Articles Posted in Workers’ Compensation

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Car Accident LawyersIn the current gig-economy, some companies have constructed huge enterprises based on business models that classify their entire workforce as independent contractors. By classifying their workers as independent contractors rather than employees, these companies shift their costs onto the workers and communities they serve.

Traditionally, companies paid payroll taxes on employees. And, companies provided benefits (such as workers’ compensation) for employees. Neither is true with independent contractors. The costs and taxes are shifted to the worker. Work-related injury and disability costs are shifted first to the worker. But, when the worker is unable to pay, these costs are borne by the entire community. In past years, I’ve written several articles discussing why basic workers compensation benefits are important to our entire community.

Employee classification matters for several reasons. Today, I’ll stick to a topic I frequently discuss — Workers’ Compensation In Alabama.

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Untitled-design-3-300x300A recent insurance journal headline reads, Positive Drug Tests In US Workforce Highest In Two Decades. According to the article, positive drug test rates increased another 4.6% in 2021. The rate shows a 31.4% increase from its all-time low just 10 years ago. In isolation, those statistics are troubling. Let’s talk a little more about the potential impact of increasing employee drug use on accidents and injuries. An increase in drug impairment means an increase in dangers among employees on worksites. It also means an increase in dangers to the public, especially on our roads and highways. Today, I’ll address a couple areas of concern as well as one area of potential long-term good news.

Do Changing Marijuana Laws Impact Workers Compensation Claims? And Other Personal Injury Claims?

I’ve written several times about the potential impact of changing marijuana beliefs and laws on work-related accidents. In Alabama, our work comp law bars claims where (1) the worker was impaired; and, (2) that impairment proximately caused the accident. That second requirement – the impairment proximately caused the accident – is likely to be a key issue in more future cases.

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Worker-Safety-Is-Important-For-Everyone-300x300Last Fall, I wrote about two deadly trench collapses in the Huntsville area. One trench collapse involved a private construction company in Madison. The other involved a City of Huntsville project and public employees. Year-after-year, trench collapses are one of the most frequent causes of construction site wrongful deaths.

Were these two deadly construction accidents treated differently? Yes. After an investigation, OSHA fined the private contractor in Madison for its fatal accident. The City’s public project? That’s a different story. The City was not cited for the dangerous worksite it created. And, it did create one. A 20 foot deep, unprotected trench, is a reckless and dangerous condition. It’s inexcusable for the City to put its workers in such tremendous danger!

Why were the two different sites treated differently? Why do workers employed with private companies get some protection from OSHA while many public workers do not? All workers deserve a safe workplace!

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Alabama Workers Compensation LawyersI’ve written a couple times about first responders in Alabama and the need for benefits related to PTSD. Many state legislatures are currently considering proposals to provide additional benefits to first responders for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The Alabama Legislature has considered proposals in the past and is also considering one in the current legislative session.

After a couple pandemic years which saw first responders stretched to the limit, this discussion is really important. Let’s look at this issue a little closer.

How Does Alabama Work Comp Law Fall Short On Covering PTSD?

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Untitled-design-3-300x300A well known workers compensation author publishes an annual list of the Top 10 most bizarre workers compensation cases. From time to time, an Alabama case makes the list. But, not this year. The list is always interesting and entertaining reading. You can read the 2021 bizarre work comp case list HERE.

The 2020 list contained multiple cases involving bizarre workplace assaults. Customers punching a manager over a mask requirement. Customers beating a restaurant hostess over social distancing requirements. Add a postal worker getting shot over the late delivery of a stimulus check. It was a violent year and the coronavirus was front-and-center. I wrote an article about these assault-related workplace injury cases last year titled Workplace Assaults Continue To Be A Serious Problem.

Would the 2021 list be different? Did we all calm tremendously in 2021? Apparently not. The same writer has now published his bizarre list for 2021 (last year). The 2021 list also contains multiple workplace assault cases. Thankfully, none are from Alabama. Here are the unusual assault cases listed:

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Alabama Workers Compensation AttorneysIn December, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) issued a huge fine for safety violations at a Dollar General store in Mobile, Alabama. The fine itself is pretty big for any retail store — $321,827. Beyond the fine amount, OSHA issued the following statement:

At the U.S. Department of Labor, the company [Dollar General] is recognized for its long history of violations and repeated failures to protect its workers from on-the-job hazards.

