We depend on our first responders – firefighters, cops, emergency room workers – every day. They protect us from harm. But what happens when they need our help? Our guest Robert Wisniewski is a Certified Specialist in Workers’ Compensation law with the Arizona State Bar and a military veteran.
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder is a real thing, PTSD. How does this fit into state Workers’ Comp protections? You can’t see these mental scars. And every state is different. Some states don’t offer benefits for these issues.
The military and the Veterans Administration understand the damage we can’t see, but it’s unclear where first responders fit at a state level Remember, every state has its own rules. This is a tough one, but we’re talking about our hometown heroes. There can be a stigma, and sometimes issues don’t get reported until it’s too late, or the chain of command drops the ball.
And unlike falling off a ladder or getting in a car wreck on the job, PTSD injuries may be the result of repeated incidents over a long term. It’s hard to say “when” the mental injury happened, how do you make that claim? Courts are struggling with this. Non-physical stressors may be limited to a single incident, not a working lifetime of stress.
We owe first responders support and care when they need it. This is a confusing and complicated issue. But this is important.
A reminder that every case is different. Injuries occur in unusual situations that challenge how we think about Workers’ Compensation and how every state and jurisdiction applies the law differently.
These are real cases, and real people were hurt. No injury is funny or subject to ridicule. But these cases illustrate the challenges Workers’ Comp attorneys face. Every worker is important and entitled to protections, but many cases are far from clear cut.
Enjoy a deep dive into the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act with a veteran of the field, guest Norman Cole. The Act is a federal comp provision that covers those who load, unload, and repair ships or work in related fields. It’s a fascinating field that differs from standard state compensation rules. For one, the injured worker doesn’t have to demonstrate employer negligence, as the work is inherently dangerous. In exchange, benefits are relatively defined.
The LHWCA is unusually generous to protect this vital workforce. Six figure awards are not uncommon. Learn what you need to know about this highly specialized field of Workers’ Compensation from a 40-year veteran. If you’re working with an injured dockworker, or are considering practicing in this Workers’ Comp niche, this episode of Workers Comp Matters could be the most valuable 30 minutes you’ll ever spend.
Guest Rachel Bailit is not an attorney, she’s an actor. So why is she a guest on a show about lawyers and legal issues? As an experienced acting teacher – in addition to an accomplished actor in movies, television, and live stage – Bailit specializes in teaching acting skills to public speakers, politicians, and attorneys.
Telling your story in court is acting. It’s important to use your story, your voice, and your body in concert to create a relationship with your “audience,” whether that’s a jury or a judge. It’s about effective communication.
Law school may prepare you for reading, interpreting, and writing the law. But what about performing? Authenticity and confidence create your courtroom presence. Get beyond explaining your case in legal terms to making your audience “feel” your story.
Learn about “getting off book,” taking your eyes off the printed page and looking into the eyes of the jury or judge. It takes practice. Rehearsal is not just for stage and screen! Understand how to recognize and replace old habits and crutches – be aware of your every word, gesture, and movement. Just like the practice of law, the art of acting requires study and effort. But you might even enjoy it.
It’s one thing when a shelf stocker slips at work and injures her back. It’s another thing entirely when a professional athlete blows a knee on the football field. Our guest this week is Jonathan Israel, senior partner at the Jacksonville, Florida, law firm RITE where he represents professional athletes in Workers’ Comp cases.
Things get interesting when a case involves an athlete making millions of dollars. Even in a case of “maximum medical improvement” a player at the highest level may never return to the field, and it would be hard to match his or her former income in another line of work. How are benefits calculated? What happens when stars want to see their own doctor rather than the doctors the team is familiar with? Then there are issues of jurisdiction if a player is hurt on a road game and issues regarding a player’s status as a seasonal employee since games aren’t played year-round.
When representing today’s highly paid sports stars, even issues of depositions that might become public or concerns about countersuits for a motion to tax costs become elevated. Dig into a fascinating look into a unique corner of the Workers’ Comp world.
Workers’ Compensation is primarily designed to provide two benefits: payroll replacement for injured workers and medical payments to providers. But over the years, the process has become increasingly complicated.
