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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.

 

 

Applying for Social Security Disability

How to Apply Correctly for Social Security Disability

Apply for Disability and SSI the right way.

Social Security disability benefits can be a lifesaver. After experiencing the trauma of a serious medical diagnosis or life-altering accident that forces you out of the workplace, regular income can provide peace of mind. However, applying for government benefits can be intimidating. Read on to find out how to apply for Social Security Disability the right way.

When to Apply

Start the Social Security disability benefits application process as quickly as possible. There is a six-month waiting period before you can receive benefits, starting during the first full month after the Social Security Administration determines your disability began. SSI applicants receive benefits in the first full month after your filing date or the date of your eligibility determination. The application processing period is three to five months long.

Apply for Benefits Online

Read and print the Adult Disability Application Checklist; you must be at least 18 years old and not currently receiving benefits under your name to apply. Gather all info needed from the list, then fill out the online application and the Medical Release Form.

Other Ways to Apply for Social Security Disability

You can make an appointment to complete your application by phone or in person by calling 1-800-772-1213. You will need the same information from the Application Checklist above before calling the toll-free number; find your nearest SSA office here.

If you’re deaf or otherwise hearing-impaired, please call the toll-free TTY line at 1-800-325-0778. This number is available from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm, Monday through Friday.

More SSA Disability Resources

The Social Security Administration has created an online Disability Planner to help you throughout the application process. For additional guidance, reference the department’s Disability Benefits Publication. These resources include eligibility guidelines, information about receiving benefits, your next steps after being approved, and other essential guidance.

Whether you’ve been severely injured in an accident or have received a medical diagnosis of a long-term or life-threatening health condition, you’re probably concerned about how you’ll survive without steady income from a job. Social Security Disability and SSI are designed to help you and your family live as comfortably as possible with help from the SSA. Follow our suggestions and use our additional resources to stay informed throughout the application process. Need more help? Contact the law firm of Montagna Klein Camden, LLP. Our helpful, compassionate staff will provide the answers you need to start receiving benefits.

 

Frye v. Hampton Roads Transit; Work Injury

Frye v. Hampton Roads Transit; work injury

Defense Base Act InjuryGreat news for Virginia Workers’ Compensation injured workers! Do you ever wonder if you are partaking in an “expected and accepted activity” that’s within your employment? Do you ever worry about “tripping and falling” at work? If you answer yes to either one of these questions, you should read Frye v. Hampton Roads Transit, JCN: VA000001215372 (June 19, 2017).

In Frye, the Deputy Commissioner denied benefits finding that Claimant’s injury did not arise out of employment. The Claimant appealed arguing that her injury occurred during the course of her employment and that she tripped on a stump which constituted a risk or hazard arising out of that employment. The Full Commission agreed and reversed the Deputy Commissioner’s finding. The Full Commission reasoned that despite Claimant walking around a parking lot, she was partaking in an expected and accepted activity that was within her employment. The Employer’s witness testified that Claimant was allowed to walk in the parking lot and that it was reasonable for her to stretch her legs by walking around. The Commission stated that “while the Claimant may have ventured further afield than Ms. Patrick deemed reasonable, there is no evidence from which we could conclude that the claimant removed herself for her employment.”

The Commission further considered whether tripping on several inches of a pole protruding from the lot where Claimant was walking constituted a risk of her employment. The Commission agreed with the Claimant that she was in a reasonable proximity to her assigned bus within an area she was permitted, and not prohibited, by the Employer, and that the pole represented an actual risk of her employment.

Therefore, she suffered an injury arising out of and in the course of her employment. So workers, if you do venture within a reasonable proximity of your assigned area, be careful where you step!

MKC Annual Firm Party 2017

MKC Annual Firm Party 2017

It is important to us to not only work hard and take care of our clients, but also to celebrate and come together as a firm family.

*Thank you Taliah Morring for capturing these unforgettable moments!

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