(504)-3303


 

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.

 

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

 

A Florida firm is currently on hot water for allegedly firing employees because of wearing orange. The Elizabeth R. Wellborn law firm has been sued for allegedly firing eight employees who wear wearing orange as a sign of protest against the newly imposed work restrictions. However, there are two sides of the story.

Why They Filed for Complaint
According to the complaint filed by the employers’ attorneys, not all those who were wearing orange that day joined the silent protest against the new work rules. There were some who wore orange to match the color of the bar they were going to after work for a happy hour. It was a gesture of mutual consent for the purpose of an after-work fun.

But what the management only knew of is the fact that workers were wearing orange to mimic the uniform of inmates at the Florida Department of Corrections who are stripped off their freedom. Fired employers say that they were protesting against the new set of work rules that prohibit them from taking coffee breaks or going to the cafeteria while on the clock. New rules also prohibit them from taking to their co-employees over cubicles even if it’s to discuss work-related issues.

In addition, the husband of the firm’s owner was noted to have told employees that if they were protesting work-conditions, they would better pack their things and leave the company premises.

The complaint filed was stated in such a way that emphasized on the violations against the National Labor Relations. According to the section seven of state law, employees have the right to self-organization for the purpose of collective bargaining. Therefore, the law makes it unlawful for any employer to interfere with, restrain, or coerce employees in the exercise of their rights.

The Other Side of the Story
However, the Elizabeth R. Wellborn law firm negates any allegations of firing employees because of the color of their shirts. 

Wellborn released in a statement that any assertion that the firm take disciplinary actions against employees because of the color of their shirts is ludicrous. The firm says that the employees were discharged from the company because of harassing and intimidating a new office manager into quitting.

In fact, the new manager got so scared that she has left the state.
The Florida firm also says that they have accumulated enough data to support their side of the story. The firm says that the company hopes to keep a working environment that is free of any forms of discrimination against each other and against their superiors. In fact, the company believes that hiring qualified relatives of employers helps further in fostering the said ideal environment.

A law professor at the Florida International University, Kerri Stone, said that in Florida, an employee can be fired for any or no reason at all as long as employment was presumed at will. 

But the laws in Florida regarding employment vary greatly from more law-bounded states like Louisiana. In Louisiana, any company that fires employees for no reason at all can be penalized. Likewise, companies that do not provide the workers’ compensation benefits can get sued. So if you have issues about employment in Louisiana, call John Fox & Associates at (504) 891-3303. You may also visit their website at www.johnfoxassociates.com.

 

Governor Pat Quinn’s working group seeks to address the $85 billion in pension debt by lowering the pension benefits but increasing the contribution rate. In exchange, the state would guarantee that it will meet all its funding obligations.

According to the proposal submitted, the pension costs of teachers and university employees would shift from the state to the school districts and universities. With this, universities will be forced to find ways to increase the contribution rate of their immediate districts. However, the proposal is not in a formal legislation and would only act as a list of recommendations.

The proposal by the working group is in direct opposition to another proposal made last year by Congressmen who have indicated the need to hire more workers and to create a 401 (k)-style contribution system.

Although no confirmations have been made yet, the Labor sector continues to seek guarantees of the state making prompt payments into the system in order to meet all funding obligations. It has been known that skipping and/or underfunding pensions have been the main reason for the current bulk of pension debt. Therefore to resolve the issue of debt, legislators must consider its roots.

A 1995 law mandates the State to make pension payments based on a schedule outline in order to bring the funding up to 90 percent by 2045. However, lawmakers have adjusted the said law to allow the skipping of pension payments. 

But Representative Elaine Nekritz of D-Northbrook is not convinced that a legislation following the proposal made by Governor Pat Quinn’s working group will ever pass. Nekritz says that voters may not be very supportive of any law that would require the state to make the contribution. This is because if the state fails to make the pension payments, state tax money for the local agencies would be garnished. And that would lead to poor government services in a specific state.

Governor Quinn says that it is urgent that the issue on pension funding be addressed within the year and hence, formed his own working group. The decision of the Senate will be released in a week or so but for now, there has been talk that legislation will be drafted based on the work done by the said working group. If it will be exactly as the proposal has, there is no clear answer yet.

What happens if the pension debt is not resolved soon?

If the pension debt is not resolved soon, it would lead to more and more retirees not getting what is due them after years of working. If workplace pension schemes are in place, this means that employees are given shares that would potentially have more returns than a savings account. 

Ideally, the amount you get upon retirement must be based on how much is paid and how well the investments have performed. Upon retirement, you can take some of your pension as tax-free cash.

Your right to pension should never be taken for granted. It is as important as workers’ compensation while you are still employed.

For questions regarding the legal technicalities of workers’ compensation and pensions, call John Fox & Associates at (504) 891-3303.

