Articles Posted in Workers’ Compensation

For the majority of the winter season here in Maine, workers and residents must contend with a potentially hazardous mix of ice and snow.While some might consider a slip on the ice or a fall in the snow just one of those inevitable cold-weather nuisances – perhaps even a comical one – there is also a high potential for such an incident to result in a serious injury. The result is sometimes that victims are forced to take leave of their job and suffer serious medical complications, including broken bones and joints, as well as back and head injuries. Filing aspremises liability claim may best protect your rights in the wake of serious injury.

A recent report by the Maine Department of Labor Standards took pains in detailing just how widespread the problem is, and how much it costs us all each year.

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Our emergency medical responders are the people we count on when seconds matter and fast, proper care can mean the difference between life and death.But according to a new report by the Maine Department of Labor’s Labor Standards division, these workers, who include EMTs, paramedics and firefighters, are especially vulnerable to injuries. On the job, these employees are at high risk for overexertion injuries resulting from lifting, transporting or otherwise assisting ill or injured persons.

Those type of injuries accounted for more than third of all injuries suffered by emergency medical crews, with strain injuries accounting for some 94 percent of all overexertion injuries. Most often, it was the employees’ back that was affected, accounting for about 45 percent of all cases.

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Did you know that if you’re injured on the job, you’ve got 30 days to report it?sIf you don’t do so within this time frame, your claim will be barred. And the report shouldn’t include just work injuries, but should also include any kind of pain that you experience on the job, even if this pain doesn’t prevent you from completing work.According to newly-released preliminary statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were more than 4,300 people who were killed on the job in the U. . in 2012. Although this is down from the 4,600 work-accident fatalities witnessed in the country in 2011, we still have a long way to go.

Our Bangor workers’ compensation lawyers understand that there were millions more who were injured on the job throughout the year. If you’re injured on the job, your employer may require you to see an occupational health doctor. After that, you have the right to see a doctor that you choose. After 7 days of missed work due to your work injury, you are entitled to receive weekly compensation benefits beginning on the eighth day. If you miss more than 2 weeks of work, you will then receive payment retroactive to the date of injury.

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A Deer Isle teen escaped serious injury when her vehicle veered off the road and flipped over. According to BDN Maine, the 18-year-old driver was heading west on Snows Cove when the accident happened just before 2:00 a.m. Her vehicle went off the road, hit a tree and rollover over. Deputies report that the young driver fell asleep at the wheel. The vehicle was deemed totaled.The truth of the matter is that teens and young adults have higher accident rates than any other age group of drivers. Traffic accidents continue to be the number one cause of death in this young age group. We not only have to worry about our teens driving drowsy because of a night on the town, but we also have to cautious of the long hours they’re putting in at work and school.

Our Bangor car accident lawyers understand that sleepiness while driving has become a serious problem and a major traffic hazard. Fatigue and sleepiness seriously impairs driver performance, creating a life threatening combination. Safety is more important than productivity or deadlines. You should never get behind the wheel if you’re feeling drowsy or fatigued. It’s a risk no one should be willing to take on.

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The number of work accidents is down. Is this because work places are safer or because we had less people on the job during the release of the most recent stats?sAccording to CNN Money and the most recent release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were close to 5,000 people who were killed at work in 2011. That’s down slightly from 2011. In 2010, there were about 4,700 people who died because of a work accident.These numbers are more than 20 percent lower than the number of workplace fatalities recorded in 1994. As a matter of fact, almost every year has seen a decrease. Still, more than 12 employees a day are killed on the job.

Some say that the most recent decline is a result of employers stepping up their work safety game. Others say that it’s because there weren’t as many Americans working during the economic downturn. Either way, the risks for work accidents is expected to climb as the economy continues to improve and more people head back to work!

Our Portland workers’ compensation lawyers understand that employers are required by law to make sure that each workplace is safe for employees. It’s not only a moral obligation, but it’s a federal one, too!sOfficials with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) continue to enact rules and regulations to make sure that employers are doing their part when it comes to employee safety.

