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Articles Posted in Worker Compensation

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.

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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.

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.

Amazon warehouse workers know as well as anyone that, when an employer expects workloads and deadlines to be met by too few workers, the employer creates an environment with a clear potential for injury. If you’ve been one of those warehouse workers and you’ve suffered an injury on the job, you should waste no time in reaching out to an experienced Chicago workers’ compensation lawyer to see what benefits may be available to you.

On April 7, 2021, a group of Amazon workers at one of the mega-corporation’s Chicago-area distribution centers staged a walkout to protest working conditions at the facility. According to the workers, the employer has failed to fully staff the center, which has led to more worker injuries.

A report by the Chicago Sun-Times indicated that the walkout included dozens of Amazon warehouse workers employed at the company’s facility in the Gage Park neighborhood. Also joining the demonstration was Chicago Alderman Byron Sigcho-Lopez, WTTW reported.

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Here in Chicago and throughout Illinois, construction workers are faced with a variety of health and safety risks. Some are inevitable parts of the job. Others, though, occur because someone was negligent and that negligence led to a worker getting hurt. When that happens to you and those who caused your harm were someone other than your employer, you may be able to bring a lawsuit and recover substantial compensation in court. To find out more about the legal options you have, take prompt action by reaching out to a knowledgeable Chicago workplace accident attorney.

R.G. was one of those workers where negligence allegedly caused his construction injury. He was working at a construction site in Chicago relocating sprinkler heads and was entering a freight elevator to retrieve some equipment when another worker mistakenly closed the elevator door too soon.

The door struck R.G. in the head. The impact was so substantial that it knocked R.G.’s hardhat off his head and broke the suspension band inside his hardhat (which inflicted a scar on the man’s forehead.) That day was the last day that R.G. worked, and he was, at the time of his deposition, awaiting neck surgery.

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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.

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Flight attendants encounter a wide spectrum of passengers on the job. Regrettably, those sometimes include troubled people, including people with substance issues and those with mental health issues. Either of these groups can be particularly prone to violent outbursts during a flight, especially longer-haul flights. If you’re a flight attendant who’s been hurt by an out-of-control passenger, then you may be entitled to take certain legal actions and recover compensation, so you should make sure you don’t delay in contacting a knowledgeable Chicago injury attorney to discuss your situation.

Recently, multiple news sources covered the story of a Newark-to-Miami United Airlines flight that diverted to Charleston, South Carolina due to a passenger’s violent outburst. The passenger allegedly became agitated and then attacked, biting one man’s ear, striking another in the nose (and possibly breaking it), and hitting a third person in the temple, according to USA Today.

Many flight attendants, including O’Hare-based United and American Airlines crews and Midway-based Southwest crews, likely read this story with a grim sense of familiarity, having their own “horror” stories of violent passengers. Injuries inflicted by violent passengers stand as the dark flip side to the glamorous life that many people often associate with being a flight attendant.

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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.”

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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.

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