Social Security Recipients Second Amendment Rights preserved Having a Representative Payee No Longer Prevents You From Owning a Firearm

Social Security Recipients Second Amendment Rights preserved Having a Representative Payee No Longer Prevents You From Owning a Firearm

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In February 2017, the House of Representatives voted to “overturn an Obama administration rule” that required the Social Security Administration to “forward the names of all Social Security Disability Insurance . . . benefit recipients who use a representative payee . . . to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System . . ..

Reaction sadly was over-the-top and exaggerated as some gun safety advocates characterized the vote as the House permitting “severely mentally ill” people from getting guns and will make Americans less safe.

WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED

The Obama Administration required the Social Security Administration to send the records of Social Security Disability (SSDI) recipients who need a representative payee to the FBI for the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.  This meant these particular SSDI or SSI recipients were deprived of their right to purchase a firearm.

What’s a Representative Payee?

Individuals are required to have a representative payee for mental impairments when a beneficiary is “legally incompetent or mentally incapable of managing benefit payments.”  An injured and disabled worker who has difficulties remembering deadlines, properly doing math, or any other significant inability to spend their SSDI benefit properly may be required to have a representative payee even if his or her disability has nothing to do with a mental impairment.

Having a Representative Payee does not mean that your inability to mange finances is because a disabled worker is violent, or poses a risk to themselves or to others.

Because of the myriad of impairments that could require a representative payee, even the American Civil Liberties Union (“ACLU”) spoke out against the rule, saying “A disability should not constitute grounds for the automatic per se denial of any right or privilege, including gun ownership.”  Republican House Judiciary Chairman, Bob Goodlatte opposed the rule because “it paints all those who suffer from mental disorders with the same broad brush.”

Congress has now revoked that rule.

WHAT HAPPENS NOW?

Because of this vote, if you are awarded Social Security Disability benefits, SSDI or SSI, and have the need for a Representative Payee – the Social Security Administration will no longer automatically report you to the NICS.

Have Questions?

Navigating the Social Security Disability process is not always easy.  Circumstances are always changing, and we are happy to answer questions and help navigate the process.  Email – Tre Eyden, EDPNA, or call 970-356-9898.

A Drivers’ Union for Uber?: What the Uber Settlement Means for Workers’ Compensation Rights

A Drivers’ Union for Uber?: What the Uber Settlement Means for Workers’ Compensation Rights

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As driving applications like Uber and Lyft gain popularity, so do pressing legal questions about their drivers and passengers. Increasingly, Denver workers’ compensation lawyers and Greeley workers’ compensation attorneys find that professionals have multiple jobs. With the certification process for Uber being so intuitive, many people find themselves ferrying intoxicated passengers as a weekend or extra-part-time job. As previous blog posts have noted, Uber and Lyft drivers have had multiple injuries on the job. Uber drivers have to worry about everything from run-of-the-mill car accidents to full-on assault by passengers, as some drivers in California have noted.

Workers’ compensation lawyers in Denver don’t necessarily have automatic clients in Uber drivers, however. Since the company classifies its drivers as independent contractors, Uber and Lyft drivers aren’t immediately able to claim workers’ compensation benefits for injuries they sustain on the job.

Just last week, however, Uber announced it was settling two huge class-action lawsuits Uber drivers in California and Massachusetts brought against the company. The drivers argued, among other things, that Uber was misclassifying the drivers as independent contractors. An independent contractor, for example, brings his or her own equipment to a job site and may choose which jobs to take and which to leave. Uber drivers and their lawyers argued that Uber is clearly an employer since the driver app notifies drivers about potential fares and drivers generally can’t pick and choose their clients. This key difference makes Uber significantly different from a taxi service.

As part of the agreement in the class action lawsuit, Uber will continue its habit of classifying its drivers as independent contractors, which means drivers still won’t get unemployment or workers’ compensation insurance. However, the drivers did receive a settlement as part of the agreement–$100 million in total. Also, Uber will allow drivers to accept tips from their passengers and the deactivation policy will become less strict. These changes seem to push Uber more toward a taxi cab model.