One of the most common causes of on-the-job injuries is traffic accidents. According to the most recent statistics, there were close to 800 truckers who were killed on the job last year. The U. . Department of Transportation is working to combat these accident risks, too!sThey’ve enacted a number of rules and regulations, including Hours of Service regulations, to help to keep truckers safe. The most recent HOS regulations aim to ensure that drivers are spending no more than 8 consecutive hours behind the wheel without a 30 minute rest break. They’re also not allowed to drive more than 70 hours a week anymore.

Even though there aren’t very many fishermen in the country, in comparison to more popular job positions, these workers have the highest fatality rate at work. Last year, there were 40 fishermen killed on the job. This gives them a death rate of 121 per 100,000 workers, which is a rate that is five times higher than the rate for truckers.

As more people go back to work, risks for fatal on-the-job accidents will increase. According to the most recent release from the U. . Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the unemployment rate for August has dropped from last year. There are more workers now in 325 of the 372 metropolitan areas. Only five areas reported an unemployment rate of at least 15 percent. There were 20 areas that reported an unemployment rate of less than 5 percent!

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Employers have an obligation to keep employee’s safe on the job. Work accidents in Bangor and elsewhere in Maine are more likely when a company fails to live up to safety requirements.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently cited several Maine businesses for fail noncompliance.Employers are required to make sure that all employees are safe on the job. They’re required to make sure that each and every employee is properly trained and that they’re provided with all of the proper safety equipment that’s needed to complete the job. When employees are not offered adequate safety measures, they are at greater risk for a serious fatal work accident. Safe employees equate to happy employees. If you’re on the job and you feel that your safety is in jeopardy, you’re urged to voice your concerns to a supervisor, to a boss or to the head of the company. Each and every one of these concerns should be taken seriously and should be appropriately corrected.

Recently in Augusta, Cives Steel Company was issued a number of citations by OSHA officials for violating workplace safety standards. With these citations, the company is facing more than $130,000 in proposed fines. All of the citations were the result of an inspection that started back in January.

“For the safety of its workers, this employer must take effective and expeditious action to eliminate these conditions and prevent their recurrence,” said Maine’s area director for OSHA, William Coffin.

These employees were not offered the right protective equipment to keep them safe on the job. The company was also cited for misusing cords and wiring, which served as serious shock hazards to employees.

Interstate Brands in Biddeford, Maine was issued more than $100,000 in citations for failing to install the proper guardrails on machinery to help to keep employees from falling into and through hoppers. The company was also issued a number of other safety violations. Some of those were repeat violations, meaning they were cited for problems and dangers that OSHA officials had already addressed once before within the last five years.

“Our inspection identified mechanical, electrical, fall and exit hazards, including some similar to those cited at other Interstate Brands facilities,” said Coffin.

In another New England case, officials with Tribe Mediterranean Foods in Massachusetts were also cited for failing to provide employees with the proper safety training needed to help to prevent ‘needless and avoidable loss of life.’sAn inspection was opened on the company back in December of 2011 after an employee was killed as he attempted to clean and sanitize a machine at the hummus factory. He was caught in the machine, pulled into it and then crushed to death between two rotating augers.

“The employer knew it needed to train these workers so they could protect themselves against just this type of hazard but failed to do so. The result was a needless and Aavoidable loss of life,” saidsDr. David Michaels, with OSHA.

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It’s that time of the year, the time when we focus on preventing work-related injuries in Portland and elsewhere. The entire month of June is used by the National Safety Council (NSC) to push for safety both at home and at work. During this time, the campaign will be working to spread the word about the most common forms of preventable injuries across the nation.From the 10th through the 16th of June, officials will be educating workers about the risks of injury associated with poor Ergonomics. Every year, millions of workers are injured because their work areas aren’t designed to fit them and to fit the job they’re doing. It’s important that you focus on proper ergonomics to avoid unnecessary and preventable injuries.

