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Author: Jon Montagna

Workers Compensation Benefits During COVID-19

Workers Compensation Benefits During COVID-19

Due to the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, many employees have found themselves without employment as many employers have been forced to furlough employees or reduce work hours. If you sustained a work injury and returned to work under restrictions to accommodate your injury and are not able to perform your job as you were prior to your injury, you may be entitled to additional workers’ compensation benefits. Contact us at (757) 622-8100 if you feel you may be eligible for COVID-related workers compensation benefits. Here are three examples in which this may be applicable.

Situation #1: Temporary Total Disability Benefits

If you are working under restrictions for your employer and were laid off due to Coronavirus, you may be entitled to your full temporary total disability benefits while you wait to have your job reinstated or while your employer looks to find other employment options for you.

Situation #2: Temporary Partial Disability Benefits

If you are working under restrictions but your employer is no longer allowing you to work overtime or has reduced your hours, you may be entitled to temporary partial disability benefits. This will supplement your wages to be equivalent to the amount you were earning prior to your injury. 

Situation #3: Permanent Partial Disability Benefits

Even if you are still able to continue working, if you’ve suffered a permanent injury to your eyes, ears, arms, or legs, you may be entitled to permanent partial disability benefits. These are payments that your employer is required to pay for the loss of the use of the extremity and you are paid even if you are earning your normal wages. 

Many employers will claim that you cannot recover benefits for hearing loss but this is inaccurate. You can pursue benefits now for noise-induced hearing loss and if after you’ve retired, you sustain additional hearing loss, you can pursue a supplemental claim at that time. 

 

If you would like additional information on any of the above benefits or need assistance in pursuing these benefits, contact us at (757) 622-8100.


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Car accidents in construction zones, or where errors have been made in road construction may not be any driver’s fault.

Signs of Danger: Auto Accidents and Construction Negligence

Construction on roadways is often a headache for drivers and can make it more difficult to avoid accidents.  Lanes are often blocked, driver visibility is lowered, and there is less room to maintain safety.  Car accidents in construction zones, or where errors have been made in road construction may not be any driver’s fault.  Negligence on the part of the construction company, or government agency may be the primary cause of the motor vehicle accident.  Accident liability in cases of road construction negligence is difficult to establish and equally difficult to pursue in court, making legal help necessary for anyone who has been involved in a construction zone accident.  

In a normal car crash, police reports and accident reports show the location of the accident and relevant traffic signals.  Insurance companies and car accident injury attorneys can view these reports clearly and understand who was at fault for the crash more easily.  The factors in a work zone auto accident are much more complex, and there may be more parties at fault for an injury.  

The Federal Highway Administration reports a high frequency of certain auto and truck accident types in construction zones.  The increased traffic density in urban and suburban construction zones is a contributing factor, with “43% of construction zone accidents occurring in these areas,” which account for only “5% of all construction areas.”  The number of car accidents involving trucks in construction zones is much higher than average.  Although injury and fatality rates for construction zone accidents are about the same as for normal driving conditions, the complexity of liability and fault make settling an accident injury case more difficult.  

When construction companies and municipalities fail to post proper warning signs before construction areas, their negligence can lead to motorists approaching the work zone too quickly, leading to accidents and injuries to both drivers and construction workers.  In most construction areas where auto accidents could result, any public agency that is doing construction on a road has “the responsibility of posting a warning sign… to avoid or reduce the accidents in a construction zone.” Virginia law requires that agencies, or companies post “conspicuous notices… lights, signs and lanterns” to make motorists aware of construction areas and decrease the chances of work zone auto accidents and injuries.  These steps to prevent accidents are not always taken, and an auto accident attorney from Montagna Klein Camden who has “been down the road before” and “knows what to expect from experience” will help you through your auto injury case. 

Social Security Disability Benefits

Social Security Disability Benefits: Who determines your security?

Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income benefits are necessary to the well-being of many Americans.  However, Many SSD and SSI applicants are faced with denied claims and a host of nearly unanswerable questions when they first file a Social Security claim.  Fortunate Social Security Disability claimants turn to competent SSD and SSI lawyers, who appeal their claims.  Many who apply for SSD and SSI simply feel they have no recourse.  Social Security Claims are denied for a variety of reasons, and the reasons are often simply opinion.  Judges have different ideas about which SSD claims should be denied, or approved, and this creates a situation for claimants that requires the assistance of a Social Security attorney.  

