Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Dangers of Working with Vibrating Tools

Today’s post comes from guest author Anthony L. Lucas, from The Jernigan Law Firm.

Vibration White Finger (VWF) or “Dead Finger,” now known as Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS), is a chronic, progressive disorder caused by regular and prolonged use of vibrating hand tools that can progress to loss of effective hand function and necrosis of the fingers. In its advanced stages, the obvious symptom is finger blanching (losing color). Other symptoms include numbness, pain, and tingling in the fingers, as well as a weakened grip.

It is estimated that as many as 50 percent of the estimated 2 million U.S. workers exposed to hand-arm vibration will develop HAVS. Some common industries and the tools associated with HAVS are listed below:

  • Agriculture & Forestry – Chainsaws
  • Automotive – Impact Wrenches, Riveting Guns
  • Construction – Jackhammers
  • Foundries – Chippers, Grinders
  • Metal Working – Buffers, Sanders
  • Mining – Jack-Leg Drills, Stoper Drills

The time between a worker’s first exposure to hand-arm vibration to the development of HAVS symptoms can range from a few months to several years. Prevention is critical because while the early stages of HAVS are usually reversible if vibration exposure is reduced or eliminated, treatment is usually ineffective after the fingers blanch. 

The Security of Metadata in Workers’ Compensation Claims

Today’s post was shared by Jon L Gelman and comes from workers-compensation.blogspot.com

Confidentiality is a crucial element in workers’ compensation matters and the removal of metadata in electronically transmitted documents are a critcal factor in the process of maintaining the level of security embraced by the system. Metadata is all hidden data in a PDF file, including text, metadata, annotations, form fields, attachments, and bookmarks.

"….Metadata is loosely defined as "data about data." More specifically, the term refers to the embedded stratum of data in electronics file that may include such information as who authored a document, when it was created, what software was used, any comments embedded within the content, and even a record of changes made to the document.

"While metadata is often harmless, it can potentially include sensitive, confidential, or privileged information. As such, it presents a serious concern for attorneys charged with maintaining confidentiality — both their own and their clients. Professional responsibility committees at several bar associations around the country have weighed in on attorneys’ ethical responsibilities regarding metadata, but the opinions vary significantly. Source: The American Bar Association
The NJ Supreme Court announced yesterday, in an Administrative Determination, that all documents in electronic format should be "scrubbed" of metadata.

"The Court addressed an important ethical question raised by New Jersey practitioners in the context of their contemporary…

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Kids’ Chance is a Family That Changes Lives

Today’s post was shared by WC CompNewsNetwork and comes from www.workerscompensation.com

This is a great article about Kids Chance. I’m one of the founding members of Kids Chance of WI, providing scholarships to children of severely injured parents in Wisconsin.

I spent last Friday and Saturday in Little Rock, Arkansas, attending the annual convention of Kids’ Chance, an organization that provides scholarships and secondary education opportunities for children who have had a parent seriously injured or killed on the job. The group that gathers for this event each year are primarily volunteers from the 33 state Kids’ Chance chapters and 3 affiliate organizations, along with representatives of the national organization and interested parties. This is my second time attending. There is one thing you learn very quickly at a Kids’ Chance event; Kids’ Chance is family, and it is a family that is changing lives.

This is a grassroots, volunteer organization, a group whose members work vociferously towards a successful end goal – "More money for more kids". In its almost 30 year history, Kids’ Chance has issued well over 5,000 scholarships totaling around $16 Million. Just as impressively, the group has doubled in size over the last 4 years, growing From 19 states to the current 36. Two of the country’s most populated states, Florida and Texas, just formed chapters, and simply by population size they should have significant impact on those numbers in coming years.

If you spent a day with the KC veterans from around the nation you would quickly understand my assessment of them as “family”. They are passionate volunteers joined by a common cause. They refer to their scholarship recipients as their “kids”. And…

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Workers’ Compensation Reforms by State

Today’s post was shared by Jon L Gelman and comes from projects.propublica.org.

Scary stuff for injured workers in Wisconsin around out country…

Over the past decade, states across the country have been unwinding a century-old compact with America’s workers: A guarantee that if you are injured on the job, your employer will pay your medical bills and enough of your wages to help you get by. In all, 33 states have passed laws that reduce benefits, create hurdles to getting medical care or make it more difficult to qualify for workers’ comp." Related Story »

Ever filed for workers’ comp? Help ProPublica investigate.

Methodology

Over the past 10 months, ProPublica has analyzed reams of insurance industry data, studied arcane state laws, and interviewed hundreds of workers, businesses, attorneys, policymakers, doctors and insurance experts. Journalists obtained often confidential medical and court records and reported on the ground in 10 states and the District of Columbia.

