Tuesday, March 12, 2019

The Tedium of Job Searches

Frequently in the life of a Connecticut work injury claim, there will be a period of time where you are required to do the dreaded "job searches." This situation typically arises when a worker, often a construction worker or heavy laborer, sustains an injury and is unable to perform the full range of their required job duties. For instance, while they heal their doctor may prescribe a 20-pound lifting restriction, or limit the use of overhead motion with an upper extremity. In an ideal world, your employer will be happy to work with you around your restrictions and find a job on site for you to perform. This is known as "accommodating" your restrictions. More often, however, the employer cannot accommodate you and would consider your presence to be more of a hindrance than a help. In such a case, job searches become a requirement. The basic idea behind job searches is that the worker's compensation system does not wish to pay an injured employee who is capable of some work. To receive your benefit, you must look for work consistent with your restrictions. These job searches are now most often conducted online on such platforms as Indeed or Snag A Job. The injures worker must typically look for five jobs each week and record his or her efforts on a "Record of Employment Contacts" form. Your Connecticut work injury lawyer then takes this form which you give them and transmits it to the insurance company who in turns cuts you a check. So long as the searches continue to roll in, then so do the checks. Keep in mind that insurance companies will often scrutinize your efforts. Please be sure to submit verifiable searches with jobs that actually exist and can be verified. Also, be sure to apply for positions in line with your abilities. It is fair to say that the stone mason who applies for a job as a concert pianist will be met with great skepticism by both the insurance company and the comp Commissioner. In short, work with your Connecticut work injury lawyer to facilitate the job search process. As in all things workers comp related, he or she is the expert that will help you navigate the system successfully and get you healed and back to work as quickly as possible.

Monday, February 25, 2019

If you have to Take your Connecticut Work Injury Case to Trial

I love questions from anyone.I do believe there are no dumb questions and when you ask me something I think should be obvious that just tells me we need to do a better job of explaining things. A really good question I got recently was from someone who wanted to know what the odds were of winning their case? I'm not in the odds making business and I hate lawyers that make false promises just to make a client feel good or to get them to sign up. What I do like to do is help you figure out the chances of success. That depends on the facts of your unique case, which we are always happy to discuss with you. In general though I believe in predictors of success. There are certain things that don't guarantee a victory, but are good signs that your case will go well. These things include: 1. Report the injury to your employer ASAP. It can be as simple as telling your boss/supervisor, “I was lifting a box and felt a pop in my back” but the best thing to do is fill out something in writing or tell them by e-mail. 2. Get to the doctor right away. The longer you wait to get to the doctor the harder it becomes to relate your problems to the original injury. A delay of a few days can be reasonable. A delay of many months is not. 3. When you see the doctor make sure to tell them that you were hurt at work (if that's the truth). Don't listen to a boss that tells you to say you were hurt away from work and promises they'll take care of you. Again do it in writing when you can. 4. Listen to your doctor. If they tell you to go to physical therapy do it. If you need to stop smoking to aid your recovery, do it. 5. Don't lie or embellish. If you lie you will likely get caught. If you inflate your symptoms you likely will get caught. And it will kill your case. 6. Hire an attorney that does work comp all day every day. If they just dabble in it, it could cost you. 7. Communicate with your attorney. If you don't tell them your check is late or you need a medical procedure approved, etc., they can't help you. 8. If you realize that you hired the wrong attorney, switch before it's too late. 9. At trial be calm. It's not the trial of the century, it's just a hearing on work comp benefits. There is no jury. There will probably be two lawyers, a court reporter and the worker's compensation Commissioner assigned to decide your case. That's it. 10. Keep a journal from beginning to end. In some cases you might not need a trial for years, but will still need to remember old details. A journal can help and aid your credibility. This isn't a complete list. I could probably do another post that just focuses on lawyers that could really tip the scales in your favor (you better hire someone who takes cases to trial). But it's a good starting point. Don't freak out if you haven't hit all of these points. It doesn't mean your case is a loser, but it might make things more challenging.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

