Monthly Archives: July 2011

California remains hotbed of workers’ comp issues

Illinois’ workers’ comp system finds new way to make news: deny a cheap headset

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Longtime California residents may be wondering “What the heck happened to our state?”

Who could blame them, given one public scandal after another, for years on end?

Funds voted toward California fraud probes

A recent piece in the North County Times addresses worker’s comp fraud:

Funding to fight workers’ compensation fraud slightly increased this year despite a tough state budget climate and a limp economy.

On Tuesday, State Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones recommended a grant of $4,861,584 to investigate and prosecute workers’ compensation fraud for San Diego County’s district attorney office. That’s about $36,000 more than what the county received last year, according to Dave Lattuca, the chief of the insurance fraud division for the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office.

Riverside County will receive a grant of $1,463,732.

This year’s grant to San Diego County is the second-highest funding level recommended to a district attorney’s office in the fiscal year that began July 1, according to Jones’ office.

The state urged $5.7 million for Los Angeles County to fight workers’ compensation fraud —- the most of California’s 36 counties. Riverside County ranked No. 6 with its award.

In total, the state insurance commissioner announced $32 million in grants to fight fraud throughout California —- slightly higher than last fiscal year’s total of $31 million, according to Dave Althausen, a spokesman for Jones.

Revised contract: a ‘brawl’ between providers and carriers?

A July 11 report from Insurance Journal calls into question whether injured workers are the focus that they should be:

A controversy in the California workers’ compensation market over a revised provider contract threatens to erupt into an all-out legal brawl as doctors for injured workers and applicants’ attorneys take aim at the state’s largest carrier.

The nonprofit State Compensation Insurance Fund, California’s carrier of last resort, has drawn intense criticism over its newly implemented medical provider network (MPN) contract.

State Fund, as the carrier is known, has stood by the recent changes, saying patients will benefit from the contract revisions, all of which it says were made following state law.

However, the California Society of Industrial Medicine and Surgery (CSIMS) and the California Applicants’ Attorneys Association (CAAA) decry the contract as fraught with legal deficiencies and ethical issues that pose harm to employees at workplaces operated by State Fund’s roughly 180,000 policyholders.

CSIMS, which represents doctors who treat workers’ compensation patients, described the State Fund MPN contract as a “heavy-handed” attempt at contract medicine.

In expressing the organization’s “grave concerns,” CSIMS Executive Vice President Carlyle Brakensiek said the contract compels doctors to restrict injured workers’ right to treatment.

Illinois’ system back in the news

Regular readers know we’ve been covering the scandal-ridden Illinois workers’  comp system; among our more recent updates was this post about the Menard prison facility.

More recently, the Belleville News-Democrat has done it again, that is, scooped every other news organization, this time about a worker who was denied a simple set of cheap headphones. Gotta tell you, if I were the local, nearby AP Bureau Chief, I’d assign a reporter to this Illinois workers’ comp agency. The BND.com folks are likely to win beaucoup awards for this ongoing coverage.

OK, back to news from BND.com: “Prison clerk’s lack of headset costly to taxpayers — $128,424 in medical bills so far”:

Prison finance clerk Angela Grott complained to her supervisors that file drawers at her work station jammed, the computer keyboard was set too high and her chair was hard to move, according to state workers’ compensation records.

While Grott stated these factors contributed to pain in her neck and shoulder area, she testified during a Dec. 14 workers’ compensation hearing that it was primarily the lack of a headset for the telephone at her desk at the Menard Correctional Center that caused severe pain. She said this pain worsened because, not having a headset, she was forced to hold the telephone receiver in the crook of her neck for hours while typing on a keyboard.

Grott’s workers’ comp claim so far has resulted in a $128,424 medical bill that must be paid by public money because Illinois is self-insured.

While headsets were readily available close to the prison — one currently sells for $9.96 at the Chester Walmart — Grott testified at the hearing that her supervisors repeatedly rejected her requests to provide one or to ergonomically alter her work station.

