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Archive for August, 2013

Ruling Regarding Overtime in AWW Overturned

August 28th, 2013 at 2:40 pm

A ruling regarding an Average Weekly Wage (AWW) calculation in Illinois that included overtime was overturned in July, according to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Law Bulletin. The ruling will affect any workers’ compensation claimant who has logged a considerable amount of overtime hours, especially if those hours were not consistent or considered mandatory by the company at which the accident occurred. The case involved a worker at an excavation company. The claimant, according to the Bulletin, is a union machine operator, and suffered an injury related to an on-site accident.  Ruling Regarding Overtime in AWW Overturned IMAGE

The operator, according to the Bulletin, logged overtime hours on 60 days in a 73-day period. That’s more than 80 percent of the days considered by the ruling. Initially, a judge ruled that the operator’s overtime hours should be considered when determining his Average Weekly Wage for workers’ compensation benefits. “Upon review,” however, “the Commission modified the arbitrator’s decision to find the claimant failed to prove that his overtime was mandatory or that he worked overtime on a consistent basis.” Even though the claimant worked overtime more than 80 percent of the days in the period considered, this isn’t considered “consistent.” One good reason that the Commission reversed the ruling was due to a lack of evidence presented on the part of the operator.

The importance of having an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer in the courtroom can’t be understated. One reason for the decision reversal was because “the defendant’s witness testified that there was no consequence for not working overtime.” Yet the decision to overturn was not unanimous. “The dissent noted that although the claimant gave a recorded statement to the claims adjuster that overtime was not mandatory he testified that he meant that no one came to employees with a daily demand to work overtime.”

If you or someone you know has been injured in the workplace, the most important first step is to seek the counsel of a qualified workers’ compensation attorney. Don’t go through it alone. Contact our offices today.

 

 

Man Denied Workers’ Comp After Drunken Accident

August 20th, 2013 at 2:38 pm

A workers’ compensation case was shot down in August by a federal appeals court in Oregon, setting a precedent that will likely affect workers’ compensation across the country, according to an Associated Press article reported by ABC News. The federal appeals court ruled that an “Oregon longshoreman who got drunk on the job, urinated while standing on a dock, and then fell six feet onto concrete should not get workers’ compensation benefits for his injuries,” according to the Associated Press. The accident occurred in 2006. Dockworker Gary Schwirse was at first victorious in court “when an administrative law judge ruled that workplace hazards had been a factor in his fall,” according to the Associated Press. Yet the ruling was reversed when Schwirse dropped the insistence that the reason he fell was because he tripped over an orange cone. Schwirse, according to the Associated Press, “later tried to argue that the very concrete onto which he fell, and not his intoxication, was responsible for his injuries.” The latter also did not hold water in court. Man Denied Workers’ Comp After Drunken Accident IMAGE

Schwirse’s injuries were not severe—he suffered a “cut to his right temple,” reports the Associated Press. He sued the Marine Terminals Corp., according to the Associated Press, who “refused to pay his benefits, arguing that his intoxication was the sole cause of his injury.”

According to an Illinois Workers’ Compensation (IWCC) publication, the rules for claiming workers’ compensation drastically changed in the state in 2011. According to the publication, “for accidents on or after September 1, 2011, precludes compensation if the employee’s intoxication was the proximate cause of his injury or if the employee’s level of intoxication was sufficient to constitute a departure from employment.” This means that Schwirse’s case, having occurred in 2006, would still have been heard in Illinois, but that incidents like his, if they happened now, would not be considered. Additionally, according to the Illinois Chamber Dispatch, in 2012 the IWCC proposed a new rule “regarding the procedures for drug sample collection and testing under the new intoxication standard.”

If you or someone you know has been injured on the job, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation. Don’t go through it alone. Contact an experienced Illinois Workers’ Compensation attorney today.

Illinois Governor Protects Construction Employee Paychecks

August 12th, 2013 at 9:18 am

LauraOn July 23rd, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn announced that he had signed bills into law that helped protect Illinois employees in the construction industry. Construction is an industry with one of the highest rates of workers’ compensation claims, and the challenges faced by construction employees in the state has been a focus of the Governor’s office recently.

The laws signed include those that outline plans to fight questionable business practices like worker misclassification and employer attempts to avoid payment of premiums and state employment taxes. For Governor Quinn, it was an issue of ensuring that all employees were treated fairly: construction workers face numerous increased risks on the job, and devious employer practices were not providing the level of safety and fairness afforded to employees in other industries.

One of the biggest practices that Illinois construction companies use to skirt the system has been to classify construction workers as independent contractors. This allows companies to avoid payroll taxes, workers’ compensation premiums, overtime payments, and payroll taxes. The new law adds some teeth to the Employee Classification Act to make it more difficult for employers to avoid the valuable protection of workers’ compensation insurance and to add punishments for those who attempt to go around the law. The new law will go into effect on January 1st of 2014.

Classifying construction workers as independent contractors removes an important layer of safety and security for those employees who take on the risks of a dangerous job: in the event of an injury, they may not be protected by workers’ compensation insurance if the employer has been able to avoid paying premiums. If you have been the victim of an injury on the job in construction, you need help from a qualified workers’ compensation attorney in Illinois. Timing is important for workers’ compensation cases, so reach out today.

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