Tuesday, December 29, 2009

When is my Court Date?

The Connecticut Judicial Branch website has a handy device to answer that very question. Just click here to be taken to the case lookup page. Also handy if you want to check up on your neighbor's civil or criminal proceedings...

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy Holidays

As the crazy season of worker's compensation law comes to a close, i am thankful for all of those I have been able to help this year. Since 2006, I have grown to represent 560 clients at present. I am awed at the trust you have placed in me an work hard every day to see you through the maze of Connecticut workers compensation.

Merry Christmas! See you all the last week of the year.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Counstruction Worker Struck By Car in West Hartford

The hartford Courant is reporting that an Austin, Tx man was struck by a vehicle on Asylum Avenue while doing sewer work. When injuries such as this occur, the worker not only has a Connecticut worker's Compensation case but can bring a civil lawsuit as well.

If you are injured on the job, whether as a result of a motor vehicle accident or otherwise, it is imperative you seek experienced worker's compensation counsel as soon as possible.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Icy Fall Roads lead To Multiple Crashes

Winter can't be far away after a morning commute like today. Remember, that if you are in your car while working, and you are involved in an accident, you ot only have a potential liability claim, but a worker's compensation claim as well. Call us today for a free evaluation or your Connecticut Worker's Compensation Case or your Connecticut automobile accident case.


Friday, October 16, 2009

3 Seriously injured in Connecticut Auto Accident

WFSB, the CBS affiliate in Hartford is reporting that "a section of Interstate 84 was closed in Tolland Friday night after a crash that began on the eastbound side of the roadway ended on the westbound side.

Both sides of the highway were closed just after 7 p.m. in the area of exits 67 and 68.
Police said two cars were involved in the crash and at least three people were airlifted to Hartford Hospital with serious injuries.

"We've been sitting here for two hours, got out near the gas station for an hour, got back on," said driver Lynn Hilton, of Massachusetts, who got stuck in traffic created by the crash.

Both sides of the roadway remained closed at 11 p.m."

At The law Offices of james F. Aspell, P.C. in West Hartford, we provide skilled and compassionate representation for those injured in auto accidents as well as those injured on the job in Connecticut . Call today for a free consultation.

Monkey Business

Earlier this year, a Connecticut woman was severely mauled by her friend's 200-pound pet chimp Travis. Charla Nash "lost her nose, lips, eyelids, hands and bone structure in her mid-face and suffered significant brain, eye and tissue injuries in the attack," and her family sued chimp owner Sondra Herold for $50 million in damages. Now, Herold is seeking to call the suit a worker's compensation claim—because Nash worked for her and Travis the chimp was a part of the business.

The Hartford Courant explains, "The strategy, if successful, would severely limit potential damages in the case and insulate the chimp owner from personal liability... Herold's attorney, Robert Golger, says in recent court papers that Nash was working as an employee of Herold's tow truck company, Desire Me Motors, at the time of the attack. He argues that Travis was an integral part of the business, saying his picture was on the wrecker, he appeared at the garage daily and he attended numerous promotional events."

An attorney said it was a "pretty creative argument" while another told the Courant it was "a very sellable argument." Nash has been undergoing intensive rehabilitation since the February incident; in June, her brother said, "When she gets knocked down, she gets back up...Her psychiatrist asked her if she wanted to know anything about the event. She said, 'Nope. That's in the past.'"

Creative indeed. If A Court deems Nash to be an employee, worker's compensation will be her exclusive remedy under Connecticut Law.

Dont Monkey around. (sorry, I could't resist). If you are injured at work in Connecticut call us today for a free consultation.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Chemical Spill Injures 3 in Vernon

The Hartford Courant is reporting that 3 employees were injured today in a chemical spill at the Amerbelle Textile company in Vernon. Chemical spills are a common source of on the job injuries in Connecticut that entitle the victim to worker's compensation benefits.

Connecticut Worker's Compensation law entitles you to payments for your time lost from work, your medical expenses, and permamant disabilty you suffer, and various other incidental benefits. If you are injured in Connecticut it is imperative that you contact an experienced Connecticut worker's compensation attorney. Your employer will not necessarilly file your claim for you, and as time moves on from the date you get hurt, memories fade and motives become confused. Feel free to contact me at any time for a no cost or abligation consultation on your Connecticut worker's compensation matter.

