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Bad Time to be a Disability Lawyer

Today’s post comes from guest author Thomas Domer, from The Domer Law Firm.

I passed through Customs after a trip to Europe this week and explained to the Customs official that I represented injured workers.  His first comment to me was “How ‘bout those guys that are scamming the system?”  I attempted to provide the disclaimer to his notion that “At least one out of every three is a fraud.” by explaining that in a long term study of fraud in Wisconsin, the incidence of fraud was literally one in 5,000.

Nonetheless, that notion persists.  I read with interest today the speech of Professor Jon C. Dubin accepting a Distinguished Service Award.  I sent Professor Dubin a congratulatory note and obtained his permission to reprint it in an upcoming issue of the Workers First Watch (the magazine of the Workers Injury Law and Advocates Group (WILG) which I edit.  He noted

“Sometimes it seems like the only thing less popular than a disability benefit claimant these days is a disability benefit claimant with a lawyer. But it bears remembering that you are the first line of defense against these stereotypes and misperceptions and against the insidious drumbeat of atypical anecdotes and calls for draconian policy change. You are also the only ones who can communicate your clients’ true and heartbreaking counter-narratives to those fraud stories. You are the ones who can describe the terrible injustices that routinely occur in assembly line administrative decision-making especially when there is a cloud of political pressure lurking above that process.”

References made to Social Security representation are also applicable in our worker’s compensation arena.  Congratulations again to Professor Dubin on his well-deserved award and his accurate perceptions of disability claimants and their representatives.

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Welcome Aboard, Jane Dale!

Ahoy there!!  The Causey Law Firm team has just added attorney Jane E. Dale to our lineup. After graduating from Seattle University School of Law in 2007, Jane was an associate with a prominent general practice firm on the Olympic Peninsula, covering a wide range of civil and criminal matters.  She then practiced with a public defender firm in the Shoreline area, handling a high-volume criminal caseload with extensive jury trial experience.  For the past two years she has practiced with another workers’ compensation firm in the Seattle area, gaining substantial experience litigating cases before the Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals and with jury trials of those cases in Superior Court.

Jane joins Brian Wright on our litigation team, and will cover the full range of workers’ compensation systems cases handled by Causey Law Firm, with potentially some additional work in the employment law field.

Jane’s background is very similar to Brian’s: grew up in the Kent area, went to the University of Washington, gaining a BA in Business Administration and Finance, received a law degree from Seattle U. with honors, where she was also an editor of a law periodical, represented the law school in Moot Court competition, and was a Mock Trial competitor.  In 2010, she was denominated a Washington State “Rising Star” attorney.  She enjoys litigating on behalf of injured workers and fighting “the man,” and brings additional depth and power to our team.

Jane enjoys a variety of athletics, and is a frequent and enthusiastic traveler.  Expect to see more pictures from her adventures on our website in the future.

Will Workers’ Compensation Adapt to “On Demand” Employment

Today’s post was shared by Gelman on Workplace Injuries and comes from recode.net

What happens as machines and artificial intelligence push humans out of the workforce? It’s one of the more important problems of our time — theoretical as it may seem in some sectors today — as technology makes industry after industry more efficient.

One of the most important tech overlords, Google CEO Larry Page, thinks most people want to work, but they’d be happy working less.

Page’s take: We have enough resources to provide for humanity. “The idea that everyone needs to work frantically to meet people’s needs is just not true,” Page said, in an interview at a private event put on by the venture capital firm Khosla Ventures that was just released online.

In fact, today humanity does dumb things like destroy the environment, in part because people work when they don’t have to, Page contended.

The answer isn’t to just cut jobs en masse, Page said. People want to feel “needed, wanted and have something productive to do.” But most everyone would like a little more time off. So perhaps one solution would be to split up part-time work between people, as Page said Richard Branson is experimenting with in the UK.

Page’s co-founder Sergey Brin had a slightly different take. “I do think that a lot of the things that people do have been, over the past century, replaced by machines and will continue to be,” Brin said. But after Page opined about his idea of “slightly less…

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States Lead On Minimum Wage. Is Congress Listening?

Today’s post was shared by US Labor Department and comes from social.dol.gov

Congress is back in session this week, and if members have been listening to their constituents they will move quickly to raise the federal minimum wage, which has lost 20 percent of its purchasing power since the 1980s. But absent action from Capitol Hill, states are taking up the slack.

In March, President Obama and I visited Central Connecticut State University with four New England governors who are leading the charge to reward hard work with a fair wage. Three weeks after our visit, Gov. Dannel Malloy of Connecticut signed a bill raising Connecticut’s minimum wage. And in the last month alone, Govs. Peter Shumlin of Vermont, Deval Patrick of Massachusetts and − as recently as last Wednesday − Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island have followed suit.