What Should You Look For in your Worker Injury Lawyer

As Seen on Nolo.com If you've suffered a serious work-related injury or illness, it's almost always a good idea to hire an attorney to handle your workers' compensation claim and ensure that you get all the benefits to which you’re entitled. But you need to find an attorney with specific expertise in workers' comp. Because this area of the law is complex and highly specialized, clients are generally not well served by attorneys who try to dabble in workers' comp. Unfortunately, it's not always easy to distinguish the workers' comp experts from the dabblers. Television commercials, Internet marketing, billboards, and print ads often contain more style than substance. The most reliable indicators of a quality attorney—years of experience, depth of knowledge, attention to detail, trustworthiness—are seldom apparent in an advertisement. While it might take some extra effort to find the right attorney for you, it can make all the difference in your case. Here are some tips to help you in your search. Ask for recommendations from friends, colleagues, and family members. Many good workers' comp attorneys do little to no advertising, instead relying on word-of-mouth and referrals from satisfied former clients. State and local bar associations and legal aid offices may be able to provide referrals as well. You're much more likely to find quality counsel through a referral than by responding to an ad and hoping for the best. The Internet can be a great resource, but use it wisely. As is true for people searching for any kind of service provider, many injured workers find workers' comp lawyers online, including through Nolo's Lawyer Directory. But, particularly if you’ve identified potential attorneys through online ads or popular review sites, you should look for more information. Study the prospective attorney’s website to see if it emphasizes workers' comp expertise, or if the practice appears to handle a wide variety of cases. Does the website contain articles or other information about workers' comp law? Are there testimonials from former clients? Does the firm appear to have a long and successful track record? While you shouldn't base your choice of attorney entirely on a website, it can still be a useful indicator of a lawyer's level of knowledge, experience, and professionalism. Treat the initial consultation as your lawyer's job interview. Virtually all workers' comp attorneys offer free initial consultations with prospective clients. While your lawyer will certainly ask you dozens of questions related to your claim, you should be asking just as many questions. Remember: This is a job interview, and you are the employer. The following questions will help you gauge the attorney's level of expertise in workers' compensation: How many years have you been handling workers' compensation claims? How much of your practice is devoted to workers' comp? Can you represent me throughout the entire workers' comp process, including at administrative hearings and appeals, as well as in court if it gets to that stage? Can you provide me with any references, such as former clients and/or colleagues in the legal community? Will you be working on my case personally, or will legal assistants and paralegals handle the bulk of the work? If I call your office with a question about my case, will I speak to you or a legal assistant? Do you also represent employers and insurance companies in workers' comp cases, or only injured workers? Are you a member of any professional organizations in the field of workers' compensation law? Are you board-certified in workers' comp? Can you explain to me how a workers' compensation claim proceeds through the system? How do attorneys' fees work? Will I be charged for litigation-related expenses, and if so, what do those expenses include? Will I be charged even if my case is unsuccessful? Do you arrange for clients to receive consultative medical examinations with appropriate specialists? Under what circumstances? How do you estimate the value of my case? What are the strengths and weakness of my case? Look for an attorney who inspires confidence and treats you with respect. The initial consultation is a great time to evaluate the attorney's professionalism and demeanor when dealing with clients. A quality attorney will answer all your questions patiently and authoritatively and will listen to and address your concerns. If you have to meet with three or four (or more) attorneys before finding one who inspires complete confidence, that's a relatively small price to pay. Also take note of the attitudes and behavior of the administrative assistants, legal assistants, and paralegals in the office, as you'll probably be interacting with them on a regular basis. If they treat you rudely or dismissively or don't return your calls promptly, feel free to take your business elsewhere. As your case progresses, your attorney should provide you with periodic updates on the status of your claim. If you rarely hear from your attorney, speak up about your concerns. If that doesn’t help, it may be time to find a new lawyer who will give your case the attention it deserves. (Before you take that step, however, learn about the consequences of switching workers’ comp lawyers during your case. And learn more about what a good workers' comp attorney should do for you.)