The most significant step this settlement takes in changing the way Uber works, however, is the formation of a new drivers’ association for Uber drivers in California and Massachusetts. This association is a little like a union, in that it takes the first step toward allowing collective action between Uber drivers to advocate for their interests from the company.

The association is different from a traditional labor union because it will not grant rights to capacity or collective bargaining from Uber. But drivers will elect representatives for the association and meet with Uber four times per year to address drivers’ issues. Uber will also fund the association, which raises questions about how objective and useful it will actually be from an objective perspective. After all, if Uber is footing the bill, wouldn’t a union with teeth be against its own interests?

Additionally, if the union gains real power to affect a difference in drivers’ work, there might be some legal issues. If the association is more like a suggestion box, it probably wouldn’t face any major challenges from the National Labor Relations Board. However, if the association begins to look more like a union, the National Labor Relations Board might conclude that the association is a union controlled by the company, and that has been illegal since the Great Depression.

If Uber really wanted the drivers’ association to have the power to make changes to drivers’ workplaces and put into effect drivers’ suggestions, the best route would probably be to allow an outside union to help the drivers. However, any kind of driver organization for what are ostensibly independent contractors would probably run against Uber’s interests as a company.

Either way, with the settlement of the class action suits against Uber, the drivers that work for the company will probably not be considered anything other than independent contractors for a long time. This means workers’ compensation for Uber drivers, unfortunately, remains a highly-contested topic.

Workers’ Compensation can be difficult, confusing, and very complex. Kaplan Morrell has helped thousands of injured workers since 1997 get the benefits they deserve. Contact us here or call us at (866) 356-9898 for your free consultation.

Catching Fries: What Exactly Is In The Course Of My Employment?

Catching Fries: What Exactly Is In The Course Of My Employment?

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Greeley workers’ compensation lawyers and Denver workers’ compensation lawyers will tell you many states have a loose definition of what kinds of activities are conceivably within an employee’s job responsibilities. While workers can only receive benefits when they’re injured on the job in the course of their employment, different states have different definitions of “in the course of employment.”

Virginia, for example, has a strict rule about what an employee’s course of employment is. It requires the employee to be in a place where he or she might reasonably be expected to be, while he or she is reasonably fulfilling the duties of his or her employment, and within the period of his or her employment. This is called the actual risk test. Many states have broader definitions of what arises out of the course of an employee’s employment but each state has the right to decide its own definition.

A recent case appealed in Virginia actually hit on this question. While Greeley workers compensation lawyers would not be able to use this case to persuade courts to rule a certain way, the case itself involved a strange injury under unusual circumstances.

Janis Cooper used to work at McDonald’s in Virginia. She was a store manager but when her store closed, she was moved to a different store and had to work under a different manager. Her new duties included serving customers, cleaning parts of the store, loading and unloading trucks, and lifting and moving heavy product. In 2013, Ms. Cooper filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits for a neck injury she suffered while working in the drive-through. When a bag of fries was dropping, she jerked to keep them from falling and tweaked her trapezius muscle so badly, she cried and couldn’t finish her shift.

Related: If I am injured outside the state is my injury covered by Colorado Workers’ Compensation?

Most Denver workers’ compensation lawyers will tell you to report an injury as soon as it is suffered. In this case, Ms. Cooper did not report the injury right away. She waited a few days to report the injury in the hopes that it would go away on its own. After treating with different doctors through the rest of the year and into the next year, she was awarded benefits after the case went to trial. Her employer appealed the decision because it said leaning down didn’t fit Virginia’s higher test for deciding if an injury was sustained during the course of an employee’s employment.