President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the minimum wage, at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, Connecticut, March 5, 2014. The President is joined by Gov. Dannel Malloy of Connecticut; Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, Gov. Peter Shumlin of Vermont, Gov. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, and Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts.
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President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the minimum wage at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, Connecticut, March 5, 2014. He is joined by Gov. Dannel Malloy of Connecticut; Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, Gov. Peter Shumlin of Vermont, Gov. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island and Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

These state leaders are answering the call of low-wage workers who want nothing more than the dignity of being able to support their families, men and women who have to make heartbreaking decisions every day about which bill to pay or which meal to skip. These governors and their legislatures are also listening…

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Workers’ Comp Covers Work-Related Motor Vehicle Accidents

Today’s post comes from guest author Todd Bennett, from Rehm, Bennett & Moore.

Do you drive a company vehicle as part of your job?

Many find themselves in the situation where they travel regularly, or on a special errand from time to time, as part of their job. 

In the unfortunate scheme of things, if you are involved in an accident while driving, whether it is your fault or not, you are covered by and entitled to workers’ compensation benefits just as any other employee who suffers an accident on the premise of an employer.

More importantly, if the cause of the accident was not due to negligence of your own, but that of a third party, you have a right to bring a third-party negligence action against the party responsible for causing the vehicle accident. This right is separate and distinct from the workers’ compensation benefits that you are entitled to. Further, you also potentially have the right to bring an underinsured motorist coverage claim under your employer’s motor vehicle coverage as well as your own underinsured motorist vehicle coverage. These, too, are separate and distinct from the workers’ compensation benefits you are entitled to. 

It is important to note that the employer would have a subrogation right to be reimbursed for workers’ compensation benefits paid on your behalf against that of any third-party negligence claim where you obtained a recovery. However, as underinsured motorist coverage is typically viewed as contractual benefits in nature, there is no subrogation right from your employer if underinsured benefits are obtained in Nebraska.

If you or someone you know was injured in a motor vehicle accident that arose out of and in the course of one’s employment, there are significant issues to be aware of in order to obtain a recovery that meets your needs. If you have any questions or uncertainty when dealing with this point of law, please seek the advice of an experienced attorney who can help steer you in the best course of action.

Court Rules that Telecommuting Could Be Reasonable Accommodation under the ADA

Today’s post was shared by Gelman on Workplace Injuries and comes from www.linkedin.com

Today’s post is authored by Johnn Geaney, a member of the NJ Bar and a Shareholder at Capehart Scatchard and shared from linkedin.com

Telecommuting is a trend that is rapidly growing in the United States, and telecommuting requests are also on the rise as a potential reasonable accommodation under the ADA. A recent Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals case, EEOC v. Ford Motor Company, 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 7502 (6 Cir. 2014) illustrates how difficult it can be for an employer to oppose a request for telecommuting.

Jane Harris was hired in 2003 by Ford as a resale buyer, serving as an intermediary between steel suppliers and “stampers,” which are companies that use steel to produce parts for Ford. Her job was to respond to emergency supply issues to ensure no gap in steel supply to parts manufacturers. The most important part of the job was group problem solving, requiring that a buyer be available to interact with members of the resale team, suppliers and others in the Ford system when problems arose.

Harris suffered from IBS, an illness that caused her fecal incontinence. Some days she could not drive to work or stand up from her desk without potentially soiling herself. She took intermittent leave when severe symptoms occurred. In 2005, her supervisor allowed her to work from home on a flex-time telecommuting schedule on a trial basis. The company did not view the trial period as a success. She continued to work occasionally from home doing remote work,…

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Medical Care Politics in Worker’s Compensation

Today’s post comes from guest author Thomas Domer, from The Domer Law Firm.

The mythology surrounding employee fraud in worker’s compensation is pervasive. Many of my clients begin their conversations with me indicating the following: “I’m not one of those folks faking their worker’s compensation claim.”  The exaggerated media publicity concerning employee fraud has also resulted in outright worker intimidation regarding filing a claim. I had this conversation today with a prospective client.

Attorney: Why didn’t you report the incident?
Client: I didn’t want to have that on my record.  Nobody will hire me if I have a worker’s comp injury.
Attorney: Why didn’t you seek medical treatment?
Client: I do not have insurance.
Attorney: Can you obtain insurance under the Affordable Care Act?
Client: You mean Obamacare?  No way!

Fear of being stigmatized as a complainer, whiner, or simply a recipient of worker’s compensation benefits has prompted many legitimately injured workers from filing a worker’s compensation claim.

The adverse publicity concerning the Affordable Care Act (and its pejorative popular name “Obamacare”) results in many otherwise qualified workers from obtaining the health care they need, especially when denied by a worker’s compensation insurance carrier. 

The politics of medical care intrudes in the worker’s compensation arena daily.

Facebook Required to Turn Over User Information in Disability-Fraud Investigation

Today’s post was shared by Gelman on Workplace Injuries and comes from online.wsj.com.

Today’s ppost was shared from http://online.wsj.com

The Manhattan district attorney has won a legal battle against Facebook Inc. with a New York judge’s ruling that the social network was required to turn over user information in a fraud investigation.

