Category Archives: Workplace Injury

Tragic Cannery And Construction Site Deaths Highlight Need For Safety Enforcement

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Today’s post comes from guest author Catherine Stanton, from Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano in New York City. Sometimes it is challenging to not wonder why a system or a safety policy was such a big failure that it resulted in the death of a worker. I like what Ms. Stanton wrote in the blog post: “The failure to follow or implement proper safety procedures was a calculated risk, a terrible misstep, or a downright criminal act.” That is one of the many reasons why the blog posts that come from the firm have a general focus on worker safety. Think of safety at work as an act of prevention, because the following quote from Ms. Stanton is also accurate. “According to OSHA rules, employers have the responsibility to provide a safe workplace.” Have a safe and productive week.

I was horrified when I recently read about a worker for a tuna company who was killed when he was cooked to death at the company’s California canning factory. According to the New York Daily News, the worker, Jose Melena, was performing maintenance in the 35-foot oven when a co-worker failed to notice he was still in the oven and turned it on to begin the steaming process of the tuna. The co-worker assumed Melena had gone to the bathroom. 

While there apparently was an effort to locate the worker, his body was not found until two hours later when the steamer was opened after it completed its cooking cycle. As an attorney, my clinical instinct shifts my focus to the mechanics of the accident and to fault. There are so many unanswered questions.  Why didn’t anyone check the machine before it was turned on? Why wasn’t the machine immediately shut down when they realized the worker was missing? As a person with feelings and emotions, I think of the horror and pain he must have gone through and the loss experienced by his family and friends as a result of his death. It is almost too awful to imagine. 

While this terrible tragedy occurred in 2012, it appears the reason that the story is currently newsworthy is that the managers were only recently charged by prosecutors in the worker’s death for violating Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) rules. Closer to home, more recent and just as unfortunate were the cases of the construction worker in Brooklyn who fell six stories from a scaffold while doing concrete work and a restaurant worker who was killed in Manhattan when a gas explosion destroyed the building he was working in. 

These stories highlight why safety procedures are so important. In some cases, there are no proper safety precautions in place. In others, there are safety measures in place but they may not have been followed. In rarer cases, crimes are committed that result in workplace fatalities. The failure to follow or implement proper safety procedures was a calculated risk, a terrible misstep, or a downright criminal act. In the case of the worker who died when he fell from a scaffold, there has been speculation that he may not have been attached properly to his safety harness. In the tuna factory death, the managers were charged with violating safety regulations; they face fines as well as jail time for their acts. In the gas explosion, there are allegations that the explosion was caused by workers’ illegally tapping into the restaurant gas line to provide heat for upstairs tenants. Prosecutors were trying to determine criminality; whatever the final outcomes, it appears that in these three instances the deaths were preventable. 

According to OSHA rules, employers have the responsibility to provide a safe workplace. They must provide their employees with a workplace free of serious hazards and follow all safety and health standards. They must provide training, keep accurate records, and as of January 1, 2015, notify OSHA within eight hours of a workplace fatality or within 24 hours of any work-related impatient hospitalization, amputation or loss of an eye.  

While this may seem like a small step, anything that results in creating higher standards for employers or encouraging them to keep safety a priority is always a good thing. These three examples are only a small percentage of the workplace deaths that occur each year. While not every death is preventable, everyone is entitled to go to work and expect to leave safely at the end of their shifts.  

Catherine M. Stanton is a senior partner in the law firm of Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano, LLP. She focuses on the area of Workers’ Compensation, having helped thousands of injured workers navigate a highly complex system and obtain all the benefits to which they were entitled. Ms. Stanton has been honored as a New York Super Lawyer, is the past president of the New York Workers’ Compensation Bar Association, the immediate past president of the Workers’ Injury Law and Advocacy Group, and is an officer in several organizations dedicated to injured workers and their families. She can be reached at 800.692.3717.

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 , , , .

Is “Light Duty” Really Light Duty?

