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workers compensation

Slip and Fall Injuries at a Construction Site

slip and fall constructionSlip and fall accidents are common in the workplace, especially in the construction industry. Over 25,000 fall accidents result in death each year, and falls from heights are the leading cause of fatalities in construction. Slip and fall accidents range from slipping and falling on a slick surface to falling off of scaffolding or even a rooftop.

Fall hazards are present at most worksites and construction workers are exposed to these hazards every day. A fall hazard is anything that could cause you to lose your balance or support and result in a fall. Any walking or working surface at a construction site could be a potential fall hazard.

Each slip and fall case is different, and OSHA has put together standards to help keep construction workers safe while on the job. For example, when working on scaffolds, your employer should provide fall protection, such as guardrails, especially when working over dangerous equipment and machinery.

If you are the victim of a slip and fall accident, make sure to seek medical attention immediately and file an accident report with your employer.

As a victim of a slip and fall accident, you must document all aspects of your accident and injuries. Take pictures of the scene and also of the injuries you sustained. Get statements from anyone who witnessed the accident to help prove your case. Keep track of all of your lost wages, medical bills and transportation expenses throughout the process.

The lawyers at Klezmer Maudlin can help you file all forms and meet deadlines as well as guide you throughout your lawsuit as your workers’ compensation and personal injury lawyers. Call us at 317.569.9644 to speak to an attorney now!

Independent Medical Examination

independent medical examYou have a right to an independent medical examination (IME). You may request an IME if you feel you were returned to work too soon and/or if you feel you would benefit from additional medical treatment.

To make this request, you will need to mark the Report of Claim Status/Request for Independent Medical Examination (Form 38911) accordingly. This form will be mailed to you from the insurance carrier at the time your TTD benefits are terminated. This may coincide with the time that you are also released by the doctor at maximum medical improvement. Please note that you only have seven days from the date of receipt to return this completed form to the Workers’ Compensation Board of Indiana.

The Board will review your request, consider your medical treatment and prognosis, and then likely schedule you for an IME with a doctor they have chosen. If they schedule you for an independent medical examination, the doctor they send you to will only evaluate whether or not you need additional medical treatment and whether or not you should be working given your condition.

This doctor will not do the following:

  • Prescribe you medication
  • Discuss future medical needs
  • Give you a permanent partial impairment rating

Below is a list of items you need to take to the independent medical examination:

  • Original X-Rays, MRIs, CT Scans or any other radiology film
  • Any medical records for related treatment with your personal doctor(s)

Of note, if a nurse case manager or rehabilitation nurse has been assigned to your case, he or she is not permitted to attend the independent medical examination scheduled by the Board.

The outcome of this evaluation will carry a lot of weight in the direction of your case. In other words, if the IME doctor decides that you can return to work and you need no further treatment, it will be difficult for you to prove otherwise since this is a doctor that was personally selected by the Board. Likewise, if the IME doctor indicates you need more treatment and/or that you should remain off work, the Board will likely stand behind their doctor and order that your workers’ compensation benefits will be reinstated.

Q: Who pays for the Board ordered medical evaluation?

A: Your employer or their workers’ compensation insurance carrier.

Q: I have not received a form that lets me get an independent medical examination, but I have been released from the workers’ compensation doctor. What do I do?

A: You can contact the workers’ compensation insurance carrier and ask about it. If you find out that you are not eligible for an independent medical examination through the Board, then you can seek one of your own at your own expense and try to use your doctor’s report as leverage to get your benefits reinstated. Obviously this would only happen if the doctor’s report is favorable to you. If you do seek an IME, make sure you select a doctor with an excellent reputation or the Board may discount your doctor’s opinion.

When a Work Injury Claim is Denied

Sthethoscope and medical documentsSometimes a work injury claim is denied by the worker’s compensation insurance carrier. The Indiana law indicates that no compensation is allowed for an injury or death due to an employee:

  • Knowingly self-inflicting the injury or death;
  • Being intoxicated at the time of accident which is proximate cause of the injury;
  • Committing an offense which led to the injury;
  • Knowingly failing to use safety equipment or apparatus;
  • Knowingly failing to obey a reasonably written or printed rule of the employer which was posted in an obvious place;
  • Knowingly failing to perform an official duty of the job which directly led to the injury.