According to the United States Government Accountability Office, allowance, or denial of Social Security Disability benefits “varied across judges, even after holding constant certain characteristics” (www.gao.gov).  The same government self-study on SSD benefits cites up to a 46% variation in judges’ rulings on Social Security awards.  This means that in nearly identical Social Security claim cases, different judges do not rule consistently to award SSD benefits.  Our legal system allows for interpretation by judges, but such a difference in Social Security Rulings poses a severe difficulty for SSD claimants.  

The process of appealing a Social Security Disability claim can be lengthy, and requires a lawyer to be highly successful.  In fact, it is ideal for anyone filing a claim to hire a lawyer before they begin the filing process.  The GAO explains through their intensive research on SSD claims, that “claimants who had representatives, such as an attorney… were allowed benefits at a rate nearly 3 times higher than those without representatives.”  This shows that the knowledge a highly qualified Social Security Disability attorney can bring to the table far outweighs many factors for consideration in SSD claims.  Attorney John H. Klein, of Montagna Klein Camden, LLP cites the frequent denial of both claims and appeals as something a lawyer should handle on behalf of the claimant.  SSD awards, according to Klein, may go through many denials, and an SSD attorney may have to see an appeal through “the appeals council and, after that, up to the Federal District Court.” 

Social Security Disability’s lengthy application process and even longer appeals processes are best handled by qualified SSD attorneys.  Social Security Claimants who are represented by SSD and SSI lawyers will have the highest chance of awards, and the most peace of mind through the processes of Social Security Disability claims and appeals. 

The Real Cost of a Work Injury

The Real Cost of a Work Injury

Can employees get the compensation that they deserve?

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports that employers pay out $1 billion every week to directly compensate employees for workplace injuries and illnesses. As a worker, you may or may not receive compensation for missed wages. Even if you do, you might still lose out on other areas of life. How can you put a price on the inability to go grocery shopping, play with your children and live the active lifestyle that you deserve?

Lost Wages

The most obvious cost of a workplace injury or sickness is lost wages. If you can’t work, you might not get paid. However, most employers are required to cover their workers if they get hurt or sick because of their job. This may include one accident that results in an injury or repetitive motions that cause you harm over time. Workers’ compensation might even cover stress-related and psychological issues that are sparked by your job.

If a doctor can show that you can’t work because of your ailment, you can get temporary disability benefits until you heal. When the incident makes it impossible for you to go back to work, you can push for permanent disability benefits.

Medical Care

Workers’ compensation requires your employer to pay for any medical bills and costs associated with the accident. This might include copayments, office visits, tests, equipment and travel costs that are necessary for treating the problem.

Pain and Suffering

Lost wages and medical bills are fairly straightforward to quantify. However, if you’ve been hurt because of your job, you might wonder what the cost of your distress is worth.

Lost wages can make you lose out in other financial areas. You might not be able to pay your rent or utility bills. This might result in additional fees that pile up over time.

Some psychological injuries are covered under Virginia’s Workers’ Compensation legislation. For example, you may be able to receive payments if you developed PTSD from a sudden shock that arose directly from doing your job.

Most Workers’ Compensation regulations do not cover pain and suffering. You might be able to recover some money for emotional distress in some cases. Working with an experienced attorney can help you get the compensation that you deserve.

Can You Sue Your Employer?

Workers’ Compensation laws were enacted to help workers get quick compensation for their missed salary and medical costs. The legislation is a no fault arrangement. You don’t have to prove that your employer was responsible in order to file a claim.

However, the legislation also protects your employer. You can’t usually sue for damages unless you can prove extreme negligence on your employer’s part.

Workers’ compensation is regulated by the states. Each state has different standards that designate what will be covered, how your situation will be evaluated and the level of benefits you can receive. Contact Montagna Law for a free consultation that will help you understand how to recoup the costs from your workplace injury in Virginia.

 

personal injury 101

Virginia Personal Injury 101

Find out how Virginia’s personal injury laws affect your claim for compensation.

Each state enacts its own personal injury law statutes. However, no matter where your injury occurs, you and your attorney must prove that the negligence or intentional acts of another party caused your accident. If you are injured in the state of Virginia, you face some additional challenges in collecting the full compensation you are due, so you should consider hiring an experienced liability lawyer to be non-negotiable.

