Will your Georgia workers’ compensation settlement be delayed because of the COVID-19 coronavirus shutdown? As I discuss in this video, our office - Ginsberg Law Offices - remains open, using the phone, email, fax and Skype to regularly communicate with our clients, insurance adjusters and opposing counsel. Law firms are considered “essential businesses” by the government so we are proceeding with business as usual. Over the past few years, mediation has become the preferred option to help us get cases settled. Until recently mediations were done in person at a neutral’s office but now we are able to schedule virtual mediations using the phone or Skype. Here's a link to a video I did about how I approach mediations: https://youtu.be/OGB5wg7plO8. Fortunately many mediation companies were already set up to handle virtual mediations so the transition was quick. Once we decide that your case is ready for settlement, we will attempt to hammer out a deal directly with the insurance company or we will proceed to a virtual mediation where you and I will participate by phone or Skype. Currently most of the insurance companies we deal with remain open and are making offers and negotiating to resolve cases. Some are eager to get cases settled and close their files so if your case is appropriate for settlement this may be a good time to proceed. As always, I am available to you at any time to discuss the facts of your case and how we might move it towards a lump sum settlement. #workerscompensationsettlement #coronavirusdelaysworkerscompensation #workinjuriesandcoronavirus Free Case Evaluation If you or a loved one would like a case evaluation for your Georgia workers' compensation claim, please call me at 770-351-0801 or email me at https://bit.ly/jodi-help. Georgia Work Injury Survival Kit **Get my Free Survival Kit If you don't know where to begin, then start with my "Georgia Workers' Compensation Survival Kit" that I created for you. Get immediate access at https://www.georgia-workers-compensation.com. Jodi Brenner Ginsberg Georgia Workers Compensation Attorney https://www.georgia-workers-compensation.com Telephone: 770-351-0801
If you are a CNA, nursing assistant to patient helper, what should you be most concerned about if you are hurt on the job? In my law practice, I regularly represent certified nursing assistants, respiratory technicians patient aides and other patient care professionals. These jobs can be very physical as they often involve moving a patient who has minimal body control or who may put up a struggle. My clients report back injuries, neck and shoulder injuries, arm strains and contusions, and knee injuries - perhaps you have had one of these injuries happen to you or to a co-worker. As I discuss in this video, I often find that CNAs and other patient caretakers often get push back from their employers when they report an on-the-job injury. This may be because injuries to patient care workers are common and employers do not want to deal with the hassle of finding a substitute worker or going through the process of reporting a claim. You cannot and must not allow your employer’s reluctance to stop you from reporting your work injury. It is very possible that the twinge or dull ache in your back could be a serious disc injury, or the strain in your shoulder could be rotator cuff damage. If you are hurt on your patient care job, you have the right to be seen by a workers’ compensation doctor paid for by your employer (and their insurance company). Do not accept any other answer. And when you do visit the doctor, make a list of every body part that is hurting and report it. Insurance companies are notorious for trying to deny claims for injuries to specific body parts using the justification that “the injured worker did not report that injury” when first meeting the doctor. If you are not sure how to report your work injury or what to say to the doctor, please call me. I don’t charge for these calls and I’d be happy to share my knowledge with you. #CNAworkinjury #hurtatworkliftingpatient #workerscompensationforCNA Free Case Evaluation If you or a loved one would like a case evaluation for your Georgia workers' compensation claim, please call me at 770-351-0801 or email me at https://bit.ly/jodi-help. Georgia Work Injury Survival Kit **Get my Free Survival Kit If you don't know where to begin, then start with my "Georgia Workers' Compensation Survival Kit" that I created for you. Get immediate access at https://www.georgia-workers-compensation.com. Jodi Brenner Ginsberg Georgia Workers Compensation Attorney https://www.georgia-workers-compensation.com Telephone: 770-351-0801
File Your Injury Report and Claim on Time -- Immediately! In order to help secure your right to Workers' Compensation benefits in Wyoming it is critical to file a timely Report of Injury. The law requires you to notify your employer in writing of a work-related injury within 72-hours after the injury becomes apparent or you are aware of a work injury. You then must also file a Wyoming Report of Injury form with your employer and the Workers' Compensation Division. This can be done on paper or electronically at http://wyomingworkforce.org/workers/workerscomp/. Failure to file timely notify your employer or file a Report of Injury can significantly impair your ability to obtain benefits and your claim is likely to be denied. A denial of benefits is not necessarily a total loss though and in some cases there are ways to get your benefits started, but it may cost you months of delay and work to get access to the medical care and monetary benefits you need. Always Have Healthcare Providers Submit Their Bills to Workers' Compensation After you have filed your Workers' Compensation Report of Injury, you will be assigned a Claim Number. (example: WC 2020-00000). You must give this number to every healthcare