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

Articles Tagged with Injury Claims

Under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, workers usually encounter two types of work injuries in most circumstances: 1) injuries which resulted from a sudden event or accident, which is oftentimes termed an “acute” injury; and 2) repetitive trauma injuries which result from the cumulative stress developed over time, usually the result of doing the same activity over and over.

There are a lot of repetitive work injuries an employee can encounter: carpal tunnel syndrome, cubital tunnel syndrome, De Quervain’s, thoracic outlet syndrome, intersection syndrome, medial epicondylitis (golfer’s elbow), lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow), trigger finger, radial tunnel syndrome, ulnar tunnel syndrome, etc.

Katz Friedman has represented thousands of repetitive trauma cases over the years involving these types of injuries. As a result of that experience, there are some important considerations to understand which can significantly improve your chances of establishing a successful repetitive trauma claim.

Industrial workers face many potential dangers every day at work. Conveyor belts are one such example. Conveyor belt accidents lead to roughly 9,000 injuries per year, along with dozens of fatalities, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Once workers become caught in a conveyor belt, they can suffer injuries like amputations, lacerations, burns, degloving injuries, bone fractures and death. In many circumstances, others may be to blame, whether totally or at least in part. These causes include a failure to perform the necessary maintenance on the plant’s machinery, defects in the machinery, and improper training. If you’ve been hurt in a conveyor belt accident, you should reach out without delay to an experienced Chicago work injury attorney to discover what legal options exist for you to receive the compensation you need.

Back in the fall, a very serious injury accident occurred at a packaging plant in Kane County. According to a kcchronicle.com report, the accident involved a temporary worker who became trapped in a conveyor belt assembly early one morning. The maintenance workers were able to take the conveyor belt apart and get the woman free before the fire department arrived. Despite being freed, the woman still faced serious medical issues. She was transported by helicopter to a nearby Level I trauma center with life-threatening injuries. (Level I is the highest level of trauma care.)

A later report indicated that, despite the extreme injuries, the woman survived. News reports did not divulge the results of the OSHA investigation, so it is not known exactly what caused this accident in Kane County.

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Corrections officers protect us everyday by maintaining order in the jails and prisons across Illinois. They keep some of the most violent and dangerous criminals from harming the public. While various physical injuries have been a common duty related risk for Corrections Officers keeping offenders from harming themselves, other inmates, and law enforcement personnel, the growing number of Corrections Officers sick on the job from Covid-19 poses an even greater risk of harm to this crucial part of our workforce. Illinois prisons and larger County Jails, including Cook County, Dupage County, Lake County, Will County, Kane County, McHenry County, Winnebago County, LaSalle County, Peoria County, Tazewell County, McLean County, Champaign County, and Sangamon County are dealing with the threat of COVID-19 exposure. Cook County Jail has been identified as a top U.S. Hot Spot for the coronavirus, according to data compiled by The New York Times. (Source) Corrections Officers are becoming severely sick from COVID-19, many have died, and unfortunately many will continue to die over the course of this year.

Illinois Workers’ Compensation Law provides that employers are responsible to pay the same benefits for a Corrections Officer’s work injury as well as when a Corrections Officer contracts the novel corona virus. These benefits include weekly workers’ compensation pay when disabled from work, payment of medical expenses, and settlements for permanent partial disability. Some employers and their insurance companies will attempt to deny Corrections Officers’ COVID-19 claims contending that Coronavirus exposures are common to the general public. Clearly, many Corrections Officers will be exposed to COVID-19 to a greater extent than the general public if the virus is infecting the jail population. For instance, as the virus grows at a rapid rate among many Chicago-area jails, the increase in the number of exposed Corrections Officers and Sheriff’s Deputies is substantially certain. Similar rates of infection are also being seen among police officers and Sheriff officers. It is clear that this risk is higher than the general public and much higher than most professions outside of health care. Fortunately for those injured by falling ill from their job duties, the Workers’ Compensation laws in Illinois cover conditions made worse by a work injury. Just like with pre-existing conditions in health care coverage, it is expected that insurance companies and their lawyers will claim that a person’s condition was not worsened by Covid despite the evidence to the contrary. If it weren’t for these types of underhanded tactics, many injured people wouldn’t need to hire experienced workers compensation attorneys around Chicago and across Illinois. Some Corrections Officers will have mild symptoms from the Coronavirus, but others may have serious and permanent COVID-19 injuries including lung, kidney, liver, and heart damage. The permanent problems experienced with damage to vital organs not only diminishes the quality of life and life expectancy itself, but this type of organ damage will impact a person’s ability to carry out their jobs and provide for their families. What’s more, Covid will cause an aggravation of of conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and asthma, which can cause other long-term, detrimental health problems and even death years after this pandemic ends.

