Work injury leading to opioid addiction

Workers’ Compensation and the Opioid Epidemic

Overuse of pain killers create an opioid addiction

Abuse of opioid prescriptions can lead to addiction
Pain medication for a work-related injury can lead to opioid addiction

Countless families across the United States deal with the catastrophic effects of the opioid epidemic every day. According to the New York State Department of Health, in 2016 there were over 3,000 opioid overdose deaths in New York State alone. Although not every case is eligible for workers' compensation, individuals who were prescribed opioids after a work related injury may be entitled to substantial benefits if such prescriptions contributed to an overdose.

In 2007, our firm represented a client in a workers' compensation case following a motor vehicle collision. Our client had multiple herniated discs and his doctor prescribed opioids for pain relief. Unfortunately, during the years after his injury our client developed an addiction to his prescription opioids and passed away from an overdose. Although our client had not received a workers' compensation prescription in multiple years, we proved his overdose was related to his workers' compensation case because his underlying opioid addiction began with his workers' compensation opioid prescriptions. As a result, our client’s family will receive reimbursement for funeral expenses and our client’s minor children will receive a weekly benefit until at least their 18th birthday.

If you are struggling with an opioid addiction, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. Additionally, if you or a loved one developed an opioid addiction as a result of a work related injury, you may be entitled to substantial compensation. Please contact our office at (866) 557-7500 or visit our website to schedule a free consultation regarding any workers' compensation, pension, or disability matter.

Ryan J. McIntyre, Esq.
Associate Attorney
rmcintyre@licomplaw.com

Partner Sean Riordan featured on Nassau COBA Monthly Podcast

Correction Officers Workers’ Comp – What you need to know

Listen to Nassau COBA's monthly podcast to learn more

Partner Sean Riordan was interviewed on the Nassau County Correction Officers Benevolent Association's podcast: COBA Monthly. Host, and NC COBA President, Brian Sullivan and Sean discussed Workers' Comp benefits available for officers injured in the course of their duty and the procedures to follow when you are injured on the job. This includes filling out the proper paper work to begin your workers' compensation claim, obtaining the necessary treatment your doctor prescribes for your injury and hurdles that you may face throughout the process. Sean highlights the process of negotiations with the workers' compensation board and insurance companies, while working with injured workers to get the compensation they deserve.

Sean also discussed the legal elements that a Correction Officer must prove in order to receive 3/4’s retirement benefits due to a permanent disability. Retirement Law Section 607-C benefits were highlighted in the conversation and Sean discussed the various cases currently being litigated which may impact 3/4’s benefits.

MDASR has worked closely with the Nassau Correction Officers in an effort to protect and progress the benefit rights of those who are injured on the job. If you have been injured while working as a corrections officer you may qualify for workers' compensation benefits. Our attorneys have successfully litigated virtually every type of claim that can come before the Workers' Compensation Board. We have successfully obtained millions of dollars in monetary benefits for our clients. If you have been hurt on the job and have lost time from work, you may qualify to receive a portion of your lost wages and medical expenses. We are dedicated to protecting people who are injured on the job and work our hardest to see that they are justly compensated. Call our office today at (866) 557-7500 to set up a free consultation.

COBA Monthly Podcast August 2019 – Correction Officers Workers’ Comp

New York Social Security Disability Lawyer, NYCERS State Disability Pensions

The NYS Light Duty Standard & NYS Disability Pensions:

When does my job become my Light Duty Responsibilities in the Eyes of the Retirement System?

By:  Sean Patrick Riordan, Esq.

In the course of the last week I have encountered 3 different officers who wished to apply for their disability pensions but had worked in a light duty position for more than two years, and thus faced what is commonly called the “Light Duty Standard of Review” if they choose to file at this time.  The Light Duty Standard of Review almost always ensures denial of a disability pension application, so it is vitally important that officers understand the rules associated with this regulation.

The Light Duty Standard of Review is not found within the NYS Retirement & Social Security Law (RSSL), the law that provides the statutory retirement benefits. Instead, the rule is found within the New York Codes Rules and Regulations (NYCRR), the Retirement System’s rules for administering the benefits provided by law. The specific rule can be found at NYCRR 364.3.

Paraphrasing the law, the Light Duty Standard of Review is applicable when:

  • An officer works 2 years or more in a light duty position without returning to his/her full duty responsibilities;
  • Works greater than 100 hours of overtime in a Light Duty Position in any 12-month period.

