Articles Posted in Workers’ Compensation

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Untitled-design-3-300x300Have you filed a personal injury claim? If so, the insurance company may conduct surveillance on you. After reading a recent news article about one insurance company that may have illegally conducted surveillance, I thought I would discuss the topic.

Injured? Surveillance Might Be An Issue.

In Alabama workers compensation cases, surveillance is very common. But, it also occurs in other personal injury cases such as car accident claims. The potential for surveillance is a topic any personal injury lawyer should discuss with his or her clients.

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In the last couple years, we’ve seen a tremendous increase in workplace injuries due to assaults. Usually, it’s a service industry worker assaulted by some irate customer. The customer gets angry because they had to wait for a table at the restaurant, or maybe they could not get their favorite table. So, the person become irate and hits the hostess. It’s all too common. It’s shameful behavior.

Over the last couple years, I’ve written several articles on the issue. My articles include the two below that discuss several serious workplace assaults:

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Huntsville Injury LawyersYou suffered a work-related accident and injury in Alabama? Afterwards, you asked for medical care. You need basic Alabama workers’ compensation benefits. But, your boss is trying to avoid reporting the accident or providing a doctor! You are getting the run-around!

Two of the biggest complaints I receive from workers hurt on-the-job are:  (1) the boss won’t report it; and, (2) the boss won’t let me go to the doctor. These are basic issues. When a worker is hurt, the boss should report the claim to the insurance carrier. And, the employer (or its carrier) should provide a doctor. So often. these initial steps are not done. Many times, the boss tries to avoid reporting the accident or discourages medical care. When the boss gives you the run-around, you may pay the price later.

The Real Fraud — Bosses Who Refuse To Provide Basic Work Comp Benefits

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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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