 

It is important that prices of medical services be monitored because they could affect the frequency and quality of workers’ compensation provided. One way to achieve this task is to implement a fee schedule in your state. This fact is even set into stone from the findings gathered by the Workers Compensation Research Institute.

According to the research, states that do not have fee schedules in place pay more for medical professional services offered for injured workers. The fees would also raise faster thereby forcing companies to take necessary actions including, but not limited to, the changes in their workers’ compensation rules. 

Below is a list of the most common practices used by some industries to lower the costs of workers’ compensation:

  1. Not reporting injuries 
  2. Disciplinary actions against workers filing compensation claims
  3. Discrimination against employees who have been injured

In the states of Virginia, Missouri, New Jersey, Indiana and Iowa, the prices of medical professional services are as much as 27 to 51 percent higher than in states with fee schedules like in Louisiana. In Wisconsin, things are even worse with more than twice the median of medical professional fees noted.

States without fee schedules also experience a rapid increase in prices of services necessary to realize the sections of the workers’ compensation in the state. Based on the studies between the years 2002 to 2011, an increase of prices for as much as 50% has been noted. The psychology could be because without fee schedules, professional medical practitioners will not be properly monitored. They can just provide their own charges and the medical insurance companies will just pay them later on. 

Without strict monitoring, the quality of services could also be affected as well. This is especially the case when medical practitioners charge more than they should and insurance companies become more delayed in their payments. 

The most common medical services that charge too much and increase too often are under the following categories: evaluation and management, physical medicine, minor radiology, neurological and neuromuscular testing, emergency care, surgery and pain management injections. 

In Louisiana, aside from being one of the states that implement a fees schedule, it also has some of the most applauded practices to promote safety. These would include:

  1. Documenting the complete details of how workers got injured, as well as the specific violations that led to the injury.
  2. Examining the circumstances leading to a late filing of injury before disciplining an injured worker
  3. Reviewing any incentive programs for the unintended effect of stifling the reporting of injuries.

If the company implements better policies on workers’ compensation, coupled with the most employee- and employer-friendly guidelines by the state, no injured worker will go to court for a dispute. For states with existing fee schedules but still with a relatively high percentage of disputes, formal inquiries need to be set in place. 

Are you in Louisiana and seeking help on a claim dispute? Call John Fox & Associates at (504) 891-3303 or log on to www.johnfoxassociates.com

 

Contrary to what’s expected, workers’ compensation fraud can go both ways. An employer who tries to prevent a deserving worker of due compensation is committing fraud. At the same time any employee who withholds, alter, or manipulate information to receive compensation that is not rightly theirs, is guilty of the fraud as well. In the state of Louisiana, workers’ compensation fraud can be a burden to both workers and employers. Both employers and employees need to always be informed of federal policies and state laws on labor rights. Once an employer or employee is found to be guilty of fraud, a report must be filed immediately. 

Employers should also be on the lookout for a possible fraud. If a case of an injured worker is filed, it must not go beyond two days after the injury occurred. It is also suspicious when fraud is reported right after the end of a project, or after the employee is justly terminated from their post, or before a workers’ strike begins or ends. 

Witnesses should be available for comment and are credible. They must bring an eyewitness account of the injury. A consistent account of the injury should also be presented. Details of the story must be consistent every time it is retold to investigators and match closely the first repot. The complainant’s history should also be looked into, whether they have changed addresses, employment, and physicians in an unusual frequency. Suspicious individuals such as these must be thoroughly investigated to determine whether they deserve workers’ compensation and not concocting fraudulent claims. 

When you sustained an injury on the job, you must immediately report the incident and establish the need for workers’ compensation. This way you will be able to inform the employer in a timely manner, gain integrity over the claim, access a lawyer, and maintain a good relationship with your employer in spite of the accident. 

When an employee files for compensation because of an injury, they are not allowed to return to their jobs until they fully recover. The injured worker also is not allowed to get another job, lest they forfeit their labor compensation benefits. However, it is possible for the employer to assign or tip the injured employee to a job that does not require strenuous labor and would not harm or impede the worker’s recovery from injury. The worker is then required to file for income earned while receiving compensation benefits. Failure to do so subjects these employees to a civil or criminal case. 

It is also not possible for a worker receiving compensation benefits to also receive unemployment insurance allowance. An exemption is made when the worker is entitled to permanent or partial disability benefits. 

When an employee rightfully deserves compensation and is denied of it, they should not be afraid to file a complaint against the employer committing fraud. They should make sure the injury was reported in a timely manner, and that witnesses are available for corroboration. Legal guidance should be sought lest the case becomes too complicated for the employee to handle. Certain insurance companies are willing to reward those who report workers’ compensation fraud and prevent damage. 

For assistance on workers’ compensation fraud and related matters, 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.

