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Workers Comp Matters
33 minutes | 15 days ago
How Voc Rehab Helps Injured Workers Recover on the Job Front
Just like workers’ compensation, states have varying approaches to vocational rehabilitation. Voc rehab expert Rhonda Jellenik and host Judson Pierce discuss how state programs differ and what role counselors like Jellenik play in the legal and job training processes. Whether called on by a plaintiff or defendant, Jellenik helps determine whether the worker has transferable skills and what options for employment are available with and without additional training. And because she works in Massachusetts, she often has the opportunity to work with injured workers in a more comprehensive way from testing, to planning and prepping them for job interviews. Pierce and Jellenik talk about how assessments have changed in the shift from in-person to virtual meetings. And they discuss how an individual’s ability to join a video call is now part of Jellenik’s documentation. Rhonda Jellenik is a nationally certified vocational rehabilitation counselor. Special thanks to our sponsor, PInow.
31 minutes | 2 months ago
Presumptions in the Age of Covid-19
Teamster turned national workers’ comp expert Michael Duff explains the presumption landscape that’s rapidly developed over the last year during the pandemic. He and hosts Alan and Judson Pierce discuss presumptions by statute, executive order, and administrative enactment. Given the state of emergency, big questions emerging involve executive authority limits and what presumption for workers comp cases will look like as the emergency subsides. For his part, Duff doesn’t believe the end is anywhere near, expecting the nation is only at the midway point in dealing with the pandemic. Michael C. Duff teaches labor law, workers’ comp, torts and evidence at the University of Wyoming College of Law. Special thanks to our sponsor, PInow.
27 minutes | 3 months ago
The Future of Work: Utopia or Dystopia?
Darrell West, an expert on artificial intelligence in the workplace, talks about the critical intersection America is facing and the public policy changes necessary to avoid mass suffering. Hosts Alan and Judson Pierce probe West on the future of work, with the increased use of automation and the continued growth of temporary and contract jobs. While part-time, temporary, and contract jobs can add flexibility and come at a low cost for employers, they often don’t come with key social benefits including retirement plans, disability insurance, and health insurance. Current public policy is based on a traditional model of long-term employment that no longer exists for many. And West asserts that America’s safety net is in dire need of a public policy overhaul that includes understanding and buy-in from the public. The three discuss the implications of Proposition 22, which California overwhelmingly approved that allows gig economy companies such as Uber to keep categorizing drivers as independent contractors. Darrell M. West is vice president and director of governance studies and holds the Douglas Dillon Chair at the Brookings Institution. Special thanks to our sponsor, PInow.
33 minutes | 4 months ago
The Year that Was in Workers Comp
Sensational coverage and panic drove much of the early discussion and predictions about workers comp during the beginning of the pandemic. But workers comp legal expert Emily Spieler says that early handwringing by employers and employees was overblown. That said, Spieler and host Alan Pierce discuss how the pandemic placed a spotlight on the workers’ compensation system. For Spieler, the pandemic exposed how the nation’s poor healthcare safety net puts tremendous pressure on workers comp because there is no other real recourse for employees who get sick and can demonstrate they were exposed at work. Without paid sick leave, workers turn to workers’ compensation. Workers’ comp isn’t adequate for illness related to employment. That explains why there are separate federal programs for workers exposed to toxins such as silica, asbestos, and coal dust. Spieler and Pierce talk through the weaknesses of the system, particularly the nuances of compensable diseases for workers directly exposed through front-line work, such as nurses and doctors, and those who may face increased chances of exposure along the supply chain. The impact of Covid-19 on workers’ comp is unfolding as data is collected and claims processed. What’s to come in 2021? While Spieler says most workers, as many as 70% to 80%, didn’t have the opportunity to work from home, she notes there is sure to be litigation over injuries sustained by those working from home. Is tripping while walking to the restroom at home when you’re on the clock the same as tripping on the way to the restroom at work? Emily Spieler is the Edwin W. Hadley Professor of Law at Northeastern University School of Law, where she served as dean from 2002 until 2012. Special thanks to our sponsor, PInow.
