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June 2015 Archives

Keep the Milwaukee Bucks

Friends, we need to keep the Milwaukee Bucks in Milwaukee for one simple reason, having an NBA franchise is a large part of defining Milwaukee as a major city and Wisconsin as big time state to do business in.  Being percieved as a large, dynamic city is crucially important to economic development and growth, which in turn offers more opportunity to all citizens of Milwaukee and Wisconsin, but mostly lower and middle income.  Wealthy people, whether they live in Milwaukee, Eau Claire or Sturgeon Bay, their life isn't going to change in a generation whether we have more economic development in and around Milwaukee or not.  But plenty of others have the chance to benefit from more money being spent, businesses expanding, jobs created and the perception of things going on if Milwaukee is viewed by others as a place to be.  

Does workers comp cover missed work?

Yes, in Wisconsin workers comps covers missed work, if an injured worker has a work-related injury or condition.  As a legal and practical matter, an injury or condition is going to be considered work-related if the treating physician says so.  When an injured worker has missed work with a doctor's excuse stating that the man or woman either cannot work at all or can only work with restrictions (and the employer cannot accommodate those restrictions) he or she is halfway to receiving worker's compensation benefits.  The other half of the equation is the doctor must also state causation - the reason for the inability to work is work-related.  Work-related means the injury was caused directly by an on the job traumatic incident or aggravated beyond normal progression by a traumatic accident, or the work-related condition was caused in part by on the job duties over time.

Fired or Terminated for Making Workers Comp Claim?

Can an employee be fired or terminated for making a workers comp claim? No, in Wisconsin an employee cannot be fired or terminated for filing a worker's compensation claim.  But rarely does an employer leave any evidence of this as a reason for a termination, there is no smoking gun.  Instead, what happens is the IME doctor hired by the worker's compensation insurance company will lay a basis for a termination in the IME report. The IME doctor will state that the injured worker does not have a work-related injury or the worker does not have work-related restrictions preventing him from doing her job.  Then when the injured worker follows his own doctor's advice and stays within his restrictions, he is terminated.  The other method of termination, even in conceded claims, is when the worker presents himself for a return to work with restrictions, the employer will say they have no jobs within the restrictions.  This may be true, but if it is not, then the injured worker may have a refusal to rehire worker's compensation claim.

Obamacare is Good for Wisconsin Workers Compensation

The United States Supreme Court's 6-3 decision upholding the ACA is good for Wisconsin workers compensation employees and employers.  Yesterday, the Chief Justice Roberts' majority opinion saved the controversial health care law that will define President Barack Obama's administration for generations to come.  The ruling holds that the Affordable Care Act authorized federal tax credits for eligible Americans living not only in states with their own exchanges but also in the 34 states with federal marketplaces. It staved off a major political showdown and a mad scramble in states that would have needed to act to prevent millions from losing health care coverage.

Appeal over possible wrongful death case

Clients who are hurt or families whose loved ones die as a result of someone else's actions deserve persistence on the part of a legal advocate as they try to recover. This might be pursuing compensation for the devastating economic impact felt because of personal injury. It can also be strategic navigation through legal remedies necessary when wrongful death constitutes a cause of action. In some cases, judges may dismiss a claim. When this happens, refuting decisions through appeal might be appropriate.

Workers Comp Benefits Cut Off

Workers comp benefits cut off, what can I do?  McCormick Law Office attorneys get asked this question every day and our answer is we will fight for worker's compensation benefits.  Each case is different, and how we go about obtaining worker's comp benefits depends on the nature of your injury, the stage of the workers compensation process and your ultimate goal, whether it's a lump sum loss of earning capacity settlement, payment for retraining benefits or vocational rehabilitation, or a return to work after receiving necessary medical treatment.