Reached at her job at the prison, Grott said, “I have no comment.”

A spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Corrections said officials are waiting for headsets to arrive. They will then be given to any employee who wants one.

As you might surmise from the preceding, workers’ comp cases can get very involved in government problems that have nothing to do with obtaining prompt, thorough treatment for an injured worker.

We can help you find an attorney

Frequently enough, a worker’s compensation case may be so complex as to demand legal representation. However, sometimes what seems like a cut-and-dried situation to an injured worker may result in a smaller award than envisioned–or even a denial. Have you, a friend or a loved one been injured on the job? Whether you’re merely seeking answers about your rights or believe a lawsuit may be necessary, be sure to seek counsel with attorneys trained and experienced in workers’ compensation. Here’s some resources:

Workers compensation basics

Injury on the job

NFL players retain right to file for benefits in states where away-games are played

GOP Assemblyman up in arms over California labor statute

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Hagman wants to change statute that makes ‘Golden State a magnet’ for injured NFL players

A July 5 piece at InsuranceJournal.com discusses a GOP state legislative leader who wants to change California law such that NFL players injured in away games played there can no longer file for workers’ comp benefits:

A leading Republican in the California State Legislature said he will push for an overhaul of a state labor law that makes the Golden State a magnet for workers’ compensation claims by injured former professional football players.

Curt Hagman [R, 60th district], the ranking Republican member on the Assembly Committee on Insurance, said it is “outrageous” that the state’s workers’ compensation framework allows retired professional athletes with no significant nexus to California to file claims for long-term injuries in the state.

[A] California statute uniquely affords protections to employees on assignment temporarily in the state. Analysts say hundreds of out-of-state claims are pending. The issue attracted attention in June when a unit of Travelers Insurance sued the Denver Broncos of the National Football League (NFL) over workers’ compensation claims filed in California by former Denver players.

Ongoing dispute was first known as the ‘Bengals situation’

Actually, the issue attracted notice before that–when we started covering it, the issue was known in NFL circles as “the Bengals situation.” We most recently mentioned the issue in March, in connection to another facet of  NFL workers’ comp coverage. We’ve also wondered aloud in these pages whether this might be a major issue in the negotiations between the league and players. Now the negotiations have concluded, ending the lockout, we see that workers’ comp was indeed an issue.

League was “desperate’ to change clause in collective bargaining

A July 26 piece at BusinessInsurance.com describes the NFL as “desperate” to close what it regarded as a loophole–and it’s not restricted to California:

The National Football League’s new collective bargaining agreement will allow players to file workers compensation claims in states where their teams are not based, a loophole the league had tried desperately to close during negotiations.

The NFL and the National Football League Players Assn. signed off on the new CBA on Monday with both sides agreeing on terms that will allow the season to start Aug. 4. Workers compensation was among the sticking points the two sides had yet to agree on as negotiations wound down over the past several days.

On July 23, an email by player representative and New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees outlined three primary issues the players association still was grappling with, including workers compensation.

“The NFL is trying to impose a system where they can restrict which states we can file for workers comp,” Mr. Brees wrote in his email, which was published by the NBC Sports blog, Pro Football Talk. Mr. Brees added that workers comp is a “major benefit when it comes to long-term health care,” and that “(the players) will never let (the league) restrict our health and safety long term.”

Mostly at issue is California’s labor law, which has been the reason that several former pro football players file workers comp claims in the state despite not having played for any teams based there.

Under the state’s current law, it allows players to make a claim in California if the player has played at least one game within the state.

Despite new CBA agreement, states might change their rules

However, just because the new agreement retains the player-friendly clause, that doesn’t mean states won’t change their laws. And the BI piece says that California lawmakers are “aggressively” trying to change its laws.

The section in question is apparently 3600.5(b) of the California Labor Code concerning “extraterritorial coverage,” which states that in order for employers to be exempt from California labor law, employees working temporarily in California must be covered by workers’ comp from the home state that applies to work performed out of state; further, California must be furnished with a “certificate from the duly authorized officer of the appeals board or similar department of another state certifying that the employer of such other state is insured therein and has provided extraterritorial coverage.”

