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CA - Committees Pass Bills to Expand COVID Presumption, Narrow Liability Investigation Window

08/15/2022 | 0

California legislative committees passed bills that would reduce the time employers have to accept liability on some workers’ compensation claims and extend for another two years COVID-19 presumptions. Friday was the deadline for fiscal committees in both chambers of the Legislature to pass bills. While a couple of measures proposing studies into cost-shifting schemes in the staffing industry and modifying work comp requirements were held in committee and died, most comp bills remain in play after committee hearings last week. The Assembly Appropriations Committee on Thursday passed SB... Read More

PA - Worker Can't Back Out of Settlement Based on Alleged Miscalculation of Lump-Sum Payment

08/15/2022 | 0

The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania ruled that a worker could not back out of a settlement agreement based on his claim that the lump-sum payment it provided had been miscalculated. Case: Hymms v. Commonwealth (WCAB), No. 909 C.D. 2021, 08/11/2022, published. Facts and procedural history: James Hymms worked for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He filed a workers’ compensation claim alleging he had fallen at work, hit his head on a wall and sustained a loss of hearing. Hymms was unrepresented at the time he filed his claim. After the commonwealth filed an answer denying t... Read More

OH - Court Reissues Opinion That Worker Can't Sue Employer for Loss of Leg

08/15/2022 | 0

An Ohio appellate court issued a corrected decision that upheld the dismissal of an injured worker’s tort claims against his employer and its sole member of the business. Case: Gundel v. Whalen Lawn & Landscaping LLC, No. 2021CA00128, 08/10/2022, published. Facts: Nicholas Whalen created a limited liability company, Whalen Lawn and Landscaping, and is the sole member of that company. The number of people employed by WLL varies according to the demand for services. They provide lawn and landscaping services, and all administrative and business-related duties were completed by Whale... Read More

FL - Court Overturns Denial of Attendant Care Services

08/15/2022 | 0

A Florida appellate court overturned the denial of a worker’s request for the attendant care services prescribed by her doctor. Case: Girardin v. AN Fort Myers Imports LLC, No. 1D21-3405, 08/10/2022, published. Facts and procedural history: After Kelly Girardin suffered a work-related injury, her authorized treating physician wrote her a prescription for a home health evaluation and attendant care, 12 hours a day, seven days per week. Girardin attached a copy of the prescription to a petition for benefits she filed a few days later. Her employer’s insurance carri... Read More

Industry Insights

NATL. - Snyder: Focus on the Future

By Teddy Snyder
08/12/2022 | 0

A 2013 market study indicated that 21% of the U.S. population reads science fiction. Science fiction films are even more popular. If we’re so fascinated with speculation about the future, why do we look to the past instead of the future when we negotiate? Instead of planning for a life without conflict, negotiating parties tend to dwell on issues of the past. For example, fixating on how much money has already been spent (called “sunk costs”) instead of on how much will be saved by settling now can get in the way of an objective case evaluation. Litigation creates... Read More

NATL. - Report: Fall Protection Lapses Often Result of Poor Planning

08/15/2022 | 0

The odds of using fall protection were 71% lower for individuals whose employer failed to plan, with workers hired by subcontractors more at risk, according to results of a survey released Thursday by The Center for Construction Research and Training. Of 671 workers surveyed in 2021 on what is known as the deadliest safety lapse in construction — failing to prevent falls by enlisted fall protection measures — 27.4% pegged insufficient planning on the part of the employers as the primary cause of falls, and 48.8% said no fall protection was being used at the time of a fall. Worker... Read More

SD - Court Says No Proof Employer Knew Lack of Fall Protections Would Kill Roofer

08/12/2022 | 0

The estate of a roofer who fell 33 feet to his death can’t proceed with a tort suit because the employer did not know with substantial certainty that disregarding its own safety policies and federal workplace safety regulations would result in an accident, the South Dakota state Supreme Court said. Although the death of Justin Althoff in 2016 was tragic, the high court said the estate at best established only that Pro-Tec Roofing Inc. consciously disregarded a known risk or was negligent. That’s not sufficient to escape the exclusive remedy of workers’ compensation. “... Read More

OH - Court Upholds Denial of VSSR Award for Worker With Crush Injury

08/12/2022 | 0

An Ohio appellate court upheld the denial of a worker’s request for an enhanced award of benefits for crush injuries to her hand that was caught in a machine. Case: State ex rel. Levitin v. Industrial Commission, No. 20AP-495, 08/09/2022, published. Facts: Rimma Levitin suffered injuries in June 2017 when her right hand was caught in the rollers of a cutting machine while she was working for the Menasha Corp. Approximately 10 months before the accident, Menasha had renovated the machines by replacing their old guards with new ones fabricated to the same specifications. ... Read More