However, it is the employer’s responsibility to prove that such behavior on the part of the employee resulted in his or her work injury. If the employer is able to prove such, then the injured worker is barred from any compensation for his or her work injury.

In other cases, an injured worker’s claim may be denied for reasons that are not so clear. Regardless of the circumstances, all injured workers should receive written notification from the employer if their claim is being denied approximately thirty (30) days after the employer is first made aware of the work accident and injury(s).

Filing a Claim With the Worker’s Compensation Board of Indiana

If a claim is denied, the employer or the worker’s compensation insurance carrier must let the employee as well as the Board know through a written form called a Report of Claim Status/Request for Independent Medical Examination (Form 38911) within thirty (30) days of the employer’s knowledge of the accident.

Thereafter, the injured worker has the right to file a claim on his or her own with the Board, but this must be done within two (2) years from the date of the work accident.

To file a claim, the injured worker must complete and send to the Board an Application for Adjustment of Claim (Form 29109). The injured worker may also want to contact an Ombudsman at the Board for further information about this application.

Medical Treatment

Medical treatment will be on your own if worker’s compensation denies your work injury claim. Your options are to:

  1. Pay out of your own pocket, OR
  2. File with private health insurance.

Keep accurate records of the expenses your accumulate for treatment related to your work injury because this information will be needed if you contest the denial of your claim. If you do contest the fact that your claim was denied by your employer’s insurance carrier, and you file an Application for Adjustment of Claim with the Board, then medical providers who have provided treatment for your work injury cannot try to collect payment from you until it is determined who – either you or your employer’s insurance carrier – is responsible to pay.

In order for medical providers to be considered for payment when the Board determines who is responsible to pay for your medical treatment, the provider should file an Application for Adjustment of Claim for Provider Fee (Form 18487) with the Board.

This rule only applies to those who treat you for the work injury. So, if your credit card company is coming after you for not making the required payments, even if the reason you cannot make these payments is because you are not working now as a result of your work accident, you will not be protected by your worker’s compensation case. Similarly, if you have a collector calling you about a dental bill that is unrelated to your work accident, there is nothing you can do about it through your worker’s compensation case.

Have a question about a denied worker’s compensation claim? Call us at 317.569.9644 for a free consultation to see how we can help.

Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)

adaIf you have a condition that significantly reduces or limits your ability to work, you may be considered disabled according to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and therefore protected by this federal law.

The ADA applies to any employer with 15 or more employees. It says that an employer cannot discriminate against workers with disabilities. This includes those who may be a candidate for a position as well as those who already hold a position, such as an injured worker who is left with a disability due to a work accident but who wants to return to his or her place of employment.

An injured worker whose work abilities have been limited by a work accident will probably be evaluated by a doctor to find out how well he or she can perform the necessary duties of the job. If the worker’s condition limits him or her from performing job tasks that are not critical to the job, then the ADA would require these tasks to be reassigned. In a similar manner, if the tasks that the worker is unable to do are critical to the job, then the ADA requires the employer to consider a reasonable accommodation that would help the worker to still complete the task. This might include special equipment or a device that relieves some of the physical nature of the worker’s job. However, the law does not clearly define this term.

Q: My employer fired me because they were afraid I would re-injure myself now that I have some permanent disabilities due to my work accident. Can I really be fired for this reason?

A: If you are someone with a qualified disability, you cannot be fired if there is no direct threat or risk of re-injury. Fear alone is not grounds for firing someone with a disability due to a workplace accident.

Q: My employer says that if I am not back to 100%, I cannot return to my job. What do I do?

A: If your employer fires you once you are done treating because you are not back to where you were before the work accident, then you may be entitled to protection under ADA. This would be true if you were being discriminated against because your disability hindered you from performing a non-essential task of the job, or if there was a way to accommodate you that was practical and realistic but which your employer did not want to do. It might be beneficial to consult with an attorney if you find yourself in this type of situation.