28 minutes | 5 months ago
Want to Improve Performance? Take a Break
Executive coach Jayme Purinton explains how modeling wellbeing from the top down can improve performance teamwide. Especially during times of stress, it’s essential to take time to recharge and reinvigorate, whether that’s by reading a book, going for a run, or watching the news. Those who don’t take time out are more likely to burn out or make mistakes. By separating from the work and decompressing, there is time to recharge and fill emotional reserves, building resilience, Purinton tells host Judson Pierce. Jayme Purinton is the founder and Principal Consultant at Blue Sky Consulting. Special thanks to our sponsor, PInow.
27 minutes | 7 months ago
Up in the Air: When Uniforms are Toxic
Delta Air Line’s “Passport Plum” Lands’ End uniforms designed by Zac Posen debuted with much fanfare only to be mired in litigation once flight attendants started complaining of nausea, skin rashes, headaches, respiratory problems, and fatigue. Florida personal injury attorney Bruce Maxwell tells host Judson Pierce how he got a call from a flight attendant with odd symptoms, then another, then another. Now he’s seen more than 1,300 claims against Lands’ End, which he, Thomas Holder, and other counsel say is negligent in the design, manufacturing, and labeling of uniforms that are defective and dangerous to the wearers. Maxwell says his firm began testing the uniform fabric and found excessive levels of formaldehyde, fluorine, bromine, and other toxic chemicals. While there’s been a lull in calls, likely because of the decrease in flights during the pandemic, Maxwell tells Pierce that new clients are still reaching out, and the judge overseeing the case is moving forward. He and Holder also share how his Delta clients were reluctant to file workplace injury claims against Delta because they are loyal to the airline. Bruce Maxwell and Thomas Holder are personal injury attorneys practicing in Florida and Georgia. Special thanks to our sponsor, PInow.
28 minutes | 8 months ago
Legislative Primer: What Lawyers Can Do to Push for Worker-Friendly Laws
Active in lobbying for worker-friendly laws, maritime lawyer Amie Peters is focused now on workers exposed to the most risk during the global pandemic. Many think of medical personnel as essential workers. But Peters highlights postal workers, grocery workers, and longshoremen who have been on the job, in-person, during the pandemic. Host Judson Pierce gets a legislative update from Peters on the major congressional initiatives to make Medicare fairer for workers and employers, set minimum workers comp standards nationwide, and improve federal oversight. Essential workers are a primary focus of legislative activity, Peters says, in part because their roles have been undervalued for decades and because they have demonstrated how valuable they are in this current crisis. “We say how they stood up for us. Now it’s time for America to return the favor,” Peters tells Pierce. Lawyers interested in making laws more worker-friendly can write, email, and call their congressmen to emphasize the importance of essential workers, says Peters, who tells Pierce that “workers comp is an everyone issue” and largely bipartisan. Amie Peters is a plaintiffs lawyer with Blue Water Legal in Edmonds, Washington. Special thanks to our sponsor, PInow.
26 minutes | 9 months ago
Are Foreign Governments Responsible for Worker Safety in the US?
As foreign governments do more business in the United States, questions about the intersection of sovereign immunity and U.S. law will undoubtedly arise. In this episode, host Alan Pierce talks with Boston litigator Ted Folkman about an important 1st Circuit case of theirs — Merlini v. Canada — that’s been winding its way through the federal courts for more than 11 years. The case involves what would otherwise be a fairly common workers compensation claim. The difference here is that the injured party is a U.S. citizen who was working in the Canadian consulate in Boston. Even though businesses in Massachusetts are required to carry workers compensation insurance, the Canadian government is asserting the U.S. courts don’t have jurisdiction under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, which shields foreign governments from most actions in U.S. courts. Folkman is arguing that U.S. courts have jurisdiction under FSIA’s commercial activity exception because the employee, Cynthia Merlini, wasn’t conducting high-level Canadian business. Instead, she was working like any other administrative assistant at a U.S.-owned business. Ted Folkman is the founder of Folkman LLC and was previously a partner at Pierce Bainbridge in Boston. Special thanks to our sponsor, PInow.
