archiveFebruary 2020

5 Free Activities to Add Meaning and Joy to Your Life

I've heard countless people complain about two specific aspects of their lives; they are bored and they don’t have enough money to be happy or enjoy their life. Well, I have some suggestions! My belief is that a majorit...

A look at the Potential Impact of the Coronavirus on Alabama Workers’ Compensation through a New Jersey Lens

Earlier today (2/28/20), the World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters that the risk of spread and impact of the coronavirus is now very high at a “global level”. So how will this affect workers’ compensation in Alabama? Most likely in a similar manner to how it will affect workers’ compensation in New Jersey. The below article is re-published with the permission of nationally known New Jersey attorney and blogger, John Geaney. It was originally published earlier today on Mr. Geaney's New Jersey Workers' Comp Blog (http://njworkerscompblog.com). Alabama does not have the statutory presumptions for public safety workers that New Jersey does. However, similar to New Jersey, for the coronavirus to be considered compensable in Alabama, the employee would have to be able to prove that contracting it was due to hazards in excess of those ordinarily incident to employment in general and that it is peculiar to the employee’s occupation. The Potential Impact of the Coronavirus on New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Many readers of this blog have inquired recently about the potential impact of the novel coronavirus on workers’ compensation claims. Should a surge of serious coronavirus illnesses occur among New Jersey workers, would such claims be considered compensable under the law? The answer to this question depends on whether one is or is not a public safety worker. Most New Jersey workers would not meet the test of a public safety worker. For non-public safety workers, the likelihood of successfully maintaining an occupational disease claim under N.J.S.A. 34:15-31 would be very low. The reason is that a claimant must show that the medical condition, for instance pneumonia, is more likely than not produced by causes which are characteristic of or peculiar to one’s occupation in a material degree. This test is hard to meet because it is next to impossible to identify the source of the virus. Many people who do not even know they have Covid-19 and are not yet symptomatic may be infecting large numbers of individuals in all sorts of locations. For an infected employee, it would be hard to know whether one was exposed to the virus at work, in a store or some other places of human contact. It would almost always be pure speculation where the exposure occurred. Public safety workers, on the other hand, will have a strong argument for compensability. The legislative intent of the Twenty First Century First Responders Protection Act was to protect public safety workers. That law became effective in New Jersey on July 8, 2019. This landmark legislation observes that “public safety workers are required by necessity to take great personal risks of serious injury, illness and death in their duties to protect the people of New Jersey from the dangers of catastrophic emergencies, including, but in no way limited to, terrorist attacks and epidemics.” Unfortunately, the coronavirus has the potential to reach epidemic levels in the USA just as the virus has in China and other nations. N.J.S.A. 34:15-31.4 defines a public safety worker broadly to include not just fire and police officers, but also “a Community Emergency Response Team approved by the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management, or a correctional facility, or a basic or advanced medical technician of a first aid or rescue squad, or any other nurse, basic or advanced medical technician responding to a catastrophic incident and directly involved and in contact with the public during such an incident. . .” There are likely to be thousands of public safety workers in New Jersey who will be part of state efforts to contain any potential rapid spread of this virus. N.J.S.A. 34:15-31.5 provides a presumption of compensability in subsection a. if a public safety worker can demonstrate exposure at work to “the excretions, secretions, blood or other bodily fluids of one or more other individuals or is otherwise subjected to a potential exposure, by the other individual or individuals, including airborne exposure, to a serious communicable disease, or is otherwise determined to be infected with or at significant risk of contracting the serious communicable disease. . . “ Readers should focus on the language “or is otherwise subjected to a potential exposure” in the preceding sentence. The language does not say definite or proven exposure but rather “potential” exposure. Public safety workers, by the nature of their work, are highly likely to have such potential exposures to those who are infected with coronavirus. These new provisions of New Jersey’s occupational disease law demonstrate that public safety workers who may contract coronavirus will have a strong case for compensability given the presumption provided for in the statute. Having a presumption of compensability is powerful. When there is presumption of compensability, the burden of proof shifts to the employer to show that the exposure is not work related. Just as I said earlier that it is hard for a non-public safety worker to prove exposure, so too it would be very hard for an employer to prove that a public safety worker more likely than not was infected through non-work exposures. The employer will have no idea when the disease was contracted, and it would be speculation to say that the exposure was not work related. So the presumption in a public safety worker scenario will almost certainly lead to compensable awards. The statute drives this point home: “If it is ascertained that the public safety worker has contracted a serious communicable disease or related illness under the circumstances set forth in subsection a of this section, there shall be a presumption that any injury, disability, chronic or corollary illness or death of the public safety worker caused by, attributable to, or attendant to the disease is compensable under the provisions of R.S. 34:15-1 et seq.” The CDC has concluded that it is just a matter of time before the coronavirus is considered a pandemic and before it spikes in parts of the United States. If the CDC is right, New Jersey public safety workers run a high risk of contracting the illness in the course of their employment. While slightly more than 80% of coronavirus patients have had mild symptoms, the remaining percentage has had serious symptoms. Sadly, a small percentage of deaths is related to the coronavirus. It is true that the percentage of deaths from coronavirus may not be any higher than the percentage of deaths from the flu each year in the USA, but there is a difference: there is no current vaccine for this virus and it has proven thus far to be highly contagious. Our guest blogger from New Jersey, John H. Geaney, Esq., is an Executive Committee Member and a Shareholder in Capehart Scatchard's Workers' Compensation Group. Mr. Geaney concentrates his practice in the representation of employers, self-insured companies, third-party administrators, and insurance carriers in workers' compensation, the Americans with Disabilities Act and Family and Medical Leave Act. Should you have any questions or would like more information, please contact Mr. Geaney at 856.914.2063 or by e mail at jgeaney@capehart.com.