Q: I have more seniority than some other guys in our factory who are performing jobs that would better accommodate my disability due to a recent work accident. Doesn’t my employer have to give me their jobs?

A: Not necessarily. Accommodating a worker who may have been disabled by a work related injury is required by the ADA when reasonable accommodations exist. However, according to the ADA, reasonable accommodations do not include moving people around to open up a position or creating a new position for the newly disabled employee.

Have a question about the ADA and how it impacts you after a work injury? Call us at 317.569.9644 for a free consultation to see how we can help.

Can You Recover Workers’ Compensation Claims if You’re Not a US Citizen?

Even if you are an immigrant to the United States, you can still claim workers’ compensation benefits. Immigration is a The Worker’s Compensation Act of Indiana mandates that employers provide medical treatment and wage replacement in the form of temporary total disability benefits to “employees” who sustain “accidental injuries, arising out of and in the course of the employment.”

Here is one family’s journey from immigrating to the United States, battling through language barriers and a devastating work injury. Read about what this family has gone through and how Klezmer Maudlin helped:

141009122019-us-mexico-border-2013-horizontal-large-galleryMy experience when it comes to the United States was not easy but I’m sure it’s not easy for anyone. Everyone has a different story to tell, and this is mine.

I was eight years old when I came to the United States with my mother and four children. I did not speak English and did not know anyone. My mom enrolled me in school, but it wasn’t easy. The children were rude and teased me that I did not understand what they said. My teachers tried to talk to them but it was hard since they didn’t speak Spanish.

Eventually we moved to another area which is where I began to learn English and adapt to the new culture. I did not like the food, I thought it had a funny taste, and the people were physically and emotionally different than what I was used to.

My mother worked all the time so I barely saw her. One day she had a very bad accident at work. This was a very ugly experience. After a year of rehabilitation, she was allowed to go home but nothing was the same. She was not herself, she was physically and emotionally very different. Her I could not work his accident permanently hurt the waterways.

Then we contacted Randy Klezmer, a workers’ compensation attorney. Regardless of my mom’s legal status, he took the case. In less than a year he managed to win the injury claim for my mom. Randy was always very honest and helpful. Today, things are not the same but improved. It was not easy to decide to consult a lawyer due to the immigration status of my mother, but we all have rights.

Workers’ Compensation, Personal Injury, or Both?

construction accident 1Construction sites are one of the most hazardous workplaces with construction workers risking their lives every day to earn a living. From heavy equipment to falling objects, thousands of workers are injured and even killed each year at construction sites.

Even though we have OSHA and construction site safety standards, construction environments are still dangerous. This is where workers’ compensation laws come into play.

If you are hurt on the job, it is imperative to immediately report the accident to your supervisor. If you do not report your injury within 30 days, you may lose your right to collect workers’ compensation benefits. You can find all forms at the Worker’s Compensation Board of Indiana website.

After you fill out the workers’ compensation claim form, give it to your employer and keep a copy for yourself. From this point on, it’s important to keep track of several factors for your records, including:

  • How your injury has impacted your ability to work.
  • All receipts including medicine and travel to doctor’s appointments.
  • All people involved in your claim, including discussions you have with them and the dates of these discussions.
  • Copies of all forms and documents you receive. Include copies of envelopes with postmarks.

But what if your accident happens due to the fault of another company or faulty machinery? Your work-related injuries may involve more than a workers’ compensation claim. If you were injured using defective or faulty equipment, you could have a personal injury claim such as product liability.

There are differences between a workers’ compensation claim and a third-party 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 will receive, whether you are awarded benefits for pain and suffering or future financial losses due to your accident.

Multiple claims are never simple. The lawyers at Klezmer Maudlin have the knowledge to identify and manage all of your claims simultaneously to help get you the compensation you deserve. Call us at (317) 569-9644 to discuss your situation and see how we can help.

Employer Denied Lost Wages During Injury Examination

Question: My employer has denied me lost wages when I was sent to be examined and during appointment times that I was scheduled for work. Is this legal? How do I go about recovering work time hours lost?

Answer: You are correct that your employer’s actions are contrary to the Indiana Workers’ Compensation Act. You are not alone in your problems. In fact, this is something we face quite often.

