After Six Years, Airport Employee’s Widow Receives Workers’ Comp and Death Benefits

A New York State Appeals Court recently ruled that the widow of an airport employee who suffered a heart attack on the job is due workers’ compensation and death benefits. The decision concludes a six-year battle between the claimant and her late husband’s employer.

On December 14, 2010, Edward Kilcullen, who worked as a process operator at Albany International Airport’s glycol facility — which produces the liquid for deicing aircrafts — collapsed on the job after sustaining a myocardial infarction. He suffered brain damage as a result and never regained consciousness. He died seven days later.

Rita Kilcullen, Mr. Kilcullen’s wife, filed claims for workers’ compensation and death benefits, but was denied by both her late husband’s employer and the employer’s insurer. After a series of hearings, a Workers’ Compensation Law Judge ruled that Mr. Kilcullen’s work “contributed” to his heart attack and that his “death arose out of and in the course of his employment.” In March 2014, the Workers’ Compensation Board agreed with the judge; the employer appealed the decision.

On April 21, 2016, a three-judge panel of New York’s Appellate Division, Third Judicial Department, in Albany affirmed the board’s decision. The court cited in its decision a finding from a doctor who reviewed Mr. Kilcullen’s medical records and concluded that the employee’s work environment and his work-related activities were “significant contributing factors” to his heart attack and resulting death.

According to case law, “a heart injury precipitated by work-related physical strain is compensable, even if a pre-existing pathology may have been a contributing factor and the physical exertion was no more severe than that regularly encountered by the claimant.”

The Law Offices of McIntyre, Donohue, Accardi, Salmonson, & Riordan, LLP handles workers’ compensation claims throughout the five boroughs of New York City, including Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx, in addition to both Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island. Call (866) 557-7500 for a consultation.

Streamlined Prosecutions of Workplace Safety Violations Resulting from the Worker Endangerment Initiative

Recently, WorkCompCentral Workers’ Compensation and American Association of State Compensation Insurance Funds announced the federal government’s launch of the Worker Endangerment Initiative. This new program combines the prosecution of employer workplace safety and environmental violations. Often, employers who criminally violate the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), are also violating environmental laws at the same time. The initiative includes data sharing, joint investigations and streamlining the criminal referral program. The goal is to make it easier to prosecute environmental violations.

For one, the Environmental Crimes Section will be able to prosecute not only traditional environmental crimes, but also OSHA violations and other workers’ safety statutes. With this initiative, an employer can be charged with workplace safety violations, environmental law violations, and related offenses such as obstruction of justice and making false statements, in the same case. This will allow prosecutors to combine what would have been several cases into one, and make it more efficient to prosecute employers.

If you have been injured on the job, an attorney can help protect your rights. The Law Offices of McIntyre, Donohue, Accardi, Salmonson, & Riordan, LLP handles workers’ compensation claims throughout the five boroughs of New York City, including Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx, in addition to both Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island. Call (866) 557-7500 for a consultation.

OSHA’s New Reporting Requirements Improve Worksite Safety

With the close of 2015, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has announced the results of the new reporting requirement which was implemented as of January 1, 2015. The new reporting guidelines require any severe work-related injury, including amputations, loss of an eye, or hospitalization, to be reported within 24 hours. The requirement of reporting a fatality within 8 hours remains unchanged.

Recently, WorkersCompensation.com reported on OSHA’s 2015 data on work-place-related injuries. Employers submitted a total of 10,388 cases of severe injuries in 2015. Out of the total, 7,636 were hospitalizations and 2,644 accounted for amputations.

Taking it further than just mere numbers, OSHA implemented the program in order to create safer workplaces. After a report comes in, OSHA works to identify what the hazard is, and what measures the employer can take to remedy it. Most of the cases reported in 2015 did not require a worksite inspection, which is conducted when OSHA deems it necessary.

