Friday, October 21, 2016

Medicinal Marijuana and Workers' Compensation

by Joseph D. Birdsall, Esq.

Marijuana use in the United States is becoming more accepted each day from both a cultural and legal standpoint. Attitudes towards recreational and medicinal use are softening; state laws decriminalizing medical and/or recreational marijuana use are spreading. Yet, the federal government’s position is that both medical and recreational marijuana use are illegal under the Controlled Substances Act (“CSA”) of 1970.

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Thursday, June 30, 2016

IA Construction v. WCAB (Rhodes) and the Burden of Proof

by Mitchell H. Dugan, Esq.

In 2005, Jeffrey Rhodes was injured in a vehicular accident while working for IA Construction Corporation. He was awarded total disability benefits in 2007 for work-related conditions, including traumatic brain injury, headaches, vertigo, and neck and back injuries.

Several years later, IA Construction filed for an impairment rating evaluation (IRE) to determine if Rhodes' condition had improved enough to lower his disability status to partial. The Bureau of Workers' Compensation chose Dr. M. Bud Lateef, a specialist in physical, rehabilitation, and pain medicine, to conduct the evaluation.

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Monday, June 27, 2016

Traveling Employees, Personal Errands, and Workers' Comp Benefits

by David P. Nomberg, Esq.

With the recent Alabama Court of Civil Appeals decision of Hospice Family Care v. Allen, No. 2140861 (Ala. Civ. App. June 10, 2016), employees who are injured during the course of running personal errands may still be able to recover workers' compensation benefits.

In Allen, an employee was frequently traveling as part of her employment. One afternoon, the employee was traveling home to finish completing tasks for her employer when she briefly stopped at the pharmacy to pick up personal items. When the employee left the pharmacy and proceeded towards her house, she was struck by another vehicle and killed on impact. The employee's husband brought suit against her employer for workers' compensation benefits. The employer alleged that because the employee had stopped for a personal errand, workers' compensation did not apply.

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Monday, May 9, 2016

Intersection of Medical Marijuana and Workers' Compensation in Illinois

by Carolina Schottland, Esq.

With the relatively recent passing of the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act ("MCPP") in Illinois, employees, employers and even attorneys are asking questions about how this affects workers' compensation practice in the state. In truth, MCPP's practical effect on workers compensation is pretty limited.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A Year in Review: Significant Workers' Compensation Cases of 2015

by Robert Ferreri, Esq.

With 2015 in the books I thought it would be interesting to offer this look back at some significant cases decided by Kentucky's Court of Appeals and Supreme Court last year. The first two cases addressed the statute of limitations and the statute of repose respectively regarding reopening of claims.

Other issues addressed in these decisions included the ongoing modification of the parameters of qualification for temporary total disability (TTD) benefits, facts necessary for a claimant to prove entitlement to the 2x enhancement of benefits for cessation of earning an equal or greater average weekly wage, and the end of apportionment of liability between employers in cumulative trauma claims.

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Monday, March 21, 2016

The Employer-Employee Relationship: More than Titles and Terminology

by Jonathan Nessler, Esq.

To recover under the Workers Compensation Act in Illinois, an employee-employer relationship must exist between the parties, and the injury must arise out and in the course of the employment. Whether an employee-employer relationship exists is essential to this analysis.

Occasionally, a would-be-employer ask its would-be-employees to sign employment agreements or contracts. Sometimes, the would-be-employer includes language, in the contract, identifying the would-be-employee as an "independent contractor." The contract might even be titled an "Independent Contractor Agreement." It is extremely important for the workers' compensation practitioner to understand that whether the contract names the would-be-employee an "independent contractor" does not control the analysis, and is only a minor consideration.

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Thursday, March 3, 2016

Willful Misconduct in Workers' Compensation Cases

by Charles W. Snyder, Esq.

Underlying Georgia's Workers' Compensation law is a trade-off. Employers gave up defenses such as contributory negligence, and got limitations on potential liability. [1]

In the recent case of Burdette v. Chandler Telecom, LLC, ___ Ga. App. ___, 779 S.E. 2d 75 (2015), the Court of Appeals provided additional authority [2] that the defense of contributory negligence cannot be revived in workers' compensation.

Therefore, the Burdette decision supports the proposition that Georgia's Workers' Compensation Act remains "a humanitarian measure that should be liberally construed to effectuate its purpose."Barnes v. Rosburg Forest Products Co., 333 Ga. App. 273, 277, 775 S.E. 2d. 748 (2015), cert. granted, October 15, 2015.

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Thursday, February 18, 2016

North Carolina Relocates Deputy Commissioners to Regional Offices

by Emily S. Goodman, Esq.

Research on fiscal years 2008 to 2013 showed that 93% of all Industrial Commission hearings could be held within 50 miles of six strategically-located cities. As a result, the Industrial Commission began to relocate Deputy Commissioners to those six cities as a means of eliminating significant costs, lost productivity, and safety risks associated with Deputy Commissioner travel from the central Raleigh office to hearing locations around the state.

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Thursday, January 14, 2016

OSHA Fines Expected to Increase for the First Time in 25 Years

by Anton A. Dirnberger II, Esq.

On November 2, 2015, President Obama signed into law the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 ("the Act"). The Act primarily received publicity as a deal to temporarily avoid a default on the national debt. However, the Act also contained a provision that allows the Occupational Safety and Health Administration ("OSHA") to increase its maximum penalties for the first time since 1990.

The Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Act of 1990 authorized many federal agencies to review and adjust their civil penalties in order to keep pace with inflation. However, OSHA was excluded from this legislation. As a result, OSHA fines have remained the same for over two decades.

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Monday, October 26, 2015

Recent Decision Muddles the IRE Process in Workers’ Comp Act

by Joseph C. Romano, Esq.

In a significant and surprising decision in Protz v. WCAB (Derry Area School District), No. 1024 C.D. 2014 (Pa.Cmwlth. 2015), the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania determined that the Impairment Rating Evaluation (IRE) process utilizing the Fifth and Sixth Editions of the AMA Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment is unconstitutional.

The Court ultimately determined that only the Fourth Edition of the AMA Guides may be used in determining a claimant’s degree of impairment under Section 306(a.2), 77 P.S. § 511.2, of the Workers’ Compensation Act.

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