Articles Posted in Worker Comp Blog

United Airlines (UAL) employees are talking and social media chat rooms are buzzing about the potential change in workers’ compensation administrators. For about 20 years Gallagher Bassett has been administrating the claims for benefits due to occupational injuries also known as “occupationals”, “OJI” or workers’ compensation injuries. Typically, an administrator provides claims adjustment services that include the investigation and processing of injury claims and payment of weekly workers’ compensation income benefits known as temporary total disability (TTD) and authorization for medical procedures and payment of medical bills. The administrator may also, at times, negotiate settlements after the injured worker has been released from doctor’s care.

There does not appear to have been a formal notice or press release confirming that United Airlines is replacing Gallagher Bassett. There has been speculation that this may occur October 1, 2017 and that the new claims administrator will be Sedgwick Claims Management Services.

Helpful Advice for the Injured Worker

What do I do when I am injured at work?

You know your job and you know what to do when things are running smoothly and when things go wrong. However, when you get injured you may be unsure about what to do and what to say. Here are some helpful hints for figuring out what to do when you get injured at work.

1. Report everything. If you get hurt at work you should report the accident to your superiors as soon as possible. Let them know exactly what happened and when it happened. It is easy when you have a specific injury, “I picked up a box and felt a sharp pain in my low back.” It is harder when the injury is due to the repetitive and forceful activities that you do at work. If you have pain and think it is work related let somebody know about it and see a doctor. You will need to report the claim to your employer as soon as a doctor tells you that your pain may be work related. Reporting every injury does not mean you are going to a doctor or hiring a lawyer every time. You are documenting that something happened. If you get hurt on Thursday but do not report it until the following Monday your employer may question your claim. Report the accident as soon as possible.

Safety remains an important issue for teachers, teacher’s assistants and school workers. Numerous injuries occur while teachers and school employees strive to instruct and provide for the safety and well-being of students. Although the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act is a law set up to benefit and provide relief for the injured worker, skilled workers’ compensation attorneys familiar and experienced with school related injuries are frequently needed to ensure the injureds’ rights are protected. Katz, Friedman, one of the few law firms, approved by the Illinois Education Association (IEA) to handle work injures on behalf of its members has successfully represented the injured throughout Illinois including employees of Elgin’s School District U-46, Rockford School District No. 205, St. Charles Community Unit School District No. 303, and many more. We are proud to report two recent trial victories on behalf of injured teaching professionals.

In the first case, the injured, a physical education teacher, suffered an injury while teaching her class. The teacher was demonstrating stretches and exercises to her students when she injured her back. The teacher sought medical treatment immediately and was given work restrictions by her doctor. The school district stated that they could not accommodate her restrictions and would not allow her to return to work. The school district also refused to pay her off work benefits, pay for her continued medical treatment and refused to allow her to come back to work in any capacity until all of her restrictions were removed. The school district based their denial of workers compensation benefits on the notion that “demonstrating exercises to students was not an essential function of a PE teacher’s job duties.” The school district’s refusal to allow the teacher to return to work lasted five months. During this time, the injured teacher did not receive any off work benefits as provided under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. Katz Friedman attorneys fought for the injured teacher at trial before the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. The Arbitrator ruled in favor of the teacher and agreed with all of Katz Friedman’s trial arguments. The injured teacher was awarded full off work benefits, payment of all medical bills including repayment of her out-of-pocket medical expenses of over $1,000.00 and a substantial award for the permanent partial disability caused by the back injury.

In the second case, Katz Friedman attorneys received a favorable trial decision where a special education teacher’s assistant sustained a concussion after a student punched her in the head. The trial award was five times greater than the amount offered for settlement by the school district. At trial, the school district attempted to minimize the injured teacher’s assistant’s symptoms claiming they were not related to the concussion injury. The school district’s argument was supported by a doctor they retained for the litigation. Katz Friedman attorneys were successful in convincing the Arbitrator that the medical evidence and treating doctor’s opinions were more credible than the doctor retained by the school district. Although there is still time for the school district to appeal this very recent decision, Katz Friedman attorneys remain confident that the results will be upheld.

