COVID-19 Update: How We Are Serving and Protecting Our Clients

Articles Posted in Worker Comp Blog

This article originally appeared in the Chicago Tribune Business Section on April 19, 2022.

NORMAL, Illinois — As problems go, Rivian CEO and founder R.J. Scaringe believes he has a good one.

The startup EV manufacturer has renovated a shuttered Normal factory, created thousands of jobs, raised billions of dollars and launched production of an electric pickup truck and SUV that have captured the imagination of the automotive world.

A new report is showing little to no change in safety since Amazon pledged to become a safer company. During the early days of the pandemic, it was determined that for every 100 Amazon warehouse workers, 5.9 serious injuries were sustained. (source via CNBC) This was about 80% higher than the serious injuries suffered outside of Amazon’s warehouses. A new report indicates that Amazon employs 1/3 of all U.S. warehouse workers, but accounts for half the injuries. (source via Business Insider) Thus, it comes as no surprise that the recent pushes to unionize at Amazon facilities is driven more by safety concerns and far less by pay increases. (source via Yahoo News) Clearly, unionizing is on the rise at Amazon and it shows no signs of slowing. (source via Fox Business)

It appears that Amazon plans to introduce more robots, AI, and automation to make the warehouses safer for its employees. However, it seems more likely that Amazon only plans to spend money on automation to replace its workers one day. Until then, Amazon has a problem with its robotic warehouses being more dangerous than they need to be. At the Monee facility, 40 workers suffered severe injuries in 2018, and 25 were injured just during the holiday “peak” season, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. If you’ve been hurt in a workplace accident – at your Amazon warehouse job in Cicero, McKinley Park, Pullman, Humboldt Park, Maywood, Joliet, or elsewhere – be sure to reach out without delay to an experienced Chicago workplace injury attorney to discuss your case and find out your legal options.

[um-iframe src=”https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m12!1m8!1m3!1d95125.10825796555!2d-87.6876829!3d41.8356268!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!2m1!1sAmazon!5e0!3m2!1sen!2sus!4v1649783383896!5m2!1sen!2sus” width=”400″ height=”300″ style=”border:0;” allowfullscreen=”” loading=”lazy” referrerpolicy=”no-referrer-when-downgrade”></iframe]

We are lawyers and we pride ourselves on doing things the old-fashioned way and dotting every “I” and crossing every “t”. Lawyers have been using legal pads since the 19th century. We now live in an age of computers. Our office size will eventually shrink as we have less paper to store. We already scan all medical records we receive, and we send most correspondence by e-mail. The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission now has all documents filed electronically through their CompFile system.

In the years since Harold Katz and Irv Friedman became partners in 1954, we have seen the advent of the fax machine and computers for typing letters and then for storing data. We have gone from fishing in our pockets for change to call a client to relay a settlement offer to making that call on a cell phone and then texting or emailing the terms to our secretary in the office.

We strive to retain the accessibility of the old-fashioned country lawyer who will meet you in your town, at your union hall or even in your home while keeping current and using technology to make life better for our clients.

Volkswagen is recalling more than 246,000 SUVs in the U.S. and Canada because faulty wiring harnesses can make them brake unexpectedly, sometimes while in traffic.

The recall comes three days after The Associated Press reported that 47 people had complained to U.S. safety regulators about the problem, some reporting nearly being rear-ended by other vehicles. Many reported that warning lights and alarms would go off, the driver’s side windows would roll down and the SUVs would suddenly brake while in traffic.

Volkswagen says in documents posted Friday by The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that the recall covers certain Atlas SUVs from the 2019 through ….

As an American Airlines International flight attendant, you travel a great deal and may encounter unexpected, even dangerous situations, not only on the plane, but while on layovers or in hotel restaurants. If you’re injured in the scope of employment, you’re entitled to file a workers’ compensation claim for benefits. However, if a third party contributes to or causes your work injury, you may be able to also file a civil lawsuit against the third party to recover damages. You need to be aware that American Airlines or its workers’ compensation insurance carrier may have the right to recover expenses related to payment of workers’ compensation when a third party was at fault. This is called a subrogation interest. Subrogation of American Airlines international flight attendant claims can be extremely complicated. If your work-related injuries may have been caused by someone other than your employer, you should consult the experienced Chicago workers compensation lawyers of Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca. As an AV-rated law firm, we’ve fought for fair compensation for more than 60 years.

Subrogation of American Airlines International Flight Attendant Claims

Workers’ compensation is an exclusive remedy. Through this system, lawmakers intended you to be able to recover benefits without needing to establish an employer’s liability as you would in court. In exchange, you cannot sue your employer for work-related injuries and your benefits may be less than what you’d recover if liability were established in a lawsuit. However, if a third party is responsible for your work injuries in Chicago, you may be able to pursue damages in a lawsuit against that person or entity.

Workplace accidents that result in scarring or disfigurement are devastating, painful and emotionally difficult. Firefighters are particularly at risk of scarring and disfigurement on the job. As a firefighter, you may experience a permanent change in your appearance as a result of a fire. Firefighters in the City of Chicago are usually not covered for work-related injuries because the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act doesn’t cover firefighters who work in cities with populations of 500,000 or more. However, there is an exception for Chicago firefighters who suffer serious and permanent disfigurement due to burns. Evaluation of benefits for scarring and disfigurement requires assessing the extent of the disfigurement and whether a bodily function was impaired. If you are concerned about scarring for firefighters, you should discuss your claim with our experienced Chicago workers’ compensation lawyers.

