Articles Posted in Workers’ Compensation

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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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Huntsville Workers Compensation AdvocatesAre you being watched? If you have an Alabama work comp claim, the insurance company may conduct surveillance on you. I often tell my injured clients — If the insurance company videos you, we will only see the 5 minutes when you felt good and looked unhurt. We’ll never see the hours of agony and pain.

My favorite surveillance story involves a work comp case I tried many years ago in Huntsville. The insurance company and its lawyer fought aggressively. On the eve of trial, they expected to win. They thought they had surveillance that would destroy our case. The video showed a man lifting big truck tires, loading his truck and performing some pretty heavy work. That sounds pretty bad when your case involves a lower back injury and significant physical restrictions. But, they had a huge problem! A huge problem! And, they did not know it. The guy on the video was not my client. It was the wrong guy. The video showed my client’s brother. Plus, we had proof my client was somewhere else on the day of the surveillance. It made for some fun courtroom action at trial. Nothing like bursting the insurance company’s bubble! We won the case for our injured client.

Over the years, I’ve dealt with surveillance issues many times. It’s not an issue in every case. Most of the time, it’s not an issue at all. But, it is something every lawyer should discuss with his injured client.

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Last month, I wrote a lengthy article on five big mistakes that can impact a work-related injury claim in Alabama. You can read that earlier post at Top Five Mistakes Workers Make After A Job-Related Accident.

I talk to injured Alabama workers every week. We discuss a lot of workers’ compensation issues. Often, callers have made one of these mistakes before contacting us. Sometimes, we can help fix the situation. But, in some cases, it’s too late to help. So, I hope the information in my longer article is useful.

With these issues in mind, I put together this quick infographic which notes these five big mistakes we frequently see. If you are hurt on the job, workers’ compensation benefits can be very important to your health, to your finances and to your family. Feel free to keep my infographic or read my longer article. If you have any questions about Alabama workers’ compensation benefits, let me know.

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I recently wrote a post that discussed four of the most common accidents involving worksite trenches. You can read the post by clicking HERE. I wrote my earlier article because of the frequent number of deadly trench-related accidents across Alabama. In just the last couple years, we’ve suffered deadly trench collapses in Huntsville, Madison and Hoover. In addition to those fatal accidents, a Tuscaloosa company lost workers when a trench in Mississippi collapsed.

With a little safety effort, most deadly trench accidents could be prevented. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has published standards and a clear fact sheet related to trenches on worksites. Safety professionals are well-aware of the hazards and the easy steps which would prevent disasters.

For detailed information, you can read my prior article. After writing that earlier article, I created the following slideshow on the issue:

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Blackwell Law Firm / HuntsvilleYou suffered an accident at work. You are hurting. You see the company doctor. Then, the insurance company denies your claim. The insurance company refuses to provide more treatment or benefits. The adjuster claims you cannot get benefits because you suffered a prior injury to the same part of your body. The adjuster claims your new injury is just a “recurrence” of a prior injury, years earlier. Of course, the time limit for filing a claim on the old injury has long since expired.

Many times, the adjuster is simply wrong. The insurance company wrongly denied your claim. And, you are likely entitled to work comp benefits.

This is a common problem. It’s not unusual to have a prior injury, especially if you are working a hard job. Keep in mind — Workers compensation benefits are NOT limited to people who were in perfect health. Although you may have hurt the same area of your body previously, you may still be entitled to benefits for your new accident. Even if your prior accident was pretty serious or left you with some problems, you may still be entitled to benefits for your new accident.

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