Friday, August 14, 2009


As I have posted here before, I subscribe to the legendary Norm Pattis' view that being a lawyer is a punishing way to make a living. This is, in my view, especially true of worker's compensation claimant's attorneys. My clients are stressed. They are in pain. They need treatment and are being denied. They wait weeks for checks or for hearings or for settlements that are promised but are somehow elusive. And they call. A lot.

I like talking to my clients. I am empathetic by nature and have chosen this course to feed my family by helping those who are hurting.

But it takes it's toll on the lawyer too. It is not easy being on the front line day in and day out. I am ready for some well deserved time off. Life is about balance and right now I need some Yin to offset the Yan. I will of course call in and handle any true crises that errupt. I have a solo practice and that goes with the territory. But I need to unwind. Go out on the boat. Play the guitar. Talk to my wife and have ice cream with my kids. I need to recharge so I can do my best for you.

In the meantime, Maggie will mind the store.

Catch you in about a week.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Can You Hear Me Now: Work Related Injuries for Musicians

Reprinted with permission from a posting by Julie Ferguson at Worker's Comp Insider

Last week, 61-year old rock musician Steven Tyler fell off the stage and suffered a broken shoulder, along with stitches in his head and back. He has had to cancel upcoming shows, though it's likely he'll be on a self-imposed return-to-work plan in the near future. Many musicians are like athletes in their devotion to their profession and their determination to return to work as soon as feasible. (Not to mention the economic impact of canceling shows, which although there is event cancellation insurance for that type of thing, still must take a bite from a musician's earnings.)
Falling off stages isn't all that unusual a work-related occurrence for musicians and other performers. Celebrity spills are a favorite fare on the Internet, with video clips drawing millions of viewers and little sympathy. Fashion model falls seem to be a particular favorite for the YouTubers, and frequently available given that a job-related hazard for models is teetering around on ridiculous footwear. But despite the vicarious pleasure that many viewers take in seeing pop culture icons coming down to earth, slips and falls are nothing to take lightly - they are one of the most common injuries in many professions, resulting in disabling injuries. They are also a leading source of fatalities in the construction industry.
Injuries beyond the fallsWe went looking for more information about musician injuries and came upon Looking at Musicians' Health Through the Ages, an examination of performance-related musculoskeletal disorders (PRMDs) from the scholarly Medical Problems of Performing Artists. This is a publication that bills itself as "...the first clinical medical journal devoted to the etiology, diagnosis, and treatment of medical and psychological disorders related to the performing arts. Original peer-reviewed research papers cover topics including neurologic disorders, musculoskeletal conditions, voice and hearing disorders, anxieties, stress, substance abuse, disorders of aging, and other health issues related to actors, dancers, singers, musicians, and other performers. Alas, the interesting articles entitled "Bagpiper's Hernia" and "The Psychological Profile of a Rock Band: Using Intellectual and Personality Measures with Musicians" are available only to subscribers.
For some other sites related to musician injuries, see Musician's Health, an educational website devoted to common musician's injuries and information on preventing those injuries. Instrumental injuries often include similar repetitive motion injuries to those that are commonly associated with computer use. Musicians' Injuries describes various types of performance-related injuries and offers advice on how to avoid them.
Hearing-related injuries are common for musicians Hearing loss is another risk for musicians and conductors - and not just for rock musicians, as might be commonly assumed. Doug Owens, a USM music education professor and trumpet player who has experienced hearing loss himself, has been studying the issue of hearing loss and musicians. For his doctoral dissertation, he had ten high school band directors wear noise monitors for two days on the job.
"Owens found they were exposed to mean average noise levels of 85 to 93 decibels, similar to a vacuum cleaner or a leaf blower. Noise exposures peaked at 101 to 115 decibels, similar to a jackhammer or a crowd at a basketball game.
Comparing eight-hour exposure rates, Owen found noise levels for all of the band directors were more than three times higher than recommended by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health." In learning more about this topic, we also discovered H.E.A.R., a site with an acronym that stands for Hearing Education and Awareness for Rockers. The site describes itself as "a non-profit grassroots hearing health organization of hearing professionals, audiologists, ear doctors, educators, music industry professionals, and musicians dedicated to the prevention of hearing loss and tinnitus for musicians, music students, recording engineers, music industry professionals and music fans, especially young people." The site offers the latest in hearing-related research, news and advice, along with a quick and easy test to assess whether concerts are harming your hearing.

