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Am I entitled to temporary partial disability benefits?

You can receive temporary partial disability if, due to your injury, you are partially unable to work for a temporary period of time. According to Indiana Title Code 22-3-3-7, if you are reassigned to a job after your injury that meets the restrictions given by your physician but pays less than your average weekly wage prior to the injury, you are entitled to 66 2/3% of the difference between the income of your old and new job through temporary partial disability benefits. Average weekly wage is found by calculating the average of your wages over a fixed period of time.

  • You are entitled to receive a maximum of 300 weeks of TPD pay.
  • Compensation begins after 7 days of a disability
  • If the disability continues for more than 21 days, you will be compensated for the first 7 days of your disability

Example: Joey carries furniture for a local moving company. One day, he drops a heavy chair he was carrying into a home and crushes his foot. The doctor tells him he can still work while his foot heals as long as he can sit down for most of the day.  The doctor also says he can only work for 6 hours at a time.  Prior to the injury Joey worked 10 hours a day. Joey’s employer was able to find a receptionist job in their office building that met the restrictions of the doctor.

If Joey’s new job pays less than his income prior to the injury, Joey is entitled to receive the 66 2/3% difference through TPD pay. If Joey’s new job pays more than or equal to his job prior to the injury, he is not entitled to TPD pay.

If Joey made an average of $500 a week when he was a mover and now makes $300 a week as a receptionist, he is entitled to 66 2/3% of the $200 difference through TPD benefits– approximately$133.33 per week.

Lost Time at Work Due To Medical Appointments

Should I get paid for time off work for medical visits during the first seven days after my injury?

Yes. It is a common misconception among employers that you are not entitled to be paid for time taken off for medical visits related to your injury on the job in the first seven days after your injury. According to Indiana Code Title 22-3-3-4, your employer is required to reimburse you if any medical visits result in time lost at work. Your reimbursement is based on the calculated average of your daily earnings over a fixed period of time. As long as you attend the physician authorized by your employer, you are legally required to be paid for the time lost at work due to your medical appointments.

Should I get paid for time off work for medical visits while on light duty?

Yes. Another common misconception among employers is that you are not entitled to be paid during the time taken off for medical visits related to your injury after your employer has put you on light duty. If you are given a lighter workload based on your injury at work, you have most likely been placed on light duty. According to Indiana Code Title 22-3-3-4, your employer is required to reimburse you if any medical visits result in time lost at work. Your reimbursement is based on the calculated average of your daily earnings over a fixed period of time. As long as you attend the physician authorized by your employer, you are legally required to be paid for the time lost at work due to your medical appointments.

What is a Third Party Claim?

 

If you are badly injured at work, it is very important to determine if your injury is the result of a company that is not your employer.  We call these companies third parties.

 

Many people who contact us after becoming injured at work are shocked to hear that they cannot sue their employer. Fault only matters in a worker’s compensation case if your accident happened as the result of another company’s negligence or by an employee of another company.

 

Examples of a third-party claim:

 

  • If you are driving as part of your job at ABC Corp. and you are rear ended by a truck from the company XYZ Inc. you can sue that XYZ Inc. AND collect workers compensation benefits from ABC Corp.

 

  • If you are hurt on a construction site do to a general contractor who fails to ensure that the job site was safe you might be able to sure that general contractor.

 

  • If you are hurt at work on a new machine you could sue the manufacturer of that machine.

 

The reason you want a third-party claim if you are badly injured is because those cases are worth a lot more money than what workers compensation pays.

 

Please call us for a free consultation if you have any questions.

 

Updated Guidelines Regarding Nurse Case Managers

GUIDANCE REGARDING THE ROLE OF THE NURSE CASE MANAGER IN THE INDIANA WORKER’S COMPENSATION ARENA

Ideally, a nurse case manager (NCM) is a liaison among the medical provider, the employer and the injured worker.  While not an indispensable player in the Indiana worker’s compensation process or specifically governed by the Worker’s Compensation Act, the nurse case manager can be an integral part of coordinating medical treatment and the stay-at-work/return-to-work process.

A NCM may provide information that speeds up the process of returning the injured worker to work as well as their recovery from the workplace injury. An example would be providing details about the workstation that may not otherwise be available to the medical provider when evaluating work restrictions or a timely return to work.

Likewise, the NCM may know specifics about the worker’s treatment plan that would be useful to the employer in finding suitable work within those restrictions. The NCM can also explain the treatment plan to the worker if he has questions about the medical terminology used.

The NCM may also ensure the claim’s adjuster is aware of the injured worker’s medical needs, so they can assist in expediting access to prescriptions, DME, medical tests, therapies, etc., as ordered by the treating physician.

The NCM’s role in worker’s compensation in the State of Indiana includes, among other things, providing information and communication among the parties and medical providers, scheduling appointments, helping to facilitate care recommended by the treating physician and reporting back to the employer and/or carrier.  Any notes or reports made by a NCM and provided to the employer shall also be made available to the injured worker upon request.

The NCM’s communication with the injured worker should be limited to the relevant injury, medical treatment and pertinent history.

It is not the role of the NCM to determine compensability, make decisions regarding the administration of workers compensation benefits, deliver or direct treatment, or provide medical opinions to either the injured worker or the medical provider regarding the worker’s appropriate course of medical care. However, this is not to say the NCM is precluded from making inquiries as to the treatment/medication options available to the worker from the medical provider.

The NCM must inform the employee that they may require that the NCM not be present during a medical examination.  If the NCM meets with the physician at the conclusion of a medical appointment, the injured worker must be invited to participate as well.

All NCMs working in the field of worker’s compensation in Indiana must possess or be actively working toward a Certified Case Manager (CCM) certification through the Case Management Certification Commission (CMCC) and follow the Standards of Practice put forth by the Case Management Society of America (CMSA) as well as the CMCC’s Code of Conduct.  A NCM who is not yet certified must work under the supervision of a CCM.