Scores of injury claims for flight attendants are not filed every year due to lack of information, lack of perseverance and mostly due to fear. Flight attendants get hurt on the job. Whether due to turbulence, lifting heavy bags, pushing carts, ground transportation and layover accidents or repetitive trauma, injuries for flight attendants are common. Whether you call it an “occupational,” “IOD” (injury on duty), job injury or workers’ compensation claim, your rights as an injured worker are established by law. The Illinois Workers Compensation Act provides benefits for the injured, including medical expenses, lost income protection through weekly payments known as Temporary Total Disability (TTD) and compensation for permanent partial and total disability known as a “settlement” or “award.” The Illinois Workers Compensation Act is a no-fault system, which means the flight attendant need not prove their employer did anything unsafe or wrong to be eligible for benefits. These benefits are in place for the injured to get the help they need to recover from the injury and minimize the hardships that may result from the injury. Illinois workers compensation is the best benefit available to UAL flight attendants injured on the job.

Many United Airline flight attendants based or domiciled outside of the United States in London, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Narita and Guam deprive themselves of these benefits by not filing a workers compensation claim in Illinois when injured.

There is nothing to fear. Some flight attendants tell us they will not pursue a claim when injured because they are afraid they will be fired from their job. It is illegal to fire, harass or retaliate against an employee for filing an occupational claim or hiring an attorney to pursue it. Additionally, the union contract between the AFA and United Airlines protects against United Airlines terminating the flight attendant’s employment. Our firm has successfully helped United Airline flight attendants injured on the job for over 50 years. We have represented many internationally domiciled flight attendants including United-AFA union, MEC and LEC officers.

airline workers compensation attorneyFlight attendants face an ever growing risk of serious back injuries, because of the improper handling of heavy bags. As the employees continue to preform heavy lifting, their injuries only become more pronounced.

The Problem

Working conditions for flight attendants contribute to the high incidence of back injuries and the need for an airline workers compensation attorney. Flight attendants work in very confined spaces, without the room to maneuver properly, and they compensate for the lack of room by using incorrect lifting techniques. The dangers of bad techniques are amplified when flight attendants rush to place bags in bins. In addition, airlines rarely, if ever, provide flight attendants with the necessary safety equipment to lift and position the bags in overhead compartments.

The agricultural industry has consistently ranked as one of the most dangerous industries in the United States throughout the last decade. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, each day, more than 200 agricultural workers in America suffer work related injuries that are so severe that they must miss work. An alarming five percent of those injuries result in permanent impairment, and unfortunately, many agricultural workers lose their lives to agricultural related injuries.

Between 2003 and 2011, approximately 5,800 agricultural workers in the United States lost their lives to injuries that were work related. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an estimated 568 agricultural industry deaths occurred in 2014 alone, accounting for a full 12 percent of all work related fatalities across the nation that year. These disturbing statistics are not all-inclusive, however, because many farm related deaths are not reported. Additionally, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is only required to monitor workplace safety on farms that have more than 10 employees, so a comprehensive farm-fatality database is unavailable.

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pCasketWithBearers_Dollarphotoclub_52978072-300x200Working in and around airplanes can be a dangerous occupation. Some of the most common hazards include head injuries, crushing injuries, serious musculoskeletal damage and exposure to infectious diseases. In a recent case, an American worker was killed when an air bag inflated unexpectedly during the construction of a Boeing 777 airliner.

This tragic accident was only one of hundreds that occur among aviation professionals every year. Many Chicago employees in the air transport industry must face the consequences of serious disability, often requiring the help of a personal injury attorney to rebuild their lives.

Air bags are designed to help, not to harm

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According to the Federal Aviation Administration, more than 85,000 flights take off and land in America every day. Commercial airplanes often fly multiple times per day, carrying many loads of passengers. Like hotel rooms, restaurants and other enclosed spaces, these planes must be cleaned regularly.

Airline passengers are often unaware of this important task of cleaning as they rush from one flight to another. For some Chicago residents, cleaning planes can be a life-threatening task, as they may discover if they speak with a workers’ compensation attorney. Recent news stories and studies show that airplane cabin cleaners are often exposed to dangerous substances, including dirty needles, pathogens and human feces.

Hazardous areas for airplane cleaning crews

Muscular Man with BackacheAn employee with DHL Airways, Inc., was working with a baggage loader in the early morning in June 2000. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the employee had unknowingly positioned his foot under the edge of the loader. The operator turned on the machine, lowering the frame and crushing the employee’s foot. The employee was hospitalized for his injuries.

An airplane injury attorney would know that belt loaders, while increasing efficiency on the job, can also increase the risk of an unfortunate incident. Those who work in the industry should be aware of the potential hazards associated with the equipment.

A belt loader overview