift Work, Safety, truck driver, Trucking, Work Injury, Workers' Compensation, Workplace Injury and tagged , , , .

Let’s Think About Medical Marijuana for Injured Workers

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Nebraska, known for its conservative views, is considering legalization of medical marijuana. Sen. Tommy Garrett writes a passionate, persuasive and practical letter to constituents in support of medical marijuana. 

“Bottom line up front: The Cannabis Compassion and Care Act (LB643) is all about making life better for Nebraskans who are sick and ailing. Period! Nothing more … nothing less. This is entirely about helping very sick people in need who deserve the right to a medication that treats their illnesses.” Sen. Tommy Garrett

Sen. Garrett is a retired U.S. Air Force colonel and a registered Republican, and his views may surprise some people. He deserves credit for his advocacy on this issue. 

Relief from chronic pain is one use for medical marijuana. Chronic pain is an all-too-common problem for injured people. Current treatment patterns with strong opiates have reached crisis status. 

The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that 23 states, the District of Columbia and Guam now allow medical marijuana. It seems now is a good time to study and consider adding marijuana as an alternative to the very dangerous opioids. 

Sen. Garrett put it this way. 

“While Washington may be broken, Nebraska is not. States have rights and I trust that the decision makers here in Lincoln will join me in looking at the research and see that cannabis has demonstrated effectiveness in treating cancer, ALS, MS, Dravet’s syndrome and other terminal and debilitating illnesses. I’m doing this because stuff needs fixing.”

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore and Trucker Lawyers are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Six attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 90 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska and Iowa in state-specific workers’ compensation systems. 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 Government, Legislation and tagged , , , , .

Workers’ Compensation Covers Fast-Food Workers, Too

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All employees of fast-food restaurants, including part-time workers, students and retirees, are covered by ‪workers’ compensation laws. Frequently, fast-food employees are not aware of these rights or are afraid to make claims, despite recurring injuries in these workplaces. These workplaces are dangerous, and recent efforts by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) may result in a safer environment.

In fact, McDonald’s workers in 19 cities have requested OSHA inspections, “alleging they’ve been injured because of a lack of training and protective equipment,” according to a recent article in the Chicago Tribune.

“Scott Allen, an OSHA spokesman, said the agency is investigating some McDonald’s in several states. ‘We do investigate all complaints and take every complaint seriously,’ Allen said.”

Meanwhile, McDonald’s, in the statement quoted below, essentially discounted the complaints as disgruntled workers and activists who are focused on the brand and want to make sure the media is covering the activists’ concerns.

“McDonald’s and its independent franchisees are committed to providing safe working conditions for employees in the 14,000 McDonald’s Brand U.S. restaurants. We will review these allegations. It is important to note that these complaints are part of a larger strategy orchestrated by activists targeting our brand and designed to generate media coverage.”

I would note that as much as we in the general public like to blame the media (or the messenger), respected publications like the Chicago Tribune usually realize when a story is fluff and when it is a legitimate concern. I believe, like the Tribune coverage would show, that this situation falls into the legitimate concern category.

A total of 28 complaints, nine against corporate-owned restaurants and 19 against franchisees’ locations, were submitted to OSHA, according to information from the campaign called Fight for $15.

“Complaints include one from a New Orleans worker who cited lack of training and equipment for burns suffered while filtering grease, according to documents provided by the campaign. The campaign also alleges that a Philadelphia worker who was badly burned when reaching for a cookie tray was told by a manager to use mayonnaise to treat the burn.

“Workers said understaffing and pressure to work faster resulted in injuries. Those injuries, they added, were not properly treated.”

According to another article on the McDonald’s investigation, other unconventional methods of treatment were also suggested, in addition to the mayo mentioned above.

“Some workers have even claimed that after suffering workplace injury, they were told to treat it with condiments like mustard and mayonnaise rather than using medical ointment.”

Hot oil causes burns; slick floors cause slips and falls; and lifting and moving large boxes cause strains and joint damage. Remember: fast-food workers are covered under workers’ compensation.

I recently saw a press release of a product that could help alleviate some of the danger around hot oil. “The main thing FryerGate prevents is the unintended events that cause injuries such as body parts or foreign objects from entering the boiling oil,” according to the release.

“The Executive Director of The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (COSH), Mary Vogel, stated in a press conference (recently) that over 79 percent, or 2.8 million fast food workers, had been burned in the past year based on a ‘first-ever national survey of fast food workers about health and safety on the job.’ The survey, conducted by Hart Research, states that 54 percent of those burn incidents take place at fryers, which equates to over 1.5 million fryer-related burns. Fifty-eight percent have been burned multiple times.”

