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

Thursday, June 15, 2017

CRB Excuses Claimant's Failure to Attend Formal hearing

In the recent CRB case of Greene vs. Ansonia Copper and Brass the Claimant, who was represented by counsel, failed to attend a scheduled formal hearing to prosecute her claim for 31-308a post PPD discretionary payments. Unfortunately, the Claimant forgot about the hearing and at the appointed hour was in Virginia attending a family member's graduation . The Trial Commissioner dismissed her claim for benefits for failure to prosecute however the CRB reversed, essentially relying on the humanitarian purposes of the Connecticut Worker's Compensation Act as well as the notion that jurisdiction in a worker's comp case is continuous. Interestingly, the session which the claimant missed was in fact a session that had previously been continued 3 times at her own request.

Court: Temps May Not be “Employees” Under Workers Compensation Law, Allowing Lawsuit

Article by Attorney Gary S. Starr, Esquire of Shipman and Goodwin, LLP of Hartford. Used with permission.
Employers who use a staffing company to supplement their employees may find themselves in for a rude awakening if the temp gets hurt at their worksite. Ordinarily, an employee injured on the job would be covered by the workers compensation insurance. A recent Superior Court decision rejected the idea that the temp is covered by the employer’s workers compensation insurance and is allowing a lawsuit to go forward against the employer. The court found that the temp was an employee of the staffing company and not the employer, even though the temp accepted the assignment with the employer, the work was being done for the employer, and the temp was under the control of the employer at the worksite, and not the staffing company. While there are several state court decisions that have found this arrangement to be a dual employment situation, other courts have rejected the concept of dual employment. Under dual employment, the temp would have been covered under the employer’s workers compensation insurance. Until an appellate court or the Connecticut Supreme Court rules on this issue or the legislature clarifies the statutory scheme, employers using staffing companies to fill out their employment needs, run the risk that if the temp gets hurt, they could be sued. Such a lawsuit would present a risk of liability that could exceed the workers compensation formulas, with possible punitive damages. Employers should be careful in their negotiations with staffing companies to try to establish a dual employment relationship with the temp, even having the temp sign a written agreement with the employer accepting the assignment with the employer. There should also be clarification of the scope of any indemnity. The employer should check with its workers compensation insurance carrier to ensure coverage of any temps. While these steps may not avoid the consequences described above, it may provide a basis for arguing for dual employment and for coverage under workers compensation. Of course, dual employment has its own set of challenges as well so employers using temps need to understand both the pros and cons in such a relationship.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Social Security Disability and the "Date Last Insured"

Today's case was a reminder of the importance of making a timely filing for Social Security Disability should you become disabled from work on a long term basis. In order to be eligible to receive Title II SSD benefits, one must file their claim for disability within a certain period, typically 5 years, from the last date of full-time work. Today's client came to me in late 2016. She had applied for disability in December of 2015 claiming an "alleged onset date" in 2003. Her "Date last Insured" (DLI) was in December 2004. In such a case it is imperative that one have medical records supporting the existence of a disability prior to the DLI. While our client had voluminous recent records records substantiating severe medical problems that would ordinarily make her eligible for disability at an early stage of the process, she had very few records that pre-dated her DLI. Thus, it becomes a challenge for the lawyer to successfully argue such a case. This is especially true given that medical providers only need to retain their patient's records for 7 years. The moral of the story is to apply for Disability as soon as it becomes apparent to you that your condition may prevent you from working for 12 months or more. You do not do yourself, or your lawyer, a favor to wait years and years before deciding that maybe SSD is something you should look into. If you you have any questions concerning onset dates, DLI problems, or any other aspect of Social Security Disability law, feel free to contact us at any time. The initial consultation is always free.