If You have been injured on the job in Connecticut please call us to discuss your legal options. At the Law offices of James F. Aspell, P.C. you get small firm service with big firm results.

Monday, August 10, 2009

What IS Worker's Compensation?

Justia Answers that question quite nicely here.

If you are injured on the job in Connecticut feel free to call us for a free consultation.

Three Dead in Fiery Rocky Hill Crash

Three persons perished and three more were injured in firey car crash in Rocky Hill on Sunday marring an otherwise beautiful day. The loss of any life in situation such as this is a tragedy of the highest order.

In any accident in which you or a loved one sustain serious injury, it is imperative that you contact an experienced Connecticut personal injury Attorney to protect your rights. Your attorney will work hard to ensure evidence is preserved and that an investigation is conducted properly. Should litigation become necessary, your Connecticut Attorney can guide you through the process with experience and compassion.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Lunch Break Walks: You're On Your Own

Our Appellate Court has recently held that if a Connecticut Worker injury occurs while the employee is taking a walk on his or her lunch break, then the case is not compensable under Connecticut worker's compensation law. The case in question is that of Brown vs.United Technologies which is published at 112 Conn. App. 492 and an appeal to the Connecticut Supreme Court is pending.

The Appellate Court concluded that the employee's injury which occured while "power walking" on a lunch break, although occuring on the employer's property, was excluded as a recreational activity purusant to CGS Section 31-275(16)(b)(1). It is unknown at present whether or not the Supreme Court will reach a different result or whether they will even hear the case.

Contact an experienced Connecticut worker's compensation Attorney if you have been injured on the job.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The New Comp Books are Here, The New Comp Books are Here"

Bulletin 48 is out---in a delightful shade of blue. Get your copy at any District office.

New Practitioner Fee Guidelines Available

The Chairman's office has released a new edition of the Connecticut Practitioner's Fee Guidelines setting out the allowable costs for procedures performed in worker's comp cases.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Supremes Take Up Expert Witness Testimony and Rule for the Good Guys

Sullivan v. Metro North will be released on Monday. The decision is significant in that it reminds civil trial courts that the scope of expert testimony can be quite broad and that the trial judge that excludes such testimony does so at their peril. I consider this a "win" for the Plaintiff's bar.

Reminder to the Wise: There Are Limits on Your Medical Treatment in Accepted Comp Cases

In Caverno vs. Mory's Association the CRB has upheld the Trial Commissioner's denial of disc replacement surgery sought by the claimant. This case involves an accepted low back injury of long standing involving a waitress at the venerable Mory's in New Haven. After what appears to have been significant treatment/evaluations by various orthopedists and neurolgists, the claimant made her way to Dr. Yue at Yale who opined that he felt the claimant was an appropriate candidate for disc replacement surgery. The Commissioner, as is his right, ordered a Commissioner's exam with Dr. Druckemiller, a Hartford neurosugeon.

Dr. Druckemiller rendered an opinion which, following a formal hearing, the trial commissioner relied upon and denied the surgery proposed by Dr. Yue. The CRB has affirmed this denial.

I will refrain from editorializing on this decision and let the reader review the case and draw their own conclusions.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Forgive Me if I Blow My own Horn for a Second

Your humble scribe was enrolled in the Pro Bono honor roll for 2008 by the Connecticut Bar Association. I try hard to give back to the community by accepting cases on behalf of the indigent whom I then represent without cost.

This is an expensive country to live in, and legal services are an exceptionally expensive commodity. I am happy I have been lucky enough to make enough money to support my family and pay my bills and still help out those less fortunate by providing them with no cost legal services.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Independent Contractors

In the case of Rodriguez vs Ed Construction the Compensation Review Board takes up another independent contractor vs. employee case.

