Tag Archives: COVID

Your rights when COVID vaccinations go wrong

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Good news ! (For once)

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you know there is a COVID-19 vaccine. But what happens if something goes wrong with the vaccination and or if something goes wrong with the vaccination if you are required to be vaccinated for your job?

Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program (CICP)

Negative reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine can be compensated through the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program (CICP) The CICP is administered through the Health Resources and Services Administration. You can find out about the claims process here.

The CICP is similar to, but separate from, the National Injury Vaccine Injury Compensation (VICP) fund, which pays individuals on a no-fault basis for adverse reactions to some vaccines.

Workers compensation and COVID-19 vaccinations.

So, would an injury from a work-mandated COVID-19 vaccination be covered by workers’ compensation? I believe so. Workers compensation covers injury arising out of an in the course and scope of employment.  If you get hurt doing something ordered by your employer, you are likely covered by workers’ compensation unless you are substantially deviating from your job duties.

So a worker who has an adverse reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine or another type of vaccine would have two claims – a workers compensation claim and a claim against a vaccine fund. Typically if a third-party is responsible for a work injury, workers compensation can claim some right of repayment called subrogation.

However, I am not sure if workers compensation subrogation would apply to compensation paid out under a no-fault vaccination program. Todd Bennett and I discussed this around the coffee machine on Friday morning. Nebraska’s subrogation statutes seem to envision a situation where an employee files a traditional negligence case for a work injury. My guess is that workers compensation would likely claim a subrogation right against settlements from a vaccine fund, but that an injured worker – or their lawyers — should be able to push back against any repayment claims by a workers’ compensation insurer.

Botched injection injuries

I’ve never had a case involving a vaccine reaction. But I have had workers’ compensation cases involving botched injection that lead to muscle and joint injuries. Again those are workers’ compensation cases. I would expect a fair number of those types of injuries as public health authorities rush to vaccinate millions as quickly as possible. There may also be a negligence or malpractice case against the provider of the vaccinations.

The handling of the pandemic doesn’t engender much confidence in how corporate America and government officials will handle the mass vaccinations required to end the pandemic. People need to know their rights and exercise those rights if and when vaccinations go wrong.

The offices of Rehm, Bennett, Moore & Rehm, 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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Sacrificing essential workers in the name of “bipartisanship”

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Last week daily COVID-19 related deaths reached a daily rate equal to the September 11th terror attacks. Weekly unemployment claims remained higher than during the 2008-2010 recession. But never fear, a group of bi-partisan group of federal legislators came up with a solution:

Protecting corporations from lawsuits related to COVID-19.

The liability protections were part of a “super-skinny” relief package put together by the so-called “Problem Solvers Caucus” and supported by Democratic congressional leaders.

University of Wyoming Law Professor Michael Duff wrote a much better version of the blog post that was rattling around in my head on treadmill on Thursday morning. I’ve written plenty about how workers’ compensation is an inadequate remedy for COVID-19, but that it blocks efforts for workers to seek justice outside of workers’ compensation.

Duff’s points out tht more workers, particularly in the gig economy, are denied even basic employment protects workers compensation. Liability protections would take away the right of contractors or gig workers to sue for catching COVID due to corporate negligence. Duff called the proposal “treacherous” and “not civilizational.” In the final paragraph he more or less states the liability provision creates a constitutional crisis.

I agree with Professor Duff.

The constitutional crisis is that Congress wants to strip rights from essential workers. Sure, the legislation only calls for a liability shield for six months, but how easy would it before Congress to extend the shield once it’s implemented?

Maybe this sounds like a paranoid slippery-slope argument, but one of the raps on outgoing President Trump was that he violated norms with his behavior and conduct which undermined the Constitutional order. I think that that’s true. Norms were supposed to be respected with the election of Joe Biden and the return of “the adults in the room.” A bi-partisan group of self-proclaimed problem solvers defines what it means to be “the adults in the room.” Turns out the “adults in the room” don’t really respect norms either. The norm in this case is the basic ability of a person to have some access to the court system to address harm

The poor behavior of the “adults in the room” is dispiriting to say the least. Advertisers and politicians have extolled the “essential worker” throughout the pandemic. In some states, New Jersey as an example, that talk has turned into helpful action for essential workers. But hearing politicians who vote for COVID-19 liability shields celebrate essential workers rings hollow.

The fact that tort reform is part of a take or leave it deal, where the consequences of leaving it will be millions of people slipping into destitution is disturbing.

The offices of Rehm, Bennett, Moore & Rehm, 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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Higher out of pocket costs in disputed comp. claims other COVID workers comp(lications)

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I had an awful realization summarizing medical bills in preparation for a workers’ compensation trial; injured workers who aren’t exposed to COVID-19 are in for a nasty surprise due to the resurgent pandemic: having to pay deductible in denied or disputes workers’ compensation.

Due to the COVID-19, many hospitals in Nebraska are delaying non-urgent surgeries because of lack of space in hospitals. Often times orthopedic injuries which are the most common workers’ compensation injuries are deemed to be non-urgent.

Of course, if workers’ compensation cases are accepted a worker doesn’t have to worry about medical expenses. However, many workers compensation case are disputed. In disputed case, many workers fortunate enough to still have health insurance pay for surgeries with private health insurance.

But private insurance requires you to burn through a deductible in order to have insurance start paying benefits. Your typical white-collar weekend warrior or Crossfit mom typically waits until the year to have surgeries as they don’t have to pay the deductible because it was spent down through out the year

But because of delays in non-urgent surgeries, more injured workers paying for surgeries in disputed workers compensation cases with private insurance will need to pay deductibles for procedures delayed into 2021.

So what options do workers have in this situation?

The first option is to get a lawyer and file a workers’ compensation lawsuit if you haven’t done so already. This may seem self-serving, but under Nebraska law, if a medical bill is related to a workers’ compensation claim a provider must delay collections efforts until the case resolves. (Of course, if you need a surgery and] your employer or their workers compensation insurer is denying medical care, you should get a lawyer even if you don’t have to pay a deductible)

Other problems with COVID delays

Higher out of pocket medical costs aren’t the only hitch for injured workers due to surgical delays to due to COVID-19. Workers who need to miss work due to a medical condition only have 12 weeks of job protected leave under the Family Medical Leave Act. (FMLA) Delays in surgery due to COVID may prolong treatment and return to work beyond 12 weeks.

Earlier in the pandemic, I thought the silver lining of medical delays could mean more temporary total disability (TTD) for injured workers waiting for medical treatment. I still think that could be true, but I can also see employers being more aggressive in return to work or voluntold community service light duty work to get around paying lost income benefits. Voluntold light duty assignments are full of pitfalls for injured workers

The offices of Rehm, Bennett, Moore & Rehm, 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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