If you are a worker who has suffered injury due to an employer’s failure to follow safety regulations, you may be entitled to Workers’ Compensation. The Law Offices of McIntyre, Donohue, Accardi, Salmonson, & Riordan, represents individuals who have been injured on the job throughout the five boroughs of New York City including Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens, as well as both Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island. Call (866) 557-7500 for a consultation.

Frequency of Workers Compensation Claims Decline While the Severity Increases

According to Insurance Business America, over the past ten years the number of workers’ compensation claims is decreasing, but the severity of the injuries reported is increasing. Milliman and Keenan Healthcare analyzed workers’ compensation data and compiled a report showing frequency, severity, and medical and indemnity costs. They considered how reforms may affect the numbers as well. One of the main findings was that losses per $100 of payroll was stable between 2004 and 2014, but during roughly the same time period, the severity of claims increased by approximately 5.5 percent annually. There are ongoing efforts to not only reduce the number of claims, but also the severity.

Additionally, the report showed that from 2013 to 2014, estimated costs per indemnity claim decreased by about 10 percent. In fact, the study showed that younger workers tend to spend more in medical care as compared to other costs, while older workers have larger indemnity losses with about 20 to 25 percent of claims ending up in litigation. Employees between the ages of 36 to 55 approximated more than 50 percent of the indemnity claims paid. Data also showed that the severity of indemnity claims increases with age, and the likelihood of an incident resulting in an indemnity payment rises as well.

In order to remedy the frequency and severity of claims, there is an ongoing effort to improve workplace safety. For example, Workers Compensation reported that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration published a final rule on the requirements for personal protective equipment, which takes effect on April 25, 2016. The new rules dictate that more modern and improved eye and face protection should be used in the fields of longshoring, construction, marine and shipyard industries, and other general industries. Multiple outdated devices, as old as 1968 versions, were deleted and replaced with current acceptable standards.

If you or a loved one has been injured on the job, a skillful workers’ compensation attorney can better guide you on how best to file claims. An attorney can help protect your rights and help preserve your coverage. The Law Offices of McIntyre, Donohue, Accardi, Salmonson, & Riordan, LLP handles workers’ compensation claims throughout the five boroughs of New York City, including Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx, in addition to both Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island. Call (866) 557-7500 for a consultation.

When Volunteer Firefighters and Ambulance Workers Get Injured

Many municipalities in New York State have volunteer firefighters and/or ambulance workers. The communities appreciate the dedication and passion the volunteers show, and the legislature has acknowledged those that are injured in the line of duty by passing laws to protect their rights. The Volunteer Firefighters’ Law was enacted in 1957, and the Volunteer Ambulance Workers’ Law came much later in 1989. These laws allow for medical care and cash benefits to be awarded to the volunteers injured on the job, unless the injury was caused by intoxication or if the claimant was intentionally hurting oneself or another.

Receiving benefits can be challenging because of the deadlines, hearings, and appeals process. Seeking the advice of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney could make the difference in whether an injured volunteer is properly compensated or not.

One of the challenges is determining whether the injury occurred “in the line of duty.” Some situations are easily identified—such as responding to a 911 call or during training. Other injuries, such as an illness caused by smoke or chemicals exposed to when volunteering, can require a more skilled analysis to determine whether it falls within the statutory guidelines.

Another fact-intensive analysis involved is in calculating the claimant’s earning capacity. Each claimant is analyzed on an individual basis because there is no standard salary associated with the volunteer firefighter and ambulance services. Age, education, training, and experience are all factors to be considered, even if the volunteer is unemployed at the time of injury.

The New York State Compensation Board may hold hearings to weigh evidence and whether the claim is compensable. A workers’ compensation law judge presides over the hearing. After the judge’s decision, both parties have 30 days to appeal the judge’s finding, and if granted, the claim will go before a panel of three board members. If the panel does not come to a unanimous decision, a party may request a full board review as a last resort.