It must always be remembered that Indiana law places the responsibility for directing the medical care of a person injured in the course and scope of their employment solely on the treating physician and the Board.  IC 22-3-3-4.  For further guidance, see IC 22-3-3-6.

GUIDANCE REGARDING THE ROLE OF THE NURSE CASE MANAGER IN THE INDIANA WORKER’S COMPENSATION ARENA

Ideally, a nurse case manager (NCM) is a liaison among the medical provider, the employer and the injured worker.  While not an indispensable player in the Indiana worker’s compensation process or specifically governed by the Worker’s Compensation Act, the nurse case manager can be an integral part of coordinating medical treatment and the stay-at-work/return-to-work process.

A NCM may provide information that speeds up the process of returning the injured worker to work as well as their recovery from the workplace injury. An example would be providing details about the workstation that may not otherwise be available to the medical provider when evaluating work restrictions or a timely return to work.

Likewise, the NCM may know specifics about the worker’s treatment plan that would be useful to the employer in finding suitable work within those restrictions. The NCM can also explain the treatment plan to the worker if he has questions about the medical terminology used.

The NCM may also ensure the claim’s adjuster is aware of the injured worker’s medical needs, so they can assist in expediting access to prescriptions, DME, medical tests, therapies, etc., as ordered by the treating physician.

The NCM’s role in worker’s compensation in the State of Indiana includes, among other things, providing information and communication among the parties and medical providers, scheduling appointments, helping to facilitate care recommended by the treating physician and reporting back to the employer and/or carrier.  Any notes or reports made by a NCM and provided to the employer shall also be made available to the injured worker upon request.

The NCM’s communication with the injured worker should be limited to the relevant injury, medical treatment and pertinent history.

It is not the role of the NCM to determine compensability, make decisions regarding the administration of workers compensation benefits, deliver or direct treatment, or provide medical opinions to either the injured worker or the medical provider regarding the worker’s appropriate course of medical care. However, this is not to say the NCM is precluded from making inquiries as to the treatment/medication options available to the worker from the medical provider.

The NCM must inform the employee that they may require that the NCM not be present during a medical examination.  If the NCM meets with the physician at the conclusion of a medical appointment, the injured worker must be invited to participate as well.

All NCMs working in the field of worker’s compensation in Indiana must possess or be actively working toward a Certified Case Manager (CCM) certification through the Case Management Certification Commission (CMCC) and follow the Standards of Practice put forth by the Case Management Society of America (CMSA) as well as the CMCC’s Code of Conduct.  A NCM who is not yet certified must work under the supervision of a CCM.

It must always be remembered that Indiana law places the responsibility for directing the medical care of a person injured in the course and scope of their employment solely on the treating physician and the Board.  IC 22-3-3-4.  For further guidance, see IC 22-3-3-6.

What Does Workers’ Compensation Cover In Indiana?

 

Feel free to use this image, just link to www.SeniorLiving.Org  This photo expresses how I feel about our current government budget.

Not Much.

The Indiana workers’ compensation laws outline what benefits an injured worker will and will not receive for an injury at work.  Generally, an injured worker will receive lost wages, called temporary total disability pay, if the worker is off work more than 7 calendar days due to a compensable work injury claim.  The lost wages are paid at a rate of 66 2/3% of the workers’ average weekly wage.  Those wages should continue until the worker reaches maximum medical improvement or provided a light duty work assignment, whichever occurs first.  If an injured worker can never work again due to the work accident, a worker can petition the State Board for an award of permanent total disability benefits which would continue the weekly check for a period of 500 weeks and then can be extended in increments of additional 150 week periods through the Second Injury Fund.  Technically, an injured worker than can never work again can receive a weekly workers’ compensation check for the rest of his or her life.

Second, the insurance carrier is required to pay “statutory medical care” or all necessary medical care as long as the medical care is ordered by the physician selected by the insurance company.  There are exceptions to this rule such as a worker is free to get medical care with his or her own physician in the event of an emergency or due to “other good cause.”  Generally, however, the worker must get medical care through the physician selected by the employer/insurance carrier.

An injured worker can attempt to secure an award of future medical coverage (the worker must do this prior to settling and in writing) if the worker can prove to a judge that he or she will require future medical care “to limit or reduce his or her impairment.”  This is not easy to obtain.

Finally, for workers who can return to some employment (who are not permanently and totally disabled) that worker will also receive an award of a permanent partial impairment settlement if the worker has a permanent injury caused by the job.  The physician assigned by the insurance company will assign a PPI and the worker has the right to secure his or her own PPI from another physician.

The Indiana Workers’ Compensation Act does not pay for pain and suffering.  Also, the facts of the accident do not matter to a workers’ compensation judge and do not affect the value of the case unless the accident happened due to the fault of a third party.  A third party is an entity and/or individual other than the employer or co-worker.  Examples of third parties could be a general contractor on a job site, another motorist in a work related auto accident, or the manufacturer of the defective machine.

Many of our clients are shocked to realize at the end of the case that the case is worth “only a little bit of money.”  The Indiana Workers’ Compensation Act is not good at compensating workers for their injuries and it is a rare occasion where a worker is content with the value of the settlement.  For additional questions, please contact Klezmer Maudlin for a free consultation at (317) 569-9644 or (800) 809-3776.

Do You Need Counsel?

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Do You Need Counsel?

Many injured workers ask our firm through our free consultation program if they can or should handle their workers’ compensation case without counsel.  Many injured workers are also concerned about “hiring an attorney to go up against their employer.”  Oftentimes, an injured worker can and should handle the claim themselves.  For example, if a worker suffers an injury at work that is covered by workers’ compensation, no disputes exist, and the injury heals back to normal, the injured worker may not need counsel.  Similarly, if an injured worker is paid full workers’ compensation benefits, has a permanent injury, and receives a fair settlement offer as compensation for the permanent partial impairment, the injured worker may not need an attorney.