I have seen a number of similar fact patterns come through my door in recent years and am concerned that the CRB takes an unusually narrow view of who is and who is not an employee. I worry that I am settling these cases too low because when I speak with my colleagues who are labor lawyers, they seem to be far more fearful of worker's being categorized as employees than our CRB is. This is a troublesome issue. I firmly believe Connecticut workers need adequate protection and I think this whole "independent contractor" business has been expanded too far.

I think it is time another appeal from the CRB is taken.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Social Security Wait Times

According to this quarter's edition of the NOSSCR Forum, the wait times for ALJ Hearings in Hartford presently stands at 380 days. The New haven office sits at 372 days and Springfield, Ma is at 335.

To give that some perspective, the New York screening unit has a 135 day processing time (the best) and Chicago, Il comes in dead last with a 783 day wait time.

The Forum is also reporting that Congress held a 2 hour hearing on March 24th with Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue to address these long wait times. What will come out of that remains unknown.

If you have any questions about your rights to Social ecurity or SSI benefits, feel free to contact us.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Trouble Behind, Trouble Ahead: Syzmaszek meets Garland-Hall

I'm not quite sure what to make of this opinion. I am quite familiar with the Syzmaszek case having defended the City of Meriden in the matter for a number of years. I know all of the parties involved well, and am certain that further appeals will follow. I also have a case of potentially significant value in my office right now whose fate may be determined by how the dust finally settles in this showdown.

The issue here usually presents itself in only the most serious of comp injuries. A situation where an employee suffers a catastrophic injury and is never able to get off temporary total disability. In other words, he or she is in essence a permanat total. Along the way, however, the worker receives a PPD award which entiles him or her to a specific benefit under CGS Section 31-308a.

In this most recent interpreteation of what to do in such a scenario, the CRB seems to take the view that the 31-308 permanency award is subsumed by the weeks of TT that roll by over that period of time that the permananency would have been due.

I have a problem with this.

As I understand it, 31-308 PPD benefits, as defined in the Statutes, shall be paid "in addition to" any other benefits. How then, can gthe CRB conclude that just because a claimant never got off TT, he or she is no longer entitlked to receive this "addition"?

As I say, I suspect an appeal to the Supreme Court will be coming. In the meantime, I'm not planning on wrting off that case in my office just yet...

Monday, March 2, 2009

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Saddle soreness. Compensable or not?

Biasetti, Again. PTSD. OY!

I really am not quite sure what to make of this.

For whatever reason, the worker's comp gods have not smiled on Officer Biasetti. While my hat goes off to my esteemed colleague J.D. Moran for what is very clearly a job well done, I can't help but feel as a claimant's attorney that this is a tortured result.

I'm shaking my head. I also anticipate further appeals.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Gone baby Gone

Time for a well deserved vacation. I'm spending a week in Tucson with my family and will resume blogging the Connecticut WC scene when I get back!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Bailout! Might your Worker's Comp Checks Become Taxable?

One lawyer thinks it may be so. One Trillion dollars is a very big number, folks. And both State and Federal goverment will be looking for a way to pay for it all. New taxes including those on worker's compensation checks may very well be subject to income tax in the near future. Stay tuned.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Appellate Court Refuses to Go Postal

In Lopa vs. Brinker International, (12/30/2008) our Appellate Court has given Connecticut worker's comp lawyers yet one more reason to run for the door when we hear the words "United States Postal Service." Not only are Postal worker injury cases not subject to Connecticut worker's compensation law, but now, the Court has instructed that the wages one earns while concurrently employed by the USPS are not included in the average weekly wage of a postal worker injured while performing a second job at an employer other than the Post Office.