Colorado has a different standard from Virginia but employees’ injuries are always questioned. Unfortunately, employers tend to consider any claims against their workers’ compensation insurance as a personal matter. Ms. Cooper ended up receiving her benefits in 2015, so the story ended well for her. The court found her bending down to try to keep the fries off the floor as part of her employment because part of her assessment as an employee had to do with reducing waste and prompt customer service. She received benefits for her lost wages, had her medical care mostly paid for, and will receive benefits for the rest of her life because she was effectively disabled as a result of her injury.

Employers sometimes take workers’ compensation claims personally, which may lead people to try to live with their losses and injuries sustained at work. However, if businesses expose workers to conditions and expectations that lead to injuries, employees have a positive responsibility to bring cases regarding injuries they received. Employees should feel comfortable speaking up when it’s necessary for themselves but if they don’t, they risk exposing future employees to the same unsafe conditions. In order to maintain a positive climate in a company, people must speak up when issues arise.

Workers’ Compensation can be difficult, confusing, and very complex. Kaplan Morrell has helped thousands of injured workers since 1997 get the benefits they deserve. Contact us here or call us at(866) 356-9898 for your free consultation.

Source: Gene Forbes Enters. v. Cooper, 2015 Va. App. LEXIS 195 (Va. App., 2015).

Mental Health and Workers’ Compensation: Cases in 2015

Mental Health and Workers’ Compensation: Cases in 2015

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Workers’ compensation varies from state to state, which makes for broad and different kinds of cases all over the nation, as Greeley workers’ compensation lawyers and Denver disability lawyers know. This past year, a court in New York made an interesting decision about a workers’ compensation case. Denver workers’ compensation lawyers were puzzled by this decision but the case itself shows just how flexible and fluid law can be.

As we look back on the past year, it is important to look forward and see where Workers’ compensation may be going. Cases decided in New York naturally can’t set examples Greeley workers compensation lawyers can follow at home. To begin with, it’s a different district. However, if enough courts decide cases a certain way, it might signify a trend within which the best lawyers for workers’ compensation will learn to argue.

Generally, if you’re injured at work, it has to be in the course of your employment. That, translated, means you have to be doing what you’re hired to do in order to get your injuries covered. Injuries can, of course, be mental or physical. But—and this is very important—the injury has to happen while you were doing something related to your job. So if you take a break and injure yourself doing something completely unrelated to work, it might not be covered under your boss’s workers’ compensation insurance.

In March of 2013, Kim Demperio brought a case about an injury in her workplace and the case was finally appealed and decided in March of this 2015. The highest court allowed the woman compensation for her injuries but attorneys for the other side argued the whole way to not award her anything. To be fair, her injury was a little unusual and occurred in an unusual way.

Ms. Demperio worked as a secretary at a medical facility. She requested workers’ compensation benefits after an incident in 2006, when a patient committed suicide right in front of her. In March of 2006, a patient at the facility where Ms. Demperio worked jumped from a window and impaled himself on picnic tables outside of her office. Ms. Demperio was on the scene quickly and her supervisor told her to get an oxygen tank for the patient. She was not medically trained but followed her supervisor’s instructions, only to feel a high level of anxiety right after. She said she “lost it” after officials at the medical facility told her she wasn’t supposed to talk to investigators about the patient who died or her previous conversations with the patient.

As a result of the patient’s death, Ms. Demperio was diagnosed with debilitating depression, PTSD, and serious anxiety. The Board of Workers’ Compensation allowed her to recover but her employer and the insurance administrator appealed the decision.

Naturally, her employer would appeal. Generally, when someone has a purely psychological injury, insurance companies look at the injured victim critically. The question of poor mental health as an injury or disability is hotly argued throughout the United States. Many people share the attitude that if something is invisible to the layperson, it must not exist. This attitude persists in spite of significant medical findings to the contrary. The employer did not argue that Ms. Demperio was not acting within the course of her employment at the time of her injury.