Friday, June 22, 2018

I Have a Job Related Injury. What Are my Employer's Responsibilities?

f you have sustained a Connecticut job-related injury, your employer may be responsible for helping you with lost wages or other accommodations. Most employers are required by laws in each state to carry workers' compensation insurance, which pays a portion of an employee's regular wages while he or she is recovering from a work-related injury or illness. However, some types of workers, including independent contractors and railroad workers, are not covered by these workers' compensation laws. Also, in some rare instances, employees may sue employers in court for injuries resulting from willful violations of safety regulations. Examples would include extreme cases of negligence; a failure to carry the required amount of workers' compensation insurance; and other limited cases. Is Your Injury Work-Related? Before you file a claim for workers' compensation or seek other employer-provided relief, make sure your injury truly is work-related, which generally means it happened while you were doing your work duties or something else on behalf of your employer. This may also include company parties, picnics, or other social events sponsored by your employer but not necessarily on company-owned property. Additionally, your employer's workers' compensation policy may cover job-related injuries even if you were disregarding workplace safety rules (such as "horseplay" on the job). State laws, and even courts within some states, are divided on this. Below are some other considerations when determining whether your injury is work-related, for purposes of workers' compensation claims or other actions: An injury that occurred during a lunch break is typically not considered work-related, unless it occurs in a company cafeteria or otherwise involves your employer in some way; Even if alcohol contributes to an injury, it may still be considered work-related if it occurred during a work-sponsored event such as a holiday party; A preexisting condition that is worsened on the job is usually considered work-related; Mental conditions are treated the same as physical injuries if they are determined to be sustained on the job or as a result of your job. Workers' Compensation Coverage Employers in most states are required to carry workers' compensation insurance, but only workers properly classified as "employees" are covered (as opposed to independent contractors). Also, Idaho and Wyoming do not require coverage of undocumented workers; but Arizona, California, Texas, and other states specifically include illegal immigrant workers in employers' workers' comp coverage. Depending on your state, certain types of workers may not be covered by workers' comp requirements (see Workers' Compensation Links for state-specific information). Some examples are listed below: Domestic workers (housekeepers, nannies, babysitters) Agricultural workers Seasonal workers Undocumented workers If you are eligible for workers' comp, you may file a claim for benefits (usually about two-thirds of your regular salary) but you are not entitled to sue your employer for those same injuries in court. But, if your employer fails to provide coverage that is mandated by state law, they may be subject to fines, criminal charges, and/or lawsuits. See Workers' Comp: Employers' Responsibilities to learn more about what your employer is required to do (and prohibited from doing) with respect to workers' comp. When Workers' Comp is Not an Option Just because you are not eligible for workers' comp benefits does not necessarily mean your employer doesn't have responsibility for your job-related injury. If you are an independent contractor, for example, your contract may mandate the use of arbitration for injuries and other disputes. In some rare cases, such as intentionally inflicted injuries sustained in the workplace, an employee may sue his or her employer. But usually that is not permitted. For more details, see Workers' Compensation: Can I Sue My Employer Instead? Other alternatives to workers' comp coverage are listed below: Non-military, federal employees are covered by the Federal Employees' Compensation Act The Federal Employment Liability Act (FELA) holds railroads liable for employees' injuries if they are found to be negligent The Merchant Marine Act (also called the Jones Act) provides seamen with protections from employer negligence, similar to FELA The Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act (LHWCA) provides specialized workers' compensation coverage for certain employees of private maritime employers The Black Lung Benefits Act provides compensation for current and former miners suffering from a mining-related disease known as "black lung" A Free Case Review is Just a Click Away Job-related illnesses and injuries may take months or even years to show symptoms, while it's not always simple to determine whether an injury is indeed work-related. If you have suffered an injury or illness and believe it may be work-related, make sure you get immediate medical attention. Then, contact an experienced attorney and have a free initial review of your claim.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Connecticut Welcomes a New Worker's Compensation Chairman

