On the Job Summer Skin Hazards - Workers’ Compensation Has Got You Covered!
When you think of workers’ compensation injuries, I bet the first thing that comes to mind is a sprained back or a sore neck. But if you’re a landscaper, utility worker, or employed in any field where you spend a lot of time working outside during the hot summer months in New Jersey, you know it’s not unusual to occasionally run into a creepy crawly spider, bloodthirsty tick, venomous snake, wasp nest or other potentially harmful critter while doing your job. No matter how careful we are trying to protect ourselves, we can’t always find a way to guard against dangerous insects and wildlife camouflaged in leaf mounds and rotted wood piles.
Luckily, a bite or unexpected encounter with nature is usually a minor event. But when a bite comes from the deadly brown recluse spider, a tick, snake, raccoon, or even an unknown source, medical attention should be sought immediately to avoid complications. Ticks are of special concern because they can cause rash, fever, chills or headache even if you don’t see a tick on your body.
Workers’ Compensation covers employees who experience these types of injuries and they are not as unusual as you may think. Our office has covered many workers who have suffered with the side effects of Lyme’s Disease, ehrlichiosis, babesiosis (another debilitating tick related illness often associate with the Pine Barrens), allergic reaction from multiple bee stings, cysts developed from bug bites requiring surgery and more. We make sure our clients receive the medical care they to which they are entitled under the law, receive wage replacement if they cannot work, and receive a cash settlement to address permanent injuries if appropriate.
The steps for getting medical treatment for this type of work injury are the same as with any other type of orthopedic injury. If time permits, notify your employer and obtain instructions as to where to go for medical care. If it is a true emergency, head to your nearest hospital emergency room or urgent care center.
It’s so important to make that your employer’s workers’ compensation policy is used to pay for the costs associated with your treatment. Why? Because you should not have to pay for any co-pays, deductibles, or prescriptions. That includes emergency room care, blood work, MRIs, x-rays, exams and surgery. Those items are covered by workers’ compensation 100%.
I hope you never need my services, but if you or a family member ever have a question about workers’ compensation benefits, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Workers’ Compensation Needs Improvement Says Washington
The Workers’ Compensation system nationwide is exhibiting cracks. Cracks that result in diminished benefits to injured workers, state by state, and Washington is paying attention.
Last month I had the honor of presenting the findings of a recent U.S. Department of Labor report to my colleagues at the Ocean County Bar Association. Initially I thought the topic would be rather dry and I'd report on statistics and recommendations. I was incorrect.
This is what I found out.
To your detriment, insurance companies have really done a good job convincing many states to cut the amount of medical treatment and wage replacement they must pay for when a worker suffers an on-the-job injury. Sometimes workers’ rights are chipped away subtly. On other occasions, broad sweeping reforms take place with a hatchet.
And when workers’ comp denies coverage, suspends treatment, or limits access to doctors, someone else pays for those needs. Social Security Disability, Medicare/Medicaid or private health carriers often foot the bill when the comp carrier fails to deliver. Families and the community also play a role in filling in the gaps, often leading to a downward spiral into short-term crisis and long-term poverty.
Does this outrage you? It should. Insurance companies have all the resources in the world to fight your claim. They have the means to intimidate and discourage workers from filing claims and exercise their ability to do so regularly.
But you can fight back. If you've been injured at work, know your rights and file a claim petition. Contact me today for more information.
Avoid Slip & Fall Injuries at Work!
Too many NJ Workers suffer needless injuries as a result of a slip and fall. Consider these easy tips to avoid an avoidable accident.
- Make sure your workspace is well lit and bulbs are replaced promptly. This will help you avoid tripping over items that are difficult to see.
- Avoid leaving loose wires and cords out where people walk. When it isn't possible to store a cord behind a table or desk, tape cords and wires to the floor or conceal them with brightly colored plastic covers secured to the ground.
- Fasten rugs to the ground with double stick tape and use rugs with nonskid backing. Nonskid rug padding, sold in many sizes, will also help to secure the rug to avoid slipping.
- Install handrails on each side of every staircase for support and ensure they are securely attached to the walls.
- Avoid using chairs and benches in lieu of stepstools or ladders to reach items placed high up. Place items within easy reach and have stepstools available at all times. Avoid storing things too low or too high.
- Wear comfortable, non-skid shoes and avoid wearing shoes such as sandals or clogs that may cause you to trip.
If you or a family member had a slip and fall injury at work, NJ Workers' Compensation Benefits entitle workers to fully paid medical benefits (no co-pays or deductibles), wage replacement AND a monetary settlement if the injuries are permanent. There are important deadlines to consider, so don't hesitate to call me to protect your rights.
How Much Is My Workers’ Compensation Case Worth?
For over twenty years, I’ve been fortunate to have represented hundreds of Ocean County working men and women for whom I have fought hard to get the benefits they deserve under the New Jersey Workers’ Compensation system.