The court’s reasoning in giving Ms. Demperio the benefits to which she was entitled had to do with previous New York case law. In New York, purely psychological injuries people suffer after witnessing suicides are generally invalid with one exception. The injured party has to be an active participant in the tragedy. Since Ms. Demperio got the oxygen mask, the court decided she was an active participant and she received her workers’ compensation benefits.

Workers’ Compensation can be difficult, confusing, and very complex. Kaplan Morrell has helped thousands of injured workers since 1997 get the benefits they deserve. Contact us here or call us at(866) 356-9898 for your free consultation.

Source: Matter of Demperio v. Onondaga County, 126 A.D.3d 1250, 1251 (N.Y. App. Div. 2015).

Temporary/Seasonal Employment and Workers Compensation in Colorado

Temporary/Seasonal Employment and Workers Compensation in Colorado

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Generally, a seasonal/temporary worker is only employed on certain seasons. A company may opt to hire extra people if they think that the workload is more than usual, but only temporarily, for a specific duration. Retail stores, farms, and ski resorts typically hire workers for temporary/seasonal work. 

In Colorado, more agricultural workers are employed to see to it that crops and vegetables are delivered where they need to be delivered, but often only during harvest season. If you have been or are planning to be a seasonal worker, you should be familiar with your rights.

Related: Seasonal Roof Worker Killed in Colorado Workplace Fall

If you’re a seasonal worker, are you qualified for workers compensation?

The short answer is yes. But the process is far from simple.

Take, for example, you get a broken arm because you fell off a ladder while pulling stock in the warehouse at work. Naturally, you won’t be able to complete your regular tasks due to your condition. In this case, in Colorado, you’d typically be entitled to a temporary total disability pay through the Colorado Workers’ Compensation Act. Your medical bills would typically be covered by the company’s workers compensation insurance, including mileage to and from the doctor. You’d also typically get lost wages. This is the normal process if the injury happened to you within the season. As with most work injury cases, a Workers’ Compensation Attorney will be able to help you get the maximum workers’ compensation benefits. Temporary workers are not entitled to unemployment benefits once the season is over. There is a possibility of the insurance provider denying an injured worker’s workers’ comp claim- which is why you should have an attorney on your side. Our Greeley Workers’ Comp attorneys are experienced with seasonal workers and have a proven track record of getting injured workers the benefits they deserve.

Know more about your rights as a worker. For a FREE CONSULTATION, call (866) 356-9898 to speak with a  Denver workers compensation attorney today.

Am I Eligible for Social Security/Disability?

Am I Eligible for Social Security/Disability?

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Many people either need or will need social security/disability benefits through their lives. Social security and disability benefits exist to help people who suffer from injuries so severe, they can no longer perform the job functions they used to and it’s difficult to impossible for them to find employment in other fields.

Broadly speaking, in order to qualify for social security or disability benefits, Denver disability lawyers will evaluate whether a person falls into the “disabled” category. While disabled has a lay meaning, there is a specific legal definition that Denver disability attorneys apply to individuals to see if they will be a good candidate for social security/disability benefits.

There are two main programs through the Social Security Act for which people generally apply. The first, called Old Age Survivors and Disability Insurance (OASDI), gives insurance to workers who lose earnings unexpectedly because of injury, retirement, or death. The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program gives people who qualify for welfare based on means disability payments.

Both of the programs identify “disability” as the inability “to engage in substantial gainful activity by reason or any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted to can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.” 42 U.S.C. §§423(d)(1)(A).

So what does that mean for someone who believes he or she might be disabled? Firstly, it means there must be medical documentation of the disability. It isn’t enough to believe you’re disabled or know you can’t work the way you used to—there has to be a doctor who signs off on a specific physical or mental impairment. The severity of the impairment, also, has to be chronic/long-lasting and can be expected to result in death or has been occurring for at least a year. It’s a morbid definition to be sure.