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One phrase that is thrown around in the world of workers’ compensation is “light duty.” Light duty refers to a job done by an injured worker while they are on work restrictions. However “light duty” isn’t always light duty if the employee physically struggles with doing their light-duty job. To me, light duty can be a misleading description of what injured workers go through when working alternate-duty jobs. Here are three situations where I think the term light duty is misleading.

1. Employee forced to work without restrictions with one limb when the other limb is restricted. This is common in the meatpacking industry with hand, wrist and arm injuries, and I have seen it in construction as well. Employers read work restrictions too literally and force employees to work unrestricted with the uninjured hand or arm. Unfortunately, the result of this is that the other arms or hand can get injured through overcompensation or overuse. This can lead to another and/or a larger workers’ compensation claim, which also leads to more medical expenses, pain, suffering and inconvenience for the injured workers and their families.

2. Doctor-given restrictions do not really reflect true physical restrictions. This can happen for a couple of reasons. One reason is that a doctor might not know the “light duty” job description. To remedy this, the employee needs to be clear about telling the doctor what his or her actual duties are so the doctor can give accurate job restrictions. Having a written job description is extremely helpful. If management makes it difficult for you to get a copy of your job description, this should indicate that you need to contact a lawyer and that the company may be discriminating against you because of your injury. Second, the doctor may be unduly influenced by an employer or insurer. In Nebraska, we have doctor-choice rights as part of our workers’ compensation act. In other states, attorneys have filed RICO suits against unlawful combinations of employers, insurers and doctors who conspired to undercut the value of workers’ compensation claims. If you feel you are being treated unfairly by a doctor, you should contact an experienced attorney to see what your options are.

3. Work restrictions are difficult to measure. Work restrictions are usually measured by lifting and so-called “non-material handling” activities like walking, bending, climbing, etc. This can exclude a whole host of other restrictions, like noise tolerance, heat and cold sensitivity, as well as dust and chemical sensitivity, which can make a job difficult. Some serious restrictions can also defy easy attempts to measure them. Someone suffering the permanent effects of a head injury may get periodic headaches and sickness that force them to leave work on an irregular basis. This kind of restriction is difficult to measure during a medical examination or even in a functional capacity evaluation, but it certainly impacts someone’s ability to hold a job.

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 employment law, Workers' Compensation, Workplace Injury and tagged , , , .

Workers’ Compensation Basics: Provide Notice of Injury

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This blog post is the fourth in a series that examines the basics of workers’ compensation.

Whether an injured employee provided notice of an injury to their employer is an issue that often arises in a workers’ compensation case. It is always part of an injured worker’s burden to prove that they provided notice of their injury to their employer. However, an employer may raise this issue as a possible defense against the injured worker’s claim for benefits. Making sure an employer knows about an injury, regardless of whether the injured worker knows for sure that it is work-related, is typically a very simple – but very important – part of a workers’ compensation case.

The reasons for requiring notice make a lot of sense when you think about it: if the employer does not know about the injury, how can the employer know an injured worker may require medical care or other benefits? Different employers will have different procedures for reporting accidents and injuries, so it is important for employees to consult their employee handbook to find out what their employer expects. Ultimately, the claim may be compensable whether the injured worker followed the rules or not, but it is always the best policy to be proactive and avoid unnecessary problems down the road.

What happens if an injured worker thinks his or her injury might be work-related, but he or she is not sure and the injury isn’t reported right away? Maybe an accident occurred at work, but the injured worker did not notice any symptoms until the next day? Or they knew they were hurt, but did not seek medical care for several weeks because they thought it would go away on its own? Nebraska workers’ compensation law requires an employee to notify their employer of an injury “as soon as practicable” after the accident occurred. There is no answer in Nebraska as to what, exactly, “as soon as practicable” means in terms of days, weeks or months. It will depend on the facts of the case. Ideally, an accident occurs and an employee provides notice in writing immediately following the accident. When things don’t turn out “ideally,” however, if an employee can prove that the employer had sufficient notice or knowledge of the employee’s injury to lead a reasonable person to conclude that the injury was potentially compensable, the notice is considered sufficient under Nebraska law. The question is whether the employer knew enough that a reasonable employer would conclude they had better investigate further. This type of notice may come in the form of requests for time off to attend medical appointments, showing up to work with a brace on or the fact that an employer processes the employee’s bills with his or her group health insurance.