However, there are many, many examples where an injured worker may benefit greatly from qualified representation.  The Indiana Workers’ Compensation Act, and the insurance carrier may not offer fair compensation in many types of cases.  For example, if an injured worker has a high probability of requiring future medical care as part of the claim, insurance companies oftentimes will not offer to keep the medical portion of the case open to pay for future medical care.  Second, many insurance carriers hire doctors who tend to minimize injuries at the time of settlement so that the settlement offered to the injured worker is low and the treating doctor receives ongoing referrals from the insurance carrier.  A qualified workers’ compensation attorney will be well equipped to know if the settlement offer is fair or not.

Also, an injured worker may have a claim for the highest benefit available under Indiana law which is called permanent total disability.  Permanent total disability or PTD for short, can pay an injured worker a weekly workers’ compensation check for life.

Was  Your Claim Denied?

If a claim has been denied by an insurance company as not work related, an injured worker, if he or she handles the claim on their own, will be forced to present a case against an insurance carrier with significant resources and with legal counsel who knows the ins and outs of our workers’ compensation system.  In a denied claim, an injured worker certainly would benefit from an attorney.

As information becomes more and more available on the internet and in other sources, our firm sees many injured workers trying to represent themselves.  Sometimes, this is a good plan so that the worker does not have to pay an attorney a fee.  However, in most cases, this is not a good plan.  The attorneys at Klezmer Maudlin will honestly evaluate your case through a free consultation and tell you whether or not you would benefit from representation.  Many times we tell prospective clients that they do not need our help and other times we tell them that they might benefit from our help.

Since we founded our law firm, we have helped more than 30,000 workers in Indianapolis, Evansville and throughout Indiana to explore and pursue workers’ compensation benefits and many other forms of relief available to them. In fact, Thomson West selected attorneys Randal M. Klezmer and Nathan B. Maudlin to write a guide that is, today, used by lawyers across the state: The Indiana Workers’ Compensation Law and Practice Manual.

Call or connect with us online to discuss your case. We can learn more about how your construction fall occurred and craft a legal strategy that is tailored to meet your unique needs and goals.

Worker’s Compensation Case Law & Practice Update – Published By The Indiana Worker’s Compensation Board

Case Law Update

  1. MasterBrand Cabinets v. Waide, 72 N.E.3rd 986 (Ind. Ct. App. 2017)

In Waide, the issue is whether the claimant was entitled to TTD benefits following an on-the-job injury and after he was terminated from his job for misconduct.  The misconduct included the claimant getting in to a verbal altercation with the supervisor regarding his back pain.  He threw an ice pack nearly striking another employee and cursed at his supervisor.  He was initially suspended and later terminated by the employer.  The employer argued that TTD was not due because the Plaintiff was unavailable to work for reasons unrelated to the work injury pursuant to IC 22-3-3-7(c)(5).  The Court interpreted that statute as meaning that relevant inquiry is whether the inability to work, even for other employers, is related to the injury.  The Board had found that the claimant’s inability to work was related to the injury and the Court affirmed that finding awarding TTD.

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  1. Vinup v. Joe’s Construction, LLC, 64 N.E.3rd 885 (Ind. Ct. App. 2016)

In Vinup, the issue was whether Plaintiff was working as an independent contractor or employee at the time of his injury. The claimant filed a lawsuit in state court against the employer seeking damages for personal injury.  The trial Court found that Vinup was an employee and granted the employer’s insurance company’s Motion for Summary Judgment.  The Court of Appeals applied a 10 factor analysis to determine whether one acts as an employee or independent contractor.  The factors are:

  • Extent of control the master exercises over the details of the work;
  • Whether the one employed is engaged in a distinct occupational business;
  • The kind of occupation and whether the work is usually done under the direction of an employer or by a specialist without supervision;
  • The skill required in the particular occupation;
  • Whether the employer or workman supplies the instrumentalities, tool and place of work for the person doing the work;
  • The length of time for which the person is employed;
  • The method of payment whether by time or by the job;
  • Whether the work is part of the regular business of the employer;
  • Whether the parties believe they are creating the relation of employee or independent contractor; and
  • Whether the principal is or is not a business.

The Court recognized that although no single factor is dispositive, the extent of the control factor is the single most important factor in determining the relationship.  The Court then pointed to the evidence that the employer determined the worker’s schedules, had the power to remove the claimant from his employment, provided the tools and equipment, and held that the control factor weighs in favor of the employee status.  Next the Court considered whether the type of work (digging trenches for water pipes) would normally be done by a specialist or under the supervision of an employer in the locale.  The Court, relying on evidence designated by the employer, held this work is typically done under the direction and supervision of an employer in this locale.  The Court then held that Vinup performed general labor that consisted of digging trenches, laying water line pipe and sometimes driving a dump truck.  Vinup also admitted that he was doing unskilled labor which did not require any special instruction or supervision.  From that admission, the Court held that Vinup failed to show that he was performing skilled labor while working for Joe’s Construction, LLC.  Next, the Court considered the length of time Vinup would be employed.  Vinup had accepted the job to earn money to repay a loan he had accepted from the employer.  Vinup argued that his employment would be a short term endeavor indicating an independent contractor status.  However, the Court noted that Vinup had no other employment during the time that he worked for the employer, that he expected to complete the work on this project, generally eight hours per day, and it would last several months.  The Court held that these circumstances indicate an employer/employee relationship over a period of time with regular hours.  The Court then considered the method of payment and held that Vinup was paid an hourly wage and not according to completion of a job or project.  The Court considered whether the parties believed that they were creating an employer/employee relationship.  The Court noted that even though there was a letter from Vinup’s attorney stating that he was an independent contractor and not an employee, the relevant inquiry is what the parties believed.  The employer believed Vinup to be an employee and Vinup considered the employer to be the boss.  The Court concluded that the Trial Court correctly granted summary judgment and held that the Vinup was an employee of Joe’s Construction, LLC.