The Workers’ Compensation Commission is pleased today to welcome Stephen M. Morelli as our newest Workers’ Compensation Commission Chairman. Morelli was recently appointed by Governor Dannel Malloy to this position following the retirement of Commissioner John A. Mastropietro. Chairman Morelli thanked Mastropietro in his communication with agency employees, “I share with you a debt of gratitude to Chairman Mastropietro for his years of excellent service and his outstanding stewardship of our organization. I look forward to working with you, and am confident that together we can continue to meet the challenges we will face.” After studying at Boston College and the University of Connecticut, from which he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree, Morelli earned his Juris Doctor from the University of Connecticut School of Law. Following his collegiate studies, he served with the United States Peace Corps in Thailand. Morelli is a member of both the Connecticut and California Bars and is admitted to U.S. District Courts in both states as well, in addition to being a licensed realtor in the state of Connecticut. Morelli brings with him more than twenty-five years’ experience in employment, general business, personal injury, real estate, and workers’ compensation law, in addition to litigation experience in both state and federal courts. From 1990-1994 he worked as an Associate in Legal Practice with the firm of Li & Kennedy and from 1994-2000 he was a partner in Roggi & Morelli, LLP. He later had his own practice as the Law Office of Stephen M. Morelli. Active as an elected official, Morelli has also served as the Deputy Mayor of the Town of Berlin, and as a member of the Berlin Town Council, the Budget Committee, and the Ordinance Committee (where he served as Chair). He also served previously as a member of the Berlin Housing Authority and the Democratic Town Committee, as well as being a Corporator of The Hospital of Central Connecticut. Morelli first joined the Workers’ Compensation Commission as a Commissioner in 2012, and during the past six years he has served in the agency’s Hartford, New Britain, Norwich, and Waterbury District Offices. We are happy to celebrate his continued public service to the citizens of the state of Connecticut, in his new capacity as Chairman of the Workers’ Compensation Commission. If you have been injured on the job in Connecticut or if your loved one has lost their life, call us. We can help. Since 1986 we are Connecticut's work injury specialists. 860-523-8783

Monday, September 25, 2017

Connecticut Worker's Compensation: A Primer

Connecticut Workers’ Compensation Claims: Eligibility, Filing, and Appeals Understand how workers' compensation works in the state of Connecticut. By Sachi Barreiro Virtually all employers in Connecticut are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. As in the rest of the country, the workers’ compensation system in Connecticut is a no-fault system designed to compensate injured workers for medical bills, lost wages, and permanent impairments resulting from their injuries. To take advantage of these benefits, injured workers must take certain steps required by Connecticut law. Who Is Eligible for Workers’ Comp Benefits? Workers’ compensation covers all injuries or illnesses that happen in the course of employment. In general, injuries that happen while you are performing your work duties or running work errands are covered by workers’ comp. On the other hand, injuries that occur while you’re off-duty are generally not compensated through workers’ comp. For example, if you were injured during your lunch break or during your commute to and from work, you will typically not be covered by workers’ comp. For more information, see our article on what types of injuries are covered by workers’ comp. Workers’ comp covers both traumatic injuries and occupational illnesses. Traumatic injuries are those that result from a one-time accident at work, such as a broken bone from a slip and fall. Occupational diseases are injuries or illnesses that occur over a period of time, including injuries caused by repetitive movements at work (such as carpal tunnel syndrome) and illnesses developed from exposure to toxic substances at the workplace (such as cancer from exposure to asbestos). What Should I Do if I’m Injured at Work? If you’re injured at work, you must report your injuries to your employer immediately. Your employer should complete an “Employer’s First Report of Injury” form and provide it to its insurer and to the state Workers’ Compensation Commission, along with a copy to you. In addition to giving notice, you will have to file an official workers’ comp claim by completing a Notice of Claim for Compensation (Form 30C). You must provide this form to your employer and the Workers’ Compensation Commission within one year of your accident or within three years of the onset of an occupational illness. You should do this in person or by sending the documents by certified mail with a return receipt requested. Once your employer receives your claim form, it has 28 days to accept your claim, deny your claim, or begin benefit payments “without prejudice” – meaning that your employer has agreed to pay your benefits while it continues to make a final decision about your claim. If the employer fails to do any of these within 28 days, your claim is deemed accepted. How Do I Get Medical Treatment? In an emergency, you can choose which doctor or hospital to seek treatment from. For all non-emergency care, your employer may choose which doctor you see for your initial treatment. After the initial treatment, you can select your own doctors, unless your employer has established a managed care program for treatment of work-related injuries. If your employer has established such a plan, you must select a doctor from a doctor within the plan’s network. In general, though, your employer must provide you with notice of the managed care plan prior to your injuries. What Benefits Can I Receive? All reasonable and necessary medical treatment related to your work injury will be covered through workers’ comp, including the cost of doctors’ visits, hospital bills, prescriptions, and prosthetic devices. You’ll also be reimbursed for the mileage you incur in traveling to and from medical appointments. In addition to medical benefits, you will also be eligible to receive temporary disability payments and a permanent disability award. Temporary Disability You will be eligible to receive compensation for wage loss during the time you are temporarily disabled and unable to work. Temporary total disability payments are 75% of your average weekly wages, subject to a maximum of $1,292 per week (as of October 1, 2016). You can continue to receive temporary total disability until your doctor finds that you’ve reached maximum medical improvement (MMI), meaning that your condition has plateaued and is not expected to improve. If you’re able to return to part-time or light-duty work while you’re recovering, but earn less than your normal wages, you may eligible for temporary partial disability benefits. Temporary partial disability benefits are 75% of the difference in your average weekly wages, subject to the same maximum weekly amount. Permanent Disability If you are found to be totally and permanently disabled, you will receive the same weekly amount that you received in temporary total disability payments: 75% of your average weekly wages, subject to a maximum of $1,292 per week (as of October 1, 2016). Permanent total disability benefits are available for as long as the disability continues. These benefits are available only to workers with severely debilitating injuries, such as the loss of both hands, feet, arms, legs, or eyes. Workers are considered totally disabled only if they cannot earn any wages in the same job or another job. For most other workers, permanent partial disability benefits are available. You will receive 75% of your average weekly wage, up to $1,063 per week (as of October 1, 2016). How long you’ll receive these benefits depends on a state schedule and the disability rating assigned by your doctor. Connecticut’s state schedule is comprehensive and lists injuries to certain body parts, including extremities and organs. For each body part, the schedule identifies the maximum number of weeks for a total loss of use of that body part. For example, a worker with a 100% loss of use of a dominant arm will receive benefits for 208 weeks. However, if the worker had a 50% disability rating, he or she would receive benefits for 104 weeks. You may also receive benefits for significant scarring or disfigurement to the face, head, or neck, or to another body part if it will impede your ability to find new work. These benefits are equal to the total temporary disability rate, subject to the same maximum amounts. Benefits are available for up to 208 weeks. What if My Claim Is Denied? If your workers’ comp claim has been denied, or the insurance company is disputing any portion of your claim, you have the right to request a hearing before the Workers’ Compensation Commission. To do so, you must file a form called a “Hearing Request” with the Workers’ Compensation Commission. A hearing will be held before a workers’ comp judge, who will issue a written decision. If you disagree with the judge’s decision, you may file an appeal with the Compensation Review Board. For more information on the appeals process, see our article on appealing a denial of your Connecticut workers’ comp claim.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Rate of CT workplace injuries, illnesses exceeds nation's