The important thing to remember about notice is just that: it is important. It is an important and simple step to take whenever an employee is injured. It can also be complicated, so consult an experienced workers’ compensation attorney when you think you may have a notice problem or when your employer denies your claim because of an alleged lack of it.

Read the previous blog posts in the series by clicking on these links: 

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' Comp Basics, Workers' Compensation, Workplace Injury and tagged , .

How Does Workplace Violence Fit into Workers’ Compensation?

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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) defines workplace violence as any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site. OSHA also reports that nearly 2 million American workers report having been victims of such violence each year. We are probably most likely to think of the horrible stories of violent acts that occur in the course of commission of a crime such as a robbery. These acts are committed by persons who have no legitimate reason to be there, with no relationship to the employer or employees. Many instances of workplace violence are also committed by upset clients or customers, students or patients. Family members, acquaintances, and persons who have personal relationships with employees may also be perpetrators.

What happens when someone is injured due to violence that occurs between co-workers, though? Are injuries sustained as a result of this violence compensable under Nebraska workers’ compensation law? The answer, like many answers to legal questions, is it depends. The fact that you can prove you were assaulted and injured on the job does not automatically mean you are entitled to benefits. It is always the injured workers’ burden to prove he or she suffered injuries because of an accident arising out of and in the course of employment. Here, too, an injured worker must prove the accident resulted from risks arising from within the scope or sphere of the worker’s job. The general rule for workplace violence in Nebraska law is that where an assault is purely personal, the victim is not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. This means that if you are assaulted at work by a co-worker, and you are unable to show that the violence grew out of or was connected to the relationship as fellow employees or acts in the performance of work, you may not be entitled to compensation for your injuries. 

Examples of cases where an injured employee was denied benefits include where a fight broke out over payment on a side job, where one employee assaulted another because he had a problem with that employee’s status as a registered sex offender, or where one employee shot and killed her husband (a co-worker) allegedly due to her fear of further domestic violence. The courts determined in these cases there was no causal connection between the employment and the accident and injury.

Whether an accident arises out of and in the course of employment must be determined by the facts of each case. As a practical matter, in many cases, a claim for injuries due to workplace violence may take more time than usual to process. Sorting through witness accounts and getting every side of the story will be a necessary and often complicated part of the workers’ compensation insurer’s investigation. Since finding out the reason for the incident is significant, benefits may be more likely to be delayed than in a more typical or common workers’ compensation claim. It is important to consult an experienced workers’ compensation attorney if you have questions about whether you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for an injury resulting from workplace violence.

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, Workplace Injury, Workplace Safety and tagged , , , , , , .

Workers’ Compensation Basics: What is a Workers’ Compensation Accident?

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injured workerThis blog post is the third in a series that examines the basics of workers’ compensation.

To be a covered workers’ compensation claim, an employee’s personal injury must be caused by an accident or occupational disease, but what does that mean?

The Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Act defines accident as: “an unexpected or unforeseen injury happening suddenly and violently, with or without human fault, and producing at the time objective symptoms of an injury. The claimant shall have a burden of proof to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that such unexpected or unforeseen injury was in fact caused by the employment. There shall be no presumption from the mere occurrence of such unexpected or unforeseen injury that the injury was in fact caused by the employment. …” Nebraska Revised Statute 48-151 (2)

Of course, many workers’ compensation injuries are not as simple or as clear as a broken arm that was the result of a fall. Some injuries are caused by repetitive motion or cumulative trauma on the job. In those cases, the injuries are still considered workers’ compensation “accidents” under the definition above, even though the injuries did not truly occur “suddenly and violently” as required by the statute.

As for an occupational disease, the Workers’ Compensation Act defines it as “a disease which is due to causes and conditions which are characteristic of and peculiar to a particular trade, occupation, process, or employment and shall exclude all ordinary diseases of life to which the general public is exposed.” Nebraska Revised Statute 48-151 (3) Examples to think about would be mesothelioma for asbestos workers or black lung for coal miners.

