Former FedEx Employee Exercises Rights Under Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, Proves Retaliatory Discharge

Posted: December 18th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Illinois workers comp, Workers Comp, Workers compensation attorney | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

Illinois workers compensation act, Cook County workmans compensation lawyerA majority of companies have a policy in place referencing how to report workplace injuries. In a recent case of a former FedEx employee, the plaintiff disputed his company violated his rights under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act (WCA) by terminating him.

FedEx company policy, in this case, stated that an employee who had been injured on the job must immediately report workplace injuries despite the severity of the injury and attempt to provide advance notice to management before seeking medical treatment.

The policy further stated that If advance notification was not presented before seeking medical care for a work-related injury, the employee could be subject to termination. However, according to the Illinois WCA, employee rights to seek medical attention become a legal factor. The Illinois statute states:

“It shall be unlawful for any employer, individually or through any insurance company or service or adjustment company, to discharge or to threaten to discharge, or to refuse to rehire or recall to active service in a suitable capacity an employee because of the exercise of his or her rights or remedies granted to him or her by this Act.”

Pursuant to this act, employers are not allowed to impose an advance notification requirement on an employee who requires work-related medical treatment. It maintains an employee’s rights to seek medical care without interference from an employer.

Facts of the case stated that the plaintiff suffered from a sore back while working at FedEx. The company filed an injury report and made accommodations to the employee by placing him on light duty. After five days, the plaintiff chose to seek medical treatment for his back.

The plaintiff did not provide advance notice to FedEx for treatment and returned to work with a physician assistant’s clearance to work. During his shift, the plaintiff presented the note to FedEx notifying of his medical treatment. Citing its company policy of required advanced notice, FedEx terminated the plaintiff’s employment.

Under the rights guaranteed by WCA, the court found in favor of the plaintiff and held that his claim for retaliatory discharge was established as a matter of law.

If you or someone you know is considering filing for workers’ compensation in Illinois, contact a Cook County workers’ compensation attorney today. You deserve to have your legal rights protected.


Businesses Focus on Off-the-Job Safety as Part of Workers’ Compensation Education Efforts

Posted: December 6th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Illinois workers comp, Personal Injury, Workers compensation attorney, Workplace Injury, Wrongful Death | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

off-the-job safety, Illinois workers compensation lawyersWorkers’ compensation injuries have steadily been on the decline in Illinois over the past two decades. As of 2011, the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission reported 3,201 total injuries, a 66 percent drop compared with injuries calculated in 1990. This decrease in incidents has been credited to greater investments towards improved safety measures.

Businesses are now imposing off-the-job safety education for its employees as part of its overall safety culture and aim to decrease incidents of workers’ compensation. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), a rising number of organizations consider off-the-job safety an essential factor to help employees and their families. This educational focus provides extra attention to the management of health care costs, employee productivity, and company profits.

Statistics provided from the NSC reveal that U.S. workers are safer on the job than at home with home and community fatalities up 74 percent. These unintentional deaths can be attributed in large part to:

  • Drowning;
  • Falls;
  • Mechanical suffocation; and
  • poisoning.

The national cost for these types of off-the-job injuries and fatalities was at least $246.8 billion in 2007, which translates to $1,677 per U.S. worker. These costs includes:

  • Lost wages;
  • Medical and hospital bills; and
  • Insurance administrative expenses.

Costs and production time as a result of off-the-job injuries have resulted in a higher loss of work days from employees than compared to days lost for injuries in the workplace.

The Illinois Department of Labor provides free, confidential safety and health consultations to small and medium-sized businesses in an ongoing commitment to improving safety and health in the workplace. Providing education for employees both at work and at home helps increase safety measures and prevent accidents from occurring.

If you have experienced an on-the-job injury in Illinois, contact an experienced Illinois workers’ compensation attorney to discuss your legal options. Call the Law Offices of Francis J. Discipio at 630-574-2288 for a free consultation.


New Study Gives Insight into How Body Reacts when Falling

Posted: November 21st, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Fall Injuries, Illinois workers comp, Ladder Fall Injury, Slip and Fall, Workers Compensation Insurance, Workplace Injury | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

workplace falling injury, Illinois workers compensation lawyerResearchers from Ohio State University recently conducted a study on how the human body moves by walking. The study, titled “A Step in the Right Direction” was published last month in the journal Biology Letters. The results of the study can help gain insight in how to prevent falls, which is one of the most common causes of workplace injuries.

The research team studied how people walk by watching them on a treadmill. There were 10 participants of the study, who were fitted with motion caption markers which tracked them as they walked on the treadmills. Participants were instructed to walk from a relaxed pace all the way to a pace of about two to three miles per hour.

