I-1082 is a massive power grab by the insurance industry, written by insurance industry lobbyists under the guise of workers’ compensation “reform,” to gain excessive profits at the expense of workers, small businesses, and taxpayers in our state — and it will be on the ballot this November. I-1082 was written by the insurance industry, and just like an insurance policy, its fine print is filled with hidden provisions, all at your expense.
In fact, the fine print of I-1082 gives special exemptions to workers’ compensation insurers that no other line of insurance is allowed — not car, not home, not life or health. It exempts private workers’ compensation insurance companies from almost all of the oversight and consumer protections covering every other type of insurance sold in the state. I-1082 also lets insurers set their own rates and allows them to wrongfully deny and delay legitimate claims with virtually no way to hold them accountable.
Workers’ compensation insurance is there when you and your family need it. If you’re injured on the job, workers’ compensation pays your doctor bills and provides some income until you can work again.
The only way most of you would even know anything about this is if you were approached by a signature-gatherer to sign an initiative petition for something called I-1082 to get on the November ballot. Some of you may have already signed this if it was discussed by the signature-gatherer in conjunction with another ballot initiative, such as privatization of liquor sales in Washington. You have probably heard some of the meaningless jargon, such as “allow private insurance to ‘compete’ in the workers’ compensation system.”
But, here we are, now faced with a measure that is calculated essentially to destroy one of the best workers’ compensation systems in the country. Sure, many of you may have had, or are still having, a contentious experience with the Department of Labor & Industries, or a self-insured employer, over a workers’ comp claim. If there weren’t a lot of problem claims in the system, our firm wouldn’t be in the business of representing injured workers. But compared with most other state workers’ comp systems Continue reading Initiative 1082: The Insurance Industry’s Plan To Destroy Washington State Workers’ Compensation→
Since many of you routinely ask for our advice on judicial races – particularly ones that get little or no publicity in the media – I urge you to vote in the upcoming, ridiculously-timed primary election on Tuesday, August 17, on a very important position. Our colleague, plaintiff’s workers’ compensation and personal injury attorney, Stan Rumbaugh, is challenging incumbent Justice Jim Johnson for his seat on Washington’s Supreme Court.
Stan has represented workers for over 30 years, and has argued numerous significant cases involving worker and injury victim rights at the appellate court level in Washington, including the Supreme Court. Jim Johnson is the most conservative member of our court who for the past six years has routinely sided with corporate interests over the rights of individuals. Most importantly, he is closely allied with the Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW) which has been the most tenacious organization in our state in working to limit the rights of Washington workers under our workers’ compensation act.
In cases where the BIAW was involved at the Supreme Court, Justice Johnson has sided with the BIAW 16 out of 17 times. Justice Johnson’s clientele before joining the Supreme Court included large corporations, powerful developers, and the political think-tanks that support those interests. Go towww.rumbaughforjustice.com for more information, and also look atwww.johnsonsinjustice.com for more detail on the type of “judicial activism” against individuals and for corporate interests characteristic of Justice Johnson’s decisions.
Vote for Stan Rumbaugh for Washington’s Supreme Court in the August 17 primary, which will be the deciding election in that race.
Time Loss rates go up, but permanent impairment awards go down…
Workers’ compensation benefits to increase, decrease effective July 1.
Workers currently receiving Washington workers’ compensation wage-replacement or pension benefits will receive a 1.9 percent cost-of-living increase effective Thursday, July 1. State law requires that benefits be recalculated each year to reflect the change in the state’s average wage from the previous calendar year. The recalculation of benefits is based on the average annual wage of all workers in Washington. That wage, calculated by the Employment Security Department, rose to $47,153 in 2009, an increase of 1.9 percent from 2008.
The amount the Department of Labor and Industries or self-insured employers pay for permanent partial disability (PPD) awards for new injuries that occur on or after July 1 is decreasing by .67 percent. This decrease is based on the change in the Consumer Price Index. PPD awards go to workers who have lost a body part or suffered a permanent, disabling injury.
“All of us at L&I are deeply saddened by the loss of life and our thoughts go out to the family and friends of those who have died and those who have been seriously injured,” said L&I Director Judy Schurke. “We’re going to take a hard look at the circumstances to determine whether there were violations of the law and what actions can be taken to prevent a future occurrence.”
The L&I team investigating the explosion consists of three inspectors and a compliance manager familiar with the plant from previous inspections. The team also has technical expertise in Process Safety Management (PSM). PSM focuses on a refinery’s development and implementation of systems designed to reduce or mitigate the potential for catastrophic releases of highly hazardous chemicals.
Although L&I has opened an inspection, the team will not have access to the site until receiving clearance from incident command officials.
