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A lot of employees don’t get the right compensation due them because they either filed the wrong claim or they didn’t file anything at all. So in order to better employee services, everyone should be made aware of the basic differences between personal injury and workers’ compensation.

When should you file a complaint under personal injury?
Personal injury is a coverage offered by your insurance company. It will apply to anyone who has been hurt because of the actions or lack of actions of other people. In order to recover from whatever expenses that you may have incurred because of your injury, you first need to prove that it was the other person’s fault. 

Under the Personal Injury Law, the end goal of all personal injury services is to make the injured person whole again and that could be in the form of rehabilitation, hospitalization and/or any other means of financial assistance. 

However, the defendant in any personal injury case has defense options that are not available for employers faced with workers’ compensation cases. Examples of these defenses include those that are based on the plaintiff’s role during the accident. Comparative negligence, or a calculation of both parties’ degree of fault for the accident, is also another common defense strategy used. There are many other defense strategies but the end goal of all these techniques is to either bar or limit a personal injury lawsuit.

When should you file a complaint under workers’ compensation?
On the other hand, workers’ compensation will only apply to employees who have been hurt while on the job. It should be made available regardless of whose fault it is as long as the employee sustained the injury while on the clock. The insurance agency who will be looking at the cost of damages will be the company’s and not the employee’s. 

As long as the employer makes compensation benefits to all employees, the employer cannot be sued for personal injury or wrongful death damages. It is without saying that workers’ compensation is the only remedy that is available to any injured worker.

But there are limitations to workers compensation. This is because workers’ compensation can only cover medical expenses, disability payments and retraining benefits. Therefore, it is only right to say that a seriously injured worker will never be adequately compensated for his or her losses. 

The only time that you would need an attorney when facing issues on workers’ compensation is when your employer’s insurance company denies the claim. All workers compensation cases are filed with and decided by the Workers Compensation Board.

However, there is a very thin line between personal injury and workers’ compensation that’s why they are often mistaken for each other. For instance, if you are working and you were injured because of the actions of someone other than your employer and/or a co-worker, then you can pursue a personal injury claim. 

For complicated cases of workers’ compensation, it would be best to consult with specialists on the issue of workers’ compensation. It is only by getting in touch with a lawyer will you get either personal injury benefits or workers’ compensation claims, whichever is due you.

For more questions about workers’ compensation, contact John Fox & Associates at (504) 891-3303 or check their website at www.johnfoxassociates.com.

 

The recession that began in 2008 is now reaching its tipping point. More jobs are now being created and new companies have begun to re-appear on American shores. But two recent facilities in Michigan have become the root of complaints against the Obama Administration with regard to the alleged misuse of US stimulus tax dollars.

According to the complaints filed by the local labor unions, jobs created by the two new facilities in the area are reserved for Korean nationals. This means that although these plants will help the local and national economy as a whole, they will not do much to counter the unemployment rate of Americans. Michigan is known to have the worst unemployment rate in the US.

The companies in hot water are LG Chem and Dow Kokam. Both companies are into the electric car industry and are getting a combined $300 million taken from the stimulus program. The companies’ main products are electric batteries.

Mark Mangione, a representative of the almost 1,000 labor union members in west Michigan, says that the local residents are angry because they are expecting to see job creation for Americans. Instead, the labor unions claim that Koreans are the primary beneficiaries of the job creation.

Plant owners, say in their defense, that the jobs Korean nationals filled require unique expertise in the handling of highly sophisticated equipment. They add that all Korean workers are temporary and legal. When asked how many of their workers are Koreans Dow Kokam says it’s around 150 as of last December. Meanwhile, LG Chem refused to give any statistics.

However, labor unions argue that they have pictures showing Korean nationals doing hands-on work that can be done by Americans. Examples of these jobs include installing the machinery, piping work, doing electrical work, mill right work and installing the machines in the plant.

In addition, the two mentioned Korean-owned plants bought a lot of Korean equipment and supplies; therefore helping the economy of North Korea more than America. 

The labor unions have written complaint letters to the Department of Labor and the Obama administration but received very few answers. So the group filed an appeal based on the Freedom of Information Act to access the payroll records of both LG Chem and Dow Kokam. 

The appeal also included a request to access the contractors of the companies who are tasked in performing construction work. The government responded with 18 companies and at least 11 of them are Asian firms.

