New book offers hope for workers’ comp reform; don’t let an initial partial impairment rating stop you–if you deserve a total impairment rating, Fight Back!
Once you’ve hired a trained, experienced workers’ comp attorney, you probably won’t feel like reading a book on the subject.
Then again, it never hurts to know more about a subject that crucially affects your life–if you or a loved one have been injured and you’re fighting to receive proper treatment and benefits, the more you know, the better.
Workers’ comp reform a nationwide issue
Across the country, almost every state is looking at ways to revamp its workers’ comp system…or else they’ve recently enacted some level of reform. A Sept. 26 press release at insurancenews.net heralds a new book entitled “How to Save Big on Workers’ Compensation: With Insights from Leading Industry Experts,” written by Adam Friedlander, president of Friedlander Group, Inc., a workers’ compensation company for retailers, wholesalers, restaurants, hotels/motels and oil dealers in New York.
‘Creating a culture of caring’
According to Friedlander, “creating a culture of caring for employees’ well-being is the single most important step in saving money on workers’ compensation.”
Sounds good to us–seems like all too often that “reform” actually translates to less benefit and less choice for the injured worker. So we’re happy to read that the book is:
A digestible guide for businesses large and small, human resources professionals and the insurance community, [in which] Friedlander offers actionable, money-saving ideas that enable employers to operate at optimal levels. “How to Save Big on Workers’ Compensation” features exclusive interviews with leading industry experts, including Larry LaPointe, former director of the Division of Confidential Investigations at the New York State Insurance Fund (NYSIF); Ed Hiller, director of Claims and Medical Operations for NYSIF; Brian Mittman, the managing partner of Markhoff & Mittman, a law firm that helps injured workers; Robert Firmbach, a veteran loss-control and safety expert; Eileen Preiato, the Friedlander Group Claims Solution™ manager; and Cosmo Preiato, executive vice president of Friedlander Group and head of Safety Group Underwriting and Operations.
The book also features success stories from a variety of businesses—restaurants, hotels, retailers—that detail their individual culture of caring and safety, which has ultimately led to increased productivity and profits.
A ‘lightning rod’ even though in big picture its costs are small
“Workers’ compensation is a lightning rod for many employers” says Friedlander. “In comparison to payroll, rent and health insurance costs, workers’ comp is small. Nonetheless, most employers have a negative reaction to this expense. They believe workers’ comp is another tax and overregulation. Some don’t believe that employee claims are legitimate. The truth is that the costs to an organization generated by injured employees extend far beyond increased premiums. My book helps business owners realize that all claims are not beyond their control. Where safety is an integral part of the business culture, there are fewer claims, less fraud and lower premiums. Employers need to understand that their employees are their greatest asset. Can you win your World Series without your team working optimally?”
More power to Mr. Friedlander–if he can help states lower costs and lower the rate of injured workers–while affording proper care to those who do get injured, well, lets just say we hope all the proper authorities get a copy of this book.
Total vs. partial impairment ratings
From yet another press release, this from a “presswire” outfit called World News Report, a piece that asks a question heard in many workers’ comp attorneys’ offices: “How long can I receive total disability workers’ compensation benefits?”
Questions, issues faced by workers in every state
The PR is geared toward injured workers in Pennsylvania, but it raises questions and addresses issues common to workers’ comp system nationwide:
It’s a common question among injured workers in Pennsylvania. Broadly speaking, the answer is quite simple: there is no limit on the amount of time an injured worker may receive total disability benefits.
However, when it comes to seeking longer-term benefits for total disability, the devil’s in the details. Many workers’ compensation recipients face a substantial stumbling block in the form of an Impairment Rating Evaluation (“IRE”).
The Pennsylvania IRE Process
In Pennsylvania, after an individual has received total disability payments for 104 weeks, the workers’ compensation insurance company providing benefits can request him or her to attend an IRE. Although the term “request” is used in the Pennsylvania Code, injured workers functionally have no choice but to comply: failure to attend the IRE can result in the insurer attempting to suspend benefit payments.
At the IRE, a doctor selected by the Pennsylvania Bureau of Workers’ Compensation will examine the injured worker and thoroughly review his or her medical records. Then, based on American Medical Association guidelines, the doctor will express the workers’ level of impairment from their on-the-job injury in terms of a percentage (an individual with a 0 percent rating would face no difficulty in completing day to day activities, while someone who received a 50 percent or more rating would have significant trouble with commonplace tasks).
Long-term effects of partial rating
The article goes on to explain that an impairment rating of 50 per cent of more presumes an injured worker to be totally disabled. If the totally disabled worker never recovers, lifetime benefits ensue. However, a lower rating may allow the insurance carrier to rate the worker as “partial” rather than “total.” Although the amount of weekly benefits does not change, the partial rating can have serious long-term implications.
“A partial disability designation has a devastating effect on the receipt of long-term workers’ compensation benefits. Although the amount of weekly workers’ compensation payments will remain the same for a worker whose disability status has been reduced to partial, benefits for partially disabled workers last for a maximum of 500 weeks (about nine and a half years).”
Rating can be appealed
The good news? That rating can be appealed, and if the status should be “total impairment,” it should be appealed. The message: “Don’t let the full workers’ compensation benefits you deserve slip through your fingers.” In other words, find a good, thoroughly competent attorney who knows the ins-and-out of the system and have them fight for rights.
We can help you find an attorney
As these cases demonstrate, 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: