Author Archives: Todd Bennett

Will Medicare beneficiaries see faster settlements?

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“How much will my case settle for ?” and “When will I get my settlement?” are two of the biggest questions asked by clients in a workers’ compensation or personal injury case. Medicare beneficiaries will soon better know the answers to these questions.

As of April 1, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will allow conditional payments to be made electronically. The change to an electronic payment system will allow all authorized users to view the updated demand status of CMS and track electronic payments in the “Electronic Payment History” tab.

This change should allow Medicare beneficiaries who have a workers’ compensation or personal injury claim to have their cases settle sooner and receive their settlement proceeds sooner.

A Medicare conditional payment is a payment made by Medicare in a disputed workers’ compensation or personal injury case. In a conditional payment situation Medicare will pay on a medical expense but demand that they be paid back from the proceeds of a settlement or judgment.

In substance a conditional payment issues is like any other subrogation issue where some form of health insurance pays for an injury that should be covered under workers’ compensation or a liability policy. In all cases, the plaintiff needs to know how much can be repaid so they can settle a claim and know what they might receive in a settlement.

In a Nebraska workers’ compensation case, under Neb. Rev. Stat. 48-120(8),a judge can order that a third-party who paid for medical care that was related to be a work injury be reimbursed for payments made on behalf of an injured worker.

The problem with Medicare is that the conditional payment process is often more burdensome than determining a subrogation or repayment interest from other types of insurers – it often takes longer as well. Hopefully electronic payment and tracking of payments will simplify and speed up settlements involving Medicare beneficiaries.

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore, which also sponsors the Trucker Lawyers website, are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Five attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 95 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska, Iowa and other states with Nebraska and Iowa jurisdiction. 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 Medicare, Nebraska, subrogation, Workers Compensation and tagged , , , , .

Nebraska looks to limit debt collection in workers’ compensation claims

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Legislation in Nebraska seeks to protect injured workers’ from aggressive debt collection tactics

When an employer or insurer denies a workers’ compensation claim, debt collectors can add additional insult to injury by attempting to collect on unpaid medical bills in the claim. This problem for injured workers is particularly serious in Nebraska.

LB 418, introduced by State Senator Machaela Kavanaugh of Omaha, would solve this problem.The bill states ‘No collection agency shall attempt to collect a debt if a case is pending in the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court and the debt is alleged to be subject to’ the workers’ compensation law pertaining to fee schedules and payment requirements by employers.”

This is a needed respite for injured workers in Nebraska for many reasons. First, the legislation solves the problems of civil courts not delaying collection cases where the unpaid bills are part of a workers’ compensation cases. Collection actions in civil court about workers’ compensation cases can also raise jurisdictional questions which would be clarified by this legislation.

Second, assuming an injured worker prevails in obtaining an Award in their disputed workers’ compensation case, if they have already been sued and forced to pay the full price of the medical charges in addition to paying the court filing fees and attorney fees to the collection attorneys, they cannot then recover their money paid to the collection agency.  This proposed bill will rectify this situation and help injured workers alleviate the stress and financial crisis they face.

Finally, medical debt collection practices are very aggressive in Nebraska because of inexpensive filing fees in county court. An investigation by ProPublica in 2016 and 2017 showed Nebraska courts handle nearly 80,000 collection actions involving amounts as low as $60. In similarly-populated New Mexico where court filing fees are higher, only 30,000 debt collection suits were filed.  One of the biggest collection agencies, Credit Management of Grand Island, was responsible for nearly 30,000 of those lawsuits.  Debtor’s exams are quite common.  If an injured worker misses the debtor’s exam, they can face being jailed. According to Pro Publica, one Nebraskan was jailed over missing an debtor’s examination on a $100 debt.

Our firm encourages our clients and others in Nebraska to contact their state senators and tell them to support LB 418. You can find out who your state senator is here and find their contact information here.

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore, which also sponsors the Trucker Lawyers website, are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Five attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 95 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska, Iowa and other states with Nebraska and Iowa jurisdiction. 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 Nebraska, Workers' Compensation and tagged , , , , .

9-11: 15 Years Remembered

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What have we learned, and what is the progress we have made toward helping those who help others?

As we remember and celebrate that fateful day, we should continue to celebrate and protect those who risk their lives to help others but who continue to live with the mental and emotional effects when faced with such tragic events encountered in responding to the call to serve.

In Nebraska, we have recognized that with tragic events come the effects to some who just can’t mentally and emotionally get past those events. We have garnered some protections for those first responders whose job it is to serve when emergency matters require it.

First responders have a specific definition as set forth in Nebraska Revised Statute 48-101.01, but essentially if a person serves as an officer, fireman or medical emergency personnel who is called to an emergency response situation, then that person has some workers’ compensation protections.

Personal injury now “includes mental injuries and mental illness unaccompanied by physical injury for an employee who is a first responder” if that person suffers from PTSD, depression, anxiety, mood disorder, panic attacks, reactionary diversion, neurotic disorder, etc.