provider you see and have them send their bill to Workers' Compensation for all services they provide that are connected to the work=related injury. You can provide your private insurance information as well, but Workers' Compensation must be the primary for all services related to your work injury. Your private insurance carrier can be secondary in the event the Division denies the bill (something you can object to and request a hearing). File a Request for Hearing for Benefits Denied by the Workers' Compensation Division The Division reviews each medical bill and request for benefits to determine if it is related to your work-related injury. If the Division does not agree that the bill is related or that your request for other benefits is related to the work injury, it will send you a letter, or "Final Determination," telling you that they have denied coverage for the bill or benefits requested. If you feel the Division's denial of benefits is wrong, you have 15 days to file an Objection to the Final Determination and Request a Hearing. Sometimes the Division includes a form for you to file your objection, but not always. Regardless, you should file an Objection and Request for Hearing with 15 days of the date on the Final Determination. File your Objection by mail, fax, email or hand deliver it to a claims office. Keep a copy for your records just in case. If you are not sure whether to file an Objection, you should talk with a Workers' Compensation attorney -- most will talk with you for free. If you are unable to talk with an attorney in time, file your objection and then talk with an attorney as soon as possible. You can always withdraw an objection if you later learn or discover that it is appropriate to do so. Your Legal Representation is Free When Disputing Claims with Workers' Compensation The Wyoming Workers' Compensation Division pays for your Attorney to represent you when your objection to denial of benefits is filed. In other words, you do not have to pay for an attorney to fight for your benefits. In Wyoming, the Division pays for your attorney. After you have found an attorney to represent you, he/she will notify the Division and enter an appearance on your behalf. After your case has gone to hearing or reached some other resolution, your attorney will submit his/her bill to the Division for payment. This means that it does not matter if your case takes 2 months or more than a year to resolve, your attorney does not get paid until your disputed case is finished. So, every attorney has the incentive to help you resolve your claim as soon as possible. That said, you should expect that your case will likely take a significant time to complete.
Maryland COVID-19 worker’s compensation benefits. The CDC and WHO tell us that that the virus that causes COVID-19 is novel. Injured workers who have continued to work during the pandemic will present novel legal issues when claiming Maryland COVID-19 worker’s compensation benefits. If you believe you contracted COVID-19 through exposure at work, or through and incident that occurred at work, or while on work associated travel, you may be eligible for Maryland workers’ compensation benefits. Under typical circumstances, injured workers are entitled to: The payment of their medical expenses Wage loss benefits Monetary Compensation for Permanent Impairment Maryland workers’ compensation law provides a these of benefits for injured workers who have sustained an accidental personal injury as a result of their employment. “Accidental personal injury means a disease or infection that naturally results from an accidental injury that arises out of and in the course of employment” and includes “an occupational disease”. "Occupational disease" means a disease contracted as the result of and in the course of employment; and that causes the covered employee to become temporarily or permanently, partially or totally incapacitated". Source: § 9-101 of the Labor and Employment Article COVID-19 Contraction as an Accidental Injury We can all imagine scenarios where someone contracts COVID-19 through an accidental injury at work, e.g. a single unintentional, accidental exposure to substances containing pathogens at a testing lab, or the single demonstrable exposure to bodily fluids to medical professionals and first responders while acting out their duties. Indeed, some states have extended, at least to some extent, workers’ compensation benefits for first responders and health care professionals with COVID-19. Maryland has not yet acted in this regard. COVID-19 as an Occupational Disease The more difficult question arises in the setting of occupational diseases. Certainly, everyone who contracts the common cold, also caused by a virus, is not eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.1 Initially, it seems clear that COVID-19 would be considered a disease. The experts monitoring, and hopefully eventually curing the injured, and halting the pandemic consider infection with the virus a disease. “On February 11, 2020 the World Health Organization announced an official name for the disease that is causing the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak, first identified in Wuhan China. The new name of this disease is coronavirus disease 2019, abbreviated as COVID-19. In COVID-19, ‘CO’ stands for ‘corona,’ ‘VI’ for ‘virus,’ and ‘D’ for disease.” 