Concurrent wage cases fall within the gambit of advanced topics in Connecticut Worker's compensation law. If you have concurrent wages (i.e. a second job) and are injured with either employer, I am happy to help you explain your rights. Feel free to call the firm at any time with your questions.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Lower Gas Prices Translates to Reduced Mileage Reimpursement Rates

The mileage reimbursement rate for all travel expenses incurred on or after January 1, 2009 is now 55.0 cents per mile. This rate change applies to all claimants, regardless of injury date, and coincides with the federal mileage reimbursement rate pursuant to Section 31-312(a) of the Workers’ Compensation Act.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Down The D.A.S. Rabbit Hole

I represent a client that has two Connecticut Worker's Compensation Claims. In each instance, my client was injured under circumstances that also allowed me to bring what are known as third party claims---lawsuits by any other name for the same injury. In these cases, the claimant typically recovers more money in the third party case than he or she does in the worker's comp case, the only caveat being that the worker's comp carrier must be paid back the benefits they paid on account of the same injury. It's that notion of "no double dipping" that I talk about.

In this case, however, the client also received assistance from the State of Connecticut at various times in his life. The State then also has a lien on the recovery proceeds. He's not a sophisticated guy and doesn't know for sure what he has received from the State in terms of assistance.

I'm trying to settle this rabbit's warren of a case and in the process had been informed by my client that he had been given different lien figures from the Connecticut Department of Administrative Services than DAS had given me. The client had figures showing they owed $2000 less than the numbers I had. Understandably, since they money would ultimately affect my client's bottom line, I decided to delve into it.

Armed with the lien letter I had and the various letters and payment coupons prepared by DAS that my client faxed me, I called DAS and tried speaking with the collections worker assigned to the file. I was informed by her voice mail that "she was out of the office until "x" and would not be calling in." No other information was given in the message. Good thing the State isn't having any money issues or anything. I called back and repeatedly pounded "0" until I connected with another collections worker who begrudgingly pulled up the screen. "Well...if that's what the screen says you owe then that's what you owe."

"What about the paperwork from D.A.S. that says he only owes this much?" I asked. I don't know about that and I don't have any information other than what the screen says."

"well can I fax a copy of these papers DAS is sending him that says he only owes this much this to you and have you take a look?"

"Uh sure."

I did. That was two weeks ago and never heard back from that civil servant.

Undaunted, I called again today and spoke with the collection worker who was now happily back from vacation and no doubt in a good and well rested mood, not having had to deal with any pesky voice mails in her absence.

"I have conflicting lien numbers from D.A.S. on this worker's comp case" I begin . "I want to get you guys the right amount of money but you're sending my client payment coupons that says he owes 2000 less than your lien letter says."

"I dont handle worker's compensation. I collect cash."

"Yeah, I know. I'm asking about the lien you have on my guy's case."

"I dont handle worker's compensation."

"Ok, well there is also a third party case."

"What is the file number?"

I respond.

"My lien is what it says on the screen."

"But why are you sending him a payment coupon that says he owes $2000 less?"

"Maybe that's for the woman. We don't send payment coupons. That's for a Foodstamp overpayment"

"Huh? What woman? My guy is a guy"

"My lien is what it says on the screen."

"Yeah, I got that, but I also have a payment coupon here from your agency saying my guy only owes "x" and my client has copious notes from her conversations with (names witheld) that says there are credits that were not applied to his account."

"We don't send payment coupons. That's from Foodstamps. I only care about cash assistance. Foodstamps is upstairs."

"But it says D.A.S. at the top. I can't settle this case until I know how much I need to send you guys. Are you telling me this information isn't coordinated at D.A.S?"

"I deal with cash. Foodstamps is upstairs. Maybe he got foodstamps when he wasn't eligible sometime."

"Well is that something I need to pay too or is that included in your figures?"

"I only deal with cash. Foodstamps is something else."


"I dont know what food stamps paid."

This conversation is surreal. If I sent a transcript to the Courant there would be a scandal!"

"I have a static screen."

"And I have a coupon with your Agency's name on it that says he only owes this much. Why cant you tell me why there is a discrepancy and what the actual amount I need to get you guys is? My client deserves an answer. I am legally responsible for dealing with this lien."

"I can pull the file. It will take a few weeks."

"But I'm trying to get this wrapped up now."

"Do you want me to pull his file? It will take two weeks."


Postscript: I called 4 other people today trying to make sense of this morass. As it turns out, the payment coupons come from DAS but are for Foodstamps. Even thought it is money that my guy owes, it is not part of the "lien" and not something I need to pay back.