Does Workers Comp Reduce Short or Long Term Disability Benefits

Most short term disability (STD) or long term disability (LTD) policies contain language that reduce their benefits by amounts received in worker's comp benefits for the same disability.  Also, if the STD or LTD benefits are received by the injured worker because worker's compensation has been denied, and then the worker wins his workers' compensation hearing, the judge will likely order reimbursement to the private disability insurer out of any workers comp indemnity for the same period of disability.  See Wis. Stats. Sec. 102.30(7).   The STD or LTD insurance carrier does not have standing to appear as an interested party in the worker's compensation hearing process.  However, since the employer is a party to the process and the private disability policy is paid for by the employer, the employer's attorney often advances the interest of the STD/LTD insurance company but filing a certified copy of the policy with the reimbursement language.  See unpublished Wisconsin Court of Appeals decision Walton v LIRC, 316 Wis 2d 773 (Ct App 2009).

Does Workers Comp Cover Lumbar Fusion For Degenerative Discs

Yes, workers comp covers lumbar fusion for degenerative discs if its work-related.  Fusion surgery does have a record of success according to a recent medical journal article in the Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine Jul 2014 / Vol. 21 / No. 1 / Pages 54-61.  Many injured workers in Wisconsin with lumbar disc injuries are seen by independent medical examiner, an IME doctor, who says they have degenerative disc disease that is not work related.  The insurance adjuster will deny that the injured worker is an appropriate candidate for lumbar fusion surgery.  While that may be the case, what if the employee's treating surgeon is recommending a PLIF, ALIF or TLIF for work-related lumber spinal stenosis or disc degeneration?  There are a significant number of recent studies published that continue to support the utility of lumbar fusion for patients presenting with stenosis and spondylolisthesis.

Dismantling Wisconsin's Workers Comp System Slowed, for now.

Dismantling Wisconsin's workers comp system slowed, for now.  Gov. Walker's budget bill had big changes in Wisconsin's workers' compensation system.  The same workers' compensation system that is the model for most states and is generally regarded as the best workers compensation system in the country.  The governor's office and the republicans in the legislature claimed the changes were just moving offices around to save money, but that was not true.  There were no savings, and it was not just moving offices.  We were able to stop some of the unnecessary shenanigans, but not all.

Loss of Earning Capacity is not the same as Disability Percentage

Loss of earning capacity is not the same as disability percentage in Wisconsin workers' compensation law.  When an injured worker has a work-related permanent injury, the doctor may assign a disability percentage to the injured body part.  For example a shoulder may have a 5% permanent partial disability percentage, also referred to as a 5% PPD percentage.  Wisconsin statutes and administration codes provide the amount of workers compensation benefits due for the PPD percentage depending on the body part, location of injury, date of injury disability rate and other factors.  In many cases the worker's compensation insurance carrier will simply pay the injured worker the correct benefits due.  In other cases the insurance company will deny paying, often using an independent medical examination or IME doctor as a defense.  The IME doctor may deny there is a permanent injury or PPD, or the IME doctor will suggest a lower PPD percentage.  Injuries to arms and legs are called scheduled injuries because the statutes provide a schedule depending on the body part.  For scheduled injuries, the permanent disability benefits are determined based on the percentage assigned by the doctor.

Does Social Security Disability Affect Workers Comp

Yes, social security disability affects workers comp benefits in most cases, at least for awhile.  Many seriously injured workers with cervical or lumbar herniated disc injuries end up with neck or low back surgery and permanent work restrictions preventing them from returning to their former occupation.   If the restrictions are so severe that the worker cannot engage in any gainful employment, he or she may be totally disabled for social security disability purposes in addition to having a claim for worker's compensation benefits.  In Wisconsin this is called the social security reverse offset.  In Wisconsin an injured worker's temporary total disability benefits, permanent partial disability benefits, permanent total disability benefits and some vocational retraining benefits are reduced according to a formula so that his combined SSD and worker's comp benefits do not exceed 80% of his average current earnings.  Injured workers in most other states have their social security disability benefits reduced by what they receive in worker's compensation benefits.  Not all social security benefits are subject to the reverse offset, for example social security supplemental income benefits, dependent benefits and cost of living increases are not included in the offset calculation.

Is a Spinal Compression Fracture Work-Related

A Spinal Compression Fracture can certainly be work related.  Compression fractures are the most common type of fracture affecting the spine. A compression fracture of a spine bone (vertebra) causes the bone to collapse in height.  A work injury to the spine, such as from a hard fall on the buttocks or blow to the head, or a fall landing on your back can cause a spinal compression fracture.  

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