The Statute of Limitations

A statute of limitations sets a time limit on how long you can wait to file a claim. In Virginia, the time limit is two years from the date of your accident, which may seem like there’s no need to rush. However, two years can easily become two months if you procrastinate, so get in touch with your personal injury lawyer as soon after the incident as possible.

A Claim Involving Government

Virginia law dictates particular actions you must take if the liable party in your accident is a city, county or state government entity. For example, if a dangerous hazard on a city street, such as an unmarked, open manhole, caused your car to jerk out of your control and crash, you may find yourself suing the city government for compensation.

In such situations, your first step is to inform the powers that be that you are planning to make a claim. Your attorney must prepare a formal document and send it to the government entity involved. If you are dealing with a city or town in Virginia, the deadline for submitting this document is six months after your incident. If state government is involved, the statute allows you one year’s time. You can only file a legal claim after you have completed this notification.

Shared Liability in Virginia

Virginia is among only four states and the District of Columbia that sanction pure contributory negligence in personal injury cases. This means that if a judge finds you were even one percent to blame for your injury, you are not eligible to receive any compensation whatsoever. Therefore, an attorney’s assistance is critical in proving your claim.

Limits on Damage Awards

On a brighter note, the state of Virginia does not impose general limits on the potential amount of compensation you can receive. The exceptions are medical malpractice actions, in which damages are limited to $2 million or less, and punitive compensation, which the state limits to $350,000.

Get the Help You Need from Virginia Personal Injury Lawyers

At Montagna Klein Camden of Norfolk and Newport News, we fight for the full compensation you are due as a victim of an accident that is someone else’s fault. We are experienced with Virginia’s specific laws regarding personal injuries, and we know how to make them work in your favor. Contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation.

 

Cars driving around trucks on a interstate

How To Drive Around Trucks on the Interstate

Semi-trucks make many drivers nervous. These large, powerful vehicles can do a lot of damage in a collision, and sharing the road with them requires extra care. It’s estimated that more than 70 percent of the accidents between cars and 18-wheelers are caused by and error of the smaller vehicle which makes it important that you learn how to drive around truck on the road.

Tips for Driving Safely Around Big Trucks

Do not drive in their blind spot – One of the most important things to remember is that 18-wheelers have a much larger blind spot than smaller vehicles. If you can’t see the truck’s mirrors, the truck driver likely cannot see you. This means that you should not linger in the blind spot or follow too closely behind a truck.

Do not tailgate 18-wheelers – Trucks also require more stopping distance. At highway speeds, it can take a large semi the length of a football field to reach a complete stop. This means that rapidly cutting off a semi or slowing down too quickly in front of one is a recipe for disaster. This becomes especially important when driving in harsh weather conditions. Give large trucks ample space to stop when roads are wet or icy.

Be patient when passing a truck – When passing a truck on a 2-lane highway, be sure that you have enough time to get around them before losing your passing lane. Most truckers will move over onto the shoulder if they are unable to keep up with the flow of traffic and no other passing options are available. If you cannot pass safely, be patient and wait for an opportunity to do so. When you do pass, be sure that you can see the truck clearly in your rearview mirror before moving over. This helps to ensure that you’ve put enough distance between yourself and the truck to allow for safe stopping or speed adjustment.

Give trucks space when they are making turns – Bear in mind that trucks make wide turns. A truck may need to veer left before turning right, for example. If you see that a truck is turning off ahead of you, slow down to allow it time to complete the turn without you crowding into its space. If you are right beside or directly behind the truck while it’s turning, the driver may not be able to see you.

Have You Been in an Accident?

No matter how cautious you are around 18-wheelers on the road, these vehicles are always going to be prone to accidents.  If you’ve been involved in an accident with an 18-wheeler or other large vehicle, we can help. Contact our firm today for more information or to request a free initial consultation with one of our experienced accident and injury attorneys.

Contractor Injury & The Defense Base Act

Acting in Your Defense: Civilian Contractor Injury Claims and The Defense Base Act

Civilian Contractors serve our country during and after war and conflict, and they are often at great risk when providing services to support American efforts overseas.  They have tough jobs in zones of danger, often on foreign bases, where they worry about both workplace safety and whether their workplace is safe from outside dangers.    The Defense Base Act (DBA) provides enhanced coverage and workers’ compensation for civilian contractors working in zones of danger and risk, and knowing the provisions made for DBA claims, benefits and awards is critical to workers who have been injured in danger zones.