2 Maryland workers’ compensation law provides a provides a limitation for coverage for occupational diseases to those which are “due to the nature of an employment in which hazards of the occupational disease exist and the covered employee was employed before the date of disablement; or” which has manifestations that are consistent with those known to result from exposure to a biological, chemical, or physical agent that is attributable to the type of employment in which the covered employee was employed before the date of disablement; and….it reasonably may be concluded that the occupational disease was incurred as a result of the employment of the covered employee.” Source: § 9-502 of the Labor and Employment Article The nature of a pandemic, is, unfortunately, that the pathogenic substance is, or may be, literally, anywhere. The hazards of COVID-19, may or soon will be prevalent in all facets of life, not just in connection with a specific workplace. The CDC advises us that “there is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), and that the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.” “The virus that causes COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community (“community spread”). Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.” 3 “The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person: 4 Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet). Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.” All Maryland workers’ compensation cases are decided on a case-by-case basis. Often, the proof requirements can be complex. In many if not most cases, the connection between the work related incident and the resulting physical impairment or disability must be established by competent medical evidence. An injured worker making a COVID-19 claim must show a connection to the employment. To be successful in a COVID-19/workers’ compensation claim, the injured worker must be able to show the were infected because of their work either by an identifiable single event, or by an exposure due to the nature of their employment in which the hazards of the disease exist by an exposure attributable to their type of employment Maryland’s Governor has issued an order that permits, some may say, a surprising number of businesses to stay open during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the absence of specific legislation , each case will continue to be decided on a case by case basis. For those injured workers who remain employed during the pandemic that ultimately contract COVID-19, a claim for Maryland workers’ compensation benefits will most likely be denied by the insurance company. A skilled workers’ compensation attorney may be able to successfully argue that the condition is compensable. Factors that I would look to include: A single, verifiable accidental exposure The injured worker’s pre-contraction quarantine, hygiene, social distancing, and isolation practices Infection within their social circle The nature and circumstances of the employment
If you are a food service workers, has your risk of injury increased because of the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis? Shelter in place orders issued by Georgia cities and counties have changed the day to day activities of food service workers, including waiters, cooks, hostesses, food delivery drivers and restaurant managers. As I discuss in this video, I am hearing from food service workers who are getting injured while working because the day to day tasks of their jobs have changed. Waitresses are now being asked to carry heavy trays of carry out orders. Waiters are being asked to balance heavy packages while walking to cars in unfamiliar parking lots. Deliver drivers are getting less help with unloading. And because of layoffs, restaurant and food service workers who remain are being asked to do more with less help. In general, restaurant owners and food service purveyors are struggling to stay in business and they are asking their remaining employees to perform more physical tasks that include stooping, bending, leaning and lifting. If changes to your food service job have resulted in an on the job injury, you can and should learn about your rights and options under Georgia’s workers’ compensation laws. None of the emergency measures undertaken by local governments impact your workers’ compensation rights at all. Please call me if you have any questions about Georgia workers’ compensation law. #restaurantworkersandworkerscompensation #deliverydriverworkinjury #foodserviceworkinjury
What complications can you expect in your Georgia workers’ compensation case due to the coronavirus? Even before the COVID-19 virus caused our economy to shut down, insurance companies were frequently late with payments and used delay tactics to try to squeeze you. Will you face even more delays and pressure now that insurance companies have a new excuse to slow down payments and slow down approval of medical care? While Georgia’s court systems, including the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation have discontinued in-person hearings, there has been no change to the rules regarding the insurance company’s obligation to get you paid on time and to approve medical treatment. My law firm is fully operational and we continue to aggressively defend the rights of our work injury clients to timely payment of TTD benefits and timely access to care. We have adjusted our procedures so that you do not have to drive in to sign papers or to make other appearances. We can use the phone, fax machines, scanners, e-sign procedures and other technology to keep you safe. The insurance companies we fight with have set up teleworking systems for their adjusters, and the insurance company lawyers are working from home. The insurance adjusters and opposing lawyers are no more cooperative but they are available to me when I need to demand timely payment of your weekly wage benefit or to schedule an appointment with a reasonable physician. My staff is working remotely every day so your calls will be returned, even if we cannot answer every call live. I understand that your needs for timely payment of benefits and access to medical care have not changed because of the coronavirus and I will continue to represent you zealously regardless of the changes we are all living through.