Assemblyman calls for investigation

Quoted in the IJ account, Assemblyman Hagman called the current law “ridiculous”: “Retired professional athletes who never played for California-based teams should not be afforded remedy for claims of cumulative trauma under California’s injured workers’ statutes, Hagman said in an interview with the Insurance Journal. ‘It’s ridiculous and there definitely needs to be an investigation,’ said Hagman, R-Chino Hills, a member of the Assembly Republican leadership.”

Analyst argues for Congressional intervention in crafting consistent, league-wide policy

Frank Neuhauser, described as a “University of California-based social insurance analyst” and workers’ comp expert, raises a pertinent question about distinguishing between cumulative injuries, aggregated over a player’s career, and a discrete, one-time injury that can be pinpointed to a specific game.

He also makes a valid point that NFL players should get Congressional help in creating a workers’ comp policy that fairly applies to all players, no matter where the game is played. “To help quell jurisdictional issues and mitigate legal variances among the states, Neuhauser said the NFL should administer a league-wide workers’ compensation program that’s built into players’ health care plans. Such a system, he explained, would likely require national legislation since a program would extend across state lines.

“ ‘This is something the league and Congress should work on,’ Neuhauser told the Insurance Journal.”

Whatever happens, it won’t affect players in this short-workout season–the California Assembly won’t reconvene until 2012.

We can help you find an attorney

Frequently enough, a worker’s compensation case may be so complex as to demand legal representation. However, sometimes what seems like a cut-and-dried situation to an injured worker may result in a smaller award than envisioned–or even a denial. Have you, a friend or a loved one been injured on the job? Whether you’re merely seeking answers about your rights or believe a lawsuit may be necessary, be sure to seek counsel with attorneys trained and experienced in workers’ compensation. Here’s some resources:

Workers compensation basics

Injury on the job

Bill would revamp, ‘modernize’ federal workers’ comp

Employers urged to protect workers from heat stress

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With the headline “Federal government seeks to take workers’ comp off ‘autopilot’, ” a July 21 piece at Risk & Insurance says, “As many state legislatures are looking at ways to revamp their workers’ comp systems, a similar move is afoot at the federal level.

“Earlier this month a congressional committee passed legislation to overhaul the federal workers’ comp program — the first such action in nearly 40 years.”

History and perspective

FedSmith.com provides some background and an example:

Since 1916, a workers’ compensation program has provided benefits to federal employees who suffer injuries or illnesses as the result of their work. The program, established by the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA), is operated by the Department of Labor and covers an estimated three million federal employees.  During the last fiscal year, beneficiaries received nearly $3 billion in compensation.

The problem the Congressmen outlined as defining the need for the legislation is that the federal employees’ workers compensation program has not been updated in nearly 40 years which has led to a number of inefficiencies.

A couple of examples: Workers in rural areas often have limited access to medical care and only certain medical professionals can certify a worker’s disability. Additionally, compensation is often determined by outdated information that does not reflect the realities of the 21st century workplace.

Funeral expenses and disfigurement benefits

A July 13 account at Federal Times explains further aspects of the proposal: “HR 2465, the Federal Workers’ Compensation Modernization and Improvement Act, would provide up to $6,000 for funeral expenses when a federal employee dies from injuries sustained in the performance of his job. And a federal employee whose face, head or neck is severely disfigured in the line of duty would get up to $50,000, depending on how bad the disfigurement is.

Enhanced capacity for Labor Department to ID double-dippers

“The bill would also give the Labor Department more power to identify employees who illegally work elsewhere while receiving federal workers’ compensation. Labor would be able to check Social Security Administration earnings data for someone on workers’ comp to make sure he isn’t double-dipping.