The investigation is expected to be complex, involving interviews, reviews of records, analysis of the scene, and laboratory work. The investigation could take up to six months.
I reviewed a workers’ compensation claim for a potential client nine months ago. At the time, I told him of several items that I saw as upcoming issues in his case and shared my opinion about why it would be important for us to start clearing those issues off the deck sooner rather than later. Would he be found employable with no services or would he receive just a bit of training to allow him to continue working in his field as a welder but in a lighter-duty capacity? Would the onset of depression be addressed under the claim and taken into consideration when making employability decisions? Would his level of permanent impairment be under-rated through the typical Independent Medical Evaluation (IME) process or would his surgeon be willing to provide a rating that more accurately reflects his limitations? I shared my concerns about his case, explained the process I would recommend for addressing these concerns and discussed the fees and costs to be expected. He indicated he wanted to go forward with representation.
I did not hear from him again, until yesterday. He left me a message asking for help with his claim. I looked at the case this morning before returning his call. He has been found to be employable with no additional retraining, so he will likely not be able to continue with his favored career but, instead, can look forward to his new line of work as a small parts assembler. He underwent an IME that conservatively rated his level of permanent impairment and approved the job analysis for small parts assembly. His attending physician signed the form letter to indicate concurrence with the IME results and, on this basis, the Claims Manager has found him employable and is closing the claim. What about the depression? Not addressed by the IME, so the Claims Manager is construing the attending physician’s signature on the concurrence form letter to mean that he is also not contending that depression is an issue, so she is denying this condition under the claim.
I know there are two sides to every argument, and I know that an employer representative would look at this same fact pattern and see a job well done, but I am a claimant’s advocate, so I share my thoughts from only that perspective. I see a situation where I now have a 15-day deadline for filing a dispute with the Vocational Dispute Resolution Office if I want to argue that Continue reading Why Wait? A Case Study…→
Causey Law Firm celebrated the New Year by welcomingKim Krummeckaboardas of January 1, 2010.
Mr. Krummeck’s practice will focus on workers’ compensation litigation, Social Security disability appeals, Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Act cases, Veterans Affairs benefit appeals and unemployment hearings and appeals, complementing and expanding Causey Law Firm’s areas of practice.
Referendum 67 simply requires the insurance industry to be fair and pay legitimate claims in a reasonable and timely manner.
Please join us in voting to APPROVE Referendum 67 in November.
Dear clients and friends:
Referendum 67 is an important consumer protection measure on the November 6th ballot. If you are forced by your insurance company to file a lawsuit over a legitimate claim you’ve made, and you win, you will get paid for your claim but nothing more for the company’s wrongful delaying or denying your claim. Your own legal costs to recover against the insurer are not recovered.Referendum 67 fixes that by allowing the court to assess penalties against the insurer for that type of conduct. It therefore creates an incentive for insurance companies to treat their policy-holders fairly.Referendum 67 covers claims related to homeowner’s insurance, auto insurance, long-term care insurance, property insurance and small business insurance.
4100 complaints are made annually to the Office of the Insurance Commissioner about illegitimately denied claims, which likely means there are thousands more unreported instances of this kind of behavior by the insurance industry. Ultimately this conduct can lead to denied medical care, loss of a business, and ruined credit for policy holders. Continue reading Approve Referendum 67!→
I think most of us who follow politics can agree that there’s been steady deterioration in the quality of speeches given by major candidates of both parties over the past few years. Speeches that should speak to specific facts and address real issues have become so much vanilla blather, devoid of any real substance. Candidates timidly avoid staking out their positions with any specificity, choosing instead to couch their message in vagueness — or in the case of the right wing, coded language — that allows them to scamper away from any heat the message might engender and to be able to manipulate that message to make it sound a bit different for the next audience.
Some of you may be old enough to remember the speeches of John F. Kennedy in the early 60’s that still resonate as some of the greatest presidential oratory of the 20th century.
When candidates “dumb down” their message so they can triangulate between different constituencies in order to placate, or at least not alienate, certain voters, those messages lose all moral force and any real visionary quality or appeal. Some of you may be old enough to remember the speeches of John F. Kennedy in the early 60’s that still resonate as some of the greatest presidential oratory of the 20th century. If you didn’t hear them in real time, you’ve undoubtedly seen video clips, or read or heard phrases from those speeches that live on. Kennedy’s speech writer at that time was Theodore C. Sorenson, who worked first for JFK while he was a senator and then in the White House. He was a gifted wordsmith about whom pundits have said he and Kennedy were Continue reading Suggested Acceptance Speech for Democratic Nominee→