1. Notify Your Supervisor Immediately. Notifying your employer immediately serves two functions. First, formal notification to the employer is the triggering mechanism to get the work comp insurance company involved with your claim. If you do not report the injury to your employer, your employer will not report it to its insurance company and this ripple will cause a delay in getting your bills paid. Second, given the nature of this virus, you want to notify your employer so it can take immediate precautions to protect other employees and minimize the likelihood of further workplace contamination. 2. Seek Appropriate Medical Attention. You must use your best judgment when it comes to your health. I am not a doctor and you should not rely on advice from a legal blog. However, consistent with the current guidance from our medical providers, if you believe you have been exposed or if you are developing systems of COVID 19, you should begin with a telephone call to your nearest medical provider. To the extent possible you should take further action only after you have discussed your situation with a nurse or medical practitioner on the phone. If you are experiencing the need for emergency care use your best judgment when reporting to a medical facility and follow the protocols mandated for the protection of yourself and our medical professionals. 3. Keep Your Medical Records and Bills For Future Use. I consider it to be a best practice for you to start a folder/binder/envelope that contains all of your injury related medical records, bills, and correspondence with your employer and work comp insurance carrier. If you obtain an attorney, you can provide the documentation to him or her for use getting up to speed on your case. If you do not hire an attorney you will need these documents to support your claim. 4. If You Test Positive for Covid-19 Are You Covered Under Workers Compensation? The short answer is, it depends. For your COVID-19 injury to be covered by workers compensation it must be established that you contracted the virus during the course of your employment. In other words, there must be evidence that you contracted the virus while you were at work performing your job duties. 5. What You Should Do If Your Employer is Not Keeping Your Workspace Safe From COVID-19? The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the government agency that has the primary responsibility for investigating worker or workplace complaints in Wisconsin. OSHA’s website will allow you to file a safety and health complaint online. I included a link to OSHA’s website below for your convenience. https://www.osha.gov/workers/index.html Remember, it is illegal for an employer to do any of the following below in response to you exercising your legal rights. • Fire or terminate employment • Demote • Transfer • Otherwise retaliate against you Keep in mind, if you believe your employer has retaliated against you for exercising your rights, you must file a whistleblower complaint within 30 days of the alleged retaliation. You can find further instructions on filing a whistleblower complaint using OSHA’s website link above.
How Has COVID 19 Affected The Workers Compensation System? Effective March 23, based upon our evolving public health emergency, the Office of Workers Compensation Hearings (OWCH) has stopped conducting in-person hearings, pre-hearings and mediations until further notice. All currently scheduled hearings will be converted into telephone settlement conferences to the extent possible. The latest governmental guidance indicated the Office would resume in person proceedings starting the week of April 20th; however, I do not foresee in person hearings resuming by that date unfortunately. What Impact Will COVID 19 Have On Your Workers Compensation Case? If you are represented by an attorney, and currently have a pending workers compensation claim, I strongly recommend you touch base with your attorney to discuss the specific impact the COVID19 pandemic will have on your case. If you do not have an attorney, you should anticipate further guidance from OWCH in the near future as it relates to the handling of your case. If you do not receive any additional notice from the DWD regarding your case, I recommend you contact either DWD or OWCH depending on the status of your claim. For general questions, I commend you begin by contacting the DWD: Email Address: [email protected] Phone: (608) 266-1340 (Main Number) Fax: (608) 267-0394 Wisconsin Relay Service 7-1-1 I recommend you contact OWCH if you had a scheduled hearing, pre-hearing or settlement conference already scheduled. In addition you should contact OWCH if you filed a hearing application but have not yet received a response. Mailing Address: Office of Worker's Compensation Hearings P.O. Box 7922 Madison WI 53707-7922 Email Address: [email protected] Fax: (608) 266-0018 Fortunately, like the rest of society, I believe the smart Administrative Law Judges that preside over these hearings will figure out workable, temporary solutions in the near future. I anticipate system’s ability to process cases will improve throughout the coming weeks as the use of telephone hearings or videoconferencing will skyrocket. Despite my long-term positive outlook, I am a realist and understand that the workers compensation system did not move as fast as you would have liked it before this pandemic. Thus, you should