Alabama Legislation Seeks to Create PTSD Physical Injury Requirement Exception for First Responders

Alabama is a physical-mental state which means you have to have a physical injury in order to be able to recover mental injuries. Ten years ago,the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals held that PTSD could be recoverable as an occupational disease provided that there was a corresponding physical injury. Lawmakers are now proposing to amend the Alabama Workers’ Compensation Act to make an exception for first responders. H.B. 44 would apply to law enforcement officers, firefighters, paramedics, emergency dispatchers, and emergency medical technicians of an emergency services agency or entity. The bill was referred to the House of Representatives committee on Ways and Means General Fund.

Alabama Department of Labor Needs to Know the County Where the Benefit Review Conference Occurred

Regardless of whether a workers’ compensation settlement is finalized before a Circuit Court Judge or an ADOL Ombudsman, the ADOL Workers’ Compensation Division, must receive a completed WC-4 Claim Summary Form that identifies the county where the settlement was finalized. This is a non-issue for court approved documents since they always reflect the county of filing. However, for ombudsman settlements it is also required that the county be reflected on the WC-4. Forms are to be sent to: Earlene Holland: earlene.holland@labor.alabama.gov Phone or FAX 334-956-4031 Christine Dunn: Christine.dunn@labor.alabama.gov Phone or FAX 334-956-4032

Alabama Employer’s Attempt at Dismissal Based on Exclusivity Provision Fails Due to Unresolved Issues of Fact Regarding Physical Attack on Employee

Alabama’s Workers’ Compensation Act has an exclusivity provision that shields employers from tort claims resulting from injuries, or death, caused by an accident or occupational disease that is related to workers’ employment. This is a fundamental principle of the Act, which is premised on employers’ accepting a duty to provide certain benefits and coverage to employees in exchange for employees being barred from asserting tort claims, like negligence or wantonness. On February 28, 2020, the Supreme Court of Alabama released its decision in the case ofEx parte Drury Hotels Company, LLC, Montgomery Circuit Court, CV-18-902336, in which the Court confirmed the burden of proof an employer must meet to prevail on a Motion to Dismiss that asserts the employee cannot prevail on a tort claim because the injury alleged is covered by the exclusivity provision of the Workers’ Compensation Act. The Court held that for an employer to prevail, the defense must be clear from the face of the Complaint. Here, the Court determined that, based on the Complaint, a determination could not be made on whether the injuries alleged were related to the employment, or instead were the result of a personal attack, and that additional fact-based inquiry was needed. Because injuries determined to be the result of a personal attack are not covered by Alabama’s Workers’ Compensation Act, the Court was not able to confirm that the exclusivity provision applied.

Down on Main Street: Drug Abuse in America’s Small Towns

<p>Big-city dwellers often dream of relocating to a cozy small town to escape the increasing crime, drug abuse, and stress.  They imagine small towns as utopian safe harbors away from the grueling pace of life in the city. But, most of these folks are unaware of the prevalence of drug-related problems in rural America. With …</p> <p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="http://bestdrugrehabilitation.com/blog/information/drug-related-problems-rural-american/">Down on Main Street: Drug Abuse in America’s Small Towns</a> appeared first on <a rel="nofollow" href="http://bestdrugrehabilitation.com/">Best Drug Rehabilitation</a>.</p>

UK VISA Application | How To Apply For UK Visa

UK VISA Application | How To Apply For UK Visa Do you want to migrate to UK? Do you wish to know how much UK Visa cost? Would you want to get UK Visa to work and study in UK? Here is a detailed guideline on how to get UK Visa and how much it [&#82...

Don’t Miss the February 28, 2020 Deadline to Join the Alabama Workers’ Compensation Organization

February 28, 2020 is the deadline for discounted AWCO membership registration that includes a free conference. Registration will close at 5:00 pm CST. If you have not registered yet, you can do so at www.awcotoday.com/membership. Membership in the AWCO offers a number of professional and social opportunities annually to interact with other workers' compensation professionals. The highlight of the year is the annual AWCO Spring Conference where its members come together for two days of education, fun, and fellowship. Membership is only $75 if paid prior to February 28. After that, the annual fee goes up to $150. As an added bonus, if you register on or before February 28, the Spring Conference is free. You pay nothing to register and attend. This year, the Annual AWCO Spring Conference will be held May 14-15, 2020 at the Hyatt Regency Birmingham formerly known as The Wynfrey Hotel! We hope to see you there!

Where Are the Best Bike Trails in Alaska?

With so much natural beauty, it's no wonder that there are plenty of bike trails to be found all around Alaska. Whether you're an experienced cyclist or you want to go cycling for the first time, it can be difficult to know which trail is the best to c...
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