Meanwhile, officials from the Energy Department remain confident that all laws have been followed. They also support the statement released by both companies that the stimulus money provided by the government has indirectly helped create 300 fulltime jobs and 2,000 temporary construction jobs.

Labor unions say that they are happy that businesses have come to their state; they just hope that all the job vacancies will be filled by Americans. 

The situation in Michigan may not be isolated as other states may have experienced these too. Unless the government comes up with a way to measure the true economic worth of businesses, Americans will continue to be unemployed even after the recession.

For more news and updates on labor and employment issues, visit www.johnfoxassociates.com

 

One of the most crucial aspects of the system of workers’ compensation is the medical confirmation of an injury. Sadly, there are doctors who provide diagnosis in favor of insurance companies in exchange for money. In effect, truly injured workers are cleared for work and will not get any workers’ compensation benefits.

The primary reason for a medical confirmation is to rule out the possibility of fraudulent claims by establishing that the worker is truly injured. Under the law, only workers with bona fide injuries can get medical care and replacement wages. Both these benefits are usually paid for by the company’s insurer.

In a workers’ compensation case filed in New York, an injured worker is seeking medical benefits for injuries that he has sustained while on the job. Upon visit to the doctor, it was confirmed that he has injuries secondary to falling while on the job. However, the medical report submitted by his doctor to the workers’ compensation board cleared the driver for work and said that the driver has no injuries at all.

The doctor later on said that he lied in his reports because it’s the only way that he can get paid for his services.

The above-mentioned dispute is not an isolated case. Thousands of workers’ compensation claims have been taken out of the system because of their doctors’ fraudulent information. Instead of the exams designed to flush out workers who only exaggerate their injuries to get unnecessary care, truly injured workers also get affected.

Insurance companies, in the existing law, are allowed to order an allegedly neutral exam but they would select the doctor and that’s where the disputes would begin. 

There are states like New York that uses independent medical examiners and this leads to further mistrust in the system. The weight of examiner’s opinion matters a lot because it can empower the insurer to slash benefits, stall a case and even withhold medical treatment. This oftentimes results in workers being mislabeled as dishonest.

Another common concern regarding examiners in the workers’ compensation system is that most of the examiners are older and semiretired. These physicians no longer treat patients and so their capability to provide correct diagnosis is being questioned. However, insurance companies assert that doctors don’t need to undergo any form of special training because their license in their authorized specialty is enough.

There’s also the inclusion of brokers who are used by insurance companies to look for doctors. Most of these brokers are not registered with the state and although blatant, no legislation has been passed, yet those caught are penalized.

At present, majority of the cases in workers’ compensation contest the examiner’s opinion. But since most of the medical examiners under the workers’ compensation system are listed per state, it becomes easy for judges to dismiss clinic findings especially when particular doctors’ names come in. 

However, even if the clinic findings are dismissed, it would still take months and even years before a resolution is achieved. In most cases, workers get tired of waiting and eventually give up. This adds to their ordeal even further.

It is then very important that the lawyer you choose can represent you well in order to help speed up your case. If you are in Louisiana, call John Fox & Associates at (504) 891-3303. You may also log on to their website at www.johnfoxassociates.com.

 

Companies give out coupons and other freebies in part to encourage safety in the workplace and in part, to cut down on workers’ compensation claims. Such a strategy is known to be adapted by many corporations today because the cost of workers’ compensation is the main reason for the high cost of doing business.

Why Coupons May Not be the Best Solution to Workplace Injury
The DuPont Plant is one of the corporations that implement the reward system for safety in the workplace. Basically, they give out coupons to employees who have not had any accidents after a few weeks of working. But no matter the company’s good intent, some workers take advantage of the said reward system by hiding workplace injury just to get the coupons. This may result to fewer workers’ compensations claims that the corporation is currently enjoying.

Also, the safety reward coupons create tension in the workplace because injured workers might get angry if their superiors are informed of their injury. If so, it would mean that they will not get the coupons that they want to have.

However, on the side of the employers, coupons provide a means to determine workers who have been truly injured on the job. These coupons are very useful especially that there are reports of employees filing erroneous workers’ compensation claims. For instance, someone comes in on Monday with a backache and blames it on the job.

What are the shortcomings of the workers’ compensation program?
The multi-million dollars’ workers’ compensation program has a lot of shortcomings especially in terms of delays, suspect doctors and an undeveloped form of justice. Sometimes, workplace discrimination also takes place and that complicates things even further.