 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has determined that the labor force grew by as much as 120,000 in March of this year. The number reflects the fact that the Obama administration’s plans for job security has finally started to progress with a continuously growing trend for more than a year. 

The current unemployment rate is set at 8.2. Although the number is not as encouraging as politicians would have hoped for, it still provides a glimpse as to where the economy is heading. Most of the increase in the number of employed people is focused on the industries of manufacturing, food services, business services and health care. This, then, implies a stricter monitoring of work-related injuries in the above-mentioned fields.

However, the statistics was gathered during Black Friday, when the European and US markets are closed. So the full impact of the seen increase in employment will only be visible as soon as business resumes on Monday.

Still an Issue on Wages
The term “unemployed” is a very broad term. At best, it means that you are out for work but you can be out of work for a year and still not considered unemployed. Also, another huge issue that is closely associated with employment is the wages. According to economic studies, tens of millions of Americans earn less than the official poverty rate thereby making them unable to support a family well.

In a separate survey, it was deduced that those who have jobs can’t work enough hours in order to earn what they need to. 

The Crisis is Not Over
Despite the fact that these figures are promising, the crisis is still far from over. It is only a proof that the American economic system is working adequately especially the middle-class. 

The problem is, even if the overall job picture is better, the number of unemployed is still the same. This means that the American population has increased as well and that there hasn’t been much change in the labor force participation rate too. Hence, the creation of new jobs is still not enough to keep pace with the current demographics of unemployment growth versus actual employment gains.

Focus on Employment Benefits 
Some economists and politicians think that jobs today are undermined and unappreciated with not enough benefits. As such, there is a call for more employment benefits such as workers’ compensation.

Since the influx of employment is in the riskier industries like manufacturing, food services, business services and health care, employers should focus on implementing strategies that would make the workplace healthier and safer. If accidents should incur, they should be properly documented and reported to the US Department of Labor for recording. 

In addition, proper medical services and benefits for being temporarily out of work due to work-related injuries must be set into place. If temps were to be hired to fill the temporarily vacant position, proper understanding must be in place in order to avoid issues later on.

So the statistics show that there is not much to hope for but it’s still something better compared to the past years. If the steady increase continuous, America would see a better economy soon. 

For more news on economy and workers’ compensation, visit www.johnfoxassociates.com. Johnfox Associates is a law firm specializing in worker’s compensation.

 

Time and time again, issues on labor has shaped and reshaped the industry. The most recent top company that has been faced by labor complaints is Apple as news of its workers in China getting mistreated circulated in the news and even on the Internet. 

Below is a brief of the accumulated reports:
Apple is in the middle of another controversy following the death of Steve Jobs. It is now in hot water for issues concerning its manufacturing branch in China wherein an unprecedented inspection led to the discovery of workplace abuses. According to reports, three workers tried to steal several Apple gadgets and were punished accordingly.

Upon investigation, it was discovered that the Chinese workers were actually forced to do overtime that resulted in work weeks breaking the limit of 76 hours as set by the Chinese Law. There are even cases wherein employees were forced to work seven days without a 24-hour break.

Another issue that has been discovered in Apple’s Chinese factory is that employees were devoid of the basic work benefits like health and safety committees. They are also not allowed to join or form unions and they are not involved in any or all of the processes of committees. 

There’s also the problem on health and safety risks as well as crucial communication gaps. On top of all these, reports on under-compensation do not seem to die down. 

In order to determine the truthfulness of these reports, the Fair Labor Association initiated an equivalent of a full body scan through 3,000 staff hours focusing investigation three of Apple’s factories and surveying more than 35,000 workers.

Apple Inc. Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook has repeatedly stressed out that the company takes labor conditions seriously and that they are addressing the criticism that it production partners may be mistreating their workers.

Cook even said that if a supplier hires underage labor and even mistreats their workers, it’s an offense that could possibly lead to the cancellation of their business agreements. 

Apple’s stock price slid slightly following the release of the reports from FLA. 

So when should workers hire a lawyer?

Before issues like these gets blown out of proportion, employees should be educated on when to hire the services of a lawyer. 

The decision to hire a lawyer is ultimately your decision and whether or not your preferred lawyer accepts the case depends on the complexity of the case. For instance, a complicated workers’ compensation claim would require a lawyer’s help while a simple insurance dispute may not. To determine whether your case needs a lawyer or not, determine if you can reach a settlement when it’s just you and your company talking. 

However, if you have a case that has been filed in a federal, state or other small claims court, you would definitely need a lawyer to represent you. Again, it’s up to you. The important thing is you remain proactive against workplace abuse and discrimination. Bear in mind that for work-related injuries, you should get compensation.

If you need a lawyer to represent you in your complex workers’ compensation dispute, contact John Fox & Associates at (504) 891-3303 or visit their website at www.johnfoxassociates.com.