The Defense Base Act, contained in US Code 42 Chapter 11 provides “compensation for disability, or death to persons employed at military, air and naval bases outside the United States” (42 U.S. Code 11).  Administered by the United States Department of Labor, the Defense Base Act of 1941 is an extension of the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, also known as the Jones Act, of 1927.  The DBA places stringent requirements upon the federal government to deliver compensation “in respect to the injury or death of any employee engaged in any employment” by, or as, a civilian contractor at a foreign base (42 US Code Chapter 11§1651).  Civilian employees are usually afforded DBA compensation beyond the normal parameters of workers’ comp coverage, in keeping with both provisions for Defense Base Act claims and Jones Act claims.

Civilian Employees in danger zones and their Defense Base Act Attorneys must be prepared to effectively delve through the DBA’s authorized compensation and determine how DBA awards can be obtained.  This is where gray areas develop in DBA cases and a substantial degree of “interrelated knowledge is necessary to sort out the issues, identify responsible parties, and pursue” the civilian employee’s compensation case aggressively.  Gregory E. Camden of Montagna Klein Camden, LLP further explains that the insurance companies responsible for paying DBA claims to civilian contractors “may not be sufficiently aware of the extent of your injuries, the side effects, or your ongoing needs.”  This can lead to the absence of proper Defense Base Act awards and benefits.

Defense Base Act Attorneys play a critical role in supporting civilian contractors who have been injured and are pursuing their Defense Base Act claims, which have turned into DBA cases.  Many civilian contractors who are serving our country abroad are knowledgeable about their rights and benefits as civilian employees and citizens.  The Defense Base Act draws from and extends various legal rights and provisions beyond the scope of conventional workers’ compensation attorneys.  This can place civilian contractors in a legally disadvantaged position when attempting to find the right DBA case attorney to sift through co-related sections of US Code.  A law firm with strong knowledge and a history of practice in all areas of law related to the Defense Base Act will help any injured civilian contractors obtain their deserved DBA award.

Maritime Injury

What Can Be Considered Negligence Under the Jones Act?

Get just compensation for your injuries when working on the high seas.

The Jones Act, also called the Merchant Marines Act of 1920, is a federal statute that protects shipboard employees and regulates merchant marine activities in U.S. waters. The Jones Act provides you with the right to compensation should someone else’s negligence cause you to get hurt while working onboard a ship, according to Nolo.

Shipboard Negligence

The Jones Act states that your employers must make your work environment reasonably safe. That means they must see that the all the equipment is well-maintained and hazards are kept to a minimum. Some of the dangers you might encounter as a crew member include:

  • Slippery decks
  • Lack of safety equipment
  • Broken or damaged structures
  • Lack of training
  • Inadequate protective gear

The Employer’s Responsibility

A fisherman employed full-time on a scallop boat took a nasty spill where the non-slip coating that covered the deck was worn away, sustaining a traumatic brain injury due to the fall. His lawyer sought and won damages from the boat owners, citing their negligence in failing to replace the missing safety coating.

Your burden of proof that negligence led to an injury is a light one under the Jones Act. As long as someone failed to resolve an unsafe shipboard situation, you’re likely to receive coverage for your losses.

Who Qualifies for Jones Act Coverage

To be eligible for damages under the Jones Act, you must spend at least 30 percent of your full-time employment with the maritime company onboard ship. A contractor employed to do a temporary repair job would not be covered by this statue, nor would a part-time worker. Additionally, you must contribute in some capacity to the running of the ship.

What Damages are Covered

An accident aboard a barge carrying a drilling rig left one worker dead as the crew attempted to make repairs. The rig, which was not properly secured, toppled over, crushing the victim. The family’s attorney sought and won damages for the decedent’s pain and suffering and for the family’s loss of his future earnings.

Given proof that another party was negligent, leading to your seaborne injury, you can seek reimbursement for applicable damages, including:

  • Lost wages
  • Medical costs
  • Follow-up therapy costs
  • Disfigurement
  • Mental/emotional trauma
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of future earning ability
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

The Lawyers at Montagna Klein Camden of Virginia Can Help

If you or someone you love has been the victim of a workplace injury at sea, we can help. We have experience with Jones Act negligence cases and will fight to recover the damages you are entitled to. Get in touch today to book a free initial consultation with a Jones Act attorney.

