Bus Drivers Face High Risk of On-the-Job Injury

Public transportation drivers have an especially important role to play in society- they are entrusted with delivering thousands of people every day safely to their destinations. In fact, in 2013, Americans took 10.7 billion trips on public transportation and half (5.4 billion) of those trips were rides in a bus. Therefore, when a bus driver suffers from an injury or illness, there is a trickle down effect. A recent survey was published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reflecting the kinds of hazards bus drivers face on a daily basis. Due to the nature of their employment, bus drivers spend a great deal of time on the road and as a result, 42% of work related injuries in 2013 were related to transportation incidents. However, these incidents were second to physical overexertion in 2012, which accounted for 34% of cases. In 2013, overexertion constituted 22%.

In addition to vehicle accidents and bodily reactions, bus drivers also are exposed to the elements of nature as a condition of their job, and thus, slips and falls accounted for 14% of injuries in 2013- a decrease from 20% in 2011. The remainder 35% of accidents faced by bus drivers in 2013 fell into the categories of contact with objects/equipment, violence by people or animals, and exposure to harmful substances.

Bus drivers can often face long hours, and both physically and mentally stressful conditions. To be entrusted with the safety of so many passengers each day is a very serious undertaking. If you are a bus driver, or a loved one is, who has been injured while on duty, contact an experienced attorney who can assist you with your Worker’s Compensation claim. The attorneys at McIntyre, Donohue, Accardi, Salmonson & Riordan, LLP have experience representing clients before Workers’ Compensation boards throughout New York City and Long Island, including Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Nassau County, and Suffolk County. For a consultation, call (866)557-7500.

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Nurses Face Increased Risk of Workplace Violence

The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) has estimated that 2 million Americans a year are subjected to workplace violence. Specifically, there has been new light shed on the violence that many health care providers face on a daily basis. Nurses are most likely to experience workplace violence, with up to 82% of emergency room nurses reporting that they have been the subject of physical violence, and 100% claiming they had been subjected to verbal violence, according to a survey conducted by the Emergency Nurses Association.

Last month, the issue of workplace violence for nurses rose to the forefront when a cardiologist was shot at a Boston hospital, allegedly upset over his mother’s death. Although shootings at hospitals are not common, violent crimes in hospitals have been increasing as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Emergency room nurses and nurses who work in psychiatric wards are among those employed by the profession that faces the highest risks of injury resulting from violence in their workplace. Many of those who attack nurses are under the influence of alcohol or narcotics, or suffer from mental illness. Last year, a 70 year old nurse went into a coma and suffered brain damage as a result of a patient repeatedly kicking her in the head at a New York hospital. OSHA found that particular hospital had 40 incidents within 3 months, failing to take proper measures to prevent such scenarios from occurring.

As well as violence causing injury in the workplace, nurses also face a number of other job related injuries and illnesses that are prevalent in the profession. Back injuries, slip and falls, exposure to chemicals and diseases, and the injuries that may arise from a patient’s violent episode can all contribute toward a Worker’s Compensation claim if you have to miss work due to your condition.

If you are a nurse who has been the victim of workplace violence or suffered injury as a result of performing your job, you are eligible to file a NYS worker’s compensation claim. Contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney who will work aggressively to secure full and appropriate compensation for your injuries. The attorneys at McIntyre, Donohue, Accardi, Salmonson & Riordan, LLP have experience representing clients before Workers’ Compensation boards throughout New York City and Long Island, including Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Nassau County, and Suffolk County. For a consultation, call (866)557-7500.

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Potential 2015 Workers’ Compensation Legislation

Last year, 2014, the state of New York enacted several Workers’ Compensation bills, including the New York State Commercial Goods Industry Fair Play Act and the NYCERS and WCB Mandatory Exchange of information. To refresh, the New York State Commercial Goods Industry Fair Play Act, in part, established a standard to prevent the misclassification of trucker drivers as independent contractors. This simply means that truck drivers may be eligible for workers’ compensation if they were to suffer an on-the-job injury.

The NYCERS and WCB Mandatory Exchange of information, among other things, mandated the exchange of information between the New York City Employees’ Retirement System (NYCERS) and the Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) in an effort to implement pension plan offsets for the workers’ compensation benefits a retiree receives for the same injury.

