Thursday, June 24, 2010

Bad Beats in Comp

By most accounts this was a good week. Injured workers won two but also lost two. On the losing side were the injured worker who had pre-existing cervical and lumbar arthritis that was non-symtomatic even though he worked at a heavy physical job. After his lifting incident he developed disabling symptoms which his doctors attributed to his arthritis and not his 'accident'. Major Contributing Cause did him in compwise. If only there had been some negligence on the part of his employer I would have sued under part II.
The other loss was in a case that stands for the proposition that the employer who hires an undocumented worker gets off the hook for indemnity if the employee doesn't file tax returns even if the E/C isn't interested in defending on that basis and stipulates to the AWW. The JCC can do it for the defense, after the evidence closes and without notice or opportunity to be heard. No opportunity to get the case to the Supreme Court. En Banc denied, certified question denied. Due process---DENIED.
But on the brighter side the ineptness, bad faith, and mean spirited claims handling of the Div of Risk Mgt was exposed in Gauthier v.. FIU. Lets hope the CFO reads it and makes some neeeded changes in the Div of Risk Mgt. The philosophy of providing injured state employees with the lowest level of care and the least amount of benefits and of questioning every claim as if the injured worker was a criminal instead of a valued employee has to stop. The opinion didn't mention that the adjuster refused to reimburse the employee for prescription glasses broken in the accident unless the unrepresented (at that time) claimant could 'prove' the glasses were broken in the accident. And advised the injured worker that she would not be reimbursed for mileage to the pharmacy when that is opposite what the law says. That is in addition to knowing the injured worker had a permanent injury but making little or no attempt to get MMI and a rating and paying the IB's due before the SOL ran. 'Gotcha' techniques, as Judge Alan Schwartz (3 DCA senior judge) would say.
The last matter was the Bifulco case out of the Florida Supreme Court today. As Amicus for FWA we established that the law in Florida is that if you sue a government entity for a cause of action arising out of ch.440, the immunity granted to the government, pre suit notices etc. are not applicable since the government has to be treated as any other employer. The underlying claim was under 440.205- wrongful termination.