27 minutes | 10 months ago
Medical Marijuana Reimbursement in Workers’ Compensation Systems
As a Schedule I controlled substance, marijuana is not permitted for medical usage at the federal level. However, variance in state laws and conflicting decisions in recent appellate cases beg the question — should workers’ comp programs have the ability to reimburse the cost of medical marijuana for injured workers? Host Alan Pierce talks with George Flores, whose recent article on this topic titled, “Lewis and Bourgoin: The Growing Divide Over Reimbursement for Medical Marijuana in the Workers’ Compensation System,” won the 2019 writing contest for the College of Workers Compensation Lawyers. George Flores is a 2L at Penn State Law, University Park. Special thanks to our sponsor, PInow.
34 minutes | a year ago
QCARE Designation: What it Means for Texas Injury Benefit Programs
Unique workers’ compensation laws in Texas allow employers to choose whether they will subscribe to traditional workers’ comp programs. As such, approximately 20% of Texas employers have opted to develop their own injury benefit programs. In this Workers’ Comp Matters, Alan Pierce talks with Bill Minick about why Texas laws differ from the rest of the country and why the newly developed QCARE designation is an important marker of responsibility amongst non-subscribing employers. Bill Minick is chairman of PartnerSource. Special thanks to our sponsor, PInow.
28 minutes | a year ago
Impacts of COVID-19 on Workers’ Compensation
Can workers who contract COVID-19 seek workers’ compensation benefits? There are many factors at play, and workers comp attorneys are facing uncharted legal issues as the pandemic unfolds. To address the common questions arising from this crisis, Alan Pierce welcomes fellow workers’ comp attorneys Amie Peters and Mack Babcock. They discuss current concerns in this area of the law and offer guidance for lawyers as they navigate COVID-19 issues with their clients. Special thanks to our sponsor, PInow.
29 minutes | a year ago
How Inspiring Others Makes You a Better Lawyer
Can lawyers do better work if they approach it with a marketer’s mindset? In this edition of Workers’ Comp Matters, Judson Pierce fills in as host and talks with Michael Fanuele about his career as a marketer and his new book, Stop Making Sense: The Art of Inspiring Anybody. Michael believes lawyers can be better communicators and create more impactful arguments if they work to inspire others. He shares insights from his book and tips for applying them to the practice of law. Michael Fanuele is president of Media Assembly, a marketing and advertising firm in New York City. Special thanks to our sponsor, PInow.
28 minutes | a year ago
Workers’ Comp Clients: When to Seek Counsel
Workers who have suffered an injury on the job are stressed and dealing with uncertainty about how to navigate their workers’ compensation system. Many injured workers handle their claims without a lawyer, but even if a case seems simple, consulting an experienced attorney can help ensure a better outcome. Workers’ Comp Matters host Alan Pierce talks with fellow workers’ compensation attorney Bernard Nomberg about why injured workers should seek counsel earlier rather than later to determine the needs of their case. Bernard D. Nomberg is a partner at The Nomberg Law Firm in Birmingham, Alabama. Special thanks to our sponsor, PInow.
23 minutes | a year ago
Defining Employment Relationships in the Gig Economy–Can It Be Done?
As we continue to shift further into gig economy employment, defining employee-employer relationships is increasingly challenging in the area of workers’ compensation. Workers’ Comp Matters host Alan Pierce talks with Roger Finderson about what the term “gig economy” really means and how to draw the distinction between employees and independent contractors. They explain the use of factors tests, the need for adaptations in workers’ comp law, and how the advent of “Handy” legislation is creating problems for injured workers. Roger Finderson is managing attorney at Finderson Law LLC in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Special thanks to our sponsor, PInow.
