Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD). Sometimes it is referred to as Chronic (or Complex) Regional Pain Syndrome. Either way, it can be a devastating pain condition for patients. I’ve written a couple articles discussing RSD and the disabling toll it has on people. You can read my prior posts here:
For others, the question brings choices. Maybe you work primarily in one state. But, you were injured while performing job tasks in another state. Years ago, these issues mainly applied to truckers and traveling salesmen. But, now, it’s not unusual for people to work across several different states.
What happens if you work primarily in one state but are injured on-the-job in another? What happens if your office is in one state but you are hurt while present in another? What are the rules for work-related injuries? Where can you file a claim?
Lawyer ads are everywhere. They are all very similar. Smiles. Confidence. Promises. What kind of promises? In all of them, the advertising lawyer promises he or she will handle your problem. As one local advertising lawyer says in his ads, “we got this.” Does he? Lots of companies advertise assurances about their products and services.
One local Huntsville law firm advertises for workers’ compensation cases by saying a settlement may be in your best interest. Their ad starts by noting “the uncertainty that surrounds” lots of comp cases. Then, it offers the hope of a settlement. Finally, the ad says you should call them for help. It’s a classic marketing ploy — Step one, highlight the need or fear. Step two, disclose a potential solution. Step three, offer yourself as guide to solve the need.
Is a settlement in your best interest? Maybe it is. Maybe it is not. I talk to injured workers every day. Most people are unfamiliar with the work comp process. For many callers, it is the first time they have ever suffered any significant personal injury at work. The whole process can be uncertain. Medical treatment. Continued employment. Vocational rehabilitation. Money Benefits. It’s a new, and very different, process. Some lawyers exploit that unknown by smiling and telling clients the results are good when they really are not.
A lawsuit filed against Tyson Foods in February over Covid-19 and workplace safety raises some serious issues. According to the lawsuit:
- Tyson reported the greatest number of COVID-19 cases of any company in the meatpacking industry.
- Tyson reported twice as many deaths as any other meatpacking company.
A well-known work comp writer publishes an annual Top 10 list of the most bizarre workers compensation cases. When it comes to bizarre, the year 2020 really shines bright!
Three of the top 10 bizarre cases for 2020 are COVID-related. Are you surprised? I’m certainly not. More specifically, all three coronavirus-related cases involved assaults. Again, I’m not surprised at all. We lived through a turbulent year! I’m using the past-tense “lived” in the hope we are entering a time of greater stability and sanity.
When A Virus Infects The Workplace With Violence!
Last summer, I wrote about the mental issues (such as PTSD) faced by our first responders. Our first responders have extremely stressful jobs. They handle people and situations at the very worst moments. First responders see the worst human suffering in normal times. With the COVID-19 pandemic, the stressors faced by first responders have exponentially increased.
In my prior post, I discussed current Alabama workers compensation law related to mental injuries. Current law does not provide compensation for mental-only injuries. Mental injuries are only compensable if they stem from a work-related physical injury. The physical injury requirement is also the law in several other states.
You can read my prior article if you want a greater understanding of current Alabama work comp law. Over the years, many of our severely injured clients have dealt with psychological issues. I’ve seen the depression and anxiety suffered by clients who face chronic pain, serious disability or an inability to work. Some physical injuries such as RSD (reflex sympathetic dystrophy) produce chronic pain so severe, mental health injuries are almost inescapable. When we help an injured client facing severe personal injuries and disabilities, we often have to fight in court to win them the benefits needed. Many insurance companies simply deny every request for mental health treatment. You won’t get the treatment you need without a fight. Where the injury and need for care is clearly documented, that’s shameful.
You suffered a sudden accident at work. You are hurting. You need treatment. Questions, worries and fears race through your mind. Will I heal? Can I keep my job? When can I see the doctor? How can I pay my bills? How does work comp work? I’ve heard all the questions. I’ve heard all the frustrations. I counsel injured workers almost every single day.
Today, I want to discuss one of the most common frustrations — The insurance adjuster will not respond or return your calls. Nothing is more frustrating! If you are hurt and frustrated by an adjuster who will not respond, you are not alone. In both Alabama car accident cases and workers’ compensation claims, this is a very common problem. Adjusters bombard you when they need something or when they are pushing you to settle for a small amount. When you need something, they disappear.
Why do insurance adjusters ignore your calls? Let’s look at four primary stages in a work comp claim when adjusters disappear. What are these four primary stages of a work comp claim? Why are you being ignored? How can you respond?
It’s an interesting question. Covid-19 vaccination is a big issue. I suspect many employers will require workers to receive the vaccination. In a recent blog post, one Birmingham law firm writes about an opinion of the Alabama Attorney General from 2003 discussing employer-provided vaccinations.
I’m not writing to discuss whether or not an employer can require vaccinations. Rather, my law practice focuses on helping those injured. So, that is also the focus of this post. My issue — Are injuries from employer-provided vaccinations compensable under the Alabama Workers’ Compensation Act?
Before I begin, let me say I think vaccinations are essential to public health. Like any medical treatment or procedure, a tiny risk always exists. Have you ever pulled a back muscle? If so, physical therapy may be very helpful in your recovery. Yet, you face a risk of being injured in a car accident on the way to therapy as well as a risk of injury from the therapist’s equipment. But, the benefits of therapy far, far outweigh these very remote and unlikely risks. The same is true for almost any medication or medical treatment. Any medical treatment comes with small risks. With vaccines, the benefits to you, your family and society, far outweigh any minuscule risk. Hopefully, widespread vaccination will save many lives from this terrible virus.
A flash of light. A clap of thunder. Lightning strikes a construction worker in Athens. While the worker lived, he is now disabled. He can no longer work or support his family. Can he recover Alabama workers’ compensation benefits for his disabling injury?
This is the issue faced by a recent client of mine. The worker survived only because two co-workers performed CPR until paramedics arrived. His physical injuries and rehabilitation were only part of the nightmare. When hospital personnel contacted the work comp insurance company, the adjuster immediately denied the claim on the basis it was an “act of God.” Think about the worker’s family. They stayed at his bedside for weeks not knowing whether he would live or how they would pay for his care. But, this injury SHOULD have been covered by work comp in this case.
Is lightning a work-related hazard? The short answer is that in the case of this outdoor construction worker struck while helping build the new Athens High School, it was. We were able to get work comp benefits for him. But, it took a fight to get him the workers’ compensation benefits he deserved. In most cases, the answer depends on the job.
With poultry giant Tyson, the safety hits just keep coming! Last week, I wrote about Tyson managers actually gambling on worker safety. That is, managers abandoned their workers in the midst of a pandemic and then gambled on how many would get sick. That’s horrible. You can read my article titled When Management Bets Against Worker Safety on this blog.
The day after I published my latest article, I read about more poultry industry mis-conduct that puts worker lives at risk. According to a new article, Tyson managers actually directed language interpreters to misrepresent safety conditions to the company’s hispanic workers. You can read that article titled Tyson Accused of Misleading Interpreters at Virus-Hit Plant at the Claims Journal website.
Really? When Covid strikes its workforce, management abandons the plant floor. Management stops safety meetings. Management leaves the workers to fend for themselves. Then, management gambles on how many will get sick? Coronavirus has run rampant through poultry plants in Alabama and across the United States.