Governor J.B. Pritzker has called upon the IL Workers’ Compensation Commission to address the concerns for legal protection for essential workers. On April 13, 2020, the IL Workers’ Compensation Commission filed an Emergency Rule to deal with evidentiary issues in cases involving essential workers infected with COVID-19. (Click here for more information) . What this rule means is that Corrections Officers along with all members of Illinois law enforcement, who are considered essential workers like nurses and doctors, will have a somewhat easier time of proving that they contracted the Coronavirus as a consequence of an exposure to the virus in the work place. This rebuttable presumption means that it is presumed that a Corrections Officer with a positive Covid test was hurt at work and it puts pressure on the employer to prove that the illness was caused somewhere else. This presumption helps workers’ compensation attorneys like us prove your claim for benefits under the IL Workers’ Compensation Act was the result of prison or jail exposure to the virus and not simply a disease that is common to the general public. It is expected that many Covid work injury cases will be fought intensely by defense attorneys whose primary interest is saving the employer as much money as possible. Our job as the injured worker’s attorney is to maximize all benefits provided by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. We are on your side.

Many times, a truck accident has the potential to change the lives of multiple people… and change them forever. Those killed have their lives cut needlessly short. The decedent’s loved ones must deal with the emotional and the financial fallout of the unexpected loss. Obviously, no amount of money can take the place of the love, support, companionship, affection and wisdom of a lost loved one. That undeniable fact does not, however, change another fact, which is that the untimely loss of a loved one may create a massive financial hardship for those left behind.

A fatally injured victim in his 40s may have had a spouse and teenage children at home, and that family likely relied in whole or in part upon that person’s income to make ends meet. A person in her mid 60s may also still be working and providing both emotional and financial support to her family members. A victim in his 20s may be newly married with an infant at home who relied on her in many ways. All of these families could have suffered incalculable emotional losses and extensive financial ones, as well. An experienced Chicago truck accident attorney can help you in this vulnerable time to deal with the legal side of your needs.

Recently, the Illinois Supreme Court entered a ruling in a long-running case involving a tragic accident in Will County. J.S. was a 66-year-old husband and father of two from Naperville who had made a career in the commercial lending business. J.S., along with T.S., a 42-year-old man from Seneca (as well as many other drivers), were traveling along northbound Interstate 55 near Plainfield when the lives of their families and many others would be forever changed. At a little before 10 a.m., there was a wreck along I-55 and that had caused a backup. D.H., a trucker from Utah hauling a load of potatoes from Idaho to Bolingbrook, did not notice the slowed traffic in front of her soon enough. She tried to stop, but her truck slammed into the vehicles in front of her.

At the end of 2017, United Airlines (now known as “United Continental Holdings, Inc.” after the merger with Continental Airlines) announced that it would be issuing each of its flight attendants a new Tumi brand bag. In March 2018, United Airlines began requiring its flights attendants use the newly issued two-wheel or four- wheel “rollaboard” Tumi brand bags.

Unfortunately, the transition to the new Tumi brand bags has created numerous issues for United Airlines flight attendants. Almost immediately, United Airlines flight attendants began noticing that these bags are awkward, hard to maneuver, and in some circumstances, even dangerous to use.

