Articles Posted in Workplace Injury

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.

Concrete cuttingIllinois is the home of multiple major auto manufacturing facilities, including Ford in Chicago and Chrysler in Belvidere. Just as with any manufacturing operation, auto assembly facilities come with their own risks of injury and sometimes even death. Earlier this year, a crane inspector employed by an Illinois company died in a fall at Ford’s Dearborn, Mich. facility. Last year, a man died underneath a falling wall at Ford’s facility in Chicago. Whether the fault for an accident lies with contractors, subcontractors, the auto company, or someone else is a matter that varies from case to case. An experienced Illinois injury attorney can help you pinpoint who is responsible in your case and help you get justice.

Just before 9:00 a.m. on Jan. 11, 2017, a crane inspector began traversing a wooden catwalk to approach a crane that he needed to inspect. The catwalk collapsed beneath the inspector, allowing him to fall between 30 and 50 feet to a concrete floor below. The inspector was transported to a nearby hospital, but he later died as a result of his injuries.

According to reports published by CBS Detroit, other employees at the Dearborn plant “told WWJ Newsradio that the man was not wearing a safety strap when” he fell to the floor. While the accident took place in Michigan, the fatally injured worker was employed by a Chicago-area employer that provides maintenance and inspection services for overhead cranes. As recently as the summer of 2015, Michigan’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a release reminding and imploring employers to give workers “100 percent fall protection” if the worker’s job means working at heights higher than six feet.

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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.

hospital staffThe aftermath of a workplace injury can be a stressful time. In many cases, your injury may leave you so limited that you cannot work. When that happens, it is important to make sure that you get all of the benefits you deserve, such as workers’ compensation, to provide for yourself and your family. For one hospital worker, that involved taking her case to the Illinois Appellate Court and winning a reinstatement of her full temporary total disability award because not only was she not working but also she proved that she wasn’t able to work.

The employee in this case was a surgical technician at a small-town hospital. Her job tasks consisted of setting up and cleaning up surgical rooms before and after procedures, in addition to moving patients to recovery beds. Two months into her job, the technician felt “something pull and shoot down [her] low back, into [her] legs” while moving a surgical bed into a hallway. A few weeks after the incident, the technician’s doctor diagnosed her with a disc herniation in her back. Eventually, the woman’s doctor concluded that she was unable to work and needed back surgery to address the disc problem.

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basketballA recent case from Cook County shines a light on injuries that take place in schools but outside school hours. A middle school science teacher endured a bad fall and a significant injury during an afterschool student-teacher basketball game. The teacher sued for workers’ compensation benefits, arguing that his participation in the game was “in the course of his employment.” Ultimately, the First District Appellate Court agreed with the teacher and reinstated an arbitrator’s award of benefits to the teacher.

The teacher in this case was teaching under the terms of a one-year contract. In March, his principal approached him about participating in an afterschool student-teacher basketball game, which was intended as a reward for certain students and a way of building rapport between students and faculty. He evaded the first few invitations, but, since he had not yet received a contract for the following year, nor had he received his performance evaluation, the teacher eventually decided that he should take part in order to enhance his standing with the principal.

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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.

FirefightersAny form of litigation can be difficult and may require you to make your case multiple times. In the case of one East St. Louis firefighter, even armed with three independent doctors who declared him to be entitled to a disability pension as a result of on-duty injuries, he had to pursue his case before a board, Circuit Court, and Appellate Court. Both the Circuit Court and the Appellate Court agreed that, based upon the strong evidence in the firefighter’s favor and the flawed evidence against him, the board should have declared him entitled to the disability pension.

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