In sum, pretty much any injury or illness that an employee receives from work can fit into the definition of “accident” under the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Act. However, proving the injury is much more difficult and may require the help of a lawyer.

Read the previous blog posts in the series by clicking on these links: Workers’ Compensation Basics: Are You an Employee? and What is Workers’ Compensation?

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 Injury Reporting, Work Injury, Worker safety, Workers' Comp' Basics, Workers' Compensation, Workplace Injury, Workplace Safety and tagged , , , , .

Is a Pulmonary Embolism Compensable under Workers’ Compensation?

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The short answer is yes, but it could be difficult to prove if it is not directly related to another workers’ compensation injury. In Nebraska, proving a pulmonary embolism and deep vein thrombosis (DVT) requires the same legal and medical causation tests as a heart attack or stroke (see Zissin v. Shanahan and Wingfield v. Hill Brothers Transportation, Inc.).

What that means is legal causation must be proved by showing that exertion or stress encountered during employment is greater than that experienced during the ordinary non-employment life. Then, it must also be proven by medical causation: i.e., show that the employment contributed in some material and substantial degree.

On the other hand, if someone develops DVT as a result of another injury caused by work, it would probably be much easier to meet the causation required to prove compensability. For example, let’s say a worker injures his knee during work and has surgery on that knee. Then, as a result of the surgery, a postoperative complication of DVT arises and eventually becomes a pulmonary embolism. In that scenario, the pulmonary embolism is clearly related to the work injury and clearly compensable.

Absent a prior injury, however, causation must be met by the standards stated above, which will be very fact intensive. An example of this scenario came up in the recent case, Wingfield v. Hill Brothers Transportation, Inc., 288 Neb. 174. In that case, a truck driver for 35 years asserted that his deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism was from sitting while driving a truck so long. The workers’ compensation court dismissed the cases, holding that the truck driver did not adequately prove legal and medical causation.

This case illustrates how difficult the causation standard is for pulmonary embolism cases that are not directly linked to a work injury. These types of cases will almost certainly require the assistance of a lawyer. 

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, Workplace Injury and tagged , , , , , .

Nebraska’s Statistics Inform in AFL-CIO Report

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Here’s the third installment in an occasional series about the annual report that the AFL-CIO recently released regarding fatalities at work. Today’s blog post focuses on Nebraska statistics and numbers only, and 2013 was the most recent year for which information was available, with some information coming from OSHA’s 2014 fiscal year. When that is the case, it is noted.

The table “Workplace Safety and Health Statistics by State, 2008-2013” includes Fatality Rates, which is the rate of deaths per 100,000 workers; Injury/Illness Rates, which is the rate of total cases per 100 workers; and Average Penalties from OSHA.

“Fatality Rates” in Nebraska were

  • 2008: 5.7
  • 2009: 6.2
  • 2010: 6.3
  • 2011: 3.9
  • 2012: 5.2
  • 2013 4.0

“Injury/Illness Rates” were

  • 2008: 4.4
  • 2009: 4.1
  • 2010: 4.2
  • 2011: 3.9
  • 2012: 3.9
  • 2013: 3.8

“Average Penalties” were $1,106 in fiscal year 2009; $1,279 in 2010; $2,984 in 2011; $2,835 in 2012; $2,565 in 2013; and $2569 in fiscal year 2014. This includes “averages per serious citation for conditions creating a substantial probability of death or serious physical harm to workers,” according to the report.

The table “Workplace Fatalities by State, 1995-2013” includes the following statistics. Please respect that one death of each yearly total was a real person with loved ones whose lives most likely changed abruptly after his or her death.