Retaining an experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help guide you through the workers’ compensation claims process. The Law Offices of McIntyre, Donohue, Accardi, Salmonson, & Riordan, LLP handles workers’ compensation claims throughout the five boroughs of New York City, including Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx, in addition to both Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island. Call (866) 557-7500 for a consultation.

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Musculoskeletal Conditions Cause Injuries for Employees

It is common to hear coworkers complain of back or neck pain. What some may not realize is that according to the United States Bone and Joint Initiative’s 2012 statistics, the most recent data available, approximately 25.5 million people were unable to work an average of 11.4 days as a result of pain. Back and neck pain are considered to be a musculoskeletal condition, along with arthritis and osteoporosis. In 2012, about 126.6 million Americans were diagnosed with these diseases. Lost wages and annual medical treatment cost Americans approximately $213 billion. This includes costs to individuals, businesses, and medical facilities. When it comes to illness and work performance, aspects of workers’ compensation and employment law are implicated.

Even if an employee’s musculoskeletal condition is not caused by work, the condition may be exacerbated or lead to on the job injuries. Employees need to be aware that workers’ compensation law is complicated, and when injured while performing work duties, it is vital to contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney for protection of employment status and compensation for medical expenses and related costs. An experienced attorney can help determine if the injury qualifies under workers’ compensation law, and also advise you on what paperwork needs to be filed. Skillful workers’ compensation attorneys can guide employees on which claims to file and how to handle preexisting conditions. An attorney can help protect your rights and get you the compensation you deserve.

The Law Offices of McIntyre, Donohue, Accardi, Salmonson, & Riordan, LLP handles workers’ compensation claims throughout the five boroughs of New York City, including Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx, in addition to both Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island. Call (866) 557-7500 for a consultation.

Governor Cuomo Appoints New Executive Director to the Workers’ Compensation Board

New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the appointment of Mary Beth Woods as the new Executive Director of the New York Workers’ Compensation Board. Mark Wade, the prior Executive Director, resigned in December 2015 to work as the Chief Claims Officer for Argo Group’s U.S. Operations. Along with Ms. Woods, six other individuals were appointed to various positions in governmental agencies as well.

Ms. Woods has worked for the NY Compensation Board for over 15 years. She held positions within the organization such as Deputy Executive Director, Director of Financial Administration, and Director of Leasing. Ms. Woods is a New York State certified public accountant, and before joining the Board, she worked for the New York State Division of the Budget, and as a supervising senior accountant at KPMG Peat Marwick. She holds a Bachelors in Science Degree in Business Administration from Siena College.

Additionally, Ms. Woods is a Board Member of the Compensation Insurance Rating Board, and is a past Chair of the Governor’s Task Force on Group Self Insurance. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo commented on his appointees, stating, “their commitment to public service will be instrumental in our efforts to build a safer and stronger New York and I look forward to working with them in service to the people of our state.”

Not much is known about what changes, if any, Ms. Woods intends to implement. If you have been injured on the job and think you may be entitled to Workers’ Compensation, contact an attorney who is experienced in that field. The Law Offices of McIntyre, Donohue, Accardi, Salmonson, & Riordan, LLP handles workers’ compensation claims throughout the five boroughs of New York City, including Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx, in addition to both Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island. Call (866) 557-7500 for a consultation.

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Sean Patrick Riordan Featured in Subway Surface Supervisors Association Express Magazine

Recently, Sean Patrick Riordan, Partner, McIntyre, Donohue, Accardi, Salmonson & Riordan, LLP, was featured in Subway Surface Supervisors Association Express Magazine. Mr. Riordan’s article “Injured at Work?” provided proper guidelines for workers who are injured while performing their job.

According to Mr. Riordan, an injured worker should first notify their employer of his or her injury, seek medical care for treatment and evaluation of the injury, contact an attorney to file a C3 injury with the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board, follow up with medical care and workers’ compensation case and finally, speak to an attorney if a long period of time must be taken off from work.