This year, 2015, several previously proposed pro-labor workers’ compensation bills are likely to be reintroduced at the state legislature. Among them includes a bill which would require a presumption of permanent total disability if an individual is approved for social security disability benefits; a bill which would allow claimants to choose their own pharmacy; a bill that would allow death benefits to continue if a spouse remarries; a bill which would require medical treatment guidelines for all body parts and medical conditions; and a bill prohibiting the retroactive application of the medical treatment guidelines. While it remains unclear whether these proposals will be adopted, it is important that New York workers remain informed of potential rights and protections.

If you have suffered a work related injury, you may be eligible to receive compensation for your injuries, medical bills, and other damages. An injury on the job can occur in a number of ways and can jeopardize your ability to provide for you and your family. The attorneys at McIntyre, Donohue, Accardi, Salmonson & Riordan, LLP have experience representing clients before Workers’ Compensation boards throughout New York City and Long Island, including Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Nassau County, and Suffolk County. For a consultation, call (866)557-7500.

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ABLE Creates Long Term Planning Solution for Disabled Americans

In order to qualify for federal programs like Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), a person can’t have more than $2,000 in cash savings or other assets. As a result, many disabled Americans are discouraged from working or setting aside money for long term expenses, since they don’t want to put their benefits at risk.

A traditional planning solution that many permanently disabled individuals have as means to provide for long term care beyond government benefits, has been to create a special-needs trust. However, many people receiving Medicaid and SSI benefits, do not have the extra money to hire the necessary legal services to produce a trust.

This past December, however, congress passed the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act, more concisely referred to as ABLE. Essentially, ABLE creates a lower-cost of means for the disabled and their families to save for long-term needs without jeopardizing their federal benefits.
According to the New York Times, disabled people and families with children who have special needs can pay into the accounts. So long as the money is spent on pre-approved categories of expenditures for the beneficiary, withdrawals from the accounts will not be taxed. Such pre-approved expenditures include, housing, education, transportation, health care and rehabilitation.

ABLE accounts have an annual contribution limit of $14,000 and can grow to $100,000 without effecting S.S.I. benefits. To qualify you must have been disabled before age 26. While specific regulatory are still emerging, anyone eligible for S.S.I. benefits will likely be eligible for ABLE.
Additionally, if you or a loved one have any questions regarding your workers benefits, social security, or disability benefits contact our experienced attorneys at McIntyre, Donohue, Accardi, Salmonson & Riordan, LLP. For a consultation, call (866)557-7500.

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Revised OSHA Regulations Call for More Employer Transparency

Starting January 1, 2015, companies will be required to report all work-related in-patient hospitalizations, amputations, and eye losses within 24 hours of the incident. This comes as an update to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)’s current record-keeping requirements.

Currently, OSHA requires that employers report in-patient hospitalizations only if three or more employees are affected. Furthermore, amputations and eye losses were previously not required to be reported. Both the revised regulation and the previous regulation requirement that employers report work-related fatalities within eight hours. The new regulations reflect an effort on the part of OSHA to broaden its safety-reporting requirements.

Many employers, however, are not convinced that stricter federal requirements on reporting workplace fatalities, injuries and illnesses will significantly improve workplace safety. Employers further argue that the new implementation will require that time and money be spent on compliance, even though there is little evidence that such a regulation revision will improve workplace safety.

Indeed, OSHA estimates it will take about 30 minutes, per incident, to gather and report the required information. OSHA officials estimate that if 120,000 additional reports are submitted nationally, and if the person making the report makes about $40 an hour, the reports could cost employers about $2.6 million nationwide. At present, OSHA receives an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 reports per year for fatalities and catastrophes resulting in three or more employees being hospitalized.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration aims to help employers and employees reduce on-the-job injuries, illnesses and deaths by directing national compliance initiatives in occupational safety and health.

If you have been injured during the course of your employment you may qualify for workers compensation. 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, the Bronx, and Staten Island, in addition to both Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island. Call (866) 557-7500 for a consultation.

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Can a Company Require an Employee to Provide Notification Before Seeking Medical Treatment?

