The number of paid workers' compensation claims in Minnesota fell 49 percent relative to the number of employees from 1997 to 2014, according to the 2014 Minnesota Workers' Compensation System Report, just released by the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DLI).
"Again this year, medical treatment for injuries was the chief cost driver for the system, increasing annually per claim by 4.6 percent above average wages since 1997," said Ken Peterson, DLI commissioner. "To curtail rising medical costs, legislation was approved in 2015...
07.07.2016By NICHOLAS IOVINO
A federal judge has refused to dismiss a class action claiming National Football League teams pumped injured players with painkillers to get them back on the field.
Lead plaintiff Etopia Evans, widow of the late Charles "Chuck" Evans, who played for the Minnesota Vikings and Baltimore Ravens, sued all 32 NFL teams in May 2015. It was transferred from Maryland to Northern California in March. Evans et al. claim NFL teams conspired since at least 1964 to...
07.05.2016By NICHOLAS FILLMORE
A federal judge last week refused Monsanto's request to dismiss a lawsuit by a former Kona coffee grower who claims she got cancer from the company's weed-killer Roundup.
Christine and Kenneth Sheppard, former owners of Dragons Lair Kona Coffee Farm in Captain Cook on the Big Island, accuse the agribusiness giant of concealing risks associated with glyphosate, which the World Health Organization recently classified as a likely carcinogen and Christine Sheppard believes...
The City of Chicago Office of Inspector General (OIG) has released an advisory identifying the absence of a comprehensive risk management program in Chicago and highlighting the substantial operational and fiscal benefits of implementing such a program.
Based on the limited data available, OIG estimates that in 2013 and 2014 the city paid over $457.8 million in claims including $203.1 million for workers’ compensation, and $146.3 million for police misconduct and other public safety claims.
The advisory follows OIG...
06.30.2016By ROSE BOUBOUSHIAN
A packaging manufacturer must pay millions for failing to warn U.S. Navy and General Motors employees that its ship valves' asbestos-laden gaskets could give them cancer, New York's high court ruled.
During and after World War II, the Stamford, Conn.-based Crane Co. sold the U.S. Navy valves for use in high-pressure, high-temperature steam pipe systems on ships. Crane packaged the valves with bonnet gaskets consisting of an asbestos disc sealed...
A recent Workers Compensation Research Institute study compared workers' compensation claims and found Michigan’s average cost per claim was once again the lowest of the 18 states surveyed.
Some took that news as a positive: “Our stable workers’ compensation system continues to safeguard Michiganders injured on the job and this new report demonstrates that it remains an economic tool to attract and retain businesses,” said Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Director Shelly Egerton when the report was released. “Lower costs give companies the ability to expand operations, hire more employees and increase salaries.”
Others, not so much: "Since the 1980s, the amount, duration and ability to obtain benefits has deteriorated significantly in Michigan and across the country,” says workers’ compensation attorney Joel Alpert in an article at the Detroit Free Press.
The Department of Justice reports that, since it reopened in 2011, the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) has paid over $1.52 billion to first responders, recovery workers, and residents who suffered physical harm or were killed as a result of the terrorist-related aircraft crashes of Sept. 11, 2001, or the debris removal efforts that took place in the immediate aftermath of those crashes.
The $1.52 billion includes all payments made to date—either partial or in full—on...
A job at a cell phone tower entity, a small pipe, hours of sitting, and a dispute over employee-versus-independent contractor made for a workers’ compensation claim that ended up in the Louisiana First Circuit Court of Appeal.
Adam O’Bannon alleges that on June 2, 2012, he spent approximately ten hours working on a cell phone tower that, again according to O’Bannon, had an unusual configuration that required him to sit on a small pipe with his dangling legs wrapped around the pipe to secure him for hours. Later that day, he drove four hours roundtrip to transport another worker and a piece of equipment to a job in Jackson, Miss.
O’Bannon filed a workers' compensation claim when he developed a pulmonary embolism that doctors say was likely caused by the extended periods of sitting. The company’s insurer disagreed. And anyway, he was an independent contractor, not an employee, the company claimed.
Safety News Alert has the story and the outcome.
In workers’ compensation, some old claims never die—they just get adjusted, and readjusted. In worst-case scenarios, losses can develop upward for decades.
The long tail of workers’ compensation claims involves more than static numbers, caution Milliman actuaries Tim Vosicky and Tony F. Bloemer, writing on the company’s website.
The authors note that, because workers’ compensation laws are state-specific, “Most actuaries make adjustments for location, but very few make adjustments for the company’s industry. We have been researching loss development by industry for the last six years and have found that there are significant differences in the loss development factors that are due to industry.”
Media outlet In These Times is taking over where NRP and ProPublica left off.
In an article posted this week, reporter Stephen Franklin weaves the personal stories of workers’ compensation claimants into an indictment of the current system in different states.