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  1. Morris v. Custom Kitchen and Baths, 64 N.E.3rd 92 (Ind. Ct. App. 2016)(trans denied 217 Ind. Lexis 183 Ind. Mar.2, 2017)

Morris operated a sole proprietor business known as Custom Kitchen and Baths.  He was very involved in volunteer community activities for the Boy Scouts of America, various churches, and other community organizations.  On the day he was injured, he was working on a shed for a local church which was a project for an Eagle Scout.  He was injured and the Worker’s Compensation Board denied his claim because he was not in the course of employment due to the fact that his work was volunteer. However, at the hearing, Morris produced witnesses that testified that they in fact hired his company to perform work based on the fact that he had performed volunteer work around the community and they knew that he was a talented worker.  Morris argued that the work he was performing at the time of his injury benefited his business by creating good will and a positive reputation. The Court of Appeals analyzing cases involving recreational activities agreed holding that the work he was providing did in fact promote his business and therefore the Court reversed the Board’s denial of compensation.

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  1. O’Keefe v. Top Knotch Farms, 217 wl3185279.

O’Keefe claimed that he was not an agricultural worker because he primarily drove a semi truck.  The Court, in affirming the Board’s denial of compensation, held that to determine whether work is agricultural in nature and therefore excluded from the Worker’s Compensation Act, the Court will look to the “whole character” of the work.  O’Keefe was hired to complete general tasks required around the farm.  His tasks included washing manure off the farm trucks, painting walls of the farm shop, sweeping the granary, servicing trucks, and hauling corn, soybeans and manure.  The Court noted that the tasks he performed as a semi truck driver were integrally related to the work of the farm.  The Court distinguished a case known as Gerlach v. Woodke, 881 N.E.2d 1006 (Ind. Ct. App. 2008) where the worker was hired primarily to perform maintenance work and only began to take on other agriculturally-related work when other employees quit.  O’Keefe’s work was primarily agricultural and therefore he was exempted by the Worker’s Compensation Act.

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  1. Ward v. Lowes, 76 N.E.3rd 918 (Ind. Ct. App. 2017)

Ward suffered an injury while in the employ of Lowes on July 6, 2010.  Specifically, the injury was to his left ankle and left foot. About two weeks after the injury, Ward arrived at the hospital and was diagnosed as suffering from deep vein thrombosis in his lower left leg secondary to his toe fracture.  He was prescribed Coumadin.  On October 13, 2010 the doctor noted improvement of the pulmonary embolism and he was released to return to work with no restrictions on December 20, 2010.  Ward took Coumadin for approximately six to seven months before discontinuing it in March of 2011.

In December of 2011, Ward left Lowes employ and moved to Chicago working through a temp agency doing construction and various other physical labor at a Walmart store.  The work was very intensive.  On May 26, 2012 he began to experience chest pain and shortness of breath.  He was diagnosed with acute to subacute left pulmonary embolism and deep vein thrombosis. At that time, it was determined that he would need life long anticoagulation medication.  The Single Hearing Member denied Ward’s claim for compensation finding that his condition was either related to an idiopathic aggravation of a pre-existing condition and/or his extensive physical labor at his new job in Chicago in 2012.  The Board affirmed the Singe Hearing Member’s decision.  The Court of Appeals noted that the subsequent incident or accident which results in a new different or additional injury can be compensable if it is considered as the proximate natural result of the original injury.  However, the Court also noted that the general rule that if the subsequent incident or accident constitutes an independent intervening event, the chain of causation is broken and the employer is relieved of responsibility for the latter.  The Court noted that if a “rather slender thread of evidence” supports the Board decision it must affirm the Board because the Board has the power to determine the ultimate facts in the case.  However, the employer did not present an expert medical opinion on causation and Ward did present such evidence.  The Board held that even though the employer did not present any expert evidence to refute the claimant’s expert, the Court rejected the argument that the Board was obligated to accept the Plaintiff’s expert because he was qualified as an expert witness.  The Court affirmed the Board’s denial.

  1. Evansville Courier Co. v. Uziekalla, 2017 Ind. App. Lexis 334

Uziekalla had suffered an injury in 2008.  That case was concluded on the basis of payment of permanent partial impairment and the settlement agreement provided that if Uziekalla alleged a change of condition within the time allowed by statute, the parties agreed to a specific procedure in which a medical opinion would be obtained.  The first option in that settlement agreement would be that one of the original treating physicians would examine her, then if that was not possible the parties would agree to another physician and if they could not agree then the Board would select a physician.  Uziekalla did timely file for a change in condition.  The first physician did decline to examine her so the parties agreed to Dr. Doyle.  Dr. Doyle found that she did not suffer a change in condition.  Uziekalla sought another opinion from her surgeon, Dr. Weaver, who stated that a cyst that had developed to the fusion site was potentiated by the fusion itself.  At hearing before the Single Hearing Member, the parties stipulated to the admission of both expert reports and stipulation #5 provided that the settlement agreement “contained a procedure for resolving future changes of condition claims.”  The Single Hearing Member found that Dr. Weaver’s opinion was more credible and that Plaintiff had indeed suffered a change in condition and was entitled to additional benefits.  The full Board affirmed the Single Hearing Member’s decision.

On appeal, the employer argued that the Board was not allowed to accept the stipulation and then make a finding contrary to it.  The employer argued that instead of making a finding contrary to a stipulation the Board should have remanded the case to the Single Hearing Member to allow evidence of the party’s intent in creating the stipulation.  The Court of Appeals, however, held that the statement “a procedure for resolving future medical change of condition claims” does not mean that it was the exclusive sole procedure.  Further, the original settlement agreement stated that in case of an allegation of change in condition the parties agreed to an order of which an evaluation will be performed; the Court did not agree that the opinion obtained through this procedure would be the only opinion considered. As such, the Court affirmed the Board’s decision that Uziekalla suffered a change in condition.

The employer also argued that the Board erred by accepting Dr. Weaver’s opinion after Dr Doyle stated he was not aware of any studies providing that a cyst could be the result of a fusion surgery.  Specifically, the employer challenged the admissibility of Dr Weaver’s report as being not based on reliable scientific principles.  The Court held that once the employer stipulated to the admission of Dr. Weaver’s report, it could not now argue it was insufficient.

