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February 2017 Archives

Workers Comp Opt Out Legislation

Across the country workers comp opt out are legislative efforts to allow employers to "opt out" of the traditional workers' compensation systems in several states. Generally speaking, opt out laws take government out of the equation and allow employers to determine the nature of the benefits and the terms of the claims administration, as well as appeal processes. Recently, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that Oklahoma's opt out law unconstitutional leaving only Texas with an opt out system. Vasquez v. Dillards, Inc. 2016 OK 89.

What is Negligence in Wisconsin Accident Law

In Wisconsin, negligence is when a person fails to exercise ordinary care.  Ordinary care is the care, which a reasonable person would use in similar circumstances.  A person is not using ordinary care and is negligent, if the person, without intending to do harm, does something (or fails to do something) that a reasonable person would recognize as creating an unreasonable risk of injury or damage to a person or property. This is from Wisconsin jury instruction 1005. It's easy to think of negligence as the breaking of a rule. Once you know what the rule is, simply compare the defendant's conduct or driving to what the rule says. For example, the rule is that one must come to a complete stop at a stop sign before proceeding; if a driver does a rolling stop, he is negligent. If his negligence causes or contributes to an accident and injuries, then that negligent driver is responsible for his share of causing the accident. When we try to imagine generally what 'reasonable' conduct is, it becomes a rather cloudy exercise, which the defense layers with confusion, complexity and ambiguity. In order for the plaintiff to carry his burden of proof, to convince the judge or jury that the defendant was negligent, we need clarity, simplicity and a degree of certainty. In essence, the plaintiff must show that the defendant had at a crucial decision point a binary choice to make, a yes or no, a right or wrong, in computer terms, a 1 or 0. By making the wrong choice, he was negligent. In fact, Wisconsin law clearly explains this rationale in another jury instruction:

Workers Compensation Spinal Compression Fracture Rehabilitation

Rehabilitation after work-related vertebral a compression fracture can be a slow process. If unable to work, one should be receiving workers comp benefits while attending therapy sessions and understand recovery can take time.

Wisconsin Workers Compensation

Workers compensation laws were passed to provide a relatively quick and sure remedy for employees hurt on job in the innovative but dangerous employment conditions wrought by the industrial revolution. Employees did not have to prove negligence, just causation. In return, this grand bargain immunized employers from tort liability to employees in almost all contexts. In addition, while worker's compensation benefits offered medical treatment the wage replacement benefits are limited and there is no noneconomic or pain and suffering compensation.

Stopping on the Highway: Railroad and School Bus

Two final stopping on the highway factual situations arise regularly in suburban and rural settings. Sometimes when following a bus or a tanker truck we get frustrated if they stop a railroad crossing when the guardrails are not down. Wisconsin law requires this in certain circumstances and there are very good safety reasons for this.

Workers Compensation Spinal Compression Fracture Treatment

Treatment for a spinal compression fracture at work begins with nonsurgical options. Falls, car accidents and occasionally lifting or exertion beyond tolerances a particular back can take cause work-related compression fractures. Workers compensation should be there if permanent work restrictions result. The insurance company does not have to tell you what your rights are and they don't. The majority of patients with compression fractures are treated without surgery. Literature indicates most compression fractures heal within eight weeks with simple remedies of medicine, rest, and perhaps a back brace.

Another Workers Compensation Independent Contractor Fail

A federal judge in Arizona ruled that truck drivers were not an independent contractor as reported in the Wall Street Journal on 1/13/17 quoted here. The district court ruled Swift Transportation Co. improperly categorized some of its drivers as contractors rather than employees. The case was based on improper wages paid, but also has implications to workers compensation coverage should a driver get injured on the job. Swift argued over the last seven years that disputes with drivers over their employee status should be handled through arbitration. The lawsuit went before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit multiple times, and Swift at one point asked the Supreme Court to weigh in. That request was denied.

Workers Comp Spinal Compression Fracture Symptoms and Diagnosis

A work-related spinal compression fracture may cause little or no pain at first. Sometimes pain is centered over the area where the fracture has occurred. The collapsed vertebra gives the spine a hunched appearance, and the loss of vertebral height shortens the muscles on each side of the spine. This forces the back muscles to work harder, causing muscle fatigue and pain. When pain does occur, it usually goes away after a few weeks. However, back pain sometimes escalates to the point that patients seek medical help.

Workers Compensation Permanent Disability Nonscheduled

A nonscheduled or unscheduled permanent disability is any compensable disability not listed in the workers comp schedules listed in Wis. Stats. Sec. 102.52 to 102.56. Mostly this involves a disability to the torso or head (but not involving sight or hearing loss). So, a permanent disability involving the low back, neck, abdomen, mental or psychological processes are unscheduled.

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