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Workers Workers’ Compensation y How to Effectively Counsel HR and Safety Directors Vernon F. Dunbar, Esquire Turner Padget Graham & Laney, PA E B dS S i 200 East Broad Street, Suite 250 Greenville, SC 29601 864-552- Telephone: 864-552-4600 Email: d b @ d E il email@example.com Objectives of Workers’ Compensation y j p Historically, six basic objectives underlie the workers’ compensation laws: ,p p, 1. Provide sure, prompt, and reasonable income and medical work- benefits to work-related accident victims, or income benefits to their dependents, regardless of fault; 2. Provide a single remedy and reduce court delays, costs, and judicial workloads arising out of personal injury litigation; 3. Relieve public and private charities of financial demands incident to uncompensated occupational accidents; Objectives of Workers’ Compensation p y y 4. Minimize payment of fees to lawyers and witnesses as well as time- time-consuming trials and court appeals; 5. Encourage maximum employer interest in safety and experience- rehabilitation through an appropriate experience-rating and mechanism; and, 6. 6 Promote frank study of the causes of accidents (rather than the concealment of fault) in an effort to reduce preventable accidents and human suffering. Quick Summary of SC Workers Compensation System No Fault System Types of Benefits Paid M di l (paid in full) Medical ( id i f ll) Temporary Disability Permanent Disability Who Decides - Commissioners Things that Drive Employers Crazy about Workers Compensation Weekly Checks - Incarcerated Employers may not be able to stop weekly checks for a totally disabled claimant that is incarcerated Weekly Checks - Pregnancy Employers may not be able to stop weekly check if claimant becomes pregnant and refuses medical treatment for k l di j h work related injury, thus prolonging unemployment Weekly Checks - Full Duty but not at MMI No h i for N mechanism f employer to request a hearing to stop weekly checks even though claimant has been released to full duty work (with no work offer), but i is not at MMI Weekly Checks - Fired or Incapacitated Employers may not be able to stop weekly check if claimant is fired or incapacitated while on light duty if he has h h worked lk d less than 15 days 50% to Back Presumption Presumption of automatic 500 weeks for 50% disability or more to the back 2007 Reform Act makes this presumption rebuttable Burden of proof is now on the employer to show that claimant is not permanently d ll di bl d and totally disabled Intoxication or Willfulness 42- 42-9-60 No compensation shall be payable if the injury or ddeath was occasioned by the intoxication of the employee or by the willful intention f h l of the employee to injure or kill himself or another. Intoxication and Willfulness Must prove both: Intoxicated at time of accident AND Intoxication caused the accident cc d Tempting defense, but very hard to prove Use Social Networking Sites to Investigate Workers’ Compensation Claims 1. Blogs 2. Forums 2 F g 3. Social Networking Sites Use of Social Networking Sites to Workers’ Investigate Workers Compensation Claims Facebook has over 600,000,000 active users. Facebook contains profiles of individuals regarding age, education, general background information and social interests. Postings on Facebook with h d f id respect to photos and messages often provide updated information about an individual’s activities. interests and activities Use of Social Networking Sites to Workers’ Investigate Workers Compensation Claims LinkedIn is a business oriented Social Networking Site for Professionals. It is estimated that over 90,000,000 registered users utilize Linked In to b f i l interests and converse about professional i d activities. My Space. L sophisticated version of F b k M S Less hi i d i f Facebook and is now more music oriented. Space, Friendster is predecessor to My Space Facebook LinkedIn. and LinkedIn. Friendster has in excess of 115,000, users. 115,000,000 registered users. 1. Benefits of Using Employee Social Networking Sites Useful recruiting tool Greatly assists in evaluating applicants and conducting more detailed background checks Employers are better able to identify and assess personality traits and social skills. Also, postings by a prospective employee lends great insight into writing and verbal skills Marketing tool for employers 2. Negative Aspects of Using Employee S i l N E l ki Social Networking as an Investigatory Tool for Worker’s Compensation Claims Content may b i C discriminatory, and be inaccurate, di i i d defamatory. Because access to these sites are often password protected, some employers may be tempted to violate i l i l ’ bi privacy laws to gain access to an employee’s website without proper authorization. Potentialcivil and criminal penalties for violating Stored Communications Act, Electronic Communications Privacy Act and HIPAA. Do not rely exclusively upon Social Networking Site Postings to contest a valid claim. The denial of a workers’ compensation claim should also be based upon expert medical opinion.
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