Rate of CT workplace injuries, illnesses exceeds nation's Related Content Content by John Stearns More than 36,000 nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses were reported among Connecticut's private industry employers in 2015, resulting in an incidence rate of 3.2 cases per 100 equivalent full-time workers and higher than the national rate of 3.0, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Connecticut was among 21 states that had an incidence rate of total recordable cases (TRC) significantly higher than the national rate, Regional Commissioner Deborah A. Brown said. Connecticut's findings from the 2015 Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses include: • Incidence rates in private industry ranged from 0.9 in financial activities to 5.1 in education and health services. • Two supersectors accounted for 60 percent of the occupational injuries and illnesses: education and health services; and trade, transportation, and utilities. • In private industry, the injury and illness incidence rate ranged from 1.5 for small establishments (those employing fewer than 11 workers) to 4.4 for midsize establishments (those employing between 50 and 249 workers). • Connecticut's private industry incidence rate of 3.2 in 2015 was significantly lower than the rate of 3.5 in 2014. Of the 36,300 private industry injury and illness cases reported in Connecticut, 20,900 were of a more severe nature, involving days away from work, job transfer, or restriction. These cases occurred at a rate of 1.8 cases per 100 full-time workers versus a rate of 1.6 nationally. Among the state and local government workers in Connecticut, approximately 9,000 injury and illness cases were reported in 2015, resulting in a rate of 5.8 cases per 100 full-time workers. Nationally, the rate was 5.1. Almost 80 percent of injuries and illnesses reported in Connecticut's public sector occurred among local government work