Certification capabilities extended to physician assistants and nurse practitioners

“The bill would allow physician assistants and advanced practice nurses, such as nurse practitioners, to certify that someone has been disabled by a traumatic injury. That provision is expected to speed up the process for someone to receive disability benefits. The bill’s sponsors, such as committee chairman John Kline, R-Minn., said this will help federal workers in rural areas who often have limited access to medical care.”

Addressing workers hurt in zones ‘of armed conflict’ and as ‘result of terrorism’

A July 14 report from Insurance Journal adds that “The measure also streamlines the claims process for workers who sustain a traumatic injury in a designated zone of armed conflict; authorizes the labor department to collect administrative costs and expenses from the federal agency that employs the injured or ill worker; ensures injuries sustained as the result of terrorism are covered as a war-risk hazard; and provides additional support for funeral expenses (up to $6,000) and for workers who sustain an injury that leads to facial disfigurement (up to $50,000).”

Keeping workers safe when exposed to extreme heat

A timely piece at an insurance “trade journal” site reminds us to manage heat-related stress to keep workers safe and prevent unnecessary workers’ comp claims. The article cautions managers and employers to remember that heat-stress is not limited to outdoor workers:

Heat-related exposure includes not only heat cramps, heat exhaustion, fainting and heat stroke, but also injuries from falls, equipment operation and accidents that occur when a worker has sweaty palms or fogged safety glasses or becomes dizzy, disoriented or fatigued as a result of dehydration.

Studies show that dehydration levels of 2 percent of body weight or more impair visual motor tracking, short-term memory, attention and arithmetic efficiency. A 23 percent reduction in reaction time occurs at the 4 percent dehydration level. Such declines in cognitive performance significantly can increase the risk of work-related accidents.

The problem is not limited to those who work outside. Those who work around machinery and in confined spaces – such as mechanics, steamfitters, ship builders, plumbers, bakery workers, boiler room workers and drycleaners – can be at risk for heat stress.

According to the CDC, heat stress manifests in five major ways, from most dangerous to least:

  • heat stroke
  • heat exhaustion
  • heat syncope (fainting, dizziness)
  • heat cramps
  • heat rash.

Recommendations for Employers

Employers should take the following steps to protect workers from heat stress:

  • Schedule maintenance and repair jobs in hot areas for cooler months.
  • Schedule hot jobs for the cooler part of the day.
  • Acclimatize workers by exposing them for progressively longer periods to hot work environments.
  • Reduce the physical demands of workers.
  • Use relief workers or assign extra workers for physically demanding jobs.
  • Provide cool water or liquids to workers.
    • Avoid drinks with caffeine, alcohol, or large amounts of sugar.
  • Provide rest periods with water breaks.
  • Provide cool areas for use during break periods.
  • Monitor workers who are at risk of heat stress.
  • Provide heat stress training that includes information about:
    • Worker risk
    • Prevention
    • Symptoms
    • The importance of monitoring yourself and coworkers for symptoms
    • Treatment
    • Personal protective equipment

Next time: More info, resources for workers at risk of heat stress.

We can help you find an attorney

Frequently enough, a worker’s compensation case may be so complex as to demand legal representation. However, sometimes what seems like a cut-and-dried situation to an injured worker may result in a smaller award than envisioned–or even a denial. Have you, a friend or a loved one been injured on the job? Whether you’re merely seeking answers about your rights or believe a lawsuit may be necessary, be sure to seek counsel with attorneys trained and experienced in workers’ compensation. Here’s some resources:

Workers compensation basics

Injury on the job

Florida, Montana pass major revisions to workers’ comp law

Montana wants to shed rep as “highest-premium state,” but realizes too many workers get hurt

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Last time we ended with workers’ comp news about an undocumented worker in Florida, who won benefits and ignited a controversy among the legislators, who presumably write the laws.

Governor Scott signs ‘catch-all’ bill

Today we lead off with Florida, which has recently made several changes to its workers’ comp laws.
According to a July 11 piece in Claims Journal:

A variety of changes to Florida’s workers’ compensation law went into effect July 1.

