Hear Recent America’s Truckin’ Network Podcasts on Truckers: Prescriptions and Workers’ Comp

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Last week, Rehm, Bennett & Moore owner Rod Rehm was featured on America’s Truckin’ Network, which is an overnight show that runs on both Sirius/XM channel 166 and 700 WLW-AM out of Cincinnati. Mr. Rehm and show host Mr. Steve Sommers discussed some of the nuances of workers’ compensation law when it comes to drivers, specifically focusing on issues like the special challenges truck drivers have in taking prescription drugs if they’re hurt. The requirements of the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (USDOT FMCSA) rules and regulations make this topic more complicated for truckers.

During that time, the two also took truckers’ calls and discussed topics that included details about workers’ compensation injuries; when to get an attorney involved; the overuse of opiates in the legal world; and more about work injury and drug interactions/intoxication. Mr. Rehm elaborates on this information, providing more details in the podcasts linked to below. 

America’s Truckin’ Network runs from 11 p.m. through 4 a.m. (midnight to 5 a.m. Eastern Time) on 700 WLW-AM, and we greatly appreciate the chance to help educate truckers about workers’ compensation matters. For questions about a specific injury or workers’ compensation claim, please contact an attorney. Mr. Rehm has represented truckers for over 30 years, 15 of which have been through the website www.truckerlawyers.com.

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Mayberry Sheriff Andy Taylor Would be Blushing Right Now

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Andy Griffith as Sheriff Andy Taylor

Today’s post comes from guest author Leonard Jernigan, from The Jernigan Law Firm, in North Carolina. I think this post is an important reminder for anyone who lives in a state that awards money for economic development. I hope things turned out all right for the folks in North Carolina, but it is very troubling that someone can get economic development funds in another state after being convicted for defrauding taxpayers by “underreporting his workers’ compensation payroll by more than $8 million.” Because as I have said before and will likely say again, when employers cheat on workers’ compensation and an employee gets hurt, it means the taxpayer is left footing the costs for the injured worker’s care. I can’t tell from the blog post, but I hope Mr. Hardas disclosed his past conviction before being awarded almost $850,000 in economic development funds. In addition, I hope that taxpayers in North Carolina aren’t being played for fools by a potentially unscrupulous employer.

Mayberry was a small town, loosely based on Mount Airy, N.C., the hometown of actor Andy Griffith, who played the part of Sheriff Andy Taylor. Mayberry was a slow, sleepy town where city slickers came by occasionally and Andy or Deputy Barney Fife or some other innocent person smoked them out and the story usually ended on a good moral note.

But my goodness, if Sheriff Taylor was around today (Griffith died in 2012) he would be blushing at what has transpired in Mount Airy, N.C. this year. A city slicker has taken taxpayer dollars to bring jobs to Mount Airy, but it turns out he’s a convicted felon in the state of California. That’s bad enough, but after Todd Tucker, president of the County Economic Development Partnership, was told about this conviction for fraud, he is still standing by his man. Incredible. L.D. Hardas, President of Awesome Products, was convicted in California in September of underreporting his workers’ compensation payroll by more than $8 million and sentenced to five years in jail, suspended if he paid a fine and unpaid premiums and completed 10 years of probation.

In February he was hailed as the savior of Mount Airy when he promised to create 140 jobs by opening a household chemical plant out of a former furniture facility. In exchange, he was eligible for $300,000 of state funds and at least $543,448 from Surry County taxpayers. What’s the lesson for Mayberry? It’s okay to cheat another state and their employees as long as you help Mount Airy get some jobs and bring some money to the county. Wonder what Aunt Bee and the boys at the barber shop would say about that.

Rod Rehm to be Featured on America’s Truckin’ Network Tonight

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Firm owner Rod Rehm is scheduled to be featured as a guest on tonight’s edition of the America’s Truckin’ Network show. It runs from 11 p.m. tonight through 4 a.m. Friday (midnight to 5 a.m. Eastern Time) on 700 WLW-AM. 

Mr. Rehm is scheduled as tonight’s guest because of his work representing truckers for over 30 years, 15 of which have been through the website www.truckerlawyers.com.

Mr. Rehm will join the show’s host, Steve Sommers, to discuss workers’ compensation for truck drivers. The specific topic will include the use of prescription drugs to treat work-related injuries and the complications that drivers can have when returning to work.

When assisting injured truckers, the law firm’s attorneys also often helps truckers nationwide through referrals to attorneys in their own state, due to differences in state laws and workers’ compensation coverage.

According to the radio station, “Steve Sommers joined the Truckin’ Bozo Radio Network in 1996, hosting the show on weekends and filling in for his father, Dale Sommers (Truckin’ Bozo). In 2004, Dale handed over the main hosting duties to his son, Steve, keeping this popular program in the family with a new name: America’s Truckin’ Network!

Mr. Sommers is dedicated to continuing the high standards and traditions of America’s Truckin’ Network, ensuring long-haul truckers have news, weather, music and conversation to keep them company over the long and sometimes lonely miles of the American roads.”

