Articles Tagged with disability

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Blackwell Law Firm: Alabama Injury AttorneysSeveral months ago, a Department of Labor (DOL) official published an article on the agency’s website discussing three troubling trends with workers’ compensation benefits. You can read that article at Trends In Workers’ Comp. These trends are certainly true in AlabamaI’ll discuss each of these harmful trends below:

1. The Number Of Workers Covered By Workers Compensation Has Decreased

We need to remember the purposes of workers’ compensation. Our work comp systems were originally implemented to provide a couple basic benefits — Medical care and a basic disability benefit. These are essential benefits for injured workers.

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Blackwell-Law-Firm-Alabama-Accident-Injury-Lawyers-256-261-1315-300x300In a post earlier this year I asked, Is Dollar General An Unsafe Work Environment? I wrote that post after OSHA issued over $300,000 in citations due to safety issues at one of the company’s Alabama stores.

Over the years, I’ve represented numerous Dollar General employees who were injured on-the-job. In my past cases, these employees were far, far overworked. They functioned in an unsafe and understaffed environment. They were subjected to daily tasks that put them at risk of serious personal injury. I’ve represented Dollar General employees with work comp claims caused by falling from unsafe heights, tripping over store hazards, climbing into store dumpsters as required, falling from dangerous ladders and unloading heavy truckloads of merchandise with little help. Some of these workers suffer permanent, disabling injuries that altered their lives.

In a press release just days ago, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) dropped the hammer on Dollar General. When OSHA issues a press release with this title, you know things are serious:

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Blackwell Law Firm - Alabama Accident & Injury AttorneysLast Friday, I spoke at a workers’ compensation seminar in Birmingham. Let me start by saying thank you to Birmingham attorney David Nomberg (Nomberg Law Firm) for organizing the event and asking if I would speak. I enjoyed teaching about return-to-work issues in Alabama law. I also enjoyed learning on different topics from the other speakers David scheduled. When I attend these seminars, I always leave with some great insights that help me better prepare and try my Alabama workers’ compensation cases.

What are return-to-work issues in Alabama’s comp law? Alabama workers’ compensation law has a special provision, often referred to as the Return-To-Work section. The Alabama Supreme Court and Court of Civil Appeals have only addressed this section directly in about 3 to 4 cases. And, two of those are mine. The first involved a workers’ compensation case I tried a number of years ago in Athens. My client suffered a really bad lower back injury while working at the local Steelcase plant that left him severely restricted. He tried unsuccessfully to keep working. The second involved a more recent case I tried in Guntersville. In the Guntersville case, my client suffered two accidents, underwent a spinal surgery, and returned to work unsuccessfully despite significant efforts to accommodate his restrictions. My client worked for the City of Guntersville, itself. Both of these guys were hard workers who did everything possible to keep working. Both suffered such severe injuries that they just could not continue. In both cases, we won full benefits for our clients at trial and through appeal. So, these are compensation issues I’ve debated for clients through the Alabama court system.

I have not written much on this blog about the Return-To-Work provision of our workers’ compensation laws. There is a reason for that. This section is a major provision that impacts many injured workers. But, it’s also a long section with some complicated issues. So, it’s an area that’s really difficult to discuss in a short blog post. Since I just returned from teaching on the topic, I thought I would try to touch on a few issues in this area of Alabama law.

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Alabama Workers' Compensation AttorneysLast month, I wrote a post asking, “Is your employer giving you the run-around?” Over the last 20+ years, I’ve represented a lot of injured workers. Often, I hear stories about employers who try to avoid providing medical care for their workers hurt on the job. Too many companies give their employees the “run-around” instead of providing essential workers compensation benefits. In Alabama, you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits including valuable medical care for your work-related injuries.

So, when I read an article about a company owner in California who was prosecuted and pled guilty for refusing to provide work comp benefits, I thought it was a good time to discuss this common issue. That led me to my prior post discussing “how” bad employers avoid providing medical care benefits.

In my prior blog post, I also discussed the real fraud in our Alabama workers compensation system — Companies that refuse to provide basic benefits. Over 99% of the fraud in our system is committed by employers and health care managers. It’s NOT injured workers. Almost every injured worker wants the same thing — To get better and get back to a normal life.

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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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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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Decatur Work Comp AttorneysYesterday evening, I read that an injured Daikin America worker remains in the intensive care unit at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) more than two months after his exposure to a chemical on the job at Daikan in Decatur. According to reports, three workers were hospitalized following the July 2 accident. One of the three workers has since passed away from his injuries.

Was this chemical exposure an isolated incident? No. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a worker also died in 2019 following an exposure at the same plant.

Think about that! A worker dies following an exposure in 2019. Two years later, three more workers are exposed. Hopefully, we can learn what happened in these exposures. I’m real interested in learning what Daikin did (or did not do) to correct its safety procedures after the first incident!

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Huntsville Workers Compensation LawyersI talk to injured workers in Alabama every day. If you are hurt on the job, you are likely entitled to work comp benefits. Those benefits should provide needed medical care and compensation. Too often, they do not. Alabama law is very unfair. Injured workers face many problems.

I could write a book discussing the many ways our work comp laws are unfair to injured workers. I have discussed many of those issues in prior articles on this blog. Today, I want to focus on five early mistakes injured workers make that can harm their claims.

The Worker Does NOT Report The Accident (IN WRITING) In A Timely Manner

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Alabama Accident & Injury LawyersI just read an interesting article titled:

The Walmart Stocker Who Quit And Told Off Her Bosses Over The Intercom

The article was published late last year. How did I miss it? Apparently, the Walmart employee reached the breaking point and quit over the store-wide intercom. That’s right — The employee quit over the intercom, telling everyone in the store exactly how she felt. Like the old Johnny Paycheck song, it was a real “take this job and shove it” moment.

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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:

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