Gov. Rick Scott signed into law CS/HB 1087, a catch-all insurance bill that includes changes relating to workers’ compensation policy cancellations, premium audits and prepaid benefit cards.

One change allows injured workers to receive their monetary benefits in the form of a prepaid card. Under the previous law, benefits were only payable by check or direct deposit into an injured worker’s bank account.

Pre-paid card comes with restrictions

I assume this refers to lost-wages benefits or some sort of long-term disability award. Otherwise, I would expect the carrier to pay the provider directly for cost of treatment(s), after approval of billing codes. Whatever the case, it doesn’t like an improvement to me. Consider the following passage from the article:  “If injured workers choose the prepaid card option, they must have at least one means of accessing their weekly benefits without incurring any fees. They must also have the ability to make point-of-sale purchases without incurring fees from the financial institution issuing the card.”

What was wrong with checks and direct deposits?

Other changes include calendar-year, assessment rate mods

At any rate, several other changes take effect with the new law, including:

  • moving Special Disability Trust Fund assessments from a fiscal year to a calendar year basis;
  • the assessment rate on assessable mutual, electrical cooperative self-insurance funds and individual self-insurers is 1.46 percent of their net written premiums from July 1 through December 31–January 1, 2012, the assessment rate drops to 1.44 percent;
  • employer premium audits are no longer required unless mandated by the insurance policy; otherwise audits can be requested by regulators or those insured;
  • the new law provides that for effective date of a cancellation is either the date requested by the insured or the date of the written request if no date is specified;
  • insurers may send a notice of renewal premium or nonrenewal of a policy only to the location that administers the policy–touted as a cost-cutting measure, eliminating redundant certified-mail notices to all named insureds.

High-cost, high-risk Montana shoots for improvement

Montana is another state with a troubled workers’ comp system and has been mulling systemic revisions for quite some time; we covered one angle in February. A parallel to Florida may be the emergence of cash settlements, perhaps leaving the injured worker to seek treatment and pay providers on their own. According to a July 11 account from KRTV.com:

Among the changes:

  • Injured workers are now able to settle claims for a cash sum rather than undergoing treatment with insurance.
  • Severely injured employees will have to illustrate that they still need care after five years.
  • There are now treatment guidelines for doctors who see injured workers.
  • Employers will see about a 20% decrease in their rates.

‘Reforms’ may take years to evaluate

A July 10 editorial in the Helena Independent Record says this:

The changes went into effect the first of this month, but it will be five years or more before we know with any certainty whether the Legislature’s revisions to the state’s workers’ compensation laws will result in the lower premiums every business owner wants while still taking proper care of people hurt on the job who genuinely need long-term insurance coverage.

Officials with the Montana State Fund believe the changes will make insuring Montana’s workers less expensive — and lowered their rates an average of some 20 percent on July 1 to account for the new regs.

“We’re betting on the outcome because we so desperately needed to reduce costs to deal with the perception that Montana had an unfriendly workers’ compensation environment for employers,” Laurence Hubbard, CEO of the Montana State Fund, said in an interview this week.

For many years business leaders have bemoaned Montana’s highest-in-the-nation workers comp insurance rates, claiming the high rates not only stifled growth among businesses here, but discouraged anyone else from setting up shop in Montana. Those high premium costs were driven by a number of factors, and everyone who touched the system in some way could share in the blame. Medical payments for hurt workers were found to be higher here than the national average — the same injury in Montana costs insurers more than in many other states. Accident frequency is higher in Montana than it should be, even when accounting for the number of more dangerous jobs here. And Montana had too many cases of “permanent, partial” disabilities, people who are close to full health after several years but who remain in the workers compensation system for years longer.

Accident frequency should be Number-One Priority

Of course, no state wants to be ranked as highest-in-workers’ comp-premiums–which we reported when Montana swapped places with Alaska–and none of the citizens of any state want to subsidize scammers who game the system. What should be most alarming in the preceding passage, though, is this: “Accident frequency is higher in Montana than it should be. . . .”