In short, no. Employers cannot required employees to give notification before seeking medical treatment. The issue arose in court after a FedEx employee alleged that he was fired for such a lack of notification. In the September 24, 2014 decision, a federal judge ruled the policy was effectively illegal.

According to reports, the employee had notified supervisor that he was suffering from back discomfort. As a result, the employee was scheduled for “light duty” for the duration of week. The employee subsequently scheduled an appointment with a physician’s assistant, who provided him with a note requesting his employer, FedEx, keep him on light duty until he could receive a complete evaluation. However upon receiving the note, FedEx fired the individual.
Although FedEx claimed that the then-employee violated company policy by not notifying his supervisor ahead of time that he was seeking medical treatment, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division determined that the company’s policy violated the employee’s right to seek medical treatment without interference.

As the Court opined, “[By] definition, imposing any prerequisite an employee must satisfy before seeking medical treatment ‘interferes’ with the employee’s right to seek and obtain medical treatment and therefore runs afoul of the [state] Workers’ Compensation Act.”

In New York State, workers’ compensation laws cover nearly all New York employees. If you are injured on the job, it is important that you seek immediate medical attention as soon as possible. While you are not required to notify your employer that you are seeking medical attention, New York workers’ compensation law does require the injured employee to notify their employer about the injury and the way in which it occurred within 30 days of the accident causing the injury.

The attorneys at McIntyre, Donohue, Accardi, Salmonson & Riordan, LLP have experience representing clients before Workers’ Compensation boards throughout New York City and Long Island, including Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Nassau County, and Suffolk County. For a consultation, call (866)557-7500.

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New York State Comptroller Announces Decrease in Pension Contribution Rates

The New York State Comptroller recently announced that the contribution rates paid by state and local governments towards New York’s pension funds will decrease.

According to the Comptroller’s office the average rate of contribution will decrease to 18.2% for most public workers from 20.1%, the comptroller said. For police and firefighters, the employer rate will drop to 24.7% of payroll from 27.6%.

The decrease in contribution rates is expected to have immediate impact on local governments outside New York City. In New York City, pension contributions will likely remain the same thanks to the city’s separate pension system. In recent years, localities and school districts have faced increases in their pension cost burden, partly due to the projected costs from a boom in retirees. Now, however, the rate reduction announcement comes as the state’s main pension fund reached a record high of $180.7 billion.

Thus, according to State Comptroller Thomas Di Napoli, the healthy state of the fund means local taxpayers won’t have to contribute as much. This is due in part to recent investment gains, which has increased the state’s pension fund to 92.2% from 88.7%.

Though New York’s pension fund is regarded as one of the best-funded in the country, opponents question the fund’s long term outlook. Indeed, skeptics argue that the fund assets, being largely comprised of various investments, presents a high risk for a high reward.

For additional information about state pension information and how it may affect you, please visit the state comptroller’s website. Additionally, if you or a loved one have any questions regarding your workers benefits, social security, or disability benefits contact our experienced attorneys at The Law Offices of McIntyre, Donohue, Accardi, Salmonson, & Riordan, LLP. Call (866) 557-7500 for a consultation.

NY Senator Introduces Bill to Help Alleviate Financial Burden on Americans with Disabilities

Senator Charles Schumer has recently introduced a new piece of legislation to the United States Senate. The proposed bill aims to assist New Yorkers with disabilities and their families in their preparations for the future. The bill, titled, Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE) creates a tax-advantage savings account for people with disabilities.

According to reports, the bill would authorize the creation of a savings account similar to an Individual Retirement Account. The saving account would allow parents to put away more money for their disabled child, without paying taxes on those contributions. Furthermore, the deposits would not put them over a threshold for what they stand to receive for social security disability.

Individuals that have been diagnosed with a mental or physical disability can create an account. Those individual’s beneficiaries can also establish an account. Anyone would be able contribute to the account. More importantly, the funds would be able to be withdrawn tax-free and used for expenses such as education, medicine, and transportation.
According to the CDC, there are more than 43,000 people with disabilities in western New York alone, which includes but is not limited to Autism, Down Syndrome, and Fragile-X.