Guest Ramona Tanabe is executive vice president and counsel for the Workers’ Compensation Research Institute (WCRI). In this episode, she explains the WCRI’s newly updated report, available now, “Designing Workers’ Compensation Medical Fee Schedules, 2022,” penned by the WCRI’s Olesya Fomenko and Te-Chun Liu.
Medical fee schedules, relative worth or value of medical services, state Workers’ Compensation calculations? Whew. When 50 states have 50 different procedures, it can be hard to follow the numbers.
Tanabe says it’s crucial to know how vastly different state payments are, payment gaps that have appeared, and how fee schedules can affect whether providers will accept a patient covered by Workers’ Comp.
This informative episode explains how rates for patient care are calculated and implemented for clients hurt on the job.
Continuing our discussion of the 50th anniversary of the National Commission on State Workmen’s Compensation (as it was called) report. We’ve come a long way, but … it’s complicated.
Guest Abbie Hudgens, Administrator of the State of Tennessee Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, shares her thoughts on how far we’ve come with the “great bargain” that balances workers’ rights and the need to file a lawsuit for any injury on the job.
It’s a bit messy to this day. Fifty states, 50 systems. Are higher-paid workers being shortchanged? Should older, rural, or less educated workers receive more than others when they are injured and can’t work. And what’s the goal of a Workers’ Comp system, security for life, or helping workers get back on the job.
There remain many questions about disability and impairment, and even partial disability. It’s a fragile balance. As we’ve said, it’s complicated.
Mentioned in This Episode:
assn.org/delivering-care/ama-guides/ama-guides-evaluation-permanent-impairment-overview#:~:text=The%20AMA%20Guides%20provide%20a,or%20reduction%20of%20body%20function">“AMA Guides® to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment: an overview”
July marks the 50th anniversary of the National Commission on State Workmen’s Compensation laws. The system we have in place wasn’t always so. Even after the passage of protections for workers, it took years to develop today’s standards.
In 1972, a federal panel released a comprehensive review of state Workmen’s Compensation (as it was then called) laws and guidelines. As Alan explains, several states had to readjust their systems. Our current system is a complex and delicate balance of federal and state oversight, adequate protections, and employer insurance costs.
Fifty years after the initial report, is it time to review Workers’ Compensation? The workplace has changed, the shift to gig working may be leaving many behind in the “new economy.”
On July 11, the U.S. Department of Labor hosts a public roundtable on the topic featuring Alan Pierce.You can register to join online as stakeholders across the workplace safety and protection community discuss the future of Workers’ Compensation.
Guest Joanne Doroshow is the founder and executive director of the Center for Justice & Democracy, a national consumer organization dedicated to protecting our civil justice system. She shares a new report from the Center’s Emily Gottlieb, “System Letdown: Worker Safety, Harm, and Compensation in the Age of COVID-19.”
The report examines the role of industry and the government during the COVID-19 pandemic and the effects on workers including illness, deaths, and worker safety violations.
From the start of the pandemic, the Center found businesses mishandled the situation and put front-line workers in peril. But issues didn’t end there as government protections, Workers’ Comp, and the civil justice systems continued to fail workers.
Go beyond data to the tragic personal stories as promised protections were pushed aside. Were the working people who kept the U.S. fed and supplied with goods – often lauded as heroes and essential – intentionally put in harm’s way in the name of profit? Who got stuck with the tab, and what did we learn?
It doesn’t matter what country you’re from or if you’re in the U.S. documented or not. Workplace injuries don’t care about immigration status or language abilities. Everyone hurt on the job deserves representation. Arizona-based workers’ rights attorneys Robert Wisniewski and Javier Grajeda share their vast experiences representing immigrant workers.
Communication is vital, and those with limited English proficiency often need help. Wisniewski shares tips on helping foreign workers communicate the extent of their injuries. American demographics are changing, but our system of protections is for everyone. A competent, certified interpreter is one key.
Undocumented workers, and even documented immigrants, may not know they have rights or may be afraid to speak up. Some may not have valid tax ID information or may work under an assumed name. Others may have left the country or been deported after an accident.
What are cultural tells? How do other cultures react in a courtroom? How do legal professionals vet interpreters? How can you ask simple, direct questions that may uncover information a case hinges on? These and other tips, in this episode of Workers’ Comp Matters.
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