Blog August 2016

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Will Zika Fall Under Workers' Compensation?

Posted On: August 19, 2016

One of the areas of coverage under Workers' Compensation insures employees for any consequences of infectious diseases that may arise at your place of employment. Given that, is the Workers' Compensation system ready and willing to handle Zika claims?

The Zika Virus has been causally linked to Guillain-Barré syndrome according to a new US CDC study. The US CDC has issued an alert about the spread of Zika virus. The CDC announced that in Florida Zika is now being spread by mosquitoes in the continental U.S. A recent study that was published in "Cell Stem Cell," noted that the Zika Virus can infect adult brain cells as well as fetal cells, which was not previously known.

The National Institutes for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH) has recommended the following:

"Employers should protect workers and workers should protect themselves from diseases spread by mosquitoes. Although most people do not become sick after a bite from an infected mosquito, some people have a mild, short-term illness or (rarely) severe or long-term illness. Severe cases of mosquito-borne diseases can cause death."

To follow-up on this message from the NIOSH, employees can take these preventative actions including protecting equipment in the field, removing debris from ditches, filling in areas that collect standing water, remove tires, buckets and items that collect standing water and placing holes in containers that could collect standing water where mosquitoes may breed. An obvious preventative measure is of course, using ample bug repellent.

Before these battles inevitably enter the court room over this issue, including causal relationship, it would be wise to think about how employers, insurance companies and workers can be protected from the Zika Virus. Even though Congress has not acted on funding prevention and treatment programs, the White House has taken the initiative with educating the public and recently transferring $600Million of unused Ebola funds to the attack on the Zika Virus.

Hopefully, workers' compensation insurers will do their part and participate in prevention initiative now that mosquito season has started. Workers' compensation stakeholders can help prevent both an epidemic of illness as well as an epidemic of claims.

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Never Go To Their Doctor, Go To Yours!

Posted On: August 11, 2016

If you get hurt on the job, your employer may suggest you go to their company doctor. An issue that arises from this situation is that for some reason, these injured workers are only being treated at that specific clinic and nowhere else and it is detrimental to their health.

It's no surprise that a company clinic makes a ton of money from the company. If they keep the injured workers off of work, the company will look for a new medical facility that will say what they want them to say.  As a result, we constantly see these doctors sending severely injured employees back to work when they should be getting rest and treatment.

So how do we solve this problem?

The solution to this problem is relatively simple on the forefront. You do not have to be treated at the company clinic even if the insurance company says they won’t pay for you to see your own doctor because that is a flat out lie. Under most Workers' Compensation laws, you have a right to see a doctor of your choosing and treat with them.

If you have suffered a serious injury on the job it is really important that you exercise this right to the fullest extent. It is your right to see a doctor of your choosing and receive the appropriate medical care. You absolutely need a physician who is unbiased and can tell you exactly what is wrong with you and what treatment you need.  You need someone who will not send you back to work too early when that can make your injury exponentially worse and could lead to permanent damages to your body.

If you have a back, neck, leg or arm injury that goes beyond a strain, you should have your doctor refer you to an orthopedic doctor as those are the physicians who specialize in treating those specific type of injuries. Most clinic doctors working through your company will often tell you that an x-ray is normal so you are fine-which is almost never the case! The reality is that ligament injuries as well as any herniated discs can only show up via an MRI and that is a common test which an orthopedic will order to determine what is truly wrong with you.

This is all true even (and especially) if your wish is to just be fine and get back to work. There are far too many instances when a doctor sends you back to work too soon and ends up turning a mild injury into one that results in months of lost time and a surgery when a few weeks of rest and physical therapy could have solved everything.

Know your rights. If you are injured on the job, choose your doctor! Choose your treatment! And contact us today to be protected!

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105 Years of Workers' Compensation!

Posted On: August 11, 2016

This year has marked the 105th anniversary of the first Workers’ Compensation law in the US. Wisconsin was the first state that passed workers' comp. legislation, followed by Illinois in the same year. Workers’ compensation laws were the first major social legislation issued in the United States. As controversial as they were then, they remain just as controversial now. Regardless, all 50 states, the District of Columbia and even the Federal Government have workers' compensation laws.

When the 20th century kicked off, countless workers feared financial hardships from disabling and horrible injuries. Congruent with these fears, employers worried that taking responsibility for work-related injuries would bankrupt their businesses. Before workers' compensation laws took effect, an injured worker seeking compensation had to file a lawsuit against his or her employer in court.

Early 20th century laws imposed strict requirements before an injured worker could recover damages from an employer for industrial injuries. To be sure, the law required the employer to provide a safe workplace and safe tools. They also had to warn of dangerous conditions and provide a sufficient number of qualified co-workers. However, in order to recover money damages for work injuries, an employee had to prove in court that the employer acted carelessly or negligently in creating an unsafe condition in the workplace. Worse yet, an employer could avoid liability merely by blaming the injured worker for his own carelessness, or attributing the injury to the negligence of a fellow servant. They could also argue that the employee assumed all risk of a work injury by accepting the job in the first place.

The entire process from beginning to end was prolonged and uncertain, including large financial risks to both the employee and employer. The high injury and death rates brought on by the Industrial Revolution and growing dissatisfaction with the common law, led both labor and management to recognize that radical and immediate change was needed. In the US and throughout the industrialized world, the laws governing employer liability for workplace injuries began to evolve.

The first Workers' Compensation laws originated in Germany in 1884, with a compulsory system of accident insurance covering all employees in manufacturing, mining and transportation. Similar laws soon passed in other European countries.

In the US, Workers' Comp legislation was passed on a state-by-state basis. Most of the early laws covered only the most hazardous occupations and were frequently challenged as unconstitutional and to this day each state has specifics when it comes to Workers' Comp coverages and laws.

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