As flight attendants already often need to be performing physically strenuous tasks, moving quickly, working in tight and awkward spaces, and lifting, pushing, and pulling heaving luggage, the additional requirement to use these awkward and uncomfortable bags is unfortunately causing injuries to flight attendants’ wrists, arms, shoulder, backs, necks, and legs.

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.

Many injured workers wonder if they need to file a workers’ compensation claim. Injured workers are often hesitant to file a workers’ compensation claim for a number of reasons. For instance, the injured worker may fear employer retaliation for filing a claim or the injured worker may think that the workers’ compensation claim process will be a long, time-consuming, and painful process with several doctor visits.

While there is no requirement that injured workers file a workers’ compensation claim, quite frankly, there is no reason not to file a workers’ compensation claim. The following lists several reasons why employees shouldn’t be fearful of filing a workers’ compensation claim:

  • Employers are prohibited from retaliating against you if you file a claim. State and federal law prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for reporting injuries. Moreover, employers are prohibited from offering bonuses or prizes for meeting safety goals if those incentives deter employees from reporting workplace injuries. Prohibited retaliation includes: demotions, disciplinary actions, dismissals, salary reductions, hour reductions, shift reassignments, and changes in job responsibilities. 

Illinois employers – even those who employ as few as one employee – are subject to certain requirements with respect to workers’ compensation. The employer’s primary obligation under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act is to obtain workers’ compensation on behalf of all employees. Workers’ compensation insurance must be obtained at the sole expense of the employer, and no portion of the premiums or benefits can be charged back to the employee. Illinois employers are allowed to self-insure, but they must obtain state approval to do so.

In addition to the obligation to obtain workers’ compensation insurance or obtain state approval to self-insure, Illinois employers are required to:

It can be important for an United Airlines employee to discuss an injury during a layover with an attorney. As demonstrated by numerous cases, including that of a flight attendant bitten by a spider while sleeping in a hotel during a layover, a Los Angeles flight attendant may be eligible for workers’ compensation. Understanding how the concept of “course and scope of employment” applies to layover injuries is essential to taking the best course of action in this type of situation.

 

Workers’ compensation benefits are provided to employees who are injured in the course and scope of employment. There are some key differences in the way that concept is applied to the circumstances of traveling workers, such as United Airlines flight attendants, and typical, fixed place employees. The range of circumstances that can be considered as within the course and scope of employment is much broader for traveling employees, allowing them to be compensated for injuries that would typically be denied had they occurred in a worker with a fixed place of employment.

 

After-hours injuries or accidents that occur during travel to and from the job are not covered in fixed place employees. However, if a Los Angeles flight attendant is injured in a hotel or restaurant during a layover in Chicago or while in route to one, those injuries may well be compensable. Generally, workers who are traveling on behalf of their employers are regarded as acting within the course of employment throughout the entire period of travel. Procuring food and shelter are considered incidents of employment in the case of traveling employees, and injuries sustained during the course of these activities are typically covered by workers’ compensation.

On occasion, as with any large industry, an United Airlines employee is injured by a co-worker during work. One incident, reported by New Jersey’s Star-Ledger on January 20, 2013, resulted in serious injury to an airline worker, who was pinned by a baggage cart after the cart was struck by a food service supply vehicle driven by another worker. This is the type of workplace injury situation that a New York United Airlines employee is best served by speaking with a lawyer as soon as possible, as liability and compensation in these sorts of cases can be complex. Initial statements regarding the circumstances of the injury can matter a great deal.

 

Circumstances Can Affect Liability

 

Sometimes, an accident is just that – an accident – and the standard procedures for dealing with compensation for an on the job injury are sufficient. However, that is not always the case and liability can expand beyond the usual workers’ compensation available for people hurt at work. Sometimes, an airline employee can be injured by a co-worker through the negligence of that co-worker. If the co-worker was impaired by drugs or alcohol, or was behaving in a reckless manner, for example, that could constitute negligence under the law and could affect liability.

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