The majority of the confusion arises from rule 1 above and the amount of time that an individual has been assigned to a light duty standard. The regulation states that the Light Duty Standard of Review applies when an officer “has been continuously assigned to light, limited or restricted duties for at least 2 years.” In Vicks v. Hevesi, an applicant for disability retirement argued that he had not worked a light duty position for more than 2 years because his injury forced him to miss days from work. In other words, he had not “continuously” worked in such light duty position for the required 2-year period.

The Court rejected Vicks’ argument, finding that although he missed days from work due to his impairments his “assignment” to light duty was indeed continuous and therefore the amount of days Vicks actual worked in that post were irrelevant. The Court looked to the assignment to the duties, not the number of days worked.

For several years attorney’s operated under this “assignment” ruling, looking towards an employer’s roll-call for an officer’s actual duty assignment. However, in 2015 the goalposts once again moved suddenly. In Lamb v. DiNapoli applicant argued that the Light Duty Standard of Review should not apply because he had not been “assigned” to a light duty job for over 2 years. Lamb argued that when he missed time from work due to his injuries his “assignment” actually changed and he was taken off of light duty assignment and assigned to a “no duty” status. The Retirement System argued that the continuous assignment to light duty is not interrupted by absence from work and therefore the Light Duty Standard of Review continued to apply.

The Court upheld the Retirement System’s interpretation of the law as a “rationale, reasonable reading of the regulation” and therefore denied Lamb’s appeal. “The record establishes that petitioner’s absences from work were due to his injuries and not as the result of any reassignment of duties by the employer.” In short, the Court did not consider a “no duty” assignment as an interruption to an officer’s assignment to light duty.

So, where do we stand now? The easiest way to calculate your light duty assignment time is to keep track of the very first day you are assigned light duty following an injury. From that date, you must file an application for disability retirement before 2 years or the Light Duty Standard of Review will apply to your application for retirement benefits.

A simple hypothetical will help illuminate the rule:

Officer X is injured in-the-line-of-duty on December 25, 2019. Following a brief absence from work his department places him on light duty assignment beginning January 1, 2020. After only 2 weeks in this light duty assignment Officer X goes back out of work to have surgery. Following surgery, Officer X never returns to any assignment due to his disabilities and remains in a “no duty” status.

In the above hypothetical Officer X must file his application for disability benefits before January 1, 2022 or the Light Duty Standard of Review will apply to his application. The fact that he did not actually work a light duty post for more than 2 years is irrelevant, his “assignment” to light duty was not interrupted by his mere absence from work for disability pension purposes. Instead, the Retirement System will calculate Officer X’s light duty time from the first date that he is assigned to such a post.

The only way that the light duty time can be interrupted once an officer is assigned to such a post is to return to work in a full duty capacity. Otherwise, an application for disability benefits MUST be filed with the Retirement System before the two-year period elapses or the Light Duty Standard of Review will apply. If an officer files an application before the two-year period passes, the fact that he/she remains in such position during the processing of the application is irrelevant, the full duty standard would still apply to such officer because he filed his application before the two-year period ran out.

Lastly, there is also a false rumor that mandatory overtime is not considered in the calculation of the 100 hours of overtime. In Koenig v. DiNapoli the applicant sought to deduct from the overtime calculation “mandatory overtime for medical evaluations, court appearances and contractual travel overtime benefits.” The Court sided with the Retirement System by finding that its interpretation of the regulation as having included such mandatory overtime as “rationale and reasonable.” Therefore, such overtime is considered in the calculation of overtime for the 100 hours within any 12-month period.

The bottom line is, keep track of the first date you actually are assigned to light duty AND keep track of how many hours of overtime you are being credited for during the year. It could mean the difference between a disability pension or not.

As always, if you have any questions call me any time – (212) 612-3198 or email me at Sean@nycomplaw.com.

Be well and be safe!

September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Falling Short

Our 9/11 First Responders and volunteers, the heroes of that fateful day almost 18 years ago, are now facing major health issues due to the harmful debris in the air. They, along with search and rescue team members, are now being diagnosed with aggressive cancers caused by their time spent at Ground Zero. The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund was created to support heroes and families of those who tragically passed or could no longer work due to injury or illness related to 9/11. What no one suspected is that disease and cancers caused by carcinogenic material would form a decade later. The fund has been extended to support families of those who have been affected years later but is now expected to be depleted by 2020.