As we walk, we put each foot at slightly different position with each step, in what appears to be random placement of our feet. But the researchers in this study were able to take the data gathered from the motion caption markers and come up with a mathematical model that can predict the placement of the next step over 80 percent of the time. These predictions can be made by watching the small variations in a person’s pelvis as they are walking.

As one of the researchers described it, each step we take as we walk is a balancing act to keep from going too far forward or too far sideways. Think of every step as a tiny fall in which we quickly regain stability. The method we use to take a step is a miniscule version of the larger moves our bodies make when we are losing our balance, such as in a fall.

The study team plans on continuing their research with more studies regarding the stability and control the human body uses in walking and hope to use their findings in possible aid in diagnosing and treating balance conditions.

According to another study, last year, falls were the second most common cause of workplace injuries. The cost of these falls is approximately $70 billion per year in medical costs and workers’ compensation. Some of the most common causes of falls include:

  • Floors that need to be repaired;
  • Spills;
  • Loose rugs or mats;
  • Weather hazards;
  • Inappropriate footwear; and
  • Lack of training for employees.

If you or a loved one has suffered a workplace injury, you need an experienced Illinois workers’ compensation attorney to represent you and make sure you receive the compensation you are entitled to under the law.


Neutral Risk and Worker’s Compensation

Posted: November 5th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Employer Liability, Illinois workers comp, Slip and Fall, Workers Comp | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

neutral risk workers compensation, Illinois workers comp attorneyJust what types of injuries are covered by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act (WCA) can be difficult to determine, especially if the injury or incident occurred on workplace premises. A recent ruling by an Illinois Appellate Court, 4th District, decided against the claimant in a workers’ compensation case, in which she fell while entering the workplace carrying baked goods for an office party.

The decision in Anderegg v. Kesler, Garman, Broughner & Townsley, P.C. was announced in August of this year, in response to the 2011 incident, according to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Law Bulletin (Vol. 22, Issue 11, Aug. 27, 2014).

The claimant, according to the Bulletin, is a legal secretary at the defendant’s law firm. In the summer of 2011, she was carrying two plastic containers of baked goods for an office party, and lost her balance on a stairway leading to the office. Because she lost her balance while attempting to not drop the baked goods, the claimant filed a workers’ compensation suit for an injury to her right arm.

Initially, the arbitrator denied benefits, ruling that the injury—while it did occur on the job—did not arise from her employment at the firm. This is especially true because while the claimant was carrying baked goods for the office, it was her own decision to bring in the treats; no supervisor of the co-worker had required her to do so.

Simply, this ruling sets a precedent that an employer cannot be held liable under workers’ compensation for an injury that occurs on workplace premises if the employee who was injured as no “exposed to a common risk to a greater degree than the general public,” stated to the Bulletin.

This is what is known as a neutral risk. Injuries that occur due to a neutral risk are not compensable by the WCA unless the employee was exposed to the risk disproportionately to the general public. If, for example, the secretary was required to bring baked goods and had tripped on the stairs primarily because she was carrying them in a hurry to get back by an unreasonably mandated time, she may have had a case for compensation under the WCA.

If you or someone you know is considering filing for workers’ compensation but are not sure whether or not you qualify for benefits, the most important step is to seek the counsel of a legal attorney. Contact an Illinois workers’ compensation lawyer today.


OSHA Announces New Reporting Regulations for Employers

Posted: October 29th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Illinois workers comp, OSHA Workplace Accident Regulations, Workers Comp, Workers compensation attorney | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

workplace accident OSHAThe Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued new, stricter regulations for companies to file reports when there is a workplace accident. OSHA is the federal agency that oversees the enforcement of the safety and health of all employees in this country.

The new regulations will go into effect on January 1, 2015. One of the changes that OSHA is implementing is the requirement that companies now report accidents where a fatality has occurred. The new rule requires managers to file a detailed report within eight hours of the accident. Under the current regulations, companies are only required to file a report with OSHA if there are three or more employees killed in a workplace accident.

Reporting requirements for workplace accidents where an employee suffers amputation, the loss of an eye, or has severe enough injuries that require in-patient hospitalization have also been changed. Under the current rules, companies are only required to report these types of workplace accidents if again, just like workplace fatalities, three or more employees are affected. The new regulation now requires companies to file a detailed report with OSHA within 24 hours of any accident which results in these types of injuries to an employee.

OSHA’s announcement of regulation changes came just days after the Bureau of Labor Statistics released their report, 2013 National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, which reveals that there were 4,405 employees who were killed on the job last year. U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez stressed that on the job accidents which injure or kill employees are “absolutely preventable” and the goal of the new regulations is to “hold employees accountable for preventing” these accidents.