Unfortunately, each state has its own rules and regs, and oftentimes the best route for an injured worker is to hire a trained, experienced workers’ comp attorney.

We can help you find an attorney

Frequently enough, a worker’s compensation case may be so complex as to demand legal representation. However, sometimes what seems like a cut-and-dried situation to an injured worker may result in a smaller award than envisioned–or even a denial. Have you, a friend or a loved one been injured on the job? Whether you’re merely seeking answers about your rights or believe a lawsuit may be necessary, be sure to seek counsel with attorneys trained and experienced in workers’ compensation. Here’s some resources:

Workers compensation basics

Injury on the job

Carrier rejects claim of injured (volunteer) firefighter–who was hurt at fire hall

In Florida, ‘illegal alien’ case riles those who write the laws in the first place

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What is it with carriers and volunteer firefighters?

We’ve written several times, most recently here, about workers’ comp problems for volunteer firefighters in West Virginia, a state where most of the fire departments are volunteer outfits–which creates an insurance problem for many, many homeowners when the local VFD can’t obtain workers’ comp coverage.

Admittedly, the West Virginia situation is somewhat complex and involves some advanced underwriting math and arcane–possibly outdated–state law.

Vermont denial raises fundamental questions

But this case in Vermont seems to fly in the face of logic and all things reasonable. If you’ve got what seems to you be a slam-dunk case for receiving workers’ comp benefits, you may want to check this out. According to a recent piece from a local NBC affiliate, WPTZ.com, a volunteer firefighter was injured in a fall while performing maintenance at the fire hall. We’re not talking a sprained ankle, either.

The Colchester Volunteer Fire Department is speaking out over a workers’ comp denial for one of its firefighters, saying the state law has a loophole that could endanger other volunteers.Volunteer firefighter Jason Stech was working on improvements to the fire station last month when he fell and shattered his ankle. Stech filed for workers compensation, but the insurance company denied his claim, saying it was not covered under the state’s definition of “line of duty.”

“You’re covered for any injuries. I assumed (that) meant while I was doing anything that had to do with the department,” Stech said.

Hurt in a parade? OK, you’re covered–hurt at the hall? Nah

Says WCAX.com, another broadcaster’s site:

In June, Stech fell from a ladder while fixing insulation at the station. He fractured his ankle, broke his foot and shattered his heel. His injuries require surgery that will keep him from his paying job for about four months. Now the fire company’s insurer is using Vermont law to deny his workers’ comp claim.

“I think it’s very unfair,” Stech said. “We all go out in the middle of the night to put our lives on the lines in some cases.”

But not in this case, says American Zurich Insurance Company. It based its denial on a legal issue concerning the legislative intent of “line of duty.” The statute says it’s when a firefighter is responding to a fire, a drill or a test, participating in a parade or fundraising. Since Stech wasn’t doing any of those activities he’s ineligible for coverage. But lawmakers argue the insurance company is twisting their intentions.

“Over the history of the workers’ compensation program we have meant it to be read expansively and remedially to benefit the injured worker,” said Sen. Vince Illuzzi, R-Essex-Orleans counties.

More than 90 percent of the state’s fire departments are volunteer. And now some worry that this loophole, sends the wrong message.

Case shows complexity of workers’ comp law

Boy, I’ll say. If a firefighter isn’t covered for injuries sustained AT THE FIREHOUSE, isn’t that like saying the military can only really be hurt in combat? If so, then who does the routine maintenance on aircraft, tanks, and such? By extension, are hard-pressed, donation-dependent VOLUNTEER fire departments supposed to hire contractors to fix up the fire hall? If so, who pays for that? I won’t even belabor the point about being covered during a parade.

This is simply another example of how complex any given workers’ comp case can become. Everybody knows an injured worker should receive proper treatment, paid for by the insurance carrier: That’s why employers buy workers’ comp coverage. But when the system goes haywire, injured workers need help from a trained, experienced workers’ comp attorney.