There are a number of ways for drivers to participate in the America’s Truckin’ Network show, both through listening and by asking questions. Tune in on your Sirius/XM radio, channel 166, stream through a computer at www.700wlw.com, or listen to 700WLW-AM.

We invite you to listen in and also call with your questions to 513-749-7000 or 888-860-8785. And we thank Mr. Sommers for the opportunity to be tonight’s featured guest!

The conversation continues on social media via Twitter @truckerlawyers and at www.facebook.com/truckerlawyers on Facebook. America’s Truckin’ Network is on Twitter @AmericasTrknNet and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/700wlw. In addition, some previous shows, including previous guest appearances by Mr. Rehm, are archived as podcasts at this website.

Suit: Company has history of mishandling chemicals

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Today’s post was shared by The Workers’ Injury Law & Advocacy Group and comes from theadvocate.com. I noticed this article recently because OSHA has extended its comment period on standards tied to improving chemical safety after the West, Texas, explosion. That process is in response to an executive order “which seeks to improve chemical facility safety and security,” according to the link above.

If OSHA protects workers to the greatest extent possible, that may also help consumers and those who live by these chemical plants. The lawsuit written about below was a result of an explosion involving chemicals in Oklahoma that happened after the West explosion. Some of the problems that workers faced, maybe even the explosion itself, potentially could have been prevented if the plant would have cared about and been more aware of worker – both employee and contractor – safety.

A contractor suing over the fatal June 13 Williams Olefins explosion at its Geismar plant raises recent federal workplace safety violations brought against the Tulsa, Okla., company and alleges Williams has a history of problems handling chemicals.

Filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Baton Rouge, the new suit brought by Abraham J. Bosley of Iberville Parish is the ninth in state or federal court over the explosion and the third brought this month.

Two of the older cases have been dismissed.

A flammable vapor cloud ignited from ruptured equipment in the company’s propylene fractionation unit, causing a massive fireball, a Williams investigation found.

At the time, the plant was undergoing expansion, and 839 employees and contractors were on site. The blast killed two and injured 114 people.

Investigators with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the U.S. Chemical Safety Board have focused on a reboiler, or heat exchanger, that a safety board official said “failed catastrophically” inside the fractionation unit.

The most serious of the six OSHA violations brought last year involves Williams’ operation of that kind of equipment while idle.

Bosley alleges Williams had a history of “citations, warnings and shut-downs due to improper storage and handling of chemicals including propylene,” the suit says.

“This included a citation in 2010 for releasing excess amounts of ethylene, and a December 2012 plant shut down for a…

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Workers’ Compensation May Cover Weight Loss Treatment, Surgery

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Gastric bypass is one type of weight loss surgery

Obesity is a disease that affects Americans in many ways.

Workers’ compensation is affected by obesity as well. A work injury or disease, coupled with chronic obesity, frequently becomes much more difficult to deal with. The usual methods of treatment may not be possible for an injured worker living with chronic obesity. 

Thomas A. Robinson, a noted expert on workers’ compensation, recently posted a great discussion on obesity treatment. The well-written article discusses how various state workers’ compensation systems deal with these problems. The short answer is some states award benefits for treating obesity as part of the work injury, and some don’t. Nebraska and Iowa have cases denying gastric bypass surgery based on factual findings that it was not necessary to treat the work injury, but leaving to door open with more proof of medical necessity. 

Our firm has had at least one case where gastric bypass surgery was paid voluntarily when it was apparent the surgery was necessary to enable proper treatment of a serious work injury. A workers’ compensation trial award was entered in early January awarding gastric bypass surgery as necessary to reduce weight so a back surgery could be performed safely. This award reinforces that with proof of medical necessity to treat a work injury, weight loss treatment and surgery may be covered by workers’ compensation in Nebraska.

How US Business Routinely Steals Your Legal Rights

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Today’s post comes from guest author Jay Causey from Causey Law Firm in Seattle. Mr. Causey, as a respected plaintiff’s attorney whom I have known for many years, is a strong advocate for consumers. He writes about how the American Association of Justice (a group to which I also belong) is encouraging consumers to know how arbitration limits the ability to get just compensation. This project also includes a component where people can report their experiences with arbitration, which adds to the general knowledge and AAJ’s research on the subject. Nebraska has limits on the kinds of disputes that are subject to binding arbitration. Our constitution barred binding arbitration of any kind until 1996 when a big-business-led group got the voters to approve it.

     You’ve just bought a new car, or signed an employment agreement, or engaged an investment firm to act for you, or made substantial charges on your credit card, or even just bought a Starbucks card.  Now something’s gone wrong, and you’re looking for relief, maybe contemplating a lawsuit.

     Unfortunately, you can probably forget any real legal remedy because chances are you’ve agreed to some fine print in the transaction that forces you into binding arbitration of any claim you have. For years the US Chamber of Commerce has been working behind the scenes to ensure most consumers lose access to the courts through these stealth provisions that hide in most contracts. The Chamber recently convened its annual summit for its Institute for Legal Reform, whose primary goal is to find ways that corporations can eliminate the rights of consumers, small businesses and employees to hold them accountable in court.