  • 1995: 54
  • 1996: 56
  • 1997: 46
  • 1998: 56
  • 1999: 66
  • 2000: 59
  • 2001: 57
  • 2002: 83
  • 2003: 51
  • 2004: 46
  • 2005: 36
  • 2006: 57
  • 2007: 63
  • 2008: 53
  • 2009: 57
  • 2010: 54
  • 2011: 39
  • 2012: 48
  • 2013: 39

The table “Fatal Occupational Injuries by State and Event or Exposure, 2013” included the following information for Nebraska: Total Fatalities, 2013: 39

  • Assaults and Violent Acts: 4
  • Transportation Incidents: 21
  • Fires and Explosions: 0
  • Falls: 4
  • Exposure to Harmful Substances or Environments: 1
  • Contact with Objects and Equipment: 9

The table “Number and Rate of Injuries and Illnesses by State for All Industries, Private Industry, State Government and Local Government, 2013” gives no explanation for why the number of injuries/illnesses was not applicable for state government for that year.

“Number of Injuries/Illnesses”

  • All Industries: 29,200
  • Private Industry: 24,700
  • State Government: N/A
  • Local Government: 3,300

“Rate of Injuries/Illnesses” per 100 Workers

  • All Industries: 3.9
  • Private Industry: 3.7
  • State Government: 3.6
  • Local Government: 6.2

The table “Hispanic or Latino Worker Fatalities by State, 1996-2013” … “includes both foreign-born and native-born” people, according to the document.

  • 1996-2001: 0 each year
  • 2002: 9
  • 2003: 3
  • 2004: 4
  • 2005 and 2006: 0
  • 2007: 4
  • 2008: 5
  • 2009: 0
  • 2010: 3
  • 2011: 3
  • 2012: 5
  • 2013: 3

The table “Foreign-Born Worker Fatalities by State, 1996-2013” shows that “the definition of “foreign-born” employed by the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries refers simply to workers not born in the United States or U.S. territories and does not convey information on citizenship at birth,” according to the document.

  • 1996-2001: 0
  • 2002: 12
  • 2003: 0
  • 2004: 3
  • 2005 and 2006: 0
  • 2007: 5
  • 2008: 6
  • 2009: 4
  • 2010: 3
  • 2011: 3
  • 2012: 7
  • 2013: 4

Finally, here are links to two previous blog posts written about the AFL-CIO report: Death on the Job Annual Report from AFL-CIO Informative, Useful and ALF-CIO Report: Here are Some of Nebraska’s Numbers and Rankings. Two more blog posts that include statistics from the report on Iowa will also be shared in the near future, as well as a blog post that includes many of the nation’s totals for the categories listed above.

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 , , , , .

The Role Workers’ Compensation Plays in the Amtrak Train 188 Derailment

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Our sympathies go out to all of the friends and families of the victims of Tuesday’s Amtrak passenger train derailment in Philadelphia, as well as a wish for the recovery of those injured. The latest news reports indicate that, as of Friday morning, the crash has left at least eight dead and more than 200 injured. 

In reading some of the profiles of those fatally injured in the crash, I have thought about how the families of these victims move forward now. There has been a lot of discussion of the role of Amtrak’s negligence, train safety in the United States, and the engineer responsible for driving the train, but little has been mentioned of the role of the employers of the victims, some of whom were traveling to or from work or on work-related business. Some of these employers may be responsible for providing workers’ compensation benefits, and some may not. Of the eight fatalities, one individual was reportedly headed home following work-related meetings in Washington, D.C. Another was reportedly commuting home to New York from her job in Philadelphia. Although the circumstances appear similar, Nebraska and other states’ workers’ compensation law would likely treat these two claims very differently. 

Nebraska follows a going to and from work rule, which states that accidents occurring in the course of a worker’s travel are generally deemed not to be compensable when the worker is “going or coming” from his or her place of employment. This rule essentially finds that a worker’s daily commute is not covered by workers’ compensation. This travel time is not considered to be within the course and scope of employment. It is likely that the crash victim who was commuting home to New York and her family would not be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.

One of the exceptions to the going to and from work rule is the “commercial traveler” rule. This rule essentially provides that, if a claimant must be required to travel in the performance of his or her duties and be on the employer’s business during travel, they are generally within the course and scope of their employment from the time they leave home until they return. Some exceptions may arise if it is determined that the employer’s interest was merely incidental, but generally those workers traveling on business, like the crash victim who was reportedly returning home from work-related meetings, should be covered by workers’ compensation.

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, Workplace Injury, Workplace Safety and tagged , , , , .