Related: Denver Workers Compensation Case Review: Duty to Report Injuries

The more difficult part to consider, however, is that Social Security benefits have to be applied for through the Social Security Administration (SSA). The Administration receives hundreds upon hundreds of applications and each one has to be individually reviewed to make sure the disability is severe enough and the documentation extensive enough for the applying party to qualify under the narrow legal definition of disability. The Administration does its best to award benefits to people who qualify but there are a series of legal hoops interested parties must jump through in order to qualify for awards. Due to the sheer volume of applications, many people who qualify for benefits are denied when they first apply.

If you’ve applied for disability benefits in the past and qualify under the specific definition of disability but were denied benefits, don’t worry because you’re not alone. The SSA is a large organization and, like many large organizations, has an immense, bureaucratic structure that often keeps individuals from receiving the benefits to which they are entitled. Luckily, those who the SSA denies benefits can seek review from federal judges. The average federal circuit court has to decide almost 400 disability cases alone each year. There are five steps to evaluating a disability status claim, which judges go through each time they need to check on an individual’s application for disability benefits.

The judges look first at whether the person applying for disability benefits currently perform work defined in terms of substantial gainful activity. Secondly, the judges see if the applicant suffers a medically severe impairment that limits his/her ability to perform work. Thirdly, the judges see whether the impairment is listed as a recognized impairment that doesn’t allow the applicant to engage in substantial gainful activity. Fourthly, the judges check if the impairment keeps the applicant from performing his/her previous work, and finally, if the applicant has the capacity to perform any other work in the economy. An applicant needs to go through these steps to prove he or she qualifies for disability benefits, which can be a lengthy and complicated process filled with pitfalls and proof problems. Not everyone has the energy for this kind of drawn-out battle for benefits, which is where disability lawyers can be a big help advocating for benefits.

Workers’ Compensation and Social Security/Disability can be difficult, confusing, and very complex. Kaplan Morrell has helped thousands of injured workers since 1997 get the benefits they deserve. Contact us here or call us at(866) 356-9898 for your free consultation.

Source: TENTH CIRCUIT SURVEY: Social Security, 74 Denv. U.L. Rev. 519.

What Does it Mean? Lower Workers’ Comp Insurance Rates for 2016

What Does it Mean? Lower Workers’ Comp Insurance Rates for 2016

Denver Disability Denver Workers Compensation Social Security Blog Workers Compensation Blog

At the end of the year, many insurance companies will attempt to settle or reduce the number of open claims they have. Workers’ compensation is no different, creating an opportunity for Denver workers’ compensation lawyers, Greeley workers’ compensation attorneys, and especially their injured clients. These clients often work for years at their jobs and suffer work injuries before finding out how difficult the system can be. Through the course of treatment, workers need to focus on getting better rather than the sometimes stressful world of workers’ compensation. After all, you hire a Denver workers’ compensation attorney so he or she can do the worrying for you.

The other important information for workers’ compensation that comes at the end of the year is the amount of lost-time claims that were reported for Colorado employers over the year. This figure factors into premium costs for workers’ compensation insurance, the cost of which is released for the next year at the end of the previous year. For 2016, The Colorado Division of Insurance reduced the average less costs portion of workers’ compensation premiums almost 2 percent.

Reduction of reported injuries is good for insurance companies, who have to pay less in medical bills and costs for workers injured on the job, and business owners, who have to pay less in premiums if they can prove as a whole that Colorado suffered less work injuries. This incentive makes sense: if you make your workplace safer, you should be rewarded and the language most businesses speak is money. And if workers’ compensation insurance is less expensive, fewer businesses can argue it costs too much to maintain even with the potential risk to workers.

Individual businesses still have to wait to see what their rates will look like. Just because as a whole, state workers’ compensation premiums will decrease slightly, it doesn’t mean all employers will see the decrease in their industries. After all, certain industries are inherently riskier than others just as a job in construction might carry a higher risk of work injury than an office job. Not always the case but as a general rule, certainly.