When workers who filed for federal disability money were seen on Facebook looking perfectly healthy, the Manhattan district attorney received a search warrant from a judge to look more closely at the accounts.

Facebook had attempted to quash the warrants for 381 user accounts on grounds that they were unconstitutional and in violation of Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.

After reviewing the search-warrant application, the judge found “probable cause that evidence of criminality would be found within the subject Facebook accounts,” and ordered Facebook to comply.

The district attorney’s office said the case led to 134 indictments on more than $400 million in fraud, and that half the defendants have pleaded guilty.

“This was a massive scheme involving as many as 1,000 people who defrauded the federal government,” said Joan Vollero, spokeswoman for Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance. “The defendants in this case repeatedly lied to the government about their mental, physical, and social capabilities. Their Facebook accounts told a different story,” she said.

The judge in the case said Facebook had no right to get in the way of the investigation.

“Facebook could best be…

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Port of Seattle, Eagle Marine Agree to Make Terminal 5 BIG Ship Ready

The Port of Seattle and Eagle Marine Services (EMS), operator of Terminal 5, announced on May 16th a proposal to relocate its cargo and breakbulk activities to another terminal so that the port can modernize Terminal 5 to handle the bigger ships that are changing international shipping. 
 
“If we’re going to keep jobs in Washington state, we need investments that make us globally competitive,” said Port of Seattle Commissioner Bill Bryant. “That’s why we’re rebuilding T5.  We’re investing in jobs.  Modernizing T5 so it can handle the new big ships is the first step in realigning our port for the future.”
 
“As we are working to preserve maritime jobs in Seattle, the Commission is moving forward to strengthen cooperation with the Port of Tacoma to increase trade in Puget Sound,” said Port of Seattle Commissioner John Creighton.  “We’re having productive talks on how we can make the Puget Sound gateway more competitive and create new jobs.” 
 
“ILWU Local 19 appreciates the work the Port of Seattle and terminal operators are doing to keep cargo here in Seattle by making each of our terminals big ship ready,” said ILWU Local 19 President Cam Williams.  “By preparing for the future, we insure that jobs will stay in the region.”
 
Shipping lines are consolidating into new alliances, and have been launching much bigger ships as part of their strategy to reduce costs. While three of the port’s container terminals are already home to Super Post-Panamax cranes that service 10,000 TEU vessels and above, the existing cranes at Terminal 5 are not able to handle these bigger ships.
 
Under the proposal, EMS would shift its operations to Terminal 18, allowing EMS to preserve container volume and ship calls. This commitment will preserve maritime jobs that depend on cargo flowing today through T5. Cargo destined to T5, under this proposal, would begin transitioning to T18 in mid-June.  The proposal with EMS is tentative pending approval by the Port of Seattle Commission.
 
“T5 needs to be modernized for the bigger ships that are already here, we applaud the Port in working with us to preserve our customers’ cargo through this gateway,” said Nathaniel Seeds, COO of Eagle Marine Services, Ltd.
 
Maintaining efficient cargo throughput is essential for moving goods in and out of the port.  With four in ten jobs in Washington dependent on trade, these terminal improvements will insure that Washington goods can get out of the Port of Seattle and into markets world-wide.
 
“Preserving vessel service capacity is good for exporters, we appreciate the Port of Seattle’s efforts to keep this gateway competitive,” said Anderson Hay CEO & President Mark Anderson.
 
The Port has also received approval from the federal government to let the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers begin studying the potential for a project that may result in the deepening of the West Waterway channel near the terminal. 

Social Security Agency Cuts Services as Demand Grows, Senate Report Says

Today’s post was shared by Gelman on Workplace Injuries and comes from www.nytimes.com

WASHINGTON — The Social Security Administration is closing field offices and reducing services to the public even as demand for those services surges with the aging of the baby boom generation, according to a bipartisan Senate committee report.

The report, to be issued Wednesday by the Senate Special Committee on Aging, says the agency has closed more than two dozen field offices in the last year, generally without considering the needs of communities and without consulting beneficiaries or field office managers.

In deciding whether to close field offices, the Social Security Administration “excludes both its own managers and the affected public,” and the decisions often appear arbitrary, the report says.

The committee’s chairman, Senator Bill Nelson, Democrat of Florida, said, “Seniors are not being served well when you arbitrarily close offices and reduce access to services.”

He added, “The closure process is neither fair nor transparent and needs to change.”

The field offices served over 43 million people last year. About 10 percent of the visitors filed for benefits, and 30 percent were seeking new or replacement Social Security cards.

In testimony prepared for a committee hearing on the issue on Wednesday, Nancy A. Berryhill, a deputy commissioner at the agency, said its budget and work force had not kept pace with what she described as “a staggering 27 percent increase” in claims for retirement benefits, to 3.3…

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Published by Causey Law Firm