In short, Senator Schumer’s bill seeks to alleviate the difficult proposition which many families of disabled Americans face: Choosing between paying for daily living expenses and saving for their child’s future.

For more information on ABLE or for any information on Social Security disability, contact an experienced social security disability attorney at The Law Offices of McIntyre, Donohue, Accardi, Salmonson, & Riordan, LLP. Our firm handles social security and disability claims throughout the five boroughs of New York City, including Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island, 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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Construction Company Held Liable for Employee’s Death

The U.S. Labor Department has found a Watertown contracting company liable for the easily preventable death of a construction worker (employee) at one of its New York work sites.

Kyle Brown, 23, died in November of 2013 from a fall while he was working as part of a crew installing metal decking on the roof of an automobile dealership being built in Pulaski, New York. He was blown off the roof and fell to his death as he tried to secure sheets of decking, said Labor Department officials.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited the company for a willful and a serious violation. “This needless fall and resulting death were entirely preventable. Had this company provided its employees with required fall protection equipment, anchorage and training, this young man would be alive today,” said Christopher Adams, OSHA’s area director in Syracuse. “Falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry, yet they are also among the clearest hazards to identify and eliminate. Fall protection safeguards save lives, but only if they’re properly and effectively implemented.”

OSHA’s investigation found that while Brown was wearing a fall protection harness, it was useless, as the workers were not provided with a means to connect to an independent anchorage point to stop a fall. The company failed to train employees to recognize fall hazards and ensure adequate anchorage for lifelines nor did they secure the decking against displacement by the wind.

The company, MTL Design, is a general contractor that specializes in site work, concrete work and steel building construction. The company faces $88,900 in proposed fines for its violations and has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet informally with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

In New York State, if you have been injured in a workplace or construction accident, your employer’s worker’s compensation insurance policy is responsible for paying your medical bills and a portion of your lost wages. It is often the case that a separate lawsuit can be pursued against one or more third parties responsible for the resultant injuries. Don’t underestimate the seriousness of your accident or injury. What might seem like a straightforward case can quickly become a complicated legal problem. With so much at stake, it’s important that you contact an experienced New York worker’s compensation attorney.

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, the Bronx, and Staten Island, in addition to both Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island. Call (866) 557-7500 for a consultation.

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What Does Third-Party Liability Mean in Worker’s Compensation Cases?

Workers who have sustained an on-the-job injury or illness are entitled to workers’ compensation to cover the medical bills and lost wages that result from their injuries. However, workers compensation benefits do not cover an individual’s long-term monetary loss, pain and suffering, or additional damages that may have resulted from particularly reckless conduct. As a matter of fact, state law actually limits most workers’ compensation payments. Furthermore, individuals who accept workers’ compensation benefits forfeit their right to sue their employer for their job related injury or illness.

Third-Party Liability

Third-party liability provides an additional remedy, separate from workers’ compensation benefits, to individuals who have sustained a job related injury or illness. A third-party is anyone other than a worker’s employer or co-worker. Third-party liability occurs when an individual who sustains a job related injury or illness sues someone other than his or her employer for damages.

Common third-party defendants include, but are not limited to:

• Manufacturers of workplace equipment, tools, or materials, whose products may have caused or intensified an individual’s work related injury or illness;

• Landlords or business owners who fail to keep their premises clear of hazards, thus resulting in an injury or illness to a worker who visits the premise as part of his or her job;

• Automobile drivers who cause an accident, which results in an injury to a worker who was on the road as part of his or her job.

Will a claim for third-party liability affect the status of my workers compensation benefits?

No. All awards received in third-party liability suits are separate and distinct from workers’ compensation benefits. This means that injured or ill workers can receive an award based off of their third-party liability claim and still retain their workers compensation benefits. Additionally, the right to bring a claim for third-party liability also extends to the surviving families of a deceased individual in cases of work related wrongful deaths.

Why should you pursue a third-party liability claim?

Since workers’ compensation benefits generally do not account for all of the cost associated with a work related injury or illness, pursuing a third party liability claim affords the victims of a work related injury or illness an additional remedy which may fully cover the costs of the of injury and lost wages. 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, the Bronx, and Staten Island, in addition to both Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island. Call (866) 557-7500 for a consultation.

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