Work related injuries come in all shapes and sizes. A traumatic workplace injury can be as a result of a slip and fall due to a wet floor, a ladder misstep, equipment malfunction, motor vehicle accident or even bodily assault. An occupational injury can happen when a worker “overuses” their body to the point where a joint or muscle becomes so inflamed and painful medical attention is required. Examples of occupational injury include a plumber’s aching back as a result of lifting heavy water heaters up and down steps for years or a mechanic’s carpal tunnel syndrome as a result of excessive use of small tools. As a result of the events described, a worker can experience injuries to their back, shoulder, neck, hip, knees, feet or hands; they can also damage several different body parts as a result of one single event and that is quite common.
You already know from my past articles that Workers’ Compensation provides injured workers with fully paid medical benefits (no deductibles, no co-pays) and wage replacement when an authorized doctor says they cannot work due their injury.
But did you also know that Workers’ Compensation allows for a settlement at the end of your case based on your loss of bodily function?
“How is the value of my case decided?” is an important question many injured workers ask. The amount of money awarded at settlement takes into account many facts and conditions that must be reviewed in order to fairly assess each case. For example, it is imperative that I review every client’s complete set of medical records prior to sending my client to a specialized type of medical evaluation called a permanency exam. This exam outlines the extent and nature of the injury and disability resulting in a percentage of disability being assessed.
Around the same time, the employers’ workers’ compensation carrier also sets up a permanency exam. As you can imagine, the results of each exam are often very different!
Taking the evaluations, the physical complaints of my clients, then extent to which they are able to return to work, and my 20+ years of experience assessing cases, I issue a settlement demand to the insurance company. Upon review, the insurance company might make an offer to settle the matter.
But that’s not the end of the story. Many times, we are not able to agree on a settlement and either or both parties require judicial intervention. A Judge of Workers’ Compensation is consulted in those instances and is asked to make a recommendation. If the parties still cannot agree or further information is necessary, a trial will commence usually beginning with the testimony of the injured worker followed by the testimony of corroborating witnesses, employers, co-workers and medical professionals. Upon conclusion of the trial, the Judge is asked to render a decision. Knowing that your case may go to trial is another good reason to make sure you hire an experienced Workers’ Compensation attorney.
Don’t You Dare Pay for Medical Bills Associated with Your Workers’ Compensation Claim!
Too often, I meet people who have been injured at work who tell me they’re thinking of putting their medical bills through their private insurance carrier rather than their employer’s workers’ compensation policy.
I ask, “Why would you do that? The workers’ comp policy is supposed to address medical costs. Everything. Emergency room, ambulance, MRI studies, surgeries and even prescriptions.”
People have lots of reasons for doing this, but none of them are very good. What are they? Well, sometimes an employer will mistakenly tell their injured employee to bypass the workers’ comp system because they simply don’t know how to file a claim. Sometimes they don’t think the injury is “serious enough” to notify the workers’ comp carrier. And some employers are under the assumption that their premiums will automatically rise if they notify their workers’ compensation carrier of a potential claim so they do what they can to circumvent the notification process.
But here’s what happens when you don’t correctly report your work injury and mistakenly put the claim through your private health plan:
- You WILL be responsible for co-pays and deductibles.
- You WILL NOT have the same type of job protection if your injury keeps you out of work.
- You WILL NOT be granted temporary disability benefits (wage replacement) by the workers’ compensation carrier while you are out of work. And if you apply for state disability, you will be LIMITED to only 26 weeks of wage replacement. What happens if you’re out longer than that?
- Your private health care plan might not have to cover you medical costs and may even seek REIMBURSEMENT from you if they learn your health care costs arise from a work injury.
- You WILL NOT be entitled to permanency benefits at the end of your medical treatment.
- In defense of workers who don’t pursue a claim, many say they simply didn’t know about workers’ compensation benefits. They may have had a vague idea about disability and are sorry to hear about an injury when it happens to a friend or neighbor, but they honestly didn’t know what to do when it happened to them.
I want to make sure this doesn’t happen to YOU. I can help you get your medical bills PAID, reimburse you for your out-of-pocket expenses and if necessary follow through with legal action to ensure you get the medical treatment you need to get better and get back to work. The only thing you should have to worry about is your health.
If you suffer a work injury, don’t get stuck with bills, co-pays and deductibles. Your employer’s workers’ comp policy is supposed to pay for all medical treatment with NO out of pocket expenses due from you.
Have you or a loved one been injured at work and don't know where to turn to ensure ALL of your rights are protected? Don't navigate this maze alone! Call me today to discuss your injury. The consultation is FREE and I am only paid if I get you RESULTS.
Workers’ Comp Scams, Cons and Artful Dodging
Unscrupulous employers come up with schemes and scams all the time to limit their financial exposure when a worker is injured on the job. Do you recognize any of these common tricks?
The Independent Worker Scam:
Occurs when companies call employees “independent contractors” to avoid paying taxes, benefits, health care costs, overtime, workers’ comp insurance, etc. These workers lose protections due this false label. Take-Away: Be wary if your company insists on calling you an independent contractor. You will have to fight for your benefits if hurt on the job.