24 minutes | a year ago
Pooled Special Needs Trusts: Low-Cost Asset Management for Injured Workers
In instances of certain disabilities, injured workers may need assets from a workers’ comp settlement to be managed by a trust with a third-party administrator. One such type of trust, a special needs trust, is unique in that it allows an injured worker to qualify for Medicaid and other government programs, but, for all its benefits, many find these trusts to be too expensive to set up. In this edition of Workers’ Comp Matters, Alan Pierce sits down with attorney Andrew Reinhardt and executive director of Commonwealth Community Trust Joanne Marcus to discuss the advantages of pooled special needs trusts. Joanne explains how her organization alleviates the financial burden for injured workers through their low cost methods for managing assets for injured workers, and Andrew shares insights on the benefits of pooled special needs trusts from his many years as a workers’ comp attorney. Andrew Reinhardt is a partner at Reinhardt, Harper, Davc, PLC in Richmond, VA. Joanne Marcus is executive director at Commonwealth Community Trust. Special thanks to our sponsor, PInow.
36 minutes | 2 years ago
Peter Rousmaniere: Reflections from a Career in Workers’ Comp
In this edition of Workers’ Comp Matters, host Alan Pierce welcomes Peter Rousmaniere to discuss his prolific career as a workers’ comp consultant and journalist. They survey the ways systems, insurance, and workplace risks have changed over the last 30 years and discuss their thoughts on the decline of labor unions. With a wealth of knowledge in this area of the law, Peter also offers his predictions for future trends. Special thanks to our sponsor, PInow.
30 minutes | 2 years ago
Examining State Variations in Opioid Dispensation with WCRI’s Dr. Vennela Thumula
Efforts to track opioid dispensation across the nation show many state workers’ compensation systems produce significantly varied data. What factors are currently at play in these state-to-state differences? Returning guest Dr. Vennela Thumula joins host Alan Pierce to discuss the study she co-authored, Interstate Variations in Dispensing of Opioids, 5th Edition. Dr. Thumula describes the research questions addressed in the study and offers insight into the effect certain state policies may have on opioid use. Special thanks to our sponsor, PInow.
31 minutes | 2 years ago
Health Insurance and Outcomes of Injured Workers
The landscape of health insurance has changed significantly in recent years, and some of these changes have created new challenges in workers’ compensation systems. In this episode, host Alan Pierce is joined by Bogdan Savych, author of the study, “Health Insurance and Outcomes of Injured Workers.” They explore how the study was conducted and how workers’ access to personal health insurance coverage affects the care they receive after an injury on the job. Dr. Bogdan Savych is a public policy analyst at the Workers Compensation Research Institute. Special thanks to our sponsor, PInow.
35 minutes | 2 years ago
The Evolution of Workers’ Compensation with Alan Pierce
Workers’ compensation systems have existed in our country for over a hundred years, and the laws affecting these systems have changed drastically over time. In this episode honoring his 50th anniversary working in the field, Alan Pierce reflects on his professional career and features the notable changes he has witnessed in workers’ comp systems. Additionally, Alan takes us through the history of this area of law—from the Code of Ur, to 16th-century piracy, then all the way up to our modern systems in the United States. With all this in mind, Alan lays out the defects he sees in current systems and offers insights into needed changes. Special thanks to our sponsor, PInow.
24 minutes | 2 years ago
Putting Workers Comp Policies Under the Microscope
Every year, the Workers Compensation Research Institute releases its CompScope Benchmarks report, measuring the performance of workers’ compensation systems across 18 states. The data found therein provides insights into how the different systems compare and reveals trends that can be invaluable to policymakers. WCRI executive vice president Ramona Tanabe joins host Alan Pierce to discuss WCRI’s work and to share some of the most interesting trends her organization is seeing in the field today. This and more on this episode of Workers Comp Matters. Ramona Tanabe is the executive vice president and counsel for the Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI). Special thanks to our sponsor, PInow.
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