Let’s take a look at one of the most prevalent example of the shortcomings of the current system.
In New York, the implementation of workers’ compensation was supposed to help foster workplace harmony by resolving issues on injuries without bringing in the lawyers. It was supposed to be a no-fault insurance program reserved for injured workers.

Today, however, the number of cases filed in state courts is a strong indication that the system is not working as smoothly as once desired. The tension in the workplace is caused by fear and mistrust because both the employers and the employees are angry.

Workers argue that their companies are trying everything to cut back on claims and that would include contesting injuries, firing those who file for benefits, discriminating injured workers and even checking on what workers do at home (an invasion of privacy).

On the other hand, employers argue that since compensation claims are so expensive, they need to take aggressive actions to identify fraudulent claims from genuine ones. According to them, a single injury can cost tens of thousands of dollars today. So a means to cut on the costs is the currently adapted coupon system by most companies. But there are also corporations that implement progressive discipline, which means that workers will face progressive steps if they suffer from repeated injuries with the last step ending in a dismissal. 

Reforms are currently underway to better the workers’ compensation system but there is no clear timeframe as to when these reforms will be seen in print. In addition, it is not clear how much the planned reforms will help ease the tension in the workplace. 

If you need advice and support on matters concerning workers’ compensation, you can visit www.johnfoxassociates.com.

 

More sales is the secret to creating more jobs and that’s been certified by specialty retailers. According to reports, more merchants and specialty retailers are planning to add jobs this year as new stores are opened and operations are expanded. This positive response somehow eases previous concerns regarding an April 6 report that showed a decline in retail employment covering the periods of February to March.

The unexpected increase in retail employment could be attributed to an increase in retail sales. According to the Commerce Department, sales of goods ranging from electronics to furniture and clothing rose to about 0.8 percent as of last month alone. Meanwhile, the International Council of Shopping Centers reported an increase of 4.1 percent in receipts alone.

Joseph LaVorgna, chief US economist at the Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. says that the strength of retail spending in the first quarter of this year is a strong indication of more retail hiring. He adds that although there are concerns in other sectors of businesses, the retail industry is experiencing a momentum in hiring and spending. 

But the momentum LaVorgna is referring to has been slow and uneven. In fact, last month’s drop in retail sales was recorded to be the lowest since October 2009. This resulted in merchants only regaining a third of the total jobs lost in 2008 and 2009. 

However, retailers have been steadily adding 35,000 employees every month for the last six months. This is a strong improvement to the pre-recession average of employment of 55,000 employees per month in 2006 and 2007. The figure is also a good measure of the true state of the market health. 

What is the significance of this increase in the overall progress of the economy?
These numbers are essential because retailers employ one in every four Americans. Meanwhile, retail sales account to about 50% of consumer spending based on the 2011 data from the Commerce Department. 

If the retail spending remains high, investors will become interested in boosting their shares too. For instance, a retail company is recorded to have gained approximately 17% this year alone. 

Statistics also indicate that large stores have become more efficient in managing their workforce by scheduling staff especially during peak shopping hours. On the other hand, Internet-based sales expanded faster than those in physical stores, with a growth rate of 9.3% as of March compared to a 6.5% growth in traditional merchants’ customer based facilities.

In order to attract more consumers, large retail stores have decided to restructure to somehow cope with the changing shopper demands. Meanwhile, other stores are aggressively expanding by establishing more chains and hiring more employees, following a good sales report from the previous months. Hence, as business is growing more rapidly than before, it would also indicate a closer monitoring by the Department of Labor for possible employer violations.

But economists warn not to get everyone’s hopes high because the sales during the first-quarter alone are not enough to indicate a hiring boom. There are other factors that could have contributed to the sales from last month and these may include the higher gasoline prices, expansion in low-employment sectors as well as deep-discount chains.

For more news and articles on labor, employment and related topics, go to www.johnfoxassociates.com

 

The number of American workers who have been forced to do overtime work for the same or less pay has dramatically increased since the onset of the recession in 2008. Today, lawsuits have upped by up to 32% compared to prior 2008, making court houses across the country busy all year long.

Based on the reports gathered, workers have been suing employers for violations of federal and state laws because they have been forced to do more than 40 hours for work in a week. The forcing factor was to avoid the same fate as the almost 9 million employees who have lost their jobs during the recession.