Memo to Hon. M. Jodi Rell. It might be a good idea if the left hand at your agencies knew what the right hand was doing. D.A.S. is an important agency. Wouldn't it make sense to give them a computer system that actually allowed them to interface in a meaningful manner with their clients?

And a bit of customer service training wouldn't hurt either. If any of the people I dealt with at D.A.S worked for me and treated someone calling my office the way I was treated, they would be looking for a new job.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

CRB Says, "No" To 31-312 lost time payments while on PPD

In Dellarocco vs. Town of Old Saybrook, a Compensation Review Board opinion released January 27, 2009, the CRB has held that a claimant may not collect "lost time" payments pursuant to Section 31-312 while collecting permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits at the same time. This decision is squarely in line with the longstanding notion that one cannot "double dip" and collect two benefits for the same period of lost time.

Hopefully no one is surprised by this one.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Dislike Your Doctor? It Could be Worse

Evidently, not unlike United States Senators, surgeons have taken to carpetbagging. For the record, I have not heard of this happening in Connecticut, however I cannot say that it hasnt occurred. Best advice: Stick with a well known and respected local physician, preferably one well versed in Connecticut worker's compensation law.

If your employer is denying you medical care, or access to a physician of your choice, contact our office for assistance.

Workers' Compensation: Iowa Joins Other States Not Adopting the AMA Guides 6th Edition

Workers' Compensation: Iowa Joins Other States Not Adopting the AMA Guides 6th Edition

Friday, January 23, 2009

Know Your ALJ

Social Security Administrative Law Judges are a unique breed. This website will allow you to check, by name of Judge, his or her productivity. Fascinating. Have Fun.

Denied Your Private Disability Insurance Claim? Read This!

Oftentimes Employees are protected by a Long Term Disability Policy by their employer. A premium payment is taken out of their paycheck for this protection which is designed to pay the worker a weekly benefit should you be unable to work on account of an injury or illness after a certain period of time---typically 180 days. This LTD insurance, as it is called, is a separate and distinct benefit from worker's compensation coverage which is a statutory benefit.

One company offering such a plan is the Unum Insurance Company, also known as Unum Provident. Allegations have been made that Unum has been unilaterally and improperly denying LTD claims for employees thatr should be entitled to receive this this coverage.

If you have been injured or taken ill on the job and have a LTD policy offered by Unum or Unum Provident, and your claim has been denied, check out this website. When you talk to these folks, tell them I referred you.

In the meantime, if you have questions relating to Connecticut worker's compensation or personal injury claim, contact our office.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Rumour Fueled Assualt on Homosexual Co-Worker provides Lurid fact pattern but predictable result

In a recently released decision, the CRB was called upon to determine whether or not the trial Commissioner had erred when he found that an assault on a homosexual restaurant worker by a fellow employee after- hours was not compensable within the language of the Connecticut Worker's Coimpensation Act. According to the reported facts in Hernandez v. Pizzaria 101 and Family, The claimant was attacked in a parking lot after work one evening by a fellow employee who had evidently heard a rumour that the Claimant was having a homosexual relationship with the attacker. The rumour reportedly got back to the attacker's hometown in Mexico, where the attacker's girlfriend got wind of it and was not surprisingly distressed.

Despite the vivid and somewhat intriguing fact pattern, the case really just stands for the axiomatic proposition in Connecticut worker's compensation law that assaults by co-worker's (no matter how intriguing the circumstances) and any other manner of workplace brawl or tomfoolery are not compensable under our Act.

If you are injured on the job in connecticut, feel free to call our offices for a free, no obligation assessment of your case.

Does He or Doesn't He?

For many of us in the field of Connecticut worker's compensation law, a burning question is often whether or not an employer is insured for worker's compensation coverage. Now, thanks to the hard work of our Commission, and the miracles of technology, we need wonder no more.

On December 22nd, Connecticut rolled out it's online verification system. Now, it is a simple matter of entering your employer's name and the date you were injured to determine whether or not coverage was in effect to protect you.

If you have any questions about this, feel free to contact our offices.