Monthly Archives: December 2012

Private Investigators in Workers' Compensation

Corporations sometimes hire private investigators to verify that your claim is not fraud

Today’s post comes from guest author Leonard Jernigan from The Jernigan Law Firm.

As a workers’ compensation attorney I find it interesting that many people in the public question the disability status of injured workers. Let’s assume for the moment that you have sustained an injury on the job and you’ve been out of work for 5 months after back surgery. When you are unable to return to work quickly, the insurance industry has a lot of tools at its disposal to verify your disability status. They can pour over your medical records, pre- and post-injury, looking for any piece of evidence to deny your claim. They can send your file to lawyers who review medical records and recorded statements to potentially attack your credibility and honesty. They can hire a nurse to attend your appointments and speak with the physician and the staff, as well as obtain information directly from you. They can do background searches on you to see if you have a criminal or civil record. Obviously they will check to see if you ever filed a workers’ compensation claim before. They will also do social media and Internet searches on you and your family members (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.). They also can hire private investigators to follow you and your family around and take video recordings of your activities. With all these resources at the disposal of the insurance company, it’s hard to believe that many cases of employee fraud slip through the system.

A private investigator pretended to be a potential buyer and spent an hour or more going through the house.

We have one client recently who was followed by several private detectives for more than a year. They not only followed him around, but also followed his wife and son, who have no workers’ compensation claim. Another client had to sell his house because of his disability. A private investigator pretended to be a potential buyer and spent an hour or more going through the house. Does the concept of “Big Brother” come to mind? Are you concerned about invasion of privacy, particularly for family members, friends, and others who may be seen in such videos? We always tell our clients such activity may occur so don’t be alarmed by it, but that isn’t too comforting to people who are struggling through health issues, who have depression and anxiety problems, and who are sensitive to privacy concerns.

It would be interesting if the roles were reversed and employers who underpay premiums by misclassifying the status of their employees, who fail to purchase insurance required to protect their workers, and who don’t follow proper safety regulations that cause injury, were followed this closely by employees or regulators who administer the workers’ compensation program. I have no doubt that these employers and insurance representatives would be outraged.

 

 

Buying a Cheap Shirt at Wal-Mart? Consider the real cost (in lives).

Wal-Mart’s low prices have led to unsafe working conditions.

The recent Bangladesh factory fire killed over 100 workers.  The factor produced goods for Wal-Mart.  Wal-Mart now concedes it “needs to do more to control its supply chain.” 

Wal-Mart’s Vice President of “Ethical Sourcing” (irony noted here) said the company control could “only go so far” in preventing an unauthorized factory producing its goods.  Wal-Mart said its Faded Glory clothing should not have been produced in the factory, which Bangladesh officials said was not safe.

Wal-Mart’s “factory certification” program focused on Bangladesh and China was allegedly “dedicated to improving the status of foreign labor.” Tell that to the families of the workers who died.

At a meeting last year where Wal-Mart’s Vice President of Ethical Sourcing was in attendance, the Bangladeshi Garment Workers Union proposed that producers such as Wal-Mart help ensure prices are high enough to provide for safety measures for their workers.

Wal-Mart’s Vice President indicated Wal-Mart could not support such a program because of the high cost.  Consider that next time you buy a cheap shirt at Wal-Mart.

Buying a Cheap Shirt at Wal-Mart? Consider the real cost (in lives).

Wal-Mart’s low prices have led to unsafe working conditions.

The recent Bangladesh factory fire killed over 100 workers.  The factor produced goods for Wal-Mart.  Wal-Mart now concedes it “needs to do more to control its supply chain.” 

Wal-Mart’s Vice President of “Ethical Sourcing” (irony noted here) said the company control could “only go so far” in preventing an unauthorized factory producing its goods.  Wal-Mart said its Faded Glory clothing should not have been produced in the factory, which Bangladesh officials said was not safe.

Wal-Mart’s “factory certification” program focused on Bangladesh and China was allegedly “dedicated to improving the status of foreign labor.” Tell that to the families of the workers who died.

At a meeting last year where Wal-Mart’s Vice President of Ethical Sourcing was in attendance, the Bangladeshi Garment Workers Union proposed that producers such as Wal-Mart help ensure prices are high enough to provide for safety measures for their workers.

Wal-Mart’s Vice President indicated Wal-Mart could not support such a program because of the high cost.  Consider that next time you buy a cheap shirt at Wal-Mart.

Four Things You Should Know About Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Today’s post comes from guest author Rod Rehm from Rehm, Bennett & Moore.