Catherine Ruckelshaus, the legal co-director of the National Employment Law Project, says that the recession has place more pressure on companies to squeeze their workers to do more and at the same time, cut on production costs. Ruckelshaus adds that if employers would have to bear the actual costs of overtime, then it would be better for them to hire more workers in order to help in the economic recovery. This, unfortunately, is not an ideal suggestion for most businesses.

There are three ways that the complainants have been forced to render overtime work and these include: a.) being forced to work off the clock, b.) jobs were misclassified as exempt from overtime requirements and c.) work bled into their personal time via smartphones and other related technologies.

The Effects of Smartphones
In defense, employers have been drawn to giving away modern office privileges like smartphones and other relevant technological tools;
thereby redefining the American workplace. Telecommuting is now a new kind of work environment that has quickly clung to the basic functions of an employee. This means that even on off-hours and vacations, employers will become tethered to their employees. To resolve this, courts must find a way to reconcile old labor laws.

Employers also believe that the explosion of lawsuits is ill-timed and does not suit the current working trend. They say that employees want more flexibility of work at home or in the office e-mail while on their free time.

Meanwhile, Richard Alfred, the chairman of Seyfarth Shaw’s wage and hour practice, believes that the surge of cases is primarily because of the lucrative settlements offered if the case is won. This prompted labor lawyers to copy old lawsuits which are simpler and less costly compared to discrimination cases. 

What Steps Corporations Have Taken
In order to make the working conditions more fitting for the contemporary workers, businesses reclassified their salaried employees to hourly workers. This means that instead of getting a fixed salary every pay, employees will receive what is just equivalent to the hours that they’ve put in. This makes it possible for businesses to pay for overtime because they offer a lower basic wage. 

Labor: “Workers are More Protected”
The Labor Department has implemented steps to make sure that the employees are well-protected. Such steps include the addition of 300 wage-and-hour investigations that have increased their staff to up to 40% over the course of two years. The Department is also closely monitoring the conditions of workers in high-risk industries like hotels and restaurants. 

For news and more information on labor and other related employment matters, go to www.johnfoxassociates.com.

 

All employees of any type, whether contractual or permanent, will have to be prepared for the time when they will be needing the assistance of a lawyer whose expertise cover labor laws, both Federal and governing the State of Louisiana. There can be several reasons why a worker needs the help of an attorney, but in most cases, they may not be aware of how urgent they need one, or if they can still carry on an official negation with a lawyer. For cases such as worker’s compensation claims, employees must seek legal assistance in order to prevent more complication.  

The following instances are when an employee needs a lawyer at the soonest possible time: 
When a worker has been injured while on duty and the injury requires intense treatment, such as surgery, then an attorney must be at hand to help the injured worker cover his or her legal rights to worker’s compensation. 

When a worker believes that because of the injury, he or she may not be able to work fulltime anywhere because of the injury, a lawyer is needed to negotiate with the employer on the status of the worker’s employment and worker’s compensation. There are workers who may be entitled to disability grants if a physician deems that the worker’s health cannot be restored to the condition before the injury was incurred.

When employers deny their employees, injured or otherwise, the health benefits they deserve, it’s time to seek legal advice. 
Workers who think they need legal help will have to conduct their own research first to identify whether a problem fits the bill of legal assistance. From sexual harassment, faulty contracts, and other forms of discrimination, articles over the Internet show varied cases that the employee can glean on. It also helps to seek out websites that specifically address the needs of worker’s who need to fight for their worker’s compensation and rights as laborers. There are a handful of directories for labor laws attorneys and employees in Louisiana should seek the most experienced and adept in handling such cases. 

Choose only the kind of lawyers who can communicate well with you, and have all their accreditation and contact information readily available on their websites. Lawyers who handle labor rights issues must be able to answer al relevant questions, has the skill to simplify complicated terminologies to an inquiring employee, and has good references from other workers who have fought labor cases in the past. 

When an employee has found a potential lawyer for a labor issues case, the employee should ask the attorney how long he or she has been in the field, how much time has he or she spent in employment law. The timeframe for getting compensation from the employer after filing the complaint must also be discussed with the attorney. He or she should be able to give you an idea how long it will take before you get your worker’s compensation should your complaint is addressed. Consulting in advance with an attorney will also determine whether or not a complaint is worth the fight. 

If you are working in the state of Louisiana and want to know more about legal experts focusing on employment law, visit www.johnfoxassociates.com. Or you call 1-866-994-1912 (Toll free) and 1-504-891-3303 (Local). You can also mail your questions to info@johnfoxassociates.com.