First Responders and volunteers risked their lives for the weeks following the attacks and now are seeing their comrades fall sick with aggressive cancers. They now worry they will pay the ultimate price for their bravery. Experts are finding that the life expectancy of cancer patients resulting from 9/11 is about 80 percent shorter than those with cancer unrelated to 9/11. The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund has paid billions of dollars to support responders in the event they cannot work and thousands depend on it to support their families. Recently those awarded their payments after February 25th only received half of what they are entitled to and those approved after that date are scheduled to receive only 70% of what the fund has historically provided.

MDASR partner, Sean Riordan is actively involved with the 9/11 First Responders DC Lobbying Team and recently went to Washington DC to petition the extension and refunding of the Victims Compensation Act. MDASR continues to fight for the rights of all of our first responders.

Office Workers' Compensation

Avoiding Office Workers’ Compensation Claims

When employers think about workers’ compensation claims they often think of physically demanding jobs; construction workers lifting and operating heavy equipment or law enforcement hurt on the job. However, sedentary office jobs can also pose potential threats to safety and health. Office and administrative workers’ compensation claims can be avoided by being conscious of the risks and making the proper changes and adjustments to the work environment.

Simple tasks like making sure all officer furniture and technology is adaptable to each employee’s preferences, height and optimal comfort can make a positive impact. Companies would be smart to invest more money into computer screens with swivel capabilities, comfortable mouse pads, keyboards, desks and chairs with adjustability options than paying higher workers’ compensation fees for injured workers in the long term.

Encouraging workers to a break from looking at their computer screen all day may decrease productivity for 10 minutes a day. This is insignificant to the potential loss when a worker is out for visual injuries due to prolonged computer use and will cost more for employers in the end. Positioning computer screens approximately two feet from your employees’ eyes will also lessen potential complications.

According to Safety and Health Magazine trips and falls claim the title for the most common office workplace injury. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 32% of office related injuries are due to employees tripping or falling on things that could have been avoided. Managers and supervisors can alleviate these risk by keeping workspaces clear and all potential obstacles removed. This includes stacks of papers, power cords, boxes, open drawers and anything else that could get in the way of a walking employee.

The most effective protocol is keeping an open line of communication with your employees and have proper reporting methods in place for them to state potential risks and any injuries they may come across. Managers that schedule walkthroughs of their company can be alerted of impending risks and hazards and make the proper modifications to reduce the chances of an accident and subsequently an office workers’ compensation claim.

If you have sustained an injury while working in an administrative position you may qualify for workers’ compensation benefits, contact our attorneys at (866) 557-7500 for a free claim evaluation.

NYC COBA Newsletter Features MDASR

MDASR featured in COBA NYC's April 2019 Newsletter

McIntyre, Donohue, Accardi, Salmonson & Riordan, LLP is happy to report our recent successful Workers' Compensation and Pension Disability cases representing New York City Correction Officers (NYC COBA) MDASR works closely with the NYC Correction Officers' Benevolent Association and its' Officers. We are proud to be featured in their April 2019 Newsletter. The attorneys at MDASR are committed to providing their expert experience to advocate for injured and disabled workers and receive the best possible outcome for our clients.

NYS Police Compensation Seminar Hosted by MDASR

McIntyre, Donohue, Accardi, Salmonson & Riordan, LLP was honored to host members of the NYS Police for an evening of networking, great food & drinks and an important and fundamental discussion. Partners Ed McIntyre, Sean Riordan and James Seganti spoke about compensation rights as NYS Law Enforcement in the event of an accident or injury on the job and the potential effects on their pensions.

Ed McIntyre, discussed the requirements for NYS Law Enforcement to qualify for workers’ compensation and how essential it is to know what you are entitled to when injured. He also discussed the potential for substantial workers compensation awards that injured Troopers often fail to pursue.  Ed spoke about the firm’s workers’ compensation attorneys and their expertise in the procedure when filing for coverage.

James Seganti spoke about the crucial need for World Trade Center First Responders to submit the WTC-12 Sworn Statement to meet the requirements for coverage in the event they seek workers’ compensation in the future. The deadline for this form is September 11, 2022, and is necessary in the event that you develop a disease or illness related to your time in rescue, recovery or cleanup.