The Cash Payment Con:
Occurs when a company insists on paying workers. The worker is told this a great deal because they’ll make more money and pay less in taxes. This gives the company carte blanche to skip out on a workers’ comp claim. And good luck if a worker needs to file for State Temporary Disability or Social Security Disability! There’s no benefit to a worker who didn’t pay into the system. Take-Away: Make sure companies pay you on the books.
The Insurance Dodge:
Occurs when a company refuses to report an injury to its’ workers’ compensation carrier instead advising the injured employee to treat through their private health care. Don’t fall for it! When that occurs, the worker gets saddled with co-pays and deductibles and has little chance of receiving compensation if they suffer a permanent injury. Take-Away: Report claims directly to the workers’ compensation carrier; no need to wait for permission from your employer.
Chronic Illness? You May Qualify for Social Security Disability
Remember the last time you had the flu? Every bone in your body hurt. You had a fever and felt totally exhausted. You may have been depressed that your life was on hold while it worked its way through your system. Thankfully, you were better in a few days and back to normal.
But what if you were diagnosed with the type of illness that doesn’t go away? A condition whose symptoms can only be managed but never cured? Debilitating back pain, uncontrolled diabetes, emphysema, certain debilitating cancers and severe depression are examples of chronic illnesses that many Ocean County residents live with every day. Many individuals are able to manage their conditions with medications, physical therapy and surgery in order to live a moderately healthy and productive life, but when treatment is no longer effective and an individual is no longer able to work, it may be time to file a Social Security Disability application for financial and medical benefits.
It’s a hard decision and one that should be made with your doctor since his or her opinion will be essential for a successful application. Your family should also be brought into the process since you will need their emotional and financial support while your case moves through the Social Security Administration adjudication process.
For advice on your chances of successfully applying for Social Security Disability benefits, let us help you put your best application forward so you receive the financial and medical benefits you need.
How Workers’ Compensation Protects You and Your Family
Many people have heard of Workers’ Compensation, but few people know what it really means until they themselves are injured at work. Here’s a primer meant to give you a basic understanding of your rights.
Over a 100 years ago, business and labor came to a compromise that benefits both workers and employers in the event of a work injury. For workers, it allowed for prompt medical and wage replacement benefits as well as an opportunity to receive compensation for the ongoing physical limitations that occur after a trauma. It also created a no-fault system, one where an employee need not have to prove negligence in order to receive these benefits. The goal was to lessen the negative health impact for injured workers and maintain their financial stability.
Employers benefit from workers’ compensation also. Highly managed healthcare by workers’ compensation insurance companies are thought to keep costs down and return injured workers to work more quickly than if they pursued treatment independently.
Overall, the system has benefited society by reducing conflict, improving work safety and protecting taxpayers from the burden of paying for the care and needs of disabled workers.
This all works theoretically, of course, but there are times when medical treatment is withheld, wage replacement is not paid or a workers’ comp claim is completely denied. If you’ve been injured at work and feel you are being shortchanged, call us for a free consultation to discuss your case immediately as there are important deadlines to which you must you must adhere.
It is my pleasure to highly recommend Kathleen M. Dotoli, Esq because of her fierce and uncompromising commitment to her clients. She is a force to be reckoned with. My first introduction cemented my impression that Kathleen was skilled and creatively talented in the Workers' Compensation & Social Security Disability arena.
My husband and I visited Ms Dotoli at her office to discuss a rather complicated social security case. While she didn't feel that she was the right attorney to handle this for us,she spent over an hour with us discussing the case, helping us with confusing paperwork, and making phone calls for us trying to point us in the right direction. She provided us with invaluable information that was extremely helpful, and we left feeling much calmer and more confident than when we had arrived. She is an extremely selfless and knowledgeable attorney, who greated us warmly and gave us all the time we needed despite ringing phones and an obviously busy office. To top it off, she refused payment!!! I cannot say enough about the experience we had or impression made by this attorney and if you should find yourself in need of her expertise do not hesitate. Impossible to find better anywhere.
I found that Kathleen and staff were professional, understanding and patient. Kathleen is very knowledgeable and down to earth. I felt comfortable with her dealing with my issue and would highly recommend her law firm to all. This firm is excellent & 5 stars!
I,m soo thankful that I met a wonderful compassionate lawyer my experience with her with wonderful I have trus in her that she bring me justice to this case god bless her and I wish her all the best for my case she truly was very compassionate towards my situation u can can't get a better lawyer then this a reward to have her by your side..
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- Quinnipiac University School Of Law
- New Jersey Bar Foundation's Mock Trial Committee
- Trustee, Ocean Bar Association
- Co-Chair, Workers' Compensation Committee, Ocean County Bar Association
- Board Trustee, Ocean County Bar Association
- Workers' Compensation Executive Committee, NJ State Bar Association
- NJ State Bar Association
- American Bar Association
- Board Member, American Red Cross-South Jersey Region
- Vincent J. Apruzzese Mock Trial Committee, NJ State Bar Foundation
- Paralegal Advisory Committee, Ocean County College
- Pro-Bono Committee, Ocean County Bar Association
- Voted 10 Best 2016 And 2017 Client Satisfaction Social Security & Disability Law American Institute Of Legal Counsel TM