To track the impact of the reforms nationwide for this graphic, ProPublica assigned a starting value for each state by combining a ranking of average statutory benefits conducted by Actuarial & Technical Solutions of Bohemia, N.Y., and a report from the U.S. Department of Labor that monitored how many recommendations of a 1972 presidential commission on workers’ comp that each state was following. ProPublica then analyzed state reform laws, using data from the National Council on Compensation Insurance Annual Statistical Bulletin, which rates the effects of legislation on benefit payments. In addition, ProPublica…

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Paid Family Leave and $15 Minimum Wage Coming to New York

Today’s post was shared by Workers Comp News and comes from www.jdsupra.com

New York has enacted legislation that, over the next several years, will phase in 12 weeks of paid family leave for all employees, as well as a $15 minimum wage in New York City and other parts of New York State.

PAID FAMILY LEAVE

The paid family leave provisions were enacted as an amendment to the temporary disability provisions of New York’s Workers’ Compensation Law. New York’s temporary disability law provides partial wage replacement during an absence due to an employee’s own (non-work-related) medical condition. Paid family leave complements temporary disability by providing partial wage replacement when an employee is absent from work to care for a family member.

Just like temporary disability in New York, paid family leave is an insurance-style program that will be funded entirely through a nominal weekly payroll deduction. Employers will not be required to fund paid family leave.

Benefit Amount and Length of Leave

Both the benefit amount and maximum length of paid family leave will gradually increase between 2018 and 2021. Beginning January 1, 2018, an eligible employee may take up to 8 weeks of paid family leave within any 52-week calendar period and will receive 50% of his or her average weekly wage or 50% of the state average weekly wage, whichever is lower. On January 1, 2019, it increases to 10 weeks of leave and 55% of the employee’s average weekly wage, not to exceed 55% of the state average weekly wage. On January 1, 2020, it…

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FL Supreme Court to Hear Oral Argument on Constitutionality of Workers’ Compensation

Today’s post was shared by Jon L Gelman and comes from workers-compensation.blogspot.com

Wednesday, April 6, 2016 Daniel Stahl v Hialeah Hospital, et al., SC15-725 statewide – starts about 9:00 a.m.

Mr. Stahl, a nurse who was injured while working at Hialeah Hospital, filed a claim for benefits under Florida’s workers’ compensation law but was denied the benefits he believed were appropriate. He challenged the constitutionality of the law, pointing to its failure to provide benefits for workers who are permanently and partially disabled from on-the-job injuries. The First District Court of Appeal upheld the constitutionality of the workers’ comp law and this appeal followed.

Video Portal: Florida Supreme Court Online Video Portal

Florida Supreme Court DocketCase DocketCase Number: SC15-725 – Active DANIEL STAHL vs. HIALEAH HOSPITAL, ET AL.Lower Tribunal Case(s): 1D14-3077, 04-022489

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Defense Firm Prohibited From Seeking Unfettered Medical Discovery

Today’s post was shared by Jon L Gelman and comes from workers-compensation.blogspot.com

A defense firm, that had a “custom” of seeking unlimited medical discovery in workers’ compensation claims, was barred from utilizing that litigation tactic. The NJ Appellate Division affirmed the trial level decision of The Honorable Emille R. Cox, Supervising Judge of Compensation that prohibited requests for unlimited medical data.

At the trial level, Judge Cox, in a written option held that the conduct of the defense law firm in utilizing a demand for unlimited medical records as a litigation tactic was:

    • “delayed” the determination of workers’ compensation claims and that was counter to the summary remedial administrative proceeding that the legislature intended,
    • had a potentially “chilling effect” on injured workers’ elected to proceed with a workers’ compensation claim, and
    • the defense firm’s conduct, “under the guise of zealous advocacy boarded on the contempt.”

The defense firm, representing the employer, followed its usual practice of immediately, and concurrently upon filing an Answer, sought unlimited authorization for medical records of the injured worker for a period of the previous 10 years prior to the accident. The proposed authorization further stipulated that the injured workers’ HIPPA rights were waived. The defense firm even sought records from potentially pre-existing medical conditions that would extend that authorization without time limitation.

The employer’s…

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A Change in Direction for Change in Condition?

Today’s post was shared by Workers Comp News and comes from www.jdsupra.com

On January 20, 2016, the South Carolina Court of Appeals handed down its opinion in Russell v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 2016 WL 231216, and held that claimant is not required to prove a change of condition by objective evidence. Russell injured her back on November 3, 2009 lifting something heavy. Because she was pregnant, diagnostic testing was delayed until after she delivered the baby. An MRI was ordered by the treating physician and he determined she was not a surgical candidate. She was returned to work with a 30 pound lifting restriction and declared at MMI on February 2, 2011. She was awarded seven percent to the back by order of a single commissioner on June 8, 2011. Russell timely filed for a change of condition citing new symptoms including pain radiating into the legs.

A second MRI was performed which did not show any physical change. However, her treating physician and an IME doctor both opined she had a change of condition for the worse based upon her subjective complaints.

The hearing commissioner granted the change of condition, but the full panel reversed on the theory there was no objective evidence to support a physical change of condition. The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded holding that the Act does not require the claimant to prove change of condition by objective evidence.

Since 1942, South Carolina has consistently held that “change of condition” means change in physical condition. Cromer v. Newberry Cotton Mills, 241 S.C. 349, 23…

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