Showing posts with label Loss of Earning Capacity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Loss of Earning Capacity. Show all posts

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Big Win in Workers Compensation Claim for Undocumented Worker

I recently received a Favorable Decision in a claim where the insurance carrier was attempting to avoid paying benefits because they had "found out" that my client (who had worked there 10 years) was an undocumented immigrant.  First of all, I refuse to call decent, hardworking people "illegal aliens".  If that offends you, find another workers compensation lawyer.  But I digress.  The carrier argued that my client's inability to work was not a result of his industrial injury, but rather because of his legal status, and that, if he were legal, they would have work available for him, resulting in no lost wages and no compensation. 

The judge, thankfully, did not agree with this argument.  While he found that my client did have a minimal earning capacity, his industrial injury did contribute to his loss of earnings irrespective of his immigration status.  He awarded compensation back to the date that the company "found out" he was undocumented and fired him.  (I was reminded in the scene in the movie Casablanca where the governor is "shocked, shocked to find out that there is gambling in Casablanca!) 

I don't care what the legal status of an injured worker is.  If he or she sustains an injury on the job and is unable to work and provide for their family, we will fight very aggressively for his or her benefits.  This is equally true in the case of documented workers where the Employer says that they were fired "for cause" and therefore aren't entitled to benefits. 

Chad T. Snow is a workers compensation attorney in Phoenix and Tucson Arizona.  He can be reached at (602) 532-0700 or (520) 647-9000 or on his website at Snow, Carpio, and Weekley.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

What Are the AMA Guides in Arizona Workers Comp?

Determination of permanent disability in Arizona work injury claims is governed by a book published by the American Medical Association called The Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment.  The Guides have a section for each of the major body parts which give uniform rules for doctors to "rate" permanent impairments in injuries.  Although the rules are supposed to be uniform, they are often interpreted very differently by different doctors.  I recently had a case where one doctor found my client had a 28% impairment, another found he had a 42% and a third found a 61% - all looking at the same table!

Some doctors think that the Guides are perfect, and won't deviate from them at all.  Others say that they are what they say they are - only a "guide" to help in reaching a determination of how an injury has really affected the overall function of the body part. 

In cases of "scheduled" injuries, the doctor's rating under the Guides is the most important factor in determining how much compensation the injured worker will receive for his or her injury.  In unscheduled injuries, the actual percentage rating is unimportant, as long as the injured worker has at least a 1% permanent impairment. 

Chad T. Snow is a workers compensation attorney who has represented thousands of injured workers in Arizona.  He has offices in both Phoenix and Tucson.  He can be reached at (602) 532-0700, (520) 647-9000, or on his website at Snow, Carpio, and Weekley.

Different Issues in Work Comp Claim in Arizona

There are several different issues that can arise in an Arizona workers compensation claim.  Being able to identify these issues is usually the expertise of a workers compensation attorney.  Knowing the difference is extremely important in deciding what evidence to submit, what witnesses to call, and what your burden of proof is.  The main issues that we encounter are as follows:

1.  Compensability - this refers to whether or not a claim is accepted as an industrial responsibility.  For example, if a carrier denies the claim and you request a hearing, the issue at the hearing is compensability.  Compensability cases usually have several sub-issues including forthwith reporting, pre-existing conditions, credibility of the witnesses, and many others.
2.  Continuing benefits - a case goes to hearing on continuing benefits when it is an accepted claim that is subsequently closed out by the insurance carrier.  If the injured worker disagrees with the closure, he or she requests a hearing arguing for continuing benefits.  This always requires medical expert witness testmony to prove the need for additional active medical care.
3.  Permanent impairment - when there is a dispute about either the existence of a permanent impairment or the extent of the permanent impairment in cases of scheduled injuries.  Medical expert testimony is necessary.
4.  Loss of Earning Capacity (LEC) - where an injured worker has sustained an unscheduled injury (see prior blog post about scheduled vs. unscheduled injuries) and there is a dispute about his post-injury earning capacity compared to what he earned prior to his injury.  If there is a loss of earnings as a result of the injury, he may be entitled to permanent compensation benefits.  Usually requires expert vocational testimony and sometime expert medical testimony if there is a dispute about restrictions.
5.  Supportive Care - if there is a dispute about the sufficiency of the supportive care awarded by the carrier vs. that recommended by the treating doctor.

These 5 issues encompass about 95% of all hearings at the ICA (in my experience).  There are, of course, other issues that rarely come up such as mileage reimbursement, choice of doctors, unpaid compensation, bad faith, and many others. 

Chad T. Snow is an attorney who handles exclusively workers compensation claims in Arizona.  He can be reached through his website at Snow, Carpio, and Weekley.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

What is a Vocational Expert in Arizona Work Comp Claim?

Any time an injured worker in Arizona is trying to prove that he or she has lost earning capacity as a result of their industrial injury, it is usually necessary to hire a vocational expert, otherwise known as a labor market expert or consultant (VE, LMC).  This is a person who is trained to know the physical and vocational requirements of every job in a specific labor market.  The LMC is then given the vocational profile and work restrictions of the injured worker, and they then identify jobs that exist in significant numbers in the labor market where the injured worker lives, that they should be able to do even with their permanent restrictions. 

In cases where the Loss of Earning Capacity (LEC) is disputed, the applicant and the insurance carrier both usually retain their own LMC's.  The LMC's give testimony at a hearing trying to convince the judge that their opinion as to the injured worker's employability is more probably correct. 

Labor market experts are a very important part of obtaining permanent benefits and are usually well worth the investment of $400-1,000 that they cost.  For more information, see our website at Snow, Carpio, and Weekley.

Snow, Carpio, and Weekely are attorneys who have represented thousands of injured workers in Arizona since 2000.  They have offices in Phoenix and Tucson Arizona.