 

Injured While Doing Construction Work

In terms of the number of people injured each year at work, construction work is one of the most dangerous occupations. In Indiana, there were 1.67 workplace fatalities per 10,000 construction workers from 2011 to 2013. Nonfatal injuries and illnesses affected 117.4 per 10,0000 construction workers in the state during the same period. The Midwest Economic Policy Institute estimates that the total economic cost of construction fatalities and injuries is more than $150 million per year in Indiana.

If you are a construction worker who has been injured, you have legal rights and options after a construction accident. You may be entitled to workers’ compensation for your injuries and paid time away from work. In some situations, you may be able to pursue compensation for your injuries by filing a personal injury claim against the party that caused your injury.

What to do if you have been injured at work

If you are injured at work, your first concern should be seeking appropriate medical treatment. If emergency treatment is not required, you should notify your employer of the workplace accident and then seek medical attention. Once you have begun treatment, keep good records of the accident and your medical treatment so that you do not forget any important details.

After being injured, you should:

  • Seek immediate medical treatment. Even if your injury does not require a trip to the emergency room, seek medical attention and have a medical professional determine how serious it is. Follow the treatment instructions the doctor provides you, keep your receipts, and return for follow-up care if necessary.
  • File a claim. You only have 30 days after your accident to file your worker’s compensation claim, so do not delay. The sooner you file a claim, the sooner your claim can be processed, and a check will be sent to you.
  • Write it down. Make notes about how the workplace accident happened as soon as possible after the accident so that you do not forget details. Make a note of the names and contact info of anyone who saw the accident.
  • Record your expenses. It is easy to track your medical expenses, but make sure you also keep track of other expenses that you incur because of the accident, such as travel to appointments, medical devices, and prescription medications. You should also keep track of other eligible expenses, such as paying for people to do jobs you can no longer do, such as house cleaning, yard maintenance, and caring for your children.
  • Contact an attorney. Having an experienced worker’s compensation attorney lead you through the claims process increases your chances of receiving full compensation.

What does worker’s compensation do for me?

Worker’s compensation insurance covers medical care of employees injured on the job and provides partial reimbursement for loss of income because of workplace injuries.

Worker’s compensation covers:

  • medical expenses
  • lost wages, and
  • partial or permanent disability.

If an employee dies as a result of a workplace accident, their dependents may be able to collect some death benefits or compensation.

Most occupations and injuries are covered under worker’s compensation, but not all. Certain occupations such as agricultural workers may not be eligible for coverage. Your claim also may be denied based on the type of injury or the behavior that led to it.

If your claim is rejected, you can appeal the decision to the Worker’s Compensation Board and request a hearing in front of a worker’s compensation judge.

What options do I have if worker’s compensation is denied?

Unfortunately, the worker’s compensation system was designed to limit lawsuits against employers as a means of recovering for work-related injuries. If your worker’s compensation claim is denied, with an unsuccessful appeal, you may still have the option of bringing a claim against another party that caused your injury.

If a third party such as another subcontractor on the same job site caused the accident that led to your injuries, you may have a right to sue the other subcontractor to recover compensation for your injuries. If you also received worker’s compensation, your company may request to be reimbursed for the amount they paid out of whatever award you receive from your lawsuit.

You may still have the right to sue the manufacturer of a defective piece of machinery or equipment if your injury was caused by a product that was defectively designed or manufactured. A knowledgeable lawyer who represents injured workers can review the specific facts of the accident and explain your options for seeking compensation.

Right to a safe workplace

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 was intended to “assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women; by authorizing enforcement of the standards developed under the Act; by assisting and encouraging the States in their efforts to assure safe and healthful working conditions; by providing for research, information, education, and training in the field of occupational safety and health…”

Despite regulations and inspections by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), construction injuries and fatalities are all too common. Reports from OSHA state that 20.5% of worker fatalities in private industry in 2014 were in the construction industry.

Many of the injuries and fatalities that occur in construction are a result of unsafe work conditions and safety violations. The top four fatal injuries in construction work are largely preventable if contractors follow federal safety regulations and provide proper safety equipment.

The four most common fatal construction accidents are:

  • Falls
  • Electrocutions
  • Struck by Object
  • Caught-in/between

These four types of accidents were responsible for 60% of construction worker deaths in 2014. Unfortunately, there are not enough OSHA inspectors to keep up with the number of workplaces that need to be inspected.

Common safety violations

Your employer has a responsibility to know the workplace safety regulations and to furnish the kinds of safety equipment necessary to perform certain construction jobs safely.

According to OSHA, if companies make safety a top priority, construction work injuries and fatalities can be greatly reduced. The most common safety issues that inspectors found in workplaces in 2015 are:

  1. Lack of fall protection. Safety equipment should be provided by the company for any employee working at heights above 6 feet from the ground. Certain surfaces that pose a fall hazard should have railings or other protections installed.
  2. Scaffolding must be stable, well-assembled, and inspected before use. It should have guardrails, mid-rails and toe-boards installed, and workers must use hard hats if they are on, near, or under scaffolding. All tools should be cleared from scaffolding at the end of the work day.
  3. Stairways and ladders. Ladders should be inspected daily, and workers should use a ladder with the right height and load capacity. Workers going up and down ladders should maintain three points of contact.
  4. Eye and face protection. All workers should have access to eye and face protection, free of charge.
  5. Head protection. Employers must provide workers with head protection that meets the required safety standards. Construction workers should use hard hats any time they are on a construction site.
  6. Hazard communication. Employers must provide information on all hazardous chemicals used at the site. Workers should know how to read the safety info and use appropriate safety equipment when handling hazardous chemicals.

What should I do if I notice safety violations at my workplace?

If working conditions at your workplace are unsafe, you have a few options depending on the severity of the danger.

If you think that the unsafe working conditions place your life in imminent danger, you should report the issue to OSHA. You should bring the condition to the attention of your employer and you may refuse to work if your employer does not correct the situation, or there is not enough time to report the condition to OSHA.