Dr. David Michaels, the assistant secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health, pointed out that serious accidents and fatalities are indicators of serious issues at a company. “Hospitalizations and amputations are sentinel events, indicating that serious hazards are likely to be present at a workplace and that an intervention is warranted to protect the other workers at the establishment,” he said.

If you or a loved one has suffered a workplace injury, you need an experienced Chicago workers’ compensation attorney to represent you and make sure you receive the compensation you are entitled to under the law.

 

 


New Rules for Communications Tower Workers

Posted: October 8th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Illinois workers comp, OSHA Workplace Accident Regulations | Tags: , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

communication tower worker safety, Chicago workers compensation lawyerThe Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently issued new regulations for its Communications Tower directive. The new updates focuses on hoist systems which are used to move workers to and from workstations located on communication towers.

The instructions were issued among growing concern over the spike of fatalities that have occurred at communications tower sites. There was twice the number of fatalities in 2013 as there were in the combined years of 2011 and 2012. Thirteen people were killed in communications tower work accidents last year. As of July of this year, there have already been 9 people killed in accidents.

According to OSHA, the mortality rate of communications tower employees is 25 times more than the average American worker. In February of this year, the agency sent letters to all communication workers, urging them to follow the strict guidelines that have been put in place for their protection. The letter outlined how critical it is for tower workers to be provided with proper training in safe work practices. The letter also cited the importance of workers to have the proper equipment, as well as training in the correct way to use that equipment.

In 2002, OSHA issued a directive regarding the correct way to use hoist and other fall arrest systems. This directive also included instructions on how to hoist and move workers safely. However, the directive only covered workers who were in the process of erecting new communication towers, but not for maintenance on existing towers. The new directive addresses workers who are working on either existing or new communication towers.

In a statement announcing the new rules, Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health said, “This directive ensures that communication tower workers are protected regardless of the type of the work they are doing on communication towers. Employers and cell tower owners and operators must make sure workers are properly trained and protected.”

If you or someone in your family has been injured on the job, contact an experienced Chicago workers’ compensation attorney to find out what civil recourse you may have for compensation for pain and loss you have suffered.


Teens More Likely to be Injured on the Job

Posted: September 17th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Construction Accident, Employer Liability, How to File a Worker's Compensation Claim, Illinois workers comp, Personal Injury, stress injury, Workers Comp, Workers Comp Benefits, Workers compensation attorney | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

 

Teen Worker InjuryAccording to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), young workers are at the highest risk of any age group to be injured or killed on the job. Workers who are under 25 years old face more than double the risk of older workers of being injured. The majority of young workers are unaware of the legal workplace rights they have.

The DOL statistics reveal that in 2012, more than 170,000 of younger workers were injured on the job and another 361 were killed. That means that a teenager is hurt on the job every nine minutes in this country.

The OSH Act of 1970 requires every employer provide workers with a safe work environment, without dangerous recognized hazards. Working teens are also covered under this law and have the same right to a safe workplace as working adults. In many incidents where teens have been hurt on the job, there was a lack of training and education on the part of the employer that contributed to the incident.

Some of the most common injuries teens receive in the workplace are caused by inadequate safety training, lack of proper supervision, unsafe equipment, dangerous work that is inappropriate and illegal for teen workers, stressful conditions and pressure to perform their work at a faster pace.

The Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (MassCOSH) has developed a work safety program directed specifically at young workers called Teens Lead @ Work. The program focuses on peer-to peer training by teaching teens to develop the skills to teach other teens about healthy and safe workplaces. The teens are also taught about child labor laws and encouraged to reach out to all teen workers, including those who are the most vulnerable, such as undocumented and illegal teen workers.

If you or someone in your family has been injured on the job, contact an experienced Chicago workers’ compensation attorney to find out what civil recourse you may have for compensation for pain and loss you have suffered.


Protection of Employees under Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act

Posted: September 4th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Construction Accident, Construction Workers, Employer Liability, Francis J. Discipio, How to File a Worker's Compensation Claim, Illinois workers comp, Workers Comp, Workers compensation attorney | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

workers compensationIllinois Workers’ Compensation Act 820 ILCS 305 clearly outlines the responsibility that employees have when a worker is injured on the job.

There are many factors that determine the amount of benefit an employee will receive if they are injured. The amount of pay the injured employee was earning is used to determine the workers compensation benefit and/or settlement amount he or she is entitled to receive.

Another factor considered is the severity of the employee’s injury and what body part is involved. What future medical costs be, as well as what limitations the permanent injury will place on the employee’s life, are also used to determine what settlement amount the employee will be awarded.