Birthplace not at issue in workplace injury, says district court

That being said, another case of an undocumented worker receiving workers’ comp benefits has ignited a controversy in Florida. We’ve also covered cases like this, most notably in a piece about Montana and Georgia.

According to a July 7 piece at an insurance trade site, PropertyCasualty360:

The 1st District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee has upheld a lower court’s ruling that an illegal alien working in Florida is entitled to workers’ compensation when injured on the job.

Luis Aragon, who illegally crossed the border into the U.S. 11 years ago when he was 16, was working at HDV Construction Systems, Inc. in Jacksonville when he fell 30 feet and injured his foot and arm in September 2007.

When he was awarded permanent total disability (PTD) benefits from the Judge of Compensation Claims, HDV and its insurer, Gallagher Bassett Services, Inc., resisted, saying that because Aragon was illegally working he was not entitled to PTD.

The court rejected that argument, ruling that the “that the employer knew or should have known that claimant, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, was without the legal right to work” in the U.S. and “the employer hired and continued to unlawfully employ claimant until he was injured in a significant workplace accident.” Aragon did not have a Social Security number or a green card.

The legislators cry out

The backlash in Florida was, apparently, immediate: another July 7 piece ran under this hed: “Lawmakers Blast ‘Illegal’ Workers’ Compensation Case.” (In a whimsical accident of language, the name of the state rep who’s described as “incensed” is Workman):

State Rep. Ritch Workman, R-Melbourne, said he was incensed by the decision, but not necessarily at the undocumented worker.

“The only mistake the judges made was to make workers’ comp insurance ‘must pay.’ The insurance company ought to make the employer pay every dime of that claim. I don’t care if that puts the employer out of business,” Workman said.

Workman said he would support legislation barring illegals from receiving benefits through the state’s workers’ comp system. Any liability in the case of an undocumented worker should fall solely on the employer, he said.

Florida law makes it a misdemeanor to hire an illegal alien, but the statute is virtually unenforceable because it includes the loophole-laden qualifier “knowingly,” says Rep. Bill Snyder, R-Stuart.

We recognize that we’re not likely to have much effect on such large, national issues. But these questions and problems are worth knowing about. If nothing else, knowing about some of the angles involved may help you communicate better if or when you retain an attorney.

We can help you find an attorney

Frequently enough, a worker’s compensation case may be so complex as to demand legal representation. However, sometimes what seems like a cut-and-dried situation to an injured worker may result in a smaller award than envisioned–or even a denial. Have you, a friend or a loved one been injured on the job? Whether you’re merely seeking answers about your rights or believe a lawsuit may be necessary, be sure to seek counsel with attorneys trained and experienced in workers’ compensation. Here’s some resources:

Workers compensation basics

Injury on the job

Soccer roof collapses in the Netherlands

According to CNN news reports, fourteen workers were injured and one dead after a roof collapsed at a soccer stadium in the Netherlands. Moniek Eberhard in the mayor’s office for the town of Enshede reported that the police have initiated search efforts with the help of sniffer dogs.

Two of the workers were seriously injured and were taken to local area hospitals for treatment. Others were treated at the scene for much less serious injuries. Most of the injured were thought to be construction workers, although authorities are not sure how many workers may have been at the scene at the time of the stadium collapse.

The FC Twente soccer club has grown in popularity in the last couple of years finishing second in the top Dutch league, the Eredivisie, last season. The club also appeared for the first time in the Champions League last season.

The club was expanding its stadium to accommodate the growth and the increase in attendance. The Grolsch Veste stadium was having its roof repaired when the collapse occurred.

Although the Netherlands may have different laws regarding injuries at work, if you are injured in the United States and your work injuries occurred while you were performing your job, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills and lost wages. If you are the family member of someone who has been killed in a work injury, you may be entitled to death benefits which can include burial benefits and wage loss compensation.

Filing a Workers Compensation Claim

Most common work injuries are covered by work comp insurance. Claimants who are injured due to intoxication, blatant disregard of safety procedures, intentional actions or while traveling to and from work may not be covered.