Sean Riordan covered the current legal climate for what now qualifies as an accident on the job and how recent court decisions have turned disability pension litigation upside down. Retaining talented and knowledgeable attorneys is crucial in the outcome of the of your case and the total of your pension.

If you have been injured on the job contact our attorneys for a free claim evaluation at (866) 557-7500. Multiple conditions, work related or not, may in combination be enough to establish a successful claim.

Partner Sean Riordan Advocates for NY’s First Responders

Sean Riordan meets with Congressman Gregory Meeks and FDNY Ret. Chief Richard Alles to discuss the crucial issues our nation's first responders face daily.

MDASR partner Sean Riordan met with Congressman Gregory Meeks and FDNY Ret. Chief Richard Alles to discuss the crucial issues our nation's first responders face daily. Sean is an outspoken advocate for First Responders, having joined with advocacy groups such as the FealGood Foundation and Congressional leaders to help pass legislation that affords greater health care and benefits to men and women that respond to emergency situations.

MDASR Wins 9/11 Death Claim

The Law firm of McIntyre, Donohue, Accardi, Salmonson & Riordan LLP successfully argued and established causally related death as a result of toxic exposure from the tragic events of September 11, 2001. The claimant, a Local 40 electrician, selflessly chose to volunteer his services following the attacks on the World Trade Center. He spent two days volunteering and was instrumental in removal of steel beams and debris on the pile.

Even though the claimant was only at Ground Zero for two days, that exposure was enough to cause malignant melanoma which metastasized to his chest, abdomen, bones, adrenal glands, and lymph nodes. That exposure to the carcinogens at Ground Zero was proven to have significantly contributed to the development of  the claimant’s metastatic malignant melanoma and ultimately, his untimely death. As a result the surviving widow and children received a retroactive award of $155,000.00 as well continued lifetime benefits for the surviving widow.

Thank you to our late claimant and all of the other brave men and women who risked their lives, most giving the ultimate sacrifice, in the name of our country’s and city’s safety.

Written by Timothy Finnegan, Associate Attorney. 

Attorney Advertising. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

Amazon and Labor

In late Fall of 2018, after a nationwide bidding war with other large metropolitan cities, Ecommerce and tech giant Amazon decided to build its second North American headquarters in Long Island City, Queens.

In return for almost $3 billion in subsidies from the City, Amazon has promised a variety of things to give back to the surrounding communities. Among its promises are 25,000 new jobs, according to Curbed NY.

Amazon has a torrid history with regard to labor, and a number of New York unions have taken notice. In the company’s nearly 30 years of operation, they have avidly fought against unionization, even when there is record of employees fighting to do so. Citing poor working conditions, long hours, and poor work culture, a number of unions have teamed up to generate activism for Amazons workers. The Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union along with Teamsters have come out in full force in the name of employee advocacy.

According to Crain’s New York Business, the two unions wrote of Amazon in a series of letters to the Governor and Mayor:

“The International Brotherhood of Teamsters has joined the battle over Amazon’s second headquarters. In letters to Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the truckers’ union has teamed up with the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union to highlight the Seattle giant’s “well-documented record of anti-worker, anti-union behavior” and “deadly and dehumanizing working conditions.” They are asking the elected leaders to “work with us to ensure that Amazon changes the way it operates.”

In response to the public response of Amazon coming into a union stronghold like New York, the company contractually agreed to use union labor for the construction end of their project, but according to the Daily News, both unions remain unconvinced that the company will change its ways:

“As a nod to New York’s still-strong labor movement, the company also agreed to use union workers to both build its new facility and help staff it and keep it maintained — but those terms don’t quite stand up to full scrutiny, according to the Teamsters and RWDSU.

The Building Trades Council’s deal to have union laborers construct the Long Island City headquarters is actually inked with third-party contractor — as is SEIU 32BJ’s contract for maintenance and other services.

Amazon itself remains untouched by a direct labor agreement as part of its deal, the Teamsters and RWDSU said.”

Links below:

Force labor-busting Amazon to change course: Their hostility to unions should be the last straw breaking the back of this rotten deal

Teamsters join fight against Amazon HQ2

AMAZON CAME TO THE BARGAINING TABLE—BUT WORKERS WANT MORE

Employees at Amazon’s New NYC Warehouse Launch Union Push

No union, no deal, NYC labor leaders tell Cuomo and de Blasio about Amazon’s new HQ

Amazon workers in New York just announced their plan to unionize