Our Portland injury attorneys understand that ergonomics involves making sure that a work area is designed to get the job done effectively and comfortably. All too often, workers are forced to work in conditions that are uncomfortable and painful. Ergonomics help to prevent injuries related to overexertion and other similar conditions. Ergonomics is especially important for those who work at a desk or on a computer all day. Repeating the same movements in the same position day after day requires a set up that can help to reduce the risks of a variety of conditions.

Every year, there are nearly 3.5 million people who suffer the unintentional injury of overexertion. As a matter of fact, these injuries constitute as the third leading cause of unintentional injury each year in the U. .

Ergonomic Conditions Leading to Injuries:

-Repetitive Motions.

-Vibrations.

-Resting on sharp edges or corners.

-Overexertion while pushing, pulling, stretching, reaching, lowering or lifting.

-Use of Excessive Force.

-Extreme Temperatures.

-Working in Awkward and Uncomfortable Conditions.

-Standing or Sitting for Too Long.

Desk workers are urged to make sure that their computer monitor is placed at least 20 inches away from their face at that it’s leveled slightly above their eyes. You also want to make sure that your keyboard is petitioned in such a way that you wrists can lie flat. It’s also important that your desk chair is adjustable and that it keeps you in an upright, comfortable position. By making just a few adjustments to your work area, you can help to reduce the risks of one of these accidents and can potentially save yourself from a life-altering injury. Make sure your work place is working for you and your safety.

Would you be able to recognize the signs of an ergonomic condition?sIt’s rather simple. You just have to know the signs!sIf you experience any tingling, numbness, pain, swelling, loss of grip strength, clicking or tenderness, you may be suffering from an ergonomic condition and are urged to see a physician immediately. Early recognition and treatment of these conditions may be your best defense against a permanent injury.

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Casale v. City of Cranston is a recent Rhode Island case dealing with issues surrounding insurance coverage and injured on duty benefits.If you have been involved in a car accident in Bangor, it is important to know what insurance proceeds and benefits you are entitled to. Having an experienced Bangor injury attorney can give you the award you deserve to get the medical help you need.

James Casale (Casale or plaintiff) was employed by the City of Cranston (City) as a firefighter. After receiving notification of an emergency, plaintiff was driving a firefighter emergency vehicle to the location of the call. In transit, the emergency vehicle was struck by a vehicle driven by an uninsured driver. This uninsured driver was driving the vehicle negligently, and caused the accident with the emergency vehicle being driven by plaintiff.
As a result of this accident, plaintiff suffered serious injuries which caused him to be unable to perform crucial job related activities for several months. Because plaintiff had been injured while on duty, the city gave him injured-on-duty (IOD) benefits. While receiving these IOD benefits, plaintiff began a claim for uninsured motorist (UM) benefits with his insurance company, Amica Mutual Insurance Company (Amica). This dispute between the plaintiff and the City is a result this plaintiff’s claim with Amica.

Uninsured motorist coverage is a type of insurance benefits offered when you buy your automobile insurance. This type of coverage provides protection if you are involved in an accident with an uninsured driver. Because you cannot collect benefits from an uninsured driver, your insurance company will compensate you. This type of coverage is not standard in every state; however, it is critical to speak with your insurance representative to discuss the option of purchasing this coverage.

In this case, the plaintiff had a UM policy for $100,000. Because the City had already paid the plaintiff a significant amount in IOD benefits, Amica subtracted that amount from the policy limit of $100,000 and gave plaintiff the difference. Upon finding out about this claim, the city argued that the plaintiff was required to pay it back the amount they paid in IOD benefits. Plaintiff countered this argument by claiming that the city was not entitled to this reimbursement and asked the court to make a judicial determination of this.