Related: Make No Mistake, The Workers’ Compensation Insurance Carrier is not on your side

A decline in reported workers’ compensation claims might not mean a decline in work injuries. The measures are reported injuries. Sometimes, workers hesitate to report injuries because they are close to the owners of their companies or the company immediately starts paying for medical costs out of pocket. Certain businesses make this decision because the workers’ compensation system is complicated and difficult to manage from many different perspectives. However, part of the safeguards built into the workers’ compensation system in Colorado are designed to make sure injured workers aren’t left with their medical bills or saddled with difficult doctors who refuse to see the direct work-related cause of the employee’s injuries. It’s a tricky system, to be sure, and many people make the conscious decision to avoid it altogether. However, the obvious risks of such a system are the reason workers’ compensation works the way it does. The system is not perfect but it’s the best pragmatic way to safeguard the interests of employers and employees alike.

Over the past 8 years, Colorado’s lost-time or workers’ compensation claim frequency has gone down. This makes it more likely globally speaking that companies will have workers’ compensation insurance in Colorado, which on its face is a good thing. However, if truly injured workers hesitate to take advantage of the insurance plans when the workers qualify, the system does not serve its purpose. After all, worker safety is everyone’s priority. The best way to increase worker safety is to identify ongoing safety risks early on in the process so others aren’t injured in the same manner.

Workers’ Compensation can be difficult, confusing, and very complex. Kaplan Morrell has helped thousands of injured workers since 1997 get the benefits they deserve. Contact us here or call us at(866) 356-9898 for your free consultation.

Source: http://www.bizjournals.com/denver/blog/finance_etc/2015/10/colorado-employers-to-see-lower-workers-comp.html

Seasonal Changes: Harvesting and Worker Safety

Seasonal Changes: Harvesting and Worker Safety

Denver Disability Denver Workers Compensation Social Security Blog Workers Compensation Blog

For many people, Fall means changing leaves, the last hikes of the season, and seasonal foods coming out taking advantage of the last real fruit season of the year. Fall for farmers means harvest season and this seasonal employment carries a good deal of risk which Greeley workers’ compensation attorneys and Greeley workers’ compensation lawyers help employees with.

Emma Misener, who works for Misener Family Harvesting, based in Elk-County, Oklahoma, says “If you have not had a dangerous encounter while hauling or driving in convoy, I am not sure you can call yourself a harvester!” Combines move across almost all lanes of highways moving from field to field to harvest and accidents seem almost inevitable. These jobs are dangerous from a workers’ compensation perspective to begin and if you add the risk of auto accidents, the risk balloons enormously.

Denver workers’ compensation attorneys would be the first to say this harvesting safety problem is universal and as long as people are unsafe on the roads, the risk is inevitable. Just this year, Tracy Zeorian, who works harvesting in Manley, Nebraska, says “The non-harvest traffic is always in a hurry. They have no patience for the slower moving equipment traffic—whether loaded on trailers or ‘roading’ the combines…this impatience tends to create problems for our industry. There have been way more accidents than there should have been this past summer.”

Many crews try to prevent accidents by taking pre-emptive measures. These measures are important from a workers’ compensation perspective as well as a general job-safety perspective because when a worker goes to work, it’s the employer’s job to make sure every rational and foreseeable precaution was taken to avoid accidents. Some things happen outside of the employer’s control, like distracted drivers who move too slowly to avoid collisions, or freak equipment malfunction, but in general, employers have a responsibility for keeping their workers safe.

Every company has its own procedure and set of rules to keep workers safe and this varies from industry to industry. In inherently risky businesses like harvesting, employers take out different types of insurance, as well, in order to mitigate the damage of any type of injury on or off the job for workers. High Plains Harvesting, from Kansas, for example, has carrying liability insurance, cargo insurance, workers’ compensation, and individual unit insurance. This is complicated for harvesting companies that service multiple states because there are different state guidelines for each of those insurance types. Making things clearer is a job Denver workers’ compensation lawyers are called in for frequently. Injuries and insurance coverage can sometimes be straightforward but what about in the case of a Kansas company that services Colorado for an injury that occurred on the job in Colorado?

