Category Archives: Texas

Workers’ Memorial Day Provides Time to Reflect, Act

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It seems like we spend a lot of time encouraging readers to reflect by thinking about their lives and the lives of others who are less fortunate. We also encourage folks to advocate for workers’ rights and safety. And yes, this encouragement does sometimes come at the expense of business profits.

One way to reflect, act and help workers is by observing Workers’ Memorial Day on Sunday, Apr. 28.

“Each and every day in this country, on average 13 workers die on the job as a result of workplace injuries – women and men who go to work, never to return home to their families and loved ones,” according to the AFL-CIO.

It seems especially bittersweet to us that the number of workers killed for one day of the year on average is so close to the number of workers killed at the West, Texas, fertilizer plant explosion. Although it seems the media is much more focused on other news, there is a strong grassroots effort to continue the coverage of the fertilizer plant explosion in Texas, especially to figure out what caused it.

By reflecting on the risks that all workers take and acting to promote safety, Workers’ Memorial Day will be even more successful. And most importantly, all of our loved ones will have safer workplaces.

There are many resources to access to find out more about Workers’ Memorial Day events near you. Here are some links, along with the specific information for Nebraska and Iowa:

  • Iowa
    Workers’ Memorial Day Ceremony
    Friday, Apr. 26, 11 a.m.
    Iowa Workforce Development, Des Moines
    via http://www.iowaworkforce.org/labor/
  • Nebraska
    4th Annual Workers’ Memorial Day
    Sunday, Apr. 28, 7 p.m.
    Nebraska State Capitol North Steps, Lincoln

According to the Lancaster County Democratic Party, via email, “representatives from State, Federal, United Support Memorial for Workplace Fatalities (USMWF), Unions, Co-workers, Employers and the community come together and honor the men and women that have been injured or killed in a preventable work related incident.”

Please see the website below for more details: http://www.workermemorialday.org/WMD2013.htm

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 Iowa, Nebraska, Texas, Workplace Safety and tagged , , , , .

Texas Plant Explosion Is Too Close

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The fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas, is a tragedy. That tragedy hits uncomfortably close to home in rural states like Nebraska and Iowa where many fertilizer plants are located.

I agree with pundits who argue that the West, Texas, explosion, is a failure related to deregulation and cuts in spending on workplace safety. However, both Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal report that West Fertilizer Co had been fined $5,200 in 2012 by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials and Safety Administration and also by the Environmental Protection Agency. Bloomberg reported that the Obama administration increased inspections of fertilizer plants under the auspices of Homeland Security. But the fine and inspection by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials and Safety Administration and EPA fail to undermine the argument that the explosion is related to lax enforcement of workplace safety rules for two reasons. First of all, inspectors under the auspices of Homeland Security and the EPA don’t specifically address workplace-safety concerns. Secondly, a fine for $5,200 fails to act as much of deterrent for bad conduct.

As of the writing of this piece (Friday, Apr. 19) the national media hasn’t discussed the role that the workers’ compensation and civil justice system could play in recovery from this disaster. Though it was reported that no workers were in the plant, CNN reported that many first responders were killed responding to the explosion. Unfortunately, Texas is unique in having an opt-out workers’ compensation system. In other words, the families of the first responders killed responding to the fire may not be able to collect workers’ compensation benefits. If a Texas employer opts out of workers’ compensation, the employee can sue the employer for negligence. However the whole reason workers’ compensation was instituted was because many work injuries are not caused by employer or employee negligence. Maybe there was negligence on the part of the employers of the first responders, but if not – and there was no negligence by their employers – then the first responders will not be able to collect workers’ compensation benefits. Any employees of West Fertilizer Co who were killed or injured on the job would be in a similar predicament to the first responders. If the plant had been in Nebraska or Iowa, the workers in the plant would have been able to get workers’ compensation but likely would not be able to sue the plant.

However, if there was negligence by West Fertilizer Co and they opted out of workers’ compensation, then the killed and injured workers could sue West for negligence. Under Texas law, the fertilizer company would lose defenses such as contributory negligence and assumption of risk. Texas also has exemplary or punitive damages available for the injured and killed workers as well as other harmed by the accident.

Iowa has punitive damages, but Nebraska does not have them. In other words, a Nebraska community would have more trouble winning fair compensation for a fertilizer explosion than a community in Texas or Iowa, because Nebraska lacks punitive damages.

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 Iowa, Nebraska, Texas, Workers' Compensation, Workplace Injury and tagged , , , .