The City acknowledged that the plaintiff was injured while he was performing his job duties and that he rightfully obtained IOD benefits from the city. However, the city countered the plaintiff’s argument stating that because the plaintiff had received UM benefits from Amica, the city should be reimbursed consistent with a state statute regarding liability to third persons. States have adopted statutes to protect liable parties from situations where the injured victim collects double the damages.

The city reasoned that Amica should be seen as “the person liable to pay damages” under the statute governing liability of third persons for damages. They argued that just as the insurance company steps in the shoes of the uninsured driver and pays benefits to their insured, the insurance company should be treated as the uninsured driver. And the statute the city pointed to stated that where the uninsured driver makes payments to the injured victim, the insurance company is reimbursed for any over-payments.

The lower court found in favor of the plaintiff and refused to award the city with the reimbursement they asked for. This court heard the appeal from the lower court’s decision and found in favor of the plaintiff finding that the City of Cranston was not entitled to reimbursements from the proceeds of plaintiff’s UM benefits.

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Firefighters are one of the most crucial components of our society today. But when safety personnel are injured on the job, statute says they cannot collect benefits under workers’ compensation. They must receive benefits through the states “injured on duty statute.”If you have questions surrounding the benefits you are entitled to in your Bangor workers’ compensation case, our experienced Bangor injury attorneys can help.
McCain v. Town of North Providence is a case that tackles questions surrounding the Rhode Island’s “injured on duty statute.”sThe mayor’s chief of staff in 2001 wrote a memorandum to the town’s fire chief indicating that the town had hired McCain (plaintiff) as a 3rd Class Firefighter. The fire chief then issued an order which formalized this appointment of McCain. Subsequently, McCain received an identification card where he was considered a technician and a member of the town fire department. As a technician or lineman, plaintiff was not considered to be part of the operations division, as he was not obligated to attend fire department training. Plaintiff was responsible for maintaining communication equipment, aiding inspectors from the Fire Prevention Division, and assisting the fire chief in any departmental issue.

Plaintiff was a member of the AFL-CIO (the union) which was exclusively responsible for bargaining for all fire department employees. The union had a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with the fire department for which all employees of the fire department were subject to.

Five years after he was initially hired, plaintiff was putting a ladder back on a bucket truck when he lost balance and struck his head on a bucket apparatus. Because putting the ladder away was part of plaintiff’s job duties, he was considered to be injured in the line of duty. This classification resulted in the plaintiff receiving injured-on-duty (IOD) benefit payments as of the date of injury in addition to his salary payments. After three years of making these IOD and salary payments the town stopped payments. The town never gave the plaintiff notice and did not give the plaintiff an opportunity to be heard on the issue. Town argued that because plaintiff was not a “sworn firefighter” they had been mistakenly sending these IOD payments to plaintiff. Basically, there was a difference between the IOD benefits and the workers’ compensation related injury benefits.

Plaintiff asked the court to enter a declaratory judgment stating that he was a firefighter under the statutory definition of said title. Additionally, plaintiff wanted the IOD payments to resume.

This court looked to interpretation of the statute to determine whether the plaintiff was considered a firefighter and whether he should be entitled to the IOD benefits. When interpreting statute the court looks to the intent of the legislature in codifying the statute. In this case, the IOD statute was to provide a greater level of benefits to public employees who are injured during work-related activities where their jobs are often dangerous. IOD statutes are seen as a replacement to workers’ compensation in that it provides greater protection to police officers and firefighters. It is noted further that the Workers’ Compensation Act excludes police officers and firefighters from collecting benefits under that act as the legislature encourages states to enact IOD statutes.

The applicable statute says that anyone employed as a member of the fire department is considered a firefighter by the statute. Because the language in the statute is so clear, the court explains that they cannot hold counter to the statute’s clear intent.

Because the statute defines firefighter in such a broad sense, the plaintiff was considered a firefighter who was injured on duty; therefore, IOD benefits should be paid.

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