Scarring for Firefighters

Firefighting is a dangerous job. Scarring or disfigurement may be the result of:

A change in the federal regulations could have a massive impact on the people who drive for Uber or Lyft, including the thousands of Uber and Lyft drivers in Illinois. The removal of a rule released under the Trump Administration means that it will now be harder for companies like Uber and Lyft to classify their drivers as independent contractors (as opposed to employees,) which means it will be relatively easier for those drivers to obtain benefits like workers’ compensation. If you were hurt while driving for Uber or Lyft, be sure to act without delay in contacting a knowledgeable Chicago workers’ compensation lawyer.

Back in early January, the U.S. Department of Labor released a new rule that clarified who did – and did not – qualify as employees as opposed to independent contractors under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Under the standard created by that rule, it was relatively easier for employers to classify workers as independent contractors and not run afoul of the law and federal regulators.

Under the Biden Administration, that rule is no more. In withdrawing the rule effective May 6, the current Labor Department said that the previous rule did not properly reflect the text of the FLSA and relevant judicial rulings.

Continue reading

Amazon is in the news again and it isn’t good news for some of the company’s warehouse workers in the Chicago area, according to groups that advocate on behalf of those workers. Recent reports say that many workers are being presented with a dismal choice: lose their jobs in the middle of this pandemic-fueled recession or else agree to work 10½-hour-long graveyard “megacycle” shifts at a new warehouse. This comes even as past research has shown that longer shifts often can lead to greater health and safety problems for workers. If you’ve been hurt at your warehouse job in or around Chicago, whether or not you were working exceptionally long shifts, you should take the time to contact a knowledgeable Illinois workplace injury attorney to get the legal advice you need.

According to a report from Motherboard, the aforementioned offer came on January 25 to the workers at Amazon’s McKinley Park warehouse known as DCH1. According to the reports, Amazon informed the workers that the company was closing down DCH1, which meant that those workers had two options: accept work at a new Chicago-area warehouse or else be terminated. The catch was, however, that the positions at the new warehouse involved megacycle work, which meant working four days per week, from 1:20 am to 11:50 am.

The situation facing DCH1 warehouse workers isn’t unique. According to the Motherboard report, Amazon “has been quietly transitioning warehouse workers at delivery stations nationwide to the ‘megacycle’ shift in recent months.”

Continue reading

In early 2021, United Continental Holdings (commonly known as UAL) began offering its flight attendants a Voluntary Separation Leave package with additional benefits to encourage voluntary separation from the company. As a term of the separation agreement, the flight attendant must waive his or her right to pursue legal claims and release United from liability related to his or her employment with and/or separation from United. Flight attendants are understandably concerned that this may affect their right to file a workers’ compensation claim and collect benefits for work related injuries.

This agreement does carve out some exceptions, including the right of the flight attendant to claim workers’ compensation benefits. This means that accepting the VSL does not forfeit your right in a workers’ compensation claim! Remember that you have three years from the date of the accident or two years from the last payment of compensation to file any Illinois workers’ compensation claim. You may file the workers’ compensation claim even after accepting the VSL.

However, flight attendants considering accepting this agreement should note that by signing the VLS agreement, the flight attendant is certifying that he or she had “no unreported on-the-job injuries”. By signing this agreement, the flight attendant who suffered unreported injuries or Occupational disease exposures in the past may jeopardize his or her right to obtain workers’ compensation benefits in the future. Accordingly, if a flight attendant has an unfiled workers’ compensation claim, it will typically be in his or her best interest to report the injury and file the claim with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (not just Sedgwick) prior to signing the VSL agreement to protect his or her right to workers’ compensation benefits. However, every case is different and this blog is not intended to provide legal advice, simply guidance and things to consider.

Normally, if you are hurt on the job in Illinois, you are limited to receiving only workers’ compensation benefits. If, however, your employer didn’t have valid workers’ compensation insurance at the time of your injury, then the range of outcomes is very different. In that circumstance, your employer isn’t shielded by the protections of the Workers’ Compensation Act, which means that you are no longer prohibited from suing your employer in civil court and getting a damages award in the full amount of the harm you suffered. This may help because a civil court damages award could be massively bigger than the award of workers’ comp benefits you otherwise would have received. To do that requires clearing many legal procedural hurdles that are often technically intricate and complicated, so it pays to have a knowledgeable Chicago workers’ compensation attorney on your side.

As an example, there’s the appellate court judgement regarding the case of J.G., a worker for a food manufacturer in the Chicago area. When he was hurt at work in early 2018, J.G. hired legal counsel to handle his workers’ compensation case. His attorney began investigating the case and discovered that J.G.’s employer did not have workers’ compensation insurance at the time of J.G.’s accident.

To be able to bypass the workers’ comp process and instead take your employer to civil court based on your employer’s lack of valid insurance coverage, you have to jump through several hoops in terms of proof.

Continue reading

Contact Information