According to Ind. Code §22-3-3-6(b), if the employee is required to miss work because of an examination scheduled by the employer to determine the compensability of a claim or to report on the employee’s disability or impairment, the employee is entitled to full reimbursement for any loss of wages.

Your employer can require the examinations to take place outside your work hours and in that case you would not be reimbursed for your time.

You may need assistance to secure these benefits. It is your right to either represent yourself in a worker’s compensation dispute or to hire an attorney. When deciding whether or not you want to involve an attorney, keep in mind that Indiana’s workers’ compensation laws are written in a way which tends to favor the employer as opposed to the injured employee.

Many employees think that they cannot afford an attorney, however, attorney fees are controlled by the Act as well and they come out of any recovery we make on your behalf. If you would like to discuss representation in reference to your work injury, please give our office a call at (317) 569-9644 and we can discuss the matter with you.

Personal Experience With Unfair Treatment of Injured Workers

As an attorney, I see many cases where adjusters and employers are fair and try their best to follow the law. However, I see cases where adjusters and employers try to skirt the Indiana Workers’ Compensation Act laws at every turn.

The more I practice law, the more I feel like employers, in many cases, look for any reason to take advantage of injured workers.  Two recent examples really make me wonder about what rights injured workers may have.

In a recent case, my client, an employee of a nursing home, was injured at work and offered light duty which consisted of remaining at the nursing home for a period of 13 hours a day and working three separate work shifts with 2-3 hour breaks in between.  I truly feel that the employer designed this offer of light duty so that she would refuse it, then lose her job and not be paid workers’ compensation benefits.  The employer later modified this offer of light duty to include only 3 hours a day of work.  My client lives 25 minutes from this nursing home and to work 3 hours a day after taxes would put approximately $35 in her pocket a day.  I assume gas money would probably cost 1/3rd of that amount.

Another scenario I saw recently, and I see all the time, is an insurance adjuster or an employer ignoring treatment recommendations of doctors they select.  Under our Indiana Workers’ Compensation Act, an employer is allowed to select the physician, but is required to provide the treatment, medical services or supplies recommended by that physician.  An adjuster or an employer is not free to pick or choose what it will authorize or what it will not.

What is a mediation and when is it necessary?

Mediations are becoming more and more popular in workers’ compensation cases. A mediation is a meeting in the presence of the insurance company’s attorney, a neutral third party called a mediator (usually an attorney or a representative of the Indiana Workers’ Compensation Board), the injured worker and his/her attorney.

The Board requires that attempts be made to settle a workers’ compensation claim before having a formal hearing. Recorded statements, depositions and interrogatories are all conducted so parties have a better understanding of the work accident claim and what might realistically be a fair settlement to offer to avoid having to go to court.

Mediations are a last ditch effort to settle a case before it would go to court. Mediations usually take 1 to 4 hours and the goal at mediation is to settle the case. Mediation is voluntary, so you cannot be forced to settle and the insurance company cannot be forced to offer more than it feels comfortable offering. You will not testify at mediation, but you will simply listen. Your attorney may have questions for you during mediation, but you will not be put on the spot. Mediation generally takes place in an informal setting such as a conference room or law office.

Workers’ Compensation & the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

 

If you have a condition that significantly reduces or limits your ability to work, you may be considered disabled according to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and therefore protected by this federal law.

The ADA applies to any employer with 15 or more employees. The Act says that an employer cannot discriminate against workers with disabilities. This includes those who may be a candidate for a position as well as those who already hold a position, such as an injured worker who is left with a disability due to a work accident, but who wants to return to his or her place of employment.

An injured worker whose work abilities have been limited by a work accident will probably be evaluated by a doctor to find out how well he or she can perform the necessary duties of the job. If the worker’s condition limits him or her from performing job tasks that are not critical to the job, then the ADA would require these tasks be reassigned. In a similar manner, if the task that the worker is unable to do are critical to the job, then the ADA requires the employer to consider a reasonable accommodation that would help the worker to still complete this task. This might include special equipment or a device that relieves some of the physical nature of the worker’s job; however, the law does not clearly define this term.