One must establish “that the employee’s employment conditions causing the mental injury or mental illness were extraordinary and unusual in comparison to the normal conditions of the particular employment” in which they serve.  What is usual is constantly being debated and disputed, but an event causing significant bodily injury or death is not usual in the eyes of the courts.

What is not covered or considered compensable are “mental injuries and mental illness arising out of and in the course of employment unaccompanied by physical injury … if they result from any event or series of events which are incidental to normal employer and employee relations, including, but not limited to, personnel actions by the employer such as disciplinary actions, work evaluations, transfers, promotions, demotions, salary reviews, terminations” or going through the legal process in unrelated matters.

Sometimes employers will retaliate against employees who claim work injuries. Though demotions, write-ups and post-injury terminations aren’t compensable through workers’ compensation, there could be a retaliation or disability discrimination claim. First responders who believe they might be being retaliated against should also reach out to the NAPE/AFSCME, IAFF or FOP representative immediately to help preserve their employment.

We have come a long way in the 15 years since 9-11 in providing protections and workers’ compensation coverage to first responders who make it their job to serve and protect. But what about those who were working and saw and experienced this tragedy who are not first responders? They continue to not be covered for their mental and emotional effects. On this anniversary date, as we remember those who served, we need to continue to fight for everyone who encounters tragic events in the course and scope of their employment and suffers mental illness or conditions, but do not suffer a physical injury. They need the protections workers’ compensation coverage can provide, just like first responders.

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore, which also sponsors the Trucker Lawyers website, are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Five attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 95 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska, Iowa and other states with Nebraska and Iowa jurisdiction. 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 Advocate David DePaolo Will be Missed

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David DePaolo

David DePaolo

David DePaolo, founder of WorkCompCentral, recently passed away. He was one of the most authentic individuals in the workers’ compensation industry, who often advocated for the injured worker in his blog posts.

Mr. DePaolo was an intellect, visionary and bridge to all sides of the table in the workers’ compensation arena. It is people like him that the workers’ compensation systems around the country need in order to make things fair, reasonable and just for all.

Thoughts go to his family and loved ones.

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore, which also sponsors the Trucker Lawyers website, are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Five attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 95 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska, Iowa and other states with Nebraska and Iowa jurisdiction. 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 Lawyers, Workers' Compensation and tagged , .

Can I Collect Unemployment and Workers’ Compensation Benefits at the Same Time?

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In Nebraska, an injured worker who is laid off, fired or leaves a job for good cause can collect unemployment benefits and still receive Temporary Partial Disability (TPD) benefits and Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) benefits from the workers’ compensation insurance company. The Nebraska Labor Department unemployment law does not allow a worker to receive unemployment during the same week the person is paid Temporary Total Disability (TTD) workers’ compensation payments.

To receive unemployment benefits, the injured worker must be ready, willing and able to work.  As long as injured worker is ready, willing and able to work within one’s own restrictions, that worker can receive unemployment benefits during the same week that they are entitled to TPD and PPD benefits. 

If a person is totally unable to work and getting TTD benefits, that person cannot receive unemployment benefits since they, by definition, are not ready, willing and able to work.

Under the workers’ compensation laws, it is also important to remember that compensation benefits cannot be offset with what is paid under the unemployment benefits. For guidance, please refer to Nebraska Statute 48-130 that supports this rule of law.

If you have been laid off or terminated, you are still entitled to workers’ compensation benefits in the above situations.

If you have any questions, call us for a free consultation.

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore, which also sponsors the Trucker Lawyers website, are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Five attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 95 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska, Iowa and other states with Nebraska and Iowa jurisdiction. 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 and tagged , , , , , , .

Summer Jobs for Teens: Be Aware

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summer jobAs summer has hit in full force, many teens are excited to have their first real jobs. Unfortunately, some will be hurt, possibly seriously. Young workers have a higher rate of getting hurt on the job than older adults. Teens new to the workforce feel that they have to say yes to every task they’re assigned. Often, they just aren’t trained to do what they have been asked to do.

Teens’ parents should make sure young workers get the training they need but also be aware and know their rights, especially for those teens who have entered the workforce for the first time or have taken on new responsibilities as they have gotten older. Parents and teens should always ask questions, especially when they’re concerned for safety.

A common theme for parents of kids who have been injured is to find out what your child has been assigned to do, and sit down with your child and find out if there are dangers involved. Ask your teen about the equipment used on the job and whether he or she has been asked to do anything unsafe. Tell your children that no job is worth their life.

All workers have a right to appropriate training and can refuse work assignments that are unsafe.

In Nebraska …

Federal hour restrictions for children 14 and 15 years old are: not over 3 hours on a school day; not over 18 hours in a school week; not over 8 hours on a non-school day; not over 40 hours in a non-school week; and not before 7 a.m. nor after 7 p.m. (9 p.m. from June 1 through Labor Day). For more federal regulations, click here.

Children under 16 years old may not be employed in any work that is dangerous to life or limb, or in which the child’s health may be injured or their morals depraved.

The law allows 14- and 15-year-olds to perform tasks such as office work, cashiering and stocking shelves, but they can’t cook, bake or use power equipment.