If a safety hazard does not pose an imminent danger, you should inform your employer in writing. If they do not fix the issue, you can then file a complaint with OSHA.

OSHA prohibits employers from firing, demoting, or reducing the pay of a worker because he or she filed a complaint about a safety violation. If retaliation for reporting occurs, OSHA can order your employer to restore you to your position and salary and compensate you for any lost wages.

What about undocumented workers?

The rights of undocumented workers who are injured on the job are somewhat uncertain. Last year, the Supreme Court of Indiana heard the case of Noe Escamilla, a construction worker and undocumented immigrant injured in 2010 while working at a construction site. Until the Supreme Court of Indiana releases its decision, it is presumed based on the Court of Appeals ruling in the same case that undocumented workers do not have the right to seek lost wages after being injured on the job and that immigration status is valid evidence at trial.

There are other states where undocumented workers are able to pursue worker’s compensation or file personal injury claims against companies without having their immigration status be at issue, but Indiana is not one of them. If the Indiana Supreme Court overturns the ruling of the Court of Appeals, it will be a victory for undocumented immigrants because it provides an incentive for companies to provide safe working conditions for all of their employees.

We can help

If you have been injured at work, we can help. The attorneys at Klezmer Maudlin, PC, have the experience and resources to stand by your side and help you secure the compensation you deserve.

Schedule a free case consultation with the skilled and experienced attorneys at Klezmer Maudlin, PC, now. We will go over all the details related to your injury and determine what your next steps should be.

Electrical Injuries At Work

Construction workers face many electrical hazards on job sites, including the unpredictable movement of heavy equipment, adverse weather, improperly grounded power tools and working around hazardous overhead and buried high voltage power lines. Electrical accidents on construction sites can cause severe shocks, electrical burns and electrocution. In fact, electrocution is one of the four leading causes of fatal construction accidents. Electricity should always be treated with respect and caution. Coming into contact with voltage can cause electric current to move through your body, causing electrical shock, burns and internal organ damage. If you have been seriously injured in an electrical accident, you may require a lengthy recovery and lose a substantial amount of income.

The worker’s compensation attorneys at Klezmer Maudlin PC have dedicated our legal careers to helping injured workers in Indiana. If you have been injured in a construction accident and are having difficulty obtaining worker’s compensation benefits, please call us for a free consultation about your options. Attorneys Randy Klezmer and Nathan Maudlin have been advocating on behalf of injured Indianapolis workers for more than two decades. From representing thousands of injured workers, our attorneys have developed a deep understanding of Indiana worker’s compensation law. In fact, we authored the Indiana Worker’s Compensation Law and Practice manual, a legal reference book that other Indiana attorneys rely upon for guidance in handling these cases. If you have sustained an electrical injury and your employer is denying your claim for benefits, don’t take “No” for an answer. One of our dedicated construction accident lawyers is ready to discuss your legal rights. We will review the details of your work-related construction electrical accident and explain your legal options during a free consultation.

Types of Electrical Accidents at Job Sites

Construction workers and trades workers may sustain serious electrical injuries in many types of construction accidents. Because of the risk of burn injuries, thermal burns and electrocution, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has specific regulations related to electrical use at construction sites. Some of the more common electrical injury accidents include:

Power Line Accidents

Power Line AccidentsOverhead and buried powers lines at construction sites are dangerous because they carry high voltage and may not be visible. Energized power lines act like a magnet and will move toward a metal object that comes too close to the line. Contact with an energized line can cause a serious shock injury or fatal electrocution. OSHA requires that construction equipment remains at a safe 10-foot distance from power lines for that reason. It is critically important to remain alert for overhead power lines if working at heights or handling long objects such as metal ladders, scaffolds, backhoes, front end loaders, cranes, raised dump truck beds, and other equipment that may contact the lines. When excavating at a construction site, it is critically important to locate underground utilities before digging. Indiana Underground Plant Protection Services is responsible for locating underground utilities. If a piece of construction equipment makes contact with an overhead power line or buried line that is energized, it can cause electrocution.

Lack of Ground Fault Protection accidents

Portable power tools and extension cords are widely used at construction sites and take a lot of wear and tear. It is not uncommon for workers to encounter older buildings at work sites that have electrical receptacles with only two slots and do not have a ground. Some workers may be tempted to break off the ground prong from the three-prong plug on a tool so that it fits into the older power receptacle. But that puts them at risk of a serious shock. A flexible cord may be damaged by sharp edges of a window, door or other surface, causing abrasion, loosened wires or exposed wires and shock. A cord assembly with improperly connected terminals is a common hazard at construction sites. Workers also frequently work with power tools in wet conditions at construction sites. OSHA requires ground fault circuit interrupters at construction sites, which serve as fast-acting circuit breakers, to reduce injuries and accidents from electrical hazards. A ground fault circuit interrupter is a major safety precaution when working in wet conditions. Shocks due to defective grounding methods are all too common.

Arcing accidents

When a strong electrical current jumps a gap in a circuit in a flashy display, a worker can suffer an arc burn if the current enters the worker’s body. Arc burns, also known as flash burns, are one of the most common injuries caused by electricity. Arcing is often caused by equipment failure. The high temperatures produced by electrical arcing can cause serous burns. Arc blasts also can cause concussions and serious ear damage.

Lack of Lockout/tag out Protection accidents

Lack of Lockout/tag out Protection accidentsEmployers have a responsibility to safeguard workers from hazardous energy sources on machines and equipment during service and maintenance. Proper lockout/tag out practices help protect workers from harmful electrical accidents. They apply when workers are working on, around or with conductors or systems that use electrical energy. If the proper lockout/tagout procedures are not followed and equipment is not tested to be sure the electrical current has been disabled, a worker may suffer a serious or fatal shock. Unfortunately, lockout/tagout regulations are among the most frequently cited violations of OSHA regulations. Workers injured on the job due to exposure to hazardous energy are out of work for an average of 24 workdays while they recuperate.