 

Navigating the Jones Act: Maritime Workers’ Rights to Compensation

Navigating the Jones Act: Maritime Workers’ Rights to Compensation

Workers in the maritime industry and marine trades spend many hours in dangerous conditions, and maritime injuries can be some of the worst sustained by any employee seeking workers’ compensation.  The Merchant Marine act of 1920, also known as the Jones Act, provides special opportunities for marine tradespeople to receive compensation for their workplace injuries.  However, many maritime workers do not realize what the Jones act affords them beyond workers’ comp, and how they can claim the compensation that they deserve in a maritime workers’ comp case.  Under the Jones Act, many workers who may not think they have coverage beyond workers’ compensation are given the right to additional assistance that will give them peace of mind while they recover from an accident in any maritime workplace.

The Jones Act covers all workers at sea, but workers may not know that it applies to all crew members on boats and ships in all navigable waters, even shallow coastal areas.  In fact, some workers in the marine trades who have legitimate compensation claims may not know they were classified as crew members at all.  Many workers on bridges, tunnels and ports are included in Jones Act provisions, but US Code for the Jones Act is complex and generally difficult to understand.  Legal entitlements to compensation afforded by the Jones Act are difficult to recognize for any maritime worker, crew member, or mariner, especially if workers’ compensation is already in effect. “You may have a claim under the Jones Act, even if your employer is already paying you workers’ compensation” says Lance Jackson, an attorney practicing in the Maritime Injury field for Montagna Klein Camden, LLP.

Excellent legal counsel is critical for injured maritime workers in these situations.  Treatment for injuries in the workplace and workers’ compensation appeals can take a lot away from getting back to work and life.  Fishermen, longshoremen and everyone who works on the water know that they do some of the most dangerous work.  We do this work in an environment we love, and we don’t want anything, even an injury, to keep us away for too long.  After a maritime injury, you as a maritime worker may not be aware of these rights, which is where an expert maritime attorney can work for you. Knowing your rights to compensation starts with contacting a law firm with a proven track record in the maritime injury and workers’ compensation field.

Injury Risks For Private Contractors Overseas

Injury Risks That Private Contractors Face Overseas

Getting contracted to do work for the US government can be a great and rewarding opportunity for you and your company that has been contracted out. These jobs usually pay well, they are often fulfilling and it gives you an opportunity to broaden your horizons.

These jobs, however, do include many risks that you may not face while working in the US. All private contractors for the military are required to be covered for worker’s compensation under the Defense Base Act. This is because a work place accident, no matter what country it occurs in, should be covered by your employer. The risks that private contractors take on overseas are numerous and varied depending on the work.

Private Contractors on Military Base

The US Military has bases all over the world, and often hires out help from private contractors to perform various types of maintenance throughout the base. This includes mechanics, electricians, delivery men, translators and other services to help our service men and women. These jobs have their own inherent risks. A mechanic working with heavy machinery is always at risk for something to go wrong and become injured, and an electrician working with wiring and systems they are not as familiar with are at risk for electrocution and burns. In 2004, a contracted out truck driver from Abilene Texas was injured when his supply convoy was ambushed by insurgents. He was left with a shattered leg and was diagnosed with PTSD. The driver has spent years fighting Insurance Provider AIG, to be fully compensated for his injuries.

There is also the added risk of being in unstable regions for many bases. In these regions, fighting could break out at the base at any time and an injury from this to an unsuspecting private contractor is a real threat. No matter how a private contractor becomes injured they could be eligible for workers compensation under the Defense Base Act.

Private Contractors Providing Relief Overseas

When disaster strikes other areas of the world, the US will hire out private contractors to go to these regions to help with the disaster relief efforts. These regions often hire out private security contractors to keep the peace since the police force and military of the area are either heavily diminished or are occupied doing other tasks related to disaster relief. These contractors are tasked with keeping the peace in these regions which can lead to conflict and injury.

The US also contracts out many people to deliver supplies to these regions. This job may not seem inherently dangerous, but when disaster strike a region like the Tsunami in Japan in 2011, the entire area and infrastructure becomes dangerous. Buildings falling apart, pot holes and debris cover the roads you need to drive on to deliver the supplies to the people in need. A number of dangers arise in a crises region like this. If you are injured while providing relief to a disaster area while being contracted by the US government, know that injuries occurred while performing the work can be covered under the Defense Base Act.

Contact a Defense Base Act Attorney

If you have been privately contracted out by the US government and have been injured on the job, contact Montagna Klein Camden today. We will work with your employer and insurance company to make sure you are fully compensated for your injury and the losses associated with it.

 

 

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