Then, an OSHA officer added the following additional comment:

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Huntsville Accident & Injury LawyersLast week, I was working through the final details of a work comp settlement with a local defense lawyer in Huntsville. As we discussed settlement terms, the defense lawyer made an interesting observation. That observation is the reason for this post.

Before I get to that observation, I’ll give you a little helpful background on the case. My client suffered a bad back injury. He required spinal surgery. He now suffers chronic pain and permanent restrictions. He could not return to his long-term employment. I believe he is totally disabled. We were preparing for trial.

Now that you have a little background, I’ll get to my topic. While discussing the settlement paperwork, I added a couple sentences dealing with vested employee benefits. You know, rights employees have to pensions and 401(k) plans with some employers. When I addressed the phrase with the defense lawyer, he immediately stated that most personal injury lawyers just skim over the paperwork. He laughed and said most lawyers just want to know when they can expect the settlement check. That’s my topic — Good lawyering means you help the client through the entire process!

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WorkCompHelp-300x300Last week, one of our work comp clients called with a question. “Can I ask the case nurse to step outside during my doctor appointments?” It’s a frequent question. I’ve written about case nurses several times on this blog. A few case nurses try to intrude into the examination room. This leaves many injured clients uncomfortable. I totally understand.

Since I’ve already written multiple articles about workers compensation case nurses, I decided to address a different topic. Instead, I’m going to address 12 frequent Alabama workers compensation issues. I’ll provide short tips in this post. For more information, you can read one of my longer articles which address a single issue. Here are 12 issues your Alabama work comp lawyer probably wants you to know:

1. You do NOT have to allow the case nurse (or case manager) into your doctor appointments

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Huntsville Personal Injury LawyersGenerally, workers compensation provides two important benefits. The first is medical care. The second is money you receive for your impairments or disabilities. These are essential benefits for working men and women facing a serious work-related personal injury. I’ve helped injured workers for more than 25 years. Almost every single client has the same worry — How quickly can I get my medical care and resume my normal life. Medical care and recovery are the main concerns. Most injured workers start the process hopeful.

Too often, insurance carriers then ignore, delay or deny their need for medical treatment. If you’ve suffered a serious work-related injury, you may have experienced the frustration of waiting on a work comp adjuster to call or approve care. You may have experienced the tricks used by insurance carriers to avoid providing necessary treatment. I understand. You do have options.

Let me get to the point of this post. Recently, I read an article about a misleading study produced by the National Council On Compensation Insurance (NCCI). What is the NCCI? Take a look at its Board of Directors! It’s a virtual who’s who of the biggest work comp insurance executives. You think they might be biased just a little! Years ago, the tobacco industry had similar groups telling consumers that smoking was healthy!

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We can help with the workers' compensation benefits you need after an injury.I recently read a blog post titled, Does Workers’ Compensation Cover Injured Truck Drivers? It’s an important question. The Huntsville law firm posting that content asked the right question. But, that firm’s post failed to provide a real or helpful answer! It really failed to answer the question at all. It was just clickbait with keywords and a call to action!

The article was simply generic content stuffed full of keywords listing different injuries with a call to action asking readers to call the lawyers. The generic answer provided by this firm — “a truck driver must be legally categorized as an employee. If a truck driver is classified as an independent contractor, he or she is not eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits.” What? Sure, employees are entitled to benefits while independent contractors are not. Because employees are entitled to workers compensation, a real answer is very important.

But, the vague answer in the firm’s post tells the reader nothing about Alabama law and how it actually classifies workers. The vague answer provides injured truck drivers with no real information to help. The lawyers in that firm are really good but they’ve outsourced their content to a non-lawyer ghostwriter. That’s bad for legal consumers. Let’s look at truck drivers and actually explore the classification issue.

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