If this product lives up to its claims and improves safety for fast-food workers who work in challenging, hurried conditions, this would definitely be a good thing. However, it doesn’t solve the many other issues and claims McDonald’s has against it through the Fight for $15 labor group. Regardless, the OSHA investigation will be an interesting situation to follow. I will continue to do so, and encourage you to do the same.

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore and Trucker Lawyers are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Six attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 90 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska and Iowa in state-specific workers’ compensation systems. 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 Workplace Injury, Workplace Safety and tagged , , .

Workers’ Compensation ‘Reforms’ by State Have Costs, Too

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This ProPublica/NPR series should be required reading for all who care about workers’ compensation and how the process really works – or doesn’t work – for those who are injured on the job. The series shows the very real cost to loved ones when the system doesn’t hold up to the workers’ compensation “grand bargain” that was entered into more than a century ago in many states, including Nebraska. Families are hurt economically, and necessary role changes occur when a spouse and/or children become caretakers, which is often the case. 

Today’s blog post is focused on an excellent and informative, but very sobering, interactive chart that looks at how workers’ compensation “reforms” by state are occurring.

I found the introductory paragraph for the chart enlightening and honest:

“Over the past decade, states across the country have been unwinding a century-old compact with America’s workers: A guarantee that if you are injured on the job, your employer will pay your medical bills and enough of your wages to help you get by. In all, 33 states have passed laws that reduce benefits, create hurdles to getting medical care or make it more difficult to qualify for workers’ comp.”

When benefits are reduced and medical care is denied, the burden of caring for injured workers shifts to taxpayers through social programs because the workers’ compensation system has all too often come up short. This results in taxpayers subsidizing injured workers on the local and state levels through healthcare and the social safety net. At the same time, workers’ compensation insurance premiums for businesses are at their lowest rate in 25 years, partially because the “reformed” workers’ compensation systems can save businesses money while avoiding the costs of caring for these hurt workers.

I urge you to spend some time on the interactive graphic and see where your state stands in its support of injured workers. Although the firm’s lawyers are licensed in Nebraska and Iowa, we work with many who are injured in other states as the need arises and have an extensive network of lawyers who we work with on workers’ compensation, especially focusing on representing truck drivers.

This blog will feature continued commentary and analysis on the ProPublic/NPR report, as was first addressed last week. But if you have specific questions about an injured worker’s situation and need help or are unsure what the next steps are, please contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney like those at Rehm, Bennett & Moore.

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore and Trucker Lawyers are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Six attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 90 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska and Iowa in state-specific workers’ compensation systems. 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 Reform and tagged , , , , , , .

Examining Workers’ Compensation Costs to Employers

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics National Compensation Survey 1991 - 2014 (Credit: Sisi Wei/ProPublica)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics National Compensation Survey 1991 – 2014 (Credit: Sisi Wei/ProPublica)

Business and insurance interests are bombarding state legislatures every day of the week to take workers’ rights away by complaining how most states’ workers’ compensation systems are too expensive.

Recently, ProPublica and NPR produced a very detailed explanation of the state of workers’ compensation, focusing, rightly so, on injured workers. This article, which was the first in the series, included an interactive graphic that showed that even though business are complaining about rising premius, workers’ compensation insurance coverage is generally at its lowest rate in 25 years, “even as the costs of health care have increased dramatically,” according to the article.

As examples, using the average premium cost to the employer per $100 of workers’ wages, Nebraska employers paid $1.93 in 1988, while they actually paid $.15 less for the premium in 2014, for a total of $1.78 per $100 of workers’ wages, according to the chart. Iowa was more dramatic, with the price of workers’ compensation insurance $2.79 per $100 of workers’ wages in 1988. It went down $.91 to $1.88 per $100 of workers’ wages in 2014.

By scrolling down in the article, a person finds another graphic that shows how employer costs have risen for other categories, but have fallen for workers’ compensation. Most notably, the cost of workers’ compensation insurance coverage (per $100 of workers’ wages) went from $2.71 in 1991 to $2.00 in 2014. During the same timeframe, the cost of health insurance went from $8.55 to $12.52 and the cost of retirement benefits went from $5.50 to $7.29, all per $100 of workers’ wages, according to the chart in the article.

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore and Trucker Lawyers are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Six attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 90 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska and Iowa in state-specific workers’ compensation systems. 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), and the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA).  We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore and Trucker Lawyers are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Six attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 90 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska and Iowa in state-specific workers’ compensation systems. 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 Government, Iowa, Legislation, Nebraska, Workers' Compensation, Workers' Compensation Reform and tagged , , , .