Related: Independent Contractors- Defining Workers’ Rights When It Comes To Workers’ Comp & Disability

Hauling oversized loads and equipment require specialized trailers with proper weight-bearing technology so the harvesters don’t create risky situations on the road. Each permit for an oversized load and fuel for the trailers has to go through each state the trailer will travel through. Every piece of equipment is individually licensed and insured for harvest, to cover the liability for farmers who need the equipment to harvest and the company, which has to also keep in mind routes, construction, and the varying state-to-state laws. Harvesting, which was a complicated business to begin with, seems to tangle into a complicated knot with innumerable factors and details that require closer attention paid to safety than vast swathes of other industries. Even before the trip is made, the route is mapped out for trailers, including such details as construction zones. Some construction zones only allow 10-foot wide combines when most combines, when fully loaded, are 14-feet wide. Mere transportation of equipment for harvesting emerges as a finely-crafted ballet with massive checklists which ensure worker safety as well as safety of other drivers. Most harvesters have to make two trips to adhere to all of the standards, which increases the time they’re on the road with normal drivers making their commute. The first trip is usually a scouting trip and the second is the pre-planned route.

Road safety should be a priority for drivers in general. After all, when we use public roads, we enter an unspoken agreement to behave prudently and minimize risky behavior. As with construction workers, however, it seems our road safety choices influence the work lives of harvesters as well. It can be annoying to be stuck behind a large trailer bearing an oversized load but injuring the driver in the course of their work is not excusable. Unfortunately, dealing with risky drivers looks like another work hazard faced by harvesters and harvesting companies.

Workers’ Compensation can be difficult, confusing, and very complex. Kaplan Morrell has helped thousands of injured workers since 1997 get the benefits they deserve. Contact us here or call us at(866) 356-9898 for your free consultation.

Source: http://www.hpj.com/ag_news/safety-at-top-of-to-do-list-for-custom-harvesters/article_5f083885-43e1-55b0-9543-fcbfee7d5acc.html

Oil Gauging Practice as a Health-damaging Working Condition

Oil Gauging Practice as a Health-damaging Working Condition

Denver Disability Denver Workers Compensation Social Security Blog Workers Compensation Blog

There was a controversial case here in Colorado just recently. A judge ruled in favor of a widow whose husband died because of unfavorable working conditions.

Jim Freemyer, an oil-field worker, died in 2014 after inhaling toxic chemicals in a low-oxygen atmosphere at the Gaddis oil tank site. What he did was most commonly known as ‘tank gauging,’ in which the worker, in this case Freemyer, was tasked to hold a measuring device to check the tank’s oil level. He was employed by Now or Never Trucking Inc. in Greeley. His widow was awarded funeral expenses and a monthly death benefit. Aside from that, she also expects to receive an amount of $19,600, as ordered by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OHSA). OSHA wrote to Mrs. Freemyer that Now or Never exhibited lapses in safety measures, which consequently caused his husband’s demise.

Freemyer had an existing ailment, a cardio vascular diseas, at the time of his death. Pinnacol Assurance used this reason in an attempt to deny him of his posthumous benefits. Nevertheless, the judge took into consideration the testimony of Freemyer’s doctor. The doctor testified that his continuous exposure to toxic gasses caused his pre-existing heart ailment. The oil firm was already at fault to begin with.

Deplorable working conditions

Opening the hatches of oil tanks is extremely dangerous. Hydrocarbon chemicals escape through the top and are immediately ingested by workers. These chemicals often come in the form unseen gasses which make it difficult to know if anything is wrong. A low-oxygen environment exasperated the problem.