Falls

A construction worker who sustains an electrical shock while working on an elevated surface or platform may lose his balance and suffer a serious or fatal fall injury as his body reacts to the electrical current moving through his body. Falls are common in electrical accidents at construction sites.

Electrocution

Exposed electrical wiring, power lines, exposed hot wires, energized equipment and unfinished electrical systems can all cause electrocution or electrical burns, especially if the proper lockout/tagout procedures are not followed to ensure the electrical current is disabled at the correct times. In many accidents, electrical workers and construction workers at construction sites have touched metal objects such as ladders, aerial lifts or metal pipes that became energized through contact with overhead power lines or live electrical equipment. Electrocution is the cause of 7 percent of workplace deaths among young workers, according to OSHA. Working in tight spaces such as basement crawlspaces, attics, and utility tunnels increases the risk of an electrical accident.

Defective Equipment

Accidents involving defective electrical equipment can occur anywhere on a construction site. Faulty wiring in defective tools, industrial machinery or electrical equipment can cause a serious electrical burn injury or electrocution. A piece of equipment may have a defective design such as a lack of adequate insulation that makes it unreasonably prone to causing electrical shocks and injuries. A worker who is injured by defective equipment may be entitled to pursue a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the faulty equipment, in addition to receiving workers’ compensation benefits.

Types of Electrical Injuries on Construction Sites

Types of Electrical Injuries on Construction SitesElectrical burns may cause more harm than is immediately apparent, including psychological effects.

Infection poses a serious risk to burn patients. Severe burns require extensive rehabilitation and reconstructive surgery.

Burns – Electrical burns are the most common type of injury related to electric shocks. They are caused by the heat produced by the flow of electric current through the body. Electricity-related burns may cause damage to limbs, internal organs and tissue. Serious tissue damage from electrical burns may lead to loss of limbs. Extensive burns over more than 40 percent of a worker’s body may cause death.

Arc Burns —The most common contact points for arc burns are the hands, head and feet. These burns may cause widespread tissue damage.

Internal Injuries—Excessive amounts of electricity moving through the body can cause internal bleeding, tissue damage, nerve and muscle damage, irregular heartbeat and cardiac arrest.

Involuntary Muscle Contractions—An electrical shock may cause loss of muscle control or violent involuntary muscle contractions, causing damage to muscles and ligaments. Involuntary muscle contractions may cause a worker working on a ladder or elevated surface to lose his or her balance and fall.

Scarring and Disfigurement—An electrical burn may cause extensive scarring and disfigurement and require multiple reconstructive surgeries

Do You Qualify for Worker’s Compensation after a Construction Electrical Accident?

Businesses of all sizes in Indiana are required to provide worker’s compensation benefits to employees who are injured on the job. Independent contractors are not employees and are not covered by worker’s compensation. But there are special rules that cover independent contractors who are injured while working in construction trades.

The rules for determining who is an independent contractor are complex. It is helpful to have a knowledgeable worker’s compensation lawyer review the specific terms and conditions of your employment and evaluate your eligibility for worker’s compensation benefits. If you sustained an electrical injury on a construction job and were denied worker’s compensation medical benefits, you should talk to an attorney about your legal rights. If a company has denied your workers’ compensation, don’t take “No” for an answer. The attorneys at Klezmer Maudlin, PC are dedicated to assisting injured workers obtain their rightful benefits.

What Can You Be Compensated for After an Electrical Accident?

There are four basic types of worker’s compensation benefits available for injured employees in the State of Indiana:

  • Medical expenses including doctor visits, hospital care, burn center care, medications, rehabilitation and physical therapy.
  • Wage replacement benefits if your burn injuries prevent you from working. Many workers require lengthy time off work to recuperate from serious burns. Wage replacement benefits are paid in weekly installments.
  • Compensation based on the severity of the injury for permanent impairments if you lose the use of a body part as a result of your work-related injury. An injured construction worker also may be entitled to compensation if a burn injury causes significant permanent scarring and disfigurement.
  • Death benefits and an allowance for funeral expenses may be paid to the dependents of an employee killed in a work-related electrical accident or who dies as a result of injuries sustained in an electrical accident in the workplace.

In some construction accidents, the injury was caused by someone other than the injured worker’s employer. It may be that defective equipment or someone employed by another subcontractor on the same job site caused the electrical accident. The attorneys at Klezmer Maudlin, PC will thoroughly investigate the cause of your construction accident and identify all the potentially liable parties. If someone else’s negligence contributed to the electrical accident that caused your injuries, you may be entitled to seek additional compensation through a third-party lawsuit IN ADDITION to claiming worker’s compensation.

Why You Need a Construction Accident Lawyer

If your employer denies your claim for medical treatment after a construction accident, you may have questions about your legal rights and how to obtain the medical care you need. We have met with many workers who found themselves in the same situation.

You are entitled to speak with a worker’s compensation attorney at any time regarding your benefits related to electrical injuries in a construction accident. At Klezmer Maudlin, PC, we offer a free initial consultation to discuss the specifics of your injury.

You may appeal an employer’s denial of your worker’s compensation benefits and request a hearing before the Indiana Board of Worker’s Compensation to review the denial. A worker’s compensation lawyer can represent you in negotiating a compromise settlement and in presenting evidence at the hearing.

You also have a right to challenge a doctor’s assessment that you are recovered adequately to return to work and that you should no longer receive your disability benefits.

It’s fair to say that the Indiana worker’s compensation system is complex, with many rules about notification and deadlines to meet. If you decide to present your own case at a hearing before the Board of Worker’s Compensation, you may make a misstep that will weaken your chances of eventually obtaining benefits. For example, an attorney may be unable to bring up certain crucial evidence on appeal because you failed to introduce that evidence during the initial hearing or did not realize its significance. Our highly skilled worker’s compensation attorneys can seek benefits on your behalf while you concentrate on recovering from your electrical accident injuries and getting your life back on track. If your future depends on the outcome of the worker’s compensation case, you should trust our experience at Klezmer Maudlin, PC.