take measures to prepare yourself in the event it takes longer to resolve your claim than you originally anticipated. Beyond the specific guidance from the OWCH, there two other factors that may impact your claim. First, the COVID 19 pandemic has placed a great strain on our medical providers. As a result a lot of medical providers are rescheduling or postponing “elective” or “non-emergency” medical treatment. A delay in your ability to receive medical treatment will cause a delay in your ability to resolve your claim. If you are in the midst of recovering from your injury and receiving medical treatment, you should follow the instructions/directions from your dedicated medical professionals. Please keep in mind that medical professionals across the country are doing everything they can to prioritize needs to keep us all safe. Second, outside of a formal hearing there remains the possibility that you may be able to resolve your claim by negotiating a compromise agreement with the workers compensation insurance company. I am concerned that insurance companies may realize that a lot of people are hurting for money and use that as an opportunity to offer lowball amounts during negotiations. I am working through these issues now on several cases and will report back at a future date with additional lessons learned as we go along.
Medical Care and Treatment Employees who are entitled to workers’ compensation can receive medical benefits to cover the costs of identifying and treating the injury in question. This can include doctor visits, medication, special equipment (such as crutches or a wheelchair), and surgery. You are allowed to choose your physician, though you may also have to visit a doctor of your employer’s choice for evaluation. Disability Benefits Injured workers may be eligible for disability benefits. • Temporary total disability occurs when your injury prevents you from working for a limited period of time. • Temporary partial disability indicates that you can do some but not all of the duties associated with your job. • Permanent total disability means that you will never be able to return to any type of gainful employment. • Permanent partial disability indicates permanent but not complete disability, such as a loss of strength or range of motion. You may be able to work again, but perhaps not in the same job or same field. Rehabilitation Benefits Rehabilitation benefits can cover therapeutic care — such as physical therapy — to help you return to your job. If your injury prevents you from returning to your job, rehabilitation benefits may include re-training to help you become qualified for a different job. Death Benefits Death benefits are available to a surviving spouse or a spouse and children, and are based on a percentage of the employee’s earnings. Regardless of the employee’s wages, there is a minimum benefit, and a burial allowance is available.
Important Time Limits for Filing a Workers Compensation Case All California cases have a time limit on when the matter can be brought to court, known as the Statute of Limitations (SOL). California workers’ compensation claims are no exception to the rule. In order to have the option of legal remedies for a work related injury, a claim it must first meet the deadline to file that has been imposed by California State Law. Generally, the Statute of Limitation to file a workers’ compensation claim is one year from the date of injury or illness. Once the Statute has passed, the claim may not have the opportunity of being heard in court and may not garner a positive outcome. The claim must be brought to the attention of the Workers Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) before the Statute of Limitations is met, in order to allow the case a chance at a legal remedy. This important time limit exists in every case. But just like in other fields of law, California Workers’ Compensation Statute of Limitations may be somewhat flexible in special circumstances. For example, in a cumulative trauma claim, where an injury has occurred over time from doing repetitive work over and over (such as data entry for 8 hours a day for many years), the 1-year Statute of limitations begins immediately the day after the exposure to whatever is causing the trauma ends. So even if an injury began many months or even years ago, but the worker continued to do the same tasks, it may be possible to pursue a cumulative trauma claim once the worker stops working. Additional ways to extend the Statute of Limitations There are additional ways to extend the Statute of Limitations such as: • When the employer, through their insurance carrier, provides medical treatment to the injured worker. This triggers the Statute to extend out to 5 years from the injury date. • If the injured worker is under the age of 18 at the time of injury the SOL will not begin until the date that the individual reaches the age of majority (18). • When the injured worker is not aware that they are being caused any harm. This pertains to matters of toxic exposure of any method, the Statute is triggered on the date that the employee discovers the harm. • In matters where the employee is not provided a DWC-1 Form by their employer when reporting an injury and the employee was not aware of the steps necessary to obtain workers compensation benefits in the state of California.
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