Youth ages 16 and 17 may do more at work, but there are still restrictions. They can’t operate or work around heavy, moving equipment. They’re also not allowed to use equipment like meat slicers or meat grinders.

Employers must have a minor work permit endorsement on their business license to legally hire teens.

The Department of Labor may issue a special permit to allow the employment of 14- and 15-year-old children before 6 a.m. or after 10 p.m. provided there is no school scheduled these days and after an inspection of the working conditions at the business location. Special permits may be issued for up to 90 days and may be renewed.

Be excited for your children as they enter young adulthood, but know of the dangers that can be presented, and do not fear asking tough questions and researching your child’s employment tasks.  Their life and limb may depend on it.

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore, which also sponsors the Trucker Lawyers website, are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Five attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 95 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska, Iowa and other states with Nebraska and Iowa jurisdiction. 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 Safety Rules, Workers' Compensation, Workplace Injury, Workplace Safety and tagged , , .

Medical Records Important for Workers’ Compensation Claim

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Medical records are necessary to substantiate an injured worker’s claim. At a minimum, injured workers and attorneys need the records from doctors and hospitals to show the diagnoses the workers have and the treatment that they have received. This includes records from physical therapy, MRI, pain management, orthopedic, etc.  

Every injured worker has a right to receive her or his medical records, and by law should be able to obtain those records promptly at a fair cost.

Federal law is clear: a patient has the “right to obtain from [their health care providers] a copy of [their medical records] in an electronic format,” 42 USC § 17935(e)(1), and that health care providers may bill “only the cost of … copying, including the cost of supplies for and labor of copying,” 45 CFR 164.524(c)(4)(i). This is all part of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH Act).

Rehm, Bennett & Moore employs the HITECH Act on behalf of injured clients to represent them in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore, which also sponsors the Trucker Lawyers website, are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Five attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 95 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska, Iowa and other states with Nebraska and Iowa jurisdiction. 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 and tagged , , , , , , , .

Daylight Savings: Suggestions to help workers adapt to the time change

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Today’s blog post comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s NIOSH Science Blog, via Jon Gelman of Jon L. Gelman, L.L.C., who is a respected advocate for injured workers in New Jersey.

Daylight saving time has many concerns that come along with the “springing ahead” of the clocks. In addition to the added challenge of being on time to commitments on Sunday and also on time to work on Monday and throughout that week, there are some very real safety concerns that have to do with the time change.

“It can take about one week for the body to adjust the new times for sleeping, eating, and activity (Harrison, 2013). Until they have adjusted, people can have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, and waking up at the right time. This can lead to sleep deprivation and reduction in performance, increasing the risk for mistakes including vehicle crashes. Workers can experience somewhat higher risks to both their health and safety after the time changes (Harrison, 2013). A study by Kirchberger and colleagues (2015) reported men and persons with heart disease may be at higher risk for a heart attack during the week after the time changes in the Spring and Fall,” according to the original article from the CDC’s NIOSH Science Blog.

In addition, a source from this blog post that ran last year, argues that adjusting to the time change can actually take people up to three weeks to recover, and night owls are on the longer end of that spectrum. Also, those who sleep fewer hours – seven or less per day – will struggle more with time changes, according to the CDC’s article, which is linked to above.

Finally, as mentioned on social media during the last Trucker Tuesday posts, you never know what the person next to you is doing or how he or she has been sleeping, so truck drivers and people on the road should take extra care to have safety and defensive driving in mind, especially this week.

“Remind workers to be especially vigilant while driving, at work, and at home to protect themselves since others around them may be sleepier and at risk for making an error that can cause a vehicle crash or other accident,” according to the CDC.

Finally, I would urge you to both have fun and take it easy until your body is used to the perception of an increase in the daylight hours, which brings more time to work and do outside things that mean the arrival of spring! Take care.

DaylightSavingsTimeWeb

Spring forward Fall back.

We all know the saying to help us remember to adjust our clocks for the daylight savings time changes (this Sunday in case you are wondering). But, what can we do to help workers adjust to the effects of the time change? A few studies have examined these issues but many questions remain on this topic including the best strategies to cope with the time changes.

By moving the clocks ahead one hour in the Spring, we lose one hour which shifts work times and other scheduled events one hour earlier. This pushes most people to have a one hour earlier bedtime and wake up time. In the Fall, time moves back one hour. We gain one hour which shifts work times and other scheduled events one hour later thereby pushing most people to have a one hour later bedtime and wake up time.

It can take about one week for the body to adjust the new times for sleeping, eating, and activity (Harrision, 2013). Until they have adjusted, people can have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, and waking up at the right time. This can lead to sleep deprivation and reduction in performance, increasing the risk for mistakes including vehicle crashes. Workers can experience somewhat higher risks to both their health and safety after the time changes (Harrison, 2013). A study by Kirchberger and colleagues (2015) reported men and persons with heart disease may be at higher risk for a heart attack during the week after the time changes in the Spring and Fall.

The reason for these…

[Click here to see the rest of this post]

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore, which also sponsors the Trucker Lawyers website, are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Five attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 95 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska, Iowa and other states with Nebraska and Iowa jurisdiction. 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.

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