Monthly Archives: September 2011

Injured at work in Wisconsin?: You CAN choose your doctor.

You can choose your doctor when you are injured at work.

In my daily conversations with injured workers, I am amazed at how few people know their right to control medical care after a work injury. While many states still use closed panels of doctors, injured workers in Wisconsin have a choice in deciding which doctor to see after an injury.

Current Wisconsin worker’s compensation law allows for employee choice of physician, chiropractor, psychologist, dentist, podiatrist, physician assistant or nurse practitioner.

This free choice extends to two practitioners (and any referrals to another practitioner from either of these two doctors) except by agreement with the employer.

Trust between a physician and a patient is important in providing quality medical care with good outcomes. If employers direct injured employees to “their” specific practitioner or facility, employees may be less open about their condition or symptoms.

This freedom of choice is a successful component of the worker’s compensation system and is favorable for the state’s injured workers. However, there is a recent push by insurance carriers and employers Continue reading

Work Injury During Sex: Ridiculous?

Not really. From time to time lurid headlines raise eyebrows about employees who claim workers’ compensation for injuries occurred during sex. The most common response is “How ridiculous . . . The employee is not being paid to have sex (unless she is a hooker).”

A most recent headline notes an Australian woman who had hotel sex with an acquaintance and was injured when a wall-mounted light fell on her during the encounter. She sought workers’ compensation because the incident occurred during a business trip and she claimed having sex on a business trip is “an ordinary incident of life” that entitles her to payment under workers’ compensation law.

Traveling employees are deemed to be in the course of employment at all times while on a trip.

Traveling employees receive broad workers’ compensation coverage Continue reading

Bad Cases Make Bad Law

The Illinois legislature just passed a law in response to a notorious claim in which a Sheriff Deputy, driving more than 100 miles per hour while using his cell phone, crossed a median and slammed into a car, killing two teenage sisters.

The claim drew regional and national attention and ultimately resulted in a revision in Illinois’ worker’s compensation claims that would prevent any State employee hurt at work from being eligible for worker’s compensation if the injury happened during a forcible felony, an aggravated DUI, or reckless homicide, if any of those crimes killed or injured another person.

The law is much more restrictive than the initial media summaries blaring “State law bars State employees injured while committing crimes from receiving worker’s comp.”

This is another example of bad cases creating bad law.

This is another example of bad cases creating bad law. The Sheriff filed a worker’s compensation claim for his injuries but an arbitrator concluded that his high speed and cell phone use was a “substantial and unjustifiable risk resulting in gross deviation” barring his claim. The Illinois legislature reacted to the media and public outcry.

In other states, notably Wisconsin, Continue reading

Employee Penalized For Not Following Safety Rules

In this guest post our colleague Jon L. Gelman of New Jersey highlights a worrisome recent ruling. In the state of Missouri, if an employee does not follow their employers’ safety rules and is injured, their award may be significantly reduced. He points out that this logic works in opposition of what the workers’ compensation act was originally supposed to do, which is to protect workers. With that as its goal, “It would be far more logical to… prevent the unsafe work in the first place.”

An employee’s workers’ compensation award maybe be reduced for failing to follow an employer’s safety rules.

An employee’s workers’ compensation award maybe be reduced for failing to follow an employer’s safety rules. A Missouri Court ruled that reducing an injured employee’s award by 25% to 50% for failing to follow an employer’s safety rules was not unconstitutional. Continue reading

World Trade Center dust and 9/11 first responders with cancer, time for U.S. Government to stop withholding benefits

9/11 first responders move smoldering debris

This guest post comes to us from our colleague Edgar Romano at Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano, LLP in New York. 

Many courageous first responders, who saved lives at Ground Zero, have since been diagnosed with cancer, and yet the U.S. government does not pay for their treatment. This Saturday, September 10, CNN will air Terror In The Dust, an investigation by chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta into the consequences of the deadly dust produced by the World Trade Center’s collapse. Gupta speaks with 9/11 heroes and medical experts about the consequences of the carcinogen-filled dust.

A new study released earlier this week by the New York City Fire Department provides good evidence of a link between 9/11 first responders and cancer. The study showed a 32% greater incidence of cancer among firefighters who worked at Ground Zero than those who did not.

The NIOSH study concluded that the 9/11 debris did contain known carcinogens.

The U.S. government does not pay for cancer treatments of 9/11 first responders. This is because Continue reading

Why is the US Still in the Asbestos Business?

This is another post by frequent contributor Jon L. Gelman who practices law in New Jersey. The post speaks for itself – shockingly the US has still not banned asbestos. We haven’t mined it here since 2002, but we import it from Canada. The fact of the matter is that, as Jon points out “the US imports 99% of the asbestos it consumes from Canada.” In 2010 that was over 1,000 metric tons.

The US still has not banned asbestos. The recently released US Geological Survey just published the latest statistics reporting that 1,040 metric tons of asbestos, a known carcinogen and the cause of mesothelioma, Continue reading