There are a variety of work injuries which are covered by workers compensation including the following:

Back and neck injuries
Abrasions and burns
Amputations of arms or legs
Concussions
Heart attack or strokes on the job
Carpal Tunnel
Diseases caused by inhalation of chemicals or other toxins
Bone fractures
Hernia
Torn Rotator Cuff
Torn Meniscus
Bulging disc
Stroke
Asbestosis exposure
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
Cancer
General Anxiety Disorder

Hiring a Workers Compensation Lawyer

Workers compensation can include a variety of benefits which are given to the injured worker including: medical benefits, temporary total disability benefits (TTD), temporary partial disability benefits (TPD), permanent partial disability benefits (PPD), permanent total disability benefits (PTD), vocational rehabilitation and death benefits to surviving dependents.

Talk to a work comp lawyer and find out if your work injury should be covered by work comp benefits. For minor work injuries which do not cause major injury or permanent loss you may not need a work comp lawyer, but if your injury is permanent, serious, or if your employer or their insurance company has denied your work comp claim, talk to a work compensation lawyer who can review your claim and help you negotiate a settlement payment which will compensate you for the full loss of your workplace injuries.

Illinois Updates Workers Compensation Laws

AP news reports that on June 28, 2010, after months of negotiations, the State of Illinois has passed improvements to their workers’ compensation laws which, according to State Senator Christine Radogno, “will lower costs for Illinois’ employers and improve the state’s job climate.”

Radogno adds, “I’ve learned that workers’ compensation is extremely complicated, with many different parties involved—unions, workers, trial lawyers, medical professionals, insurance providers—who often were on different sides of the issue. This law is not perfect, but it is a good agreement that will address some of the more obvious flaws and flagrant abuses of the system.”

Radogno expressed concern that state lawmakers would sufficiently monitor the state’s workers compensation system to make sure that the new law, House Bill 1698, would solve the problems it was intended to address.

The main provisions of the new bill will restrict intoxicated workers from getting workers compensation benefits if they are injured on the job, stop “doctor shopping” by employees and require Illinois workers’ compensation claims to be evaluated using the guidelines established by the American Medical Association (AMA). The law will also make adjustments to the medical fee schedule.

According to proponents of the bill, the states workers compensation system needs a drastic overhaul which this bill will address. Charges have been made recently by the media that the Illinois system is full of “ineptitude and corruption”.

Radogno admits that the main goal of the new law is to create a good job environment. “In the past, the state’s high workers’ compensation rates have acted as a disincentive for job creators. This law addresses our main objectives: it will lower the cost for Illinois’ employers, and it will ensure injured workers are taken care of.”

What is Workers Compensation?

Workers’ compensation insurance is provided to most employees and will pay for injuries which occur while an employee is performing their normal job functions. Not all work injuries are covered by work comp insurance. Injuries which are caused by intoxication, flagrantly ignoring standard safety procedures or while traveling to and from work may not be covered.

Common work injuries which may be covered by Illinois work comp laws may include: carpal tunnel syndrome, concussions, abrasions, burns, back injuries, torn meniscus, hernia, bone fractures and occupational diseases.

Workers Compensation Benefits

The type of benefits offered for work injuries may vary by state but can generally include: medical benefits, temporary total disability benefits, temporary partial disability benefits, permanent total disability benefits, permanent partial disability benefits and death benefits for qualified survivors of the deceased. Most states will also offer some type of vocational training to help the injured employee return to full-time employment.

Hiring a Workers Compensation Lawyer

For minor injuries which do not leave a permanent disability or injury, employees may not need legal assistance, but if you have been injured at work and the injury is severe or will leave you permanently disabled, a workers’ compensation attorney can help.

Workers compensation lawyers understand Illinois state law and can review your work injuries and make sure you receive fair compensation to pay for your losses. Many companies may have the best interest of their employees in mind, but for those who do not or who refuse to offer a fair work comp settlement, a work comp lawyer can help.