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Archive for May, 2012

Energy Employees Worker’s Compensation: What You Need to Know

May 27th, 2012 at 12:22 am

According to an article published in the wake of the nuclear reactor fires and explosions at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant in Fukushima, Japan, WBEZ Chicago reported that “few states are as central to the discussion of nuclear power in the United States as Illinois.” WBEZ states that the state is home to seven total nuclear power plants, and that a whopping six of them are still in operation. Though the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not publish numbers on just how many jobs in the Chicago area can be broken down to the nuclear sector, with six operational plants in the area it’s safe to assume that a good number of Chicago-area residents are employed in some way dealing with nuclear energy. It is, of course, a profession racked with the possibility of accident. If a worker is injured on the job in this sector, he is covered with by a separate Worker’s Compensation Fund, the Division of Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation. Implementation for this fund began in 2004.

The mission statement for this program, according to their website, is to “deliver benefits to eligible employees and former employees of the Department of Energy, its contractors and subcontractors or to certain survivors of such individuals.” It is also to deliver benefits to certain “beneficiaries of Section five of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act.”

Employees at one of the many Illinois nuclear plants would be covered in Part E of the benefits—up to $250,000—which include wage loss, impairment, and survivorship. Medical expenses are not included in the $250,000 cap.

If you or someone you know was involved in an energy accident at work, don’t go through it alone. Contact the law offices of Francis J. Discipio today.

 

Image courtesy of digitalart

 

The Probe into Menard Illinois Prison Worker’s Comp

May 22nd, 2012 at 12:20 am

Many Illinois State officials have called for recent review of worker’s compensation claims from Menard Correctional Center.  Since 2008, over $10 million has been paid out to guards and employees for repetitive trauma injuries and accidents over the course of about 500 claims.  The majority of injuries claimed were either carpal tunnel syndrome in the wrist or cubital tunnel syndrome in the elbow.

 

Out of the 500 cases about 230 prison workers maintain that their wrists and elbows were injured due to the repetitive actions such as manually locking and unlocking cells. The penitentiary, originally built in 1878, was never modernized to have electric locks, meaning workers must use keys and crank a heavy wheel to open a row of cells.  The Department of Corrections alleged that the update to electrically powered locks would have been too expensive.

 

The worker’s compensation claims have been scrutinized to a point that a third party research team has evaluated the stress level of a Menard prison guard.  It was discovered by Midwest Rehabilitation Inc. that the stress of the guard duties doesn’t even meet minimal stress levels on its index.  The index they used gauges the potential for repetitive trauma.  Not one of the duties tested, including operating a crank that opens 24 cells at one time, scored higher than 1.5 which is considered safe.

 

Tony Godinez, director of the Illinois Department of Corrections, said, “In my professional opinion, on a personal side, if you’re running a maximum security facility and your claim is using the keys too much, you’re not using them much in a maximum security facility. They’re not coming out a lot. So, I don’t understand why (Menard) as opposed to other facilities where the inmates in minimum and medium are coming out more and the keys are turned more.”  He also drew on his experience as a warden for 12 years at Statesville.

 

In most workers’ comp cases, a state arbitrator gives final endorsement to the claims after a treating physician provides a judgment that the injury exists.  But under Illinois law, workers do not need to prove that a work condition was a significant cause of an injury, only that it could have caused an injury.  If you or a loved one have experienced a work related injury or accident, then you may want to contact an Illinois personal injury lawyer.

 

Workers Compensation Reform, One Year Later

May 18th, 2012 at 12:20 am

It’s been one year since the Illinois State Senate overwhelmingly approved, in a 46-to-8 vote, to impose cost reductions on the state’s “expensive and scandal-tainted workers compensation system,” according to the Chicago Sun-Times. In May 2011, the reform was approved, hailed as “major” by Senator Kwame Raoul, the bill’s chief Senate sponsor. The bill came just after a steep increase in the state income tax for Illinois businesses—a 46 percent increase for state corporations. According to the Sun-Times, “in what amounts to the cornerstone of Raoul’s legislation, fees that businesses must pay to doctors would be cut 30 percent in September, in a move that he said would save companies between $500 and $700 million.” 

The 2011 landmark law also established a medical network for compensation claims, cut the period when someone could draw payments for carpal tunnel from 40 to 28 weeks, and switched the burden of proof from employers to workers in proving whether alcohol or drugs contributed to workplace accidents.

No statistics are available as to whether the law actually managed to save Illinois businesses money, but the law has not yet been challenged or revoked, and since then Raoul has introduced the 2012 Creation of the Worker’s Compensation Insurance Fund for insuring employers against liability for worker’s compensation claims. He also introduced a bill for the creation of the Illinois Compensation Rating Bureau, which would be “capable of providing more accurate and verifiable information on reimbursement rates on worker’s compensation cases,” according to the Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Assocation.

With all the new changes and proposals being talked about in Illinois right now, filing for worker’s compensation can be a complicated process. Don’t go through it alone. Contact a dedicated Illinois worker’s compensation lawyer today.

 

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan

 

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