To read the full “Injured at Work?” article click here.

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OSHA Takes Action Against U.S. Steel for Retaliating Against Employees Who Delayed in Filing Workplace Injury Claims

When it comes to workers’ compensation claims, companies must abide by state and federal law, but they are able to implement their own internal policies. Some companies have a policy which requires employees to report an incident immediately. The issue with immediate reporting is that a workplace injury may not be symptomatic at the time of the incident or accident.

Recently, the U.S. Department of Labor filed suit against U.S. Steel for allegedly retaliating against two employees after the individuals reported injuries they sustained on the job. U.S. Steel’s policy is that employees must report injuries immediately. The two employees both reported injuries when they became symptomatic, and then were suspended without pay for not reporting sooner.

The first incident occurred when a technician had a small splinter in his thumb, which he was able to remove himself without any complications. Days later, though, his thumb became infected and medical treatment was necessary. At that point, the technician reported the incident because of the required medical treatment, and his supervisor suspended him for five days without pay.
The second employee, a laborer located in a different plant, bumped his head on a beam. At the time, the employee was wearing a hard hat and did not feel any pain. After some time passed, the employee noticed an issue with his shoulder, possibly caused by his contact with the beam. The employee sought medical treatment, and reported the incident to his employer. This employee, as well, was suspended for a period of five days without pay.

Both employees filed complaints against U.S. Steel with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), claiming that their suspensions were in retaliation for reporting injuries. OSHA found that the company violated the anti-discrimination provision of Section 11(c), the Occupational Safety and Health Act. The U.S. Department of Labor is seeking to enjoin U.S. Steel from retaliating against employees, for revision of the company’s internal policy, and to rescind the disciplinary action taken against the two injured workers.

Skillful workers’ compensation attorneys can guide employees on which claims to file and how to handle internal workplace policy. An attorney can help protect your rights and help preserve your coverage should further injury stemming from an accident become known later. The Law Offices of McIntyre, Donohue, Accardi, Salmonson, & Riordan, LLP handles workers’ compensation claims throughout the five boroughs of New York City, including Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx, in addition to both Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island. Call (866) 557-7500 for a consultation.

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Governor Cuomo Proposes Major Budgetary Changes Affecting Workers’ Compensation

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo released the 2016 Executive Budget in January, which proposes both procedural and substantive changes to workers compensation law. These proposals, if adopted, would greatly impact the benefits and due process rights of injured workers.

One proposal eliminates the Aggregate Trust Fund (ATF) deposit requirement. Currently, the ATF allows permanently partially disabled workers to receive fair settlements, albeit lower than before a 2007 reform, by requiring insurers to deposit money into the ATF. If the proposed elimination of deposit requirements to the ATF is adopted, permanently disabled workers, widows, and dependent children will be greatly affected by the reduction of benefits.

Another budget proposal aims for major reform on how judges are assigned to workers’ compensation cases. Currently, claimants have the right to have their case heard before a single judge. Seeking to eliminate this, the new proposed budget would allow any judge in New York to decide claims whether the case was before them earlier in the proceedings or not.

An additional procedural change proposed concerns the appeals process. Currently, if a worker is denied a claim by the Workers’ Compensation Law Judges, the claimant may appeal to an appeals panel. The 2016 proposed budget will replace the panel with a single commissioner or attorney who would decide the appeal. This would deny claimants the due process right to have their appeal heard before multiple individuals instead of just one.

With budgetary demands, and possible legal reforms, the workers’ compensation system can be confusing and complex. Seeking the advice of an experienced attorney is essential to understanding your rights under workers’ compensation law. The Law Offices of McIntyre, Donohue, Accardi, Salmonson, & Riordan, LLP handles workers’ compensation claims throughout the five boroughs of New York City, including Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx, in addition to both Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island. For more information please call (866)-557-7500 or click here to speak with our office.

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