PA - Worker Gets No Penalties, Fees for Employer's Failure to Pay for Opioid Meds

08/12/2022 | 0

The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania upheld the denial of a worker’s claim for penalties and attorney fees related to his employer’s failure to pay for his opioid medications. Case: Hughes v. Wawa Inc. (WCAB), No. 826 C.D. 2021, 08/08/2022, unpublished. Facts and procedural history: Frank Hughes suffered injuries in 2000 while working as a truck driver for Wawa Inc. He then filed a workers’ compensation claim. In 2011, the parties entered into a settlement agreement resolving Hughes’ claim for wage loss benefits and describing his injuries as a low back herniated d... Read More

MS - Injured Worker Can't Get Reinstatement of Claim

08/12/2022 | 0

The Mississippi Court of Appeals ruled that an injured worker was not entitled to reinstate his claim because it had become time-barred. Case: Darty v. Gulfport-Biloxi Regional Airport Authority, No. 2021-WC-00986-COA, 08/09/2022, published. Facts and procedural history: Robert Darty Jr. worked for the Gulfport-Biloxi Regional Airport Authority. He suffered injuries at work in June 2010. The Airport Authority and its insurance carrier then began paying Darty disability benefits for about three years and provided medical services and supplies, including back surgery. In December 2012, ... Read More

CA - WCIRB Releases 2022 State of the System Report

08/12/2022 | 0

The Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau of California has released its 2022 State of the System report highlighting key metrics of the state's workers’ compensation system, including the latest trends on rates, market characteristics and profitability. This annual report is developed to provide workers’ compensation professionals with a comprehensive view of California’s workers’ compensation system based on the latest information. Findings were presented during the WCIRB’s annual conference in July. Key findings from the report include: P... Read More

CA - Committee Passes Insurance 'Omnibus' Bill

08/12/2022 | 0

The California Assembly Appropriations Committee unanimously passed a multifaceted bill that, among other things, includes provisions aimed at helping the Department of Insurance crack down on fraud. The committee voted 15-0 on Wednesday to pass SB 1242, by the Senate Insurance Committee, after finding it would result in minor and absorbable costs to the state. The bill would require that brokers and agents receive fraud training as a condition of receiving and renewing a license. And it would require brokers and agents to report suspected fraud to the Insurance Department. SB 1242 would al... Read More

MN - Michelle Doheny to Lead WCD Business Technology Office

08/12/2022 | 0

The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry announced that Michelle Doheny will be the director of the Workers’ Compensation Division's new Business Technology Office work unit. The new unit will manage the business needs, policies and priorities related to the use and ongoing support of key technology systems, including Work Comp Campus. Doheny comes to DLI from the Minnesota Department of Human Services, where she worked since 2006. She led information technology modernization efforts and built connections with business units and vendors to transform how the Human Services De... Read More

AZ - DOL Reconsiders Proposal to Revoke State OSHA Plan, Reopens Comment Period

08/11/2022 | 0

The U.S. Department of Labor on Wednesday announced that it extended by 60 days the comment period for a proposal to revoke Arizona’s authorization to administer a state-run workplace safety program. The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1980 allows states to assume responsibility for developing and enforcing occupational safety and health standards. In general, state safety standards must be at least as effective as those of the federal government. In April, the Department of Labor announced a proposal to review and potentially revoke final approval of Arizona’s state OSHA p... Read More

IL - Commission Commits Prejudicial Error in Excluding Worker's Medical Records From Evidence

08/11/2022 | 0

The Illinois Appellate Court ruled that the Workers' Compensation Commission abused its discretion and committed reversible error by excluding medical records to which the employer had stated that it had no objection. Case: Cummings v. IWCC, No. 1-21-0956WC, 08/05/2022, unpublished. Facts: Daniel Cummings worked for Future Environmental Inc. as a hazardous materials technician. His duties were to clean up hazardous materials, such as oil spills, and to clean petroleum products off the interior of tanks. According to Cummings, the tanks he cleaned were cramped, enclosed spaces in which, ... Read More

PA - Worker Collecting Pension, Social Security Benefits Didn't Voluntarily Leave Workforce

08/11/2022 | 0

The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania ruled that an injured worker collecting a union pension and Social Security benefits had not voluntarily left the workforce. Case: Hi-Tech Flooring Inc. v. WCAB (Santucci), No. 12 C.D. 2020, 08/09/2022, published. Facts and procedural history: Michael Santucci had been a union member since 1985. In 2014, Santucci suffered a work-related injury to his right knee. Hi-Tech Flooring Inc. issued a notice of compensation payable accepting liability and began paying temporary total disability benefits. In 2017, Hi-Tech filed a petition to terminate paym... Read More