The purpose of the law is to protect employees because often, an employer and their insurance company will try to avoid responsibility for the injury, which is why it is critical for an injured employee to hire a workers’ compensation attorney. If the employee has received a prior injury of the same body part, the insurance company’s attorneys could argue that the current injury is related to the prior injury and, therefore, they are not responsible for benefits.

That is what happened in a recent case that went before the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. The employee, who worked as a truck tire builder, filed a claim in January 2010 after being diagnosed with spurring and impingement syndrome of his left shoulder and both elbows, which was caused by repetitive stress of building tires. He eventually had surgery on both elbows and also on his shoulder.

The employee had previously undergone surgery of his left shoulder in April 2007 due to another work injury. At that time, he was awarded a settlement for 25 percent loss of use of his left arm. Because of the prior injury, an arbitrator only awarded the employee benefits and medical costs for the injuries to his elbows, but did not include an award for injury to his shoulder.

The Commission disagreed with the arbitrator’s ruling. They said that surgery in 2007 took care of the prior injury, evidenced by the employee’s return to full-time work. They awarded the employee temporary total disability, as well all medical costs for the left shoulder injury. They also awarded the employee a 7.5 percent loss of use of the person as a whole, which can be found under Section 8(d)2 of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act.

This case exemplifies why it is so important to have an experienced Chicago workers’ compensation attorney representing you if you are injured on the job.


Illinois Bill Would Limit Employer Liability for Travelling Employee Injuries

Posted: August 27th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Employer Liability, Illinois workers comp, Traveling Employee Injury, Workers Comp, Workers compensation attorney | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

employer liabilityA bill currently pending in the Illinois legislature would put limitations on an employer’s liability for injuries an employee receives while traveling on the way to work.

Senate Bill 2622, introduced by State Sen. Kyle McCarter (R, Lebanon), would not require employers to provide workers compensation benefits for an employee who becomes injured if the employee was not traveling for work purposes when the injury occurs.

The bill is aimed for employees who are required to travel in connection with their job. It says compensation for an injury that occurs while traveling will only be provided “if the injury arises out of and in the course of employment while he or she is actively engaged in the duties of employment.”

If it passes, the proposed law would cover incidents such as a recent workers’ compensation case that was appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court. The court ruled that just because a worker accepts a job that is a distance away from his or her home that does not mean the employee automatically becomes a “travelling employee”, nor is the employer is automatically liable for any injuries the employee may incur while traveling to and from work. The new bill was introduced a month before the court’s ruling.

Bill 2622 is part of a package of workers’ compensation bills, including Bill 2623, which addresses new injuries to previously paid body parts; Bill 2625, which addresses temporary disability payments for employees who have been terminated for just cause; and Bill 2626, which addresses wage calculations for employees who work less than 52 weeks per year.

If you or a loved one has suffered a workplace injury, you need an experienced Illinois workers’ compensation attorney to represent you and make sure you receive the compensation you are entitled to under the law.


Study Finds Many Undocumented Workers Stuck in Dangerous Jobs

Posted: August 6th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Construction Workers, Illinois workers comp, Workers compensation attorney | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

undocumented workersA recent study conducted by Cornell University and Penn State University found that illegal immigrants who are working in high-risk or dangerous jobs are not paid a pay premium for working in those hazardous conditions.

The study, titled The Occupational Cost of Being Illegal in the United States: Legal Status, Job Hazards and Compensating Differentials, analyzed data from the U.S. Census’ Survey of Income and Program Participation. This survey provides information about visa and citizenship status. They also used data from Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries and the Department of Labor’s Occupational Information Network.

Not only do undocumented workers not receive a pay premium for working in dangerous conditions, but if they are injured, most are too scared to report the injury for fear they will be deported.

According to the study, one of the biggest problems is the language barrier that often exists when it comes to effective safety training. Another factor regarding undocumented workers in hazardous working environments is that many employers who hire illegal immigrants are not concerned that any safety hazards will be reported because the undocumented worker is afraid of losing their job if they do.

The research team said the evidence they found shows that undocumented workers are not employed in the most dangerous jobs – which are in mining and logging. Instead, they can be found at jobs in agriculture and construction, which can also pose serious health risks. Additionally, many undocumented workers are employed at jobs where they are exposed to dangerous chemicals or radiation, such as working in a dry cleaners or working as janitors in healthcare facilities.

Many state court decisions have ruled that an undocumented worker who is injured on the job is entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits. If you have been injured on the job, contact an experienced Illinois workers’ compensation attorney to find out what civil recourse you may have for compensation for pain and loss you have suffered.