Spinal Cord Injuries From Construction Site Accidents In Indianapolis, IN

Construction work is hard. Sometimes it can be literally backbreaking. Injuries to the spine are all too common at construction sites in Indianapolis and across Indiana.

Construction workers who suffer work-related spinal injuries – including slipped and herniated discs, broken vertebrae, nerve damage, and spinal cord injuries – are usually entitled to workers’ compensation. Depending on the circumstances, you may also be able to recover additional compensation in third-party claim if someone other than your employer or co-workers was responsible for the injury.

Do you want to learn more about your legal right to compensation for a spinal injury at a construction site? Contact the experienced Indiana workplace spine injury lawyers at Klezmer Maudlin, PC, now.

Randy Klezmer and Nathan Maudlin founded the law firm in 1992 to help Indiana workers who have suffered serious injuries in workplace accidents. Randy and Nathan stand up for injured workers and fight to help them get the compensation they need and deserve.

We want to hear the details about how your construction-related spinal injury and how it happened. We are prepared investigate your accident to determine whether you may have a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, as well as the potential for a third-party claim. Our firm has the resources, skills and grit necessary to pursue all potential sources of recovery on your behalf. We take pride in treating our clients like family as we work hard to get results for them.

Legal Options for Construction Workers with Spinal Injuries

Indiana’s workers’ compensation system is intended to provide certain benefits to injured workers regardless of fault. In other words, you may be able to collect benefits even if your employer didn’t do anything wrong to cause your injury – and even if you did something to cause the accident.

While the workers’ compensation system is simple in theory, obtaining full compensation is often more difficult in practice. Workers’ compensation insurers may attempt to deny a valid claim or minimize the benefits they pay, particularly with costly injuries such as those to the spine or spinal cord.

At Klezmer Maudlin, we believe that strong representation is the key to protecting the rights of workers who have suffered spine injuries on construction sites. We work to secure the money and benefits injured workers need to build a more secure future. Attorneys Randy Klezmer and Nathan Maudlin take pride in treating clients like family members. They work directly with each client, delivering the compassionate yet assertive legal representation needed to help you get results.

In addition to seeking full workers’ compensation benefits for our clients, we also explore other potential sources of recovery that may be available in some cases. For example, if someone other than your employer or co-workers did something wrong that caused your accident, they may be responsible for paying you additional compensation.

Here are some of the steps we can take on your behalf:

  • Thoroughly and independently investigate the accident to find out what really happened and who might be responsible.
  • Work with medical, financial and other experts to calculate the full extent of your losses.
  • Help you seek the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve.
  • Determine whether a third-party liability claim may be an option in your case.
  • Advocate for your best interests at the negotiating table and in court if necessary.

There are differences between a workers’ compensation claim and a third-party liability lawsuit. For example, workers’ compensation claims are handled by the Workers’ Compensation Board of Indiana while third-party lawsuits are handled by civil courts. There are also differences in the type of compensation you could receive. Workers’ compensation benefits are typically more limited than what may be available in a third-party lawsuit.

Multiple claims are never simple. The lawyers at Klezmer Maudlin have the knowledge to identify and manage all of your claims simultaneously to help you seek the compensation you deserve. Contact us now for a free claim review and legal advice about your best options.

Causes of Spine Injuries at Construction Sites

Construction workers are known for their strong backs, but many construction site accidents are too much for anyone’s spine to withstand. Some of the most common causes of spine injuries and spinal cord injuries include:

Slip And Fall AccidentsFalls, including both falls from heights and falls on the same level (for example, trip-and-fall accidents and slip-and-fall accidents). Workers who use scaffolds and ladders are particularly prone to falls that cause spinal injuries.

Indianapolis heavy equipment accidents LawyerMotor vehicle and heavy equipment accidents are common on construction sites, with a wide variety of trucks, diggers, bulldozers, forklifts, backhoes and other equipment moving about the work area. Vehicle drivers, equipment operators, and workers on foot are vulnerable to spine injuries caused by this type of accident.

Defective tools and equipment InjuryDefective tools and equipment may also contribute to a construction worker’s spine injury. For example, defective fall protection systems may result in serious back injuries in a fall.

Heavy lifting Spine Injury LawyersHeavy lifting and repetitive motion can cause serious damage to the spine. While some of these injuries occur in an instant, others develop over time. Both types may make an injured worker eligible for benefits depending on the circumstances.

Workplace violence InjuryWorkplace violence is a leading cause of spinal cord injuries, including those caused by gunshots.

Costs Associated With Spine Injuries & Compensation

Accidents that cause damage to the spinal cord are some of the most costly injuries anyone can suffer – particularly when they result in paralysis. Injuries to the spine can still cause significant economic damage even when the spinal cord itself is left unharmed. Virtually all spine and back injuries cause significant pain, suffering and emotional trauma. They frequently leave injured workers unable to do their old job or any work at all.

Some examples of the types of costs that spine injury victims face include:

  • Medical treatment and rehabilitation
  • Ongoing disability
  • Assistive devices like wheelchairs and hospital beds
  • In-home assistance with tasks of daily living
  • Modifications to the home and vehicle
  • Lost wages and reduced earing capacity

Indiana workers’ compensation benefits may be available to pay for some of these expenses, either in full or in part. Additional compensation may be available through a third-party claim if someone other than your employer or co-workers contributed to the accident.

Resources for Spine Injury Victims

Our Experience & Case Results

Our law firm has helped more than 30,000 people who were hurt at work. In addition to seeking workers’ compensation benefits, we also explore other options for compensation, such as a products liability claim against the manufacturer of a defective piece of equipment that caused a construction injury or a personal injury claim against a subcontractor or vendor who caused an accident.

Helping injured workers is all we do at Klezmer Mauldin. Randy and Nathan fight for workers who are trying to recover from injuries and need someone to take on those responsible for their injuries.

Contact us now so we can get started reviewing your situation. The claim review is free and so is the legal advice we provide. We charge nothing for our legal services unless and until we secure compensation for you.