“In Illinois, the fate of injured workers has become hostage to a larger political squabble that has left the state without a budget since last July,” Franklin writes.
“There’s no disputing that nationwide, the downward race has paid off financially for employers. Workers’ compensation costs as a percent of payroll fell in 2014 to the lowest figure since 1986, [workers’ compensation expert John] Burton notes. Some of the decline has come from improved safety, but some, he says, has come from restrictions on workers’ compensation.”
Post traumatic stress disorder has moved from solely a battlefield statistic to experiences by first responders, and even private citizens.
Employers in every field should be aware of the potential for mental health issues in the workplace after a traumatic event; and not necessarily a three-alarm fire or a shooting.
Katie Siegel writes at Risk & Insurance about a new benefit in many Employee Assistance Programs—psychological first aid, or PFA.
“In PFA, also called ‘disruptive event management,’ qualified mental health professionals arrive on site immediately after an incident is reported, spending anywhere from two to six hours in one-on-one counseling with employees. They may extend those services an extra day, depending on the severity of the event, but usually one day suffices.”
California’s State Average Weekly Wage (SAWW) rose just over 3.9 percent from $1,120.67 to $1,164.51 in the year ending March 31, 2016, which the California Workers’ Compensation Institute (CWCI) reports will boost temporary total disability (TTD) and permanent total disability (PTD) rates for 2017 work injury claims, and other workers’ compensation benefits that are tied to changes in the SAWW.
California’s current TTD/PTD maximum rate is $1,128.43 per week. CWCI calculates that the latest increase in the...
06.10.2016By NICHOLAS IOVINO
Retired players on Thursday fought to revive claims that National Football League teams pumped them with painkillers to get them back on the field, disregarding long-term effects on their health.
Lead plaintiff Etopia Evans, the wife of the late Charles Evans, who played for the Minnesota Vikings and Baltimore Ravens, filed a federal class action against all 32 NFL teams in May 2015. The case was transferred from Maryland to Northern California in March.
06.09.2016By NICHOLAS A. DIBBLE
This past February, an Indiana Court of Appeals upheld a verdict awarding more than $400,000 in compensatory and punitive damages against a former employer for retaliation when an employee filed a workers’ compensation claim. This decision is not an outlier. A Florida jury recently awarded more than $600,000 for a retaliation claim, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit recently reduced a $4.2 million jury decision to $2 million, which was still a staggering...
In April 2016, two people were killed when an Amtrak train plowed into a backhoe in Pennsylvania.
Now one of the workers’ families has filed suit. Joe Neal Carter Jr. of Wilmington, Del., was working overtime on a Sunday morning and operating the backhoe when the Amtrak train struck him.
“How could the operator of a scheduled train traveling at 106 mph not know of work being performed on the same tracks ahead?” lawyer Robert Mongeluzzi asked after filing the lawsuit in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court.
Insurance Journal has the story.
06.07.2016By DARRELL BROWN
As the chief claims officer and executive sponsor of the diversity and inclusion council at Sedgwick, I am asked often about diversity and inclusion and their relevance to the claims industry today. At Sedgwick, our organizational commitment to these two imperatives is an extension of our core values, but I emphatically believe that practicing diversity and inclusion is not only the right thing to do, but also it is good for business.
06.06.2016By JOCELYN RARDIN
A Virginia woman claims in court that her male boss trapped her in a stockroom and assaulted her by punching boxes she was pinned behind. In a complaint filed in the Chesapeake City Circuit Court, Patricia Morgan claims that John Brophy, her general manager at a Roses discount store in the city, verbally and physically assaulted her after he became frustrated with the company computer system.
Morgan says that on March 4, 2016, Brophy received a...
06.03.2016By JEFFREY T. BOWMAN
Workers’ compensation insurance today is a blend of both the old and the new. The system was founded in the early 20th century as a way to protect employees and employers from the cost of injuries and illnesses that arise out of work. What is new in this century-old system is how the insurance industry is using data to understand, underwrite, and manage risks.
“Big Data” has permeated all aspects...
05.31.2016By DAVE STAIR
When a worker gets hurt on the job, the claims professional plays a critical role in the recovery process. In addition to managing the medical part of the claim, the claims professional typically is the first person the injured worker calls when an indemnity payment is not received or if the amount is incorrect. This additional stress on the injured worker can slow his recovery because, without payment, he may not be able to feed his...
New studies by the Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) compare outcomes of injured workers across 15 states. The outcomes examined include recovery of physical health and functioning, return to work, earnings recovery, access to medical care, and satisfaction with medical care.
“The goal of the studies is to provide information about injured workers’ experiences with the workers’ compensation system. By examining outcomes of injured workers, policymakers and stakeholders can better understand how different state systems...