The law is similar in Wisconsin regarding payment for lost time, permanent disability and medical expenses related to CTS.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, also known as CTS, is an uncomfortable and often painful wrist disorder. It is a common injury that can be caused by workplace stress. Here are four things you should know about Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

  1. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is caused by repeated stress.
    Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a Repetitive Stress Injury (RST). It occurs when the same action is repeated many times. When wrists are strained over and over again by actions like typing, the tendons in the wrist can become enlarged. Then the tendons can compress a nerve that runs through a passage in the wrist called the “carpal tunnel.”
  2. Even if your wrists don’t hurt badly, you could still have CTS.
    There are a whole range of symptoms associated with CTS, not just pain. Symptoms of CTS can include numbness or tingling pain in the hand, wrist, and forearm, impaired or lost nerve function, reduced muscle control, and reduced grip strength.
  3. You can receive workers’ compensation for CTS.
    According to Nebraska and Iowa law, workers can receive workers’ compensation from the onset of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. This compensation includes 100% of all medical expenses that are reasonable and necessary to treat CTS, including both inpatient and outpatient care and prescriptions.
  4. You may be entitled to compensation for permanent damage due to CTS.
    If you experience Continue reading

The Hidden Dangers Of Holiday Employment

Today’s post comes from guest author Edgar Romano from Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano.

Seasonal employment can provide welcome income during the holidays, but it can bring dangerous working conditions along with it.

This holiday season, more than in the past, there will be a serious challenge to workers who are taking on temporary jobs. As the economy continues to be in the ditch, more people are being hired for jobs for which they are untrained and unfamiliar. Injuries will result.

Temporary employees who are injured at work are not accustomed to the procedural requirements to give their employers notice of the injury, and the correct manner and method to seek approved medical treatment. Additionally, benefits paid to seasonal workers are notoriously low and paid sporadically so the computation of rate benefits becomes an issue.

As Eve Tahmincioglu pointed out in anticipation of last year’s holiday season, “employees who end up in retail stores often face grueling conditions Continue reading

How Can Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) Be Treated? (Part 2)

Treatments can vary as symptoms change over time.

Today’s post comes from guest author Todd Bennett from Rehm, Bennett & Moore.

Today’s post is continued from last week, when we discussed the symptoms of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). Today we will discuss treatment options.

The job of your doctor is to identify and treat your symptoms before they become incurable. Common forms of treatment for CRPS are 

  • physical therapy
  • injections
  • sympathetic mediated injections
  • sympathetic blocks
  • nerve conduction studies
  • CT scans
  • vasomotor studies
  • Doppler studies
  • bone-density tests
  • medications for pain & anti-inflammation

No single form of treatment has been found 100% effective.  Continue reading

Bangladesh Garment Factory Fire: Another Triangle Shirtwaist Fire?

A garment fire in Bangladesh killed 112 workers last week

A garment fire in Bangladesh killed 112 workers last week, harkening back to the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist fire 100 years ago on March 24, 1911, which claimed the lives of 146 young men and women, mostly immigrant garment workers. The Triangle fire galvanized a broad spectrum of reformers and reforms, one of which was worker’s compensation. In the aftermath of the Triangle fire, many states adopted worker’s compensation laws. (Wisconsin’s was the very first constitutional law in 1911.) Other reforms included workplace safety regulations, child labor laws, and enhanced fire inspections, among others.

There is a growing effort by worker groups to demand safety reforms in Bangladesh where factory fires have killed hundreds of workers in recent years.

An additional tragedy in the Bangladesh fire, whose products are sold here in America Mart, was the revelation that managers may have lowered gates to prevent employees from leaving because they thought it was a false alarm. There is a growing effort by worker groups to demand safety reforms in Bangladesh where factory fires have killed hundreds of workers in recent years. Photos taken by workers showed labels for Wal-Mart’s private label Faded Glory in the remains, along with clothing for a number of other United States labels including work wear brand Dickies.  

The analogies to the Triangle Shirtwaist fire are striking. In that fire, people on the 10th floor, mostly in administrative offices, were able to escape to the roof of an adjoining building. Workers on the 8th floor fled using the stairs, the fire escape and elevators. However, Continue reading

The 6 Things You Need To Do If You Are Exposed To Mercury

Elemental mercury is a silver, odorless liquid.

Today’s post comes from guest author Catherine Stanton from Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano.

Irving J. Selikoff Center for Occupational & Environmental Medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine has released a guide to treatment for elemental mercury ((the pure form of the metal, when it is not combined with other chemicals) exposure. There are other forms of mercury, such as compounds found in contaminated fish, known as organic mercury and those are not covered by the guide.

Workers who experience a one-time sudden exposure to any chemical substance at work, should:

  1. Gather as much information as you can about the type and amount of exposure, including labels, Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), and the medical emergency phone number on the MSDS. 
  2. If you are feeling ill, seek medical attention at an emergency department (ED) immediately. It is best if a medical toxicologist is consulted as part of your visit to the ED. They can be reached for advice about treatment by having the healthcare professional contact the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222. 
  3. You can call the PCC independently for recommendations as well.
  4. Once the urgent situation has been taken care of, you may contact the nearest occupational health clinic in New York State or in the country for recommendations and follow-up.
  5. This fact sheet is not a substitute for medical care. The purpose is to direct the exposed worker to the proper medical provider. 
  6. Report any exposure to your employer immediately. Complete an incident or exposure form. If none is available, write a memo informing them of the exposure incident (date, time, location, what you were doing in the area, and for how long). Keep copies and insist that documents are placed in your personnel files.

You can download a copy of the fact sheet by clicking here. It contains more information about the following topics: Continue reading