     The American Association for Justice (AAJ) calls the Chamber’s efforts “Corporate America’s Trojan Horse” which substitutes big businesses owned dispute resolution mill for the real machinery of justice in the courts. Most Americans are unaware of the some half billion arbitration provisions in transactions they have unwillingly consented to. Forced arbitration by arbitrators selected by big business, not bound by law, and making decisions not subject to any meaningful judicial review, has substantially altered the civil justice system of this country, and what’s left of your legal remedies.

 

For the full report on this go to: License to Steal: How the US Chamber of Commerce Forced Arbitration on America.

 

Testosterone Drug Use: Watch Out for Dangerous Side Effects

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Beware of testosterone drugs. 

Drugs to raise testosterone levels have very dangerous side effects. The drugs come in the form of prescription drugs, patches, creams, gels, deodorant or spray. These heavily promoted drugs have been linked to increased heart attacks, strokes, pulmonary embolism, blood clots, and death. For instance, men older than 65 taking such drugs are two times more likely to have a heart attack during the first 90 days of use than those who don’t take the drug. That is a sobering, if not outright scary, situation. Men younger than 65 with histories of heart disease are also twice as likely to have heart attacks during the first 90 days of use. 

Human nature and the desire to be healthy, strong and youthful appearing will draw many men to these drugs, particularly with the heavy advertising on TV, radio, online and in traditional print that the public is exposed to currently. The lure of a Fountain of Youth is hard to resist but also very dangerous. 

Sadly, there have been many other instances of new drugs that have been heavily promoted that have had dangerous side effects. The law has provided damages for the now millions of people who have been damaged by various dangerous drugs with serious side effects. I recommend looking into your legal rights if you or a loved one suffered a heart attack, stroke, pulmonary embolism, blood clots or death while taking testosterone replacement drugs or after taking such drugs. Feel free to contact me, and I can arrange for a consultation with lawyers with special knowledge, experience and good ethics to help you or your family member.

Is Worker’s Comp Profitable Because Disabled Workers Don’t Get Benefits?

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My friend Tom Domer of The Domer Law Firm in Milwaukee, who happens to be one of the most knowledgeable workers’ compensation lawyers I know, wrote a great blog post explaining why workers’ compensation insurance companies profit mightily and injured workers struggle. Workers need to avoid the kind of thinking that leaves them with empty pockets and insurance companies with growing bank accounts. Injured workers should speak with qualified experienced lawyers before deciding whether to pursue workers’ compensation benefits or to abandon a claim if they are being denied.

I recently wrote an article in the national magazine for the Worker’s Injury Law Advocacy Group (WILG), the Worker’s First Watch, Fall 2013 reviewing the worker’s compensation resources research report indicating that the worker’s compensation industry is extremely profitable.  I began representing injured workers in 1976.  It seems every year since then worker’s compensation insurance carriers have complained they are not making profits and the culprit responsible is increased benefits paid to workers.  In fact, over the last 20 years the insurance industry has been profitable in 16 of 19 years and broke even in one year.  Several factors account for this profitability, including worker’s compensation insurance carriers successfully pursuing deregulation and “reform” measures to restrict eligibility. 

The net result of increasingly restrictive rules for compensability in many State worker’s compensation systems as a result of “reform” resulted in many workers with disabilities caused by work who did not receive worker’s compensation benefits.

The general trend since the early 1990s has been to restrict coverage through State statutory and administrative “reform”.  Many workers face lengthy litigation and frustration.  More restrictive regulations may preclude claims where the worker lacks “objective” medical evidence for his injury, or is unable to medically document persistent pain, or has a disease resulting from multiple causation that cannot be distinguished from workplace disease, or has job stress related disorders.  One significant problem is that many injured workers fail to file for benefits.  (For those of us in the trenches daily, these pose obstacles to compensability.)  Among the many reasons for failure to file are:

  • Ignorance of worker’s compensation and eligibility.
  • Ignorance of the work-relatedness of the condition.  (Many workers know they suffer an impairment but do not know the health condition is caused by work.)
  • Reimbursement for medical care or Short Term Disability benefits available.  (Many workers use Short Term Disability or group medical insurance rather than worker’s comp.)
  • Belief that the injury is lacking in sufficient severity.
  • Many workers fear job loss or other forms of retaliation, who do not want to report a condition as work-related.
  • Workers do not want to be perceived as complainers or careless.
  • Deciding not to file based on the negative experience of co-workers.
  • Fear of the stigma associated with being a worker’s compensation claimant.  (Much of this stems from the intense focus on fraud perpetrated by the insurance industry, resulting in increased levels of stigmatization, decreasing the likelihood injured workers will file for benefits.)
  • Pressure from co-workers on safety incentive programs.  (These programs, sometimes called “Safety Bingo” create incentives not to report.)

Those of us who have hearings daily that involve the non-reporting of an injury, or significant time delay between the occurrence of an injury and the reporting of an injury, can refer to the above list for some ammunition on the “non-filing” or “late filing” issues.