It was also reported in the case proceedings that Freemyer was wearing a filter respirator. However, it was revealed that the said respirator was not intended for low-oxygen environments. In other words, the respirator was a failure. There were also no efforts on the part of the company to hold training sessions (so that employees would know how to recognize hazard). Lastly, the company did not impose strict measures to address low-oxygen atmospheres.

Related: Oil Gauging: Dangerous Work and One Man’s Posthumous Benefits

The importance of this case

This case highlights the reality of oil field workers who risk their health for their job. Freemyer’s widow said that she wished she could’ve known more about the pitfalls of working at an oil field. This case sends a strong message to oil companies that they should keep up with safety standards. Freemyer died due to the company’s neglectful practices and was awarded posthumous benefits. Similar cases can follow suit. This event has also garnered wide media coverage and consequently, has gained the public’s much needed attention.

Contact a Denver workers compensation lawyers for similar issues

A Denver and Greeley workers compensation attorney can enlighten employees about this matter. Before he died, Freemyer was already working under duress. An injustice has been done but went unnoticed—until his tragic death. Don’t let the same happen to you. At this point, you need to know your rights to a safe working environment. No one can explain it better to you than an experienced workers compensation lawyer from Kaplan Morrell. For decades, we have helped hundreds of Colorado workers. Contact us today for a FREE CONSULTATION.

What you Need to Know about Occupational Diseases and Workers Compensation

What you Need to Know about Occupational Diseases and Workers Compensation

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There are two kinds of injuries you can incur while working. The first one may develop for a prolonged period of time. Suppose you work at an office and you felt that your lower back has been killing you for some time now. You can’t tolerate the pain any longer. You have decided to finally consult a specialist. Upon your visit, you found out that the culprit is sitting at a non-ergonomic chair for hours. This disease did not occur overnight as it has been built up over the years.

Secondly, the injury may come to you in a snap. Accidents inevitably happen at manufacturing sites. If, heaven forbid, you have lost a finger due to work, you are most definitely entitled to a claim.

There is an extensive list of diseases that fall under this category. It is constantly updated to keep up with recent studies. What is crucial here is that you have to prove that there are no outside factors causing the disease other than work-related.

It is also site-specific. The injury has to occur at the workplace and/or the environment of the workplace is to be blamed for such harm. This means that breaking your leg while on vacation is NOT an occupational disease.

Some cases can be more complicated that the above-mentioned. A Denver workers compensation attorney can help you ascertain if your disease is occupational or not.

Related: Am I Eligible? Requirements for Workers’ Compensation Claims In Colorado

What is workers compensation?

By definition, workers compensation is the support you get from your employer if you have been injured while doing your job. You may have harmed yourself accidentally or your co-worker; it does not matter who caused the injury. Your employer is required by law to shoulder all pertinent medical bills. You should also expect to receive partial wage if you are temporarily disabled.

Many people are not familiar with workers compensation unless they are already in desperate situations. It is a serious issue that concerns your health and employment. Whether you work at the office or at the construction site, you should know more about it.

What is the process of claiming compensation?

It is your right to consult a Denver workers compensation lawyer, as there are many ways to go about the process. This is the typical turn of events.

  • Time is of the essence. If you are physically and mentally capable, write a letter to your employer within 4 working days after the injury.
  • You should expect your employer to suggest two physicians. Choose one. If you are not presented with any option, you are free to choose whomever physician you prefer. He or she will be called your ‘authorized treating physician.’
  • Your employer will then file a claim to the insurance carrier 10 days upon the receipt of your letter. This is often called ‘employer’s first report of injury.’
  • After the paperwork, expect your medical bills to be covered.

When your workers compensation claim is denied, you need a Denver workers compensation attorney on your side. For more than a decade, we have helped hundreds of injured workers throughout the Denver and Greeley areas get their workmans’ compensation claims approved and get the benefits they need to pay their bills, cover medical expenses and buy the items they need to live comfortably. Contact us today for a FREE consultation.