Wolf, Baldwin & Associates, P.C.

Philadelphia Family Law and Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Tales from the Trenches of Estate Practitioners: Truly Obnoxious Will Provisions of the Rich and Famous

As an Estate Practitioner, I've had my fair share of clients with unusual requests in their Wills. Without going into detail, and therefore potentially violating attorney-client privilege, I can say that some of them have been absolutely hilarious, others have been down right hurtful, and some have been, well just plain weird. In any event, it usually comes down to the Testator (the person who makes the Will) wanting some sort of control from the grave. Whether it is a specific instruction regarding his or her burial, or putting restrictions on a relative inheriting from his or her estate, it usually comes down to that person wanting, in a sense, to live beyond their death and have an impact in some manner.

Injured workers need to be careful online

Many of us have become quite comfortable with sharing at least some parts of our lives online. We post pictures of a child's sporting triumphs, special occasions with friends, or other milestones. Every day, we share all sorts of personal information with family, friends and work colleagues.

Who sees those posts, however, could change. According to a recent article in the New York Times, the Trump Administration is devising a proposal to monitor social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to confirm that those collecting Social Security Disability Insurance or other benefits are actually disabled or injured. The White House and Social Security believe that social media will yield a treasure trove of data to help identify fraudulent recipients of benefits.

Employee stuck with $14,000 medical bill

Workers' compensation has a substantial set of rules when it comes to filing for benefits and getting the medical care the injured worker needs. These are generally inflexible, so it is no surprise that an employee of a Home Depot in Kansas is now stuck with a substantial bill. According to several news reports, the employee sought reimbursement for medical expenses involving doctors that were not authorized by her employer, but a three-judge panel ruled in favor of the commission because the medical care was not preauthorized by her employer or an administrative law judge.

The employee originally slipped and fell in 2007 while working at Home Depot. She suffered injuries to her neck, back and right arm at the time. From 2007 to 2013, she filed nine applications for preliminary hearings, while participating in four of them. Finally, in 2013 she settled for 28-percent impairment to the whole body injury settlement with the option to get additional care in the future related to the original injuries if she applied for care through workers' compensation.

Amount of benefits declining (but that's good)

Many at the 2019 Workers’ Compensation Research Institute’s (WCRI) annual conference took note when Dr. John Ruser shared some new data and trends in workers’ compensation. The WCRI CEO pointed out that workers’ comp is a declining part of the employer payroll. The National Academy of Social Insurance concurs, adding that the ratio of compensation benefits paid related to the overall wages has declined since the 1990s and is at the lowest point since the 1980s. This downward trend led some to fear that it was an erosion of benefits paid, but Dr. Ruser points to other factors. These include:

  • The frequency of the claims is down since the late-1990s with a 55 percent drop between 1999 and 2014.
  • OSHA claims that reportable injuries are down and continue to go down.
  • The injuries are down across all professions, so the shift is not a migration by the workforce to safer jobs.
  • The declining numbers of injuries are consistent with what is taking place in Europe.
  • Job accommodations for workers with restrictions have gone up significantly, which means that workers are returning to work more quickly and thus needing a shorter period of benefits.
  • The workplace is a safer place to work these days.

Whistleblower of Grand Canyon radiation exposure claims cover-up

Many took note when the news of potential radiation contamination at the Grand Canyon made national news. There were three large buckets of uranium rocks indigenous to the area stored at the Museum Collections Building on the Southern Rim. Situated next to a taxidermy exhibit, the buckets had sat there from 2000 to June of 2018. The exhibit was sometimes a stopping spot on tours for kids.

The park's safety inspector Elston "Swede" Stephenson brought this to the attention of the public after trying in vain to get superiors or even local politicians to address the matter and inform the public that the six million annual visitors to the park may have been exposed to unsafe levels of radiation. Of course, this would also affect employees as well.

Filing a claim involving chemical burns

Thousands of workers are injured on the job each year. While the common types of injuries include falling from one level to another or those sustained in a motor vehicle accident, a quick look through OSHA's web site shows dozens of injuries due to exposure to such caustic or hazardous chemicals as cleaning products, hot oils, sulphuric acid and even fireworks. These injuries are often quite painful with long recoveries and sometimes leave victims with permanent disfigurement.

Since the injury happened on the job, workers should file a workers' compensation claim even if they also plan to file a lawsuit. Serious burns often require extensive rehabilitation, therapy and perhaps ongoing work restrictions once the injured worker can return to work.

Important reminders for daycare workers

People who work in daycare facilities face specific risks when it comes to their health and safety. It's critical to reduce the likelihood that they suffer injuries while working. They face some of the same risks as people in other industries, but there are also some unique risks for these jobs.

It is up to the employer to set the safety standards for daycare workers. They must be conveyed clearly and employees must be provided with the tools necessary to follow safety plans. When there are issues, they should be addressed swiftly so more problems don't occur.

Telehealth a growing part of workers' comp

The digital era has changed our lives in countless ways. In what would have been considered sci-fi fantasy just a few years ago, telehealth is now emerging as a way to provide healthcare services to those in the workers' compensation system.

Obviously, we are not to the point where an online doctor can address all the needs of an injured patient, but analysts are seeing signs that telehealth provides a quality healthcare experience for injured workers and payers. This can be done using a tablet, laptop or even video on a smart phone.

The good and bad news about workplace safety

The Liberty Mutual 2018 Workplace Safety Index provides a list of the most common claims it sees for injuries, but there is also some big picture information that is worth looking at as well. According to the insurance carrier, the good news from 2018 was that workplaces are slightly safer with a 1.5 percent overall reduction in serious accidents. This is tempered by some bad news, which is that the cost of serious injuries continues to rise. This year there was a 3 percent rise in cost to businesses, which added up to a total of $58 billion.

The top 10

Mega claims on the rise for good reason

It was not long ago when a $10 million workers compensation claim would have been shocking. Now $40 million for a claim is nothing more than noteworthy. According to a new study by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI), there were 10 of these so-called "mega claims" of $10 million or higher in 2016, which is the most since 2001.

Common types of injuries that lead to these claims

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