The tragedy of the Lake Pontchartrain Oil Rig Explosion and fire on Sunday, October 15 near Kenner, Louisiana just highlights the danger that offshore workers face on a daily basis. At least 7 people have been injured during the oil rig explosion today, and one person is still missing.
When an oil rig explosion explosion takes place on and oil rig and creates a fire, there is often no time to escape the danger for the unfortunate victims who live and work on these isolated and dangerous offshore structures. Sources say that there were seven individuals aboard the platform, and those injured have been taken to hospitals in New Orleans. According to the Advocate, five members have been taken to University Medical Center are being treated for severe burns and blast-type injuries consistent with the oil rig explosion today, and two in stable condition were taken to East Jefferson General Hospital.
Having been attorney for many victims of offshore injuries, I can tell you that the saddest truth about incidents like the Lake Pontchartrain oil rig explosion is that they are usually avoidable if the most basic of safety measures are followed.
Tragically, the companies who employ these workers are often more focused on speed than safety. That is when safety rules and regulations get ignored, resulting in death or serious injury such as horrible burns as were suffered by the victims of the Kenner oil rig explosion in Lake Pontchartrain.
The law provides special rules that help victims of these types of injuries recover monetary compensation for their injuries and damages, and establish liability on the part of the oil companies. However, no amount of money can ever adequately compensate the death of a loved one or adequately compensate for serious burn injuries suffered by victims of terrible tragedies such as this one, and the negligent companies who are at fault immediately focus on one thing – avoiding or minimizing liability. Our prayers go out to the victims and their families.
J. Price McNamara Law Offices of J. Price McNamara
According to experts, doctors diagnose approximately 3,000 cases of mesothelioma annually in the United States. The vast majority of these cases are linked to job-related exposure to asbestos. And although asbestos cases have been dropping in recent decades, this cancer can take from 20 to 50 years after asbestos exposure for symptoms to appear people. For this reason, people are still being diagnosed with at a steady rate. Unfortunately, there is no cure for mesothelioma. However, researchers have made significant progress in understanding this cancer and developing new treatment options for patients that are currently being diagnosed. If you suspect that you or a loved one has been exposed to asbestos, you need to see a doctor for diagnosis and care.
What Actually Causes Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma usually develops after a person is exposed to asbestos. As mentioned above, most of these cases occur in the workplace in industrial settings like shipyards, schools, old houses, public buildings, and auto repair shops. Additionally, this form of cancer usually a long period of exposure to put someone at risk. However, short-term and one-time exposures have also been known to cause this form of cancer.
How Does Asbestos Cause Damage?
Asbestos typically causes health complications when workers disturb asbestos-containing materials in walls or by releasing the fibers into the air. When the worker inhales or swallows these microscopic fibers, the body naturally struggles to get rid of them. Over decades, the fibers become trapped and trigger biological changes in the body. Usually, these changes can cause inflammation, genetic damage, scarring, and cancer. Microscopic asbestos fibers most often collect in the lining of the lungs. But, they also can accumulate in the lining of the heart or the abdominal cavity. The bad news is, once fibers cause biological damage, the latency period begins and decades later, the person usually develops Mesothelioma.
Research On Mesothelioma
In 2009, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) presented full research that confirmed in no uncertain terms that asbestos exposure was the leading cause for mesothelioma. They also showed that all forms of asbestos cause the disease. Then, in early 2011, the IARC presented evidence of a direct link between asbestos and cancer. The IARC further explained that scientific evidence of this specific link has only been strengthened over time.
Additional Factors That Can Increase Mesothelioma Risk
Exposure to asbestos is the leading cause for mesothelioma. However, other factors can play a role in the development and speed at which this cancer progresses. Some of these risk factors include:
Working at an asbestos processing plant or an asbestos mine.
Working in high-risk occupational settings like construction or automotive industries.
Serving on military ships or facilities built with materials that contain asbestos.
Living in residential areas near asbestos mines.
Disturbing asbestos fibers during a home renovation.
Exposure to mineral fibers like zeolites. These fibers are chemically similar to asbestos, and may also increase the risk for mesothelioma.
Exposure to radiation.
Use of Polio Vaccines and Simian Virus 40P between 1955 and 1963.
Age and Gender. Mesothelioma is more commonly diagnosed in men than women and usually does not affect people younger than age 45.
Is Use Of Tobacco Products A Risk Factor?
The answer to this is no. In fact, studies have shown that smoking or use of tobacco products may cause other forms of cancer but are not a risk factor for mesothelioma. However, it is important to note that people who smoke and have exposure to asbestos are as much as 90 percent more likely to develop lung cancer. Researchers also determined that smoking can weaken the lungs and reduce the body’s ability to naturally remove asbestos fibers that have become trapped inside. Smoking can also aggravate asbestosis, an incurable breathing disorder that is caused by exposure to asbestos.
Where Does Asbestos Usually Come From?
Most of us have heard of asbestos, but many of us know very little about where it comes from and where it usually lurks. Experts say that asbestos was once used in millions of U.S. homes and businesses as insulation and heat-protecting products. After the construction boom following World War II, drywall, wiring, glues, adhesives, ceiling tiles, cement, and shingles were all constructed with asbestos as a main component. This means that hundreds of thousands of homes built during that period may still contain this dangerous product. Many of the asbestos products in old structures and are usually harmless. The trouble only occurs when these products are disturbed through renovation or destruction of a home. Other exposure generally occurred in mines, processing plants, and shipyards.
For Help With Your Workers Compensation Case Call J. Price McNamara
At J. Price McNamara, we know how important qualified and experienced legal representation is for your Workers Compensation Case. If you or someone you know has suffered an injury while on the job, you need to find an experienced and effective attorney to help you get the results you deserve. J. Price has been serving Baton Rouge for decades and has gained the respect of his colleagues for his dedicated service. Call us today for a free case review and get a top legal team working for you.
Uber Lawsuit Could Mean Big Changes For Employment Law
According to experts, recent changes in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) could dramatically change the way employers classify and treat employees with issues like overtime, gratuities, and benefits. And one of the biggest catalysts to these changes could be a class action lawsuit against Uber (Douglas O’Connor, et al., v. Uber Technologies, Inc., United States District Court Northern District of California, Case No. CV 13-3826-EMC, 2015). The case, filed this year as a class action lawsuit, could result in major changes for Uber drivers who up until this point were treated as independent contractors.
In recent years, labor rules and regulations have changed dramatically with significant rises in the minimum wage requirements. However, pro-labor advocates insist that the changes have not pushed hard enough on employers who are unwilling to properly compensate workers. That is also why many of them believe the Uber lawsuit is so important.
In this particular case, the plaintiffs are suggesting that the control under which Uber operates effectively makes the drivers employees, rather than independent contractors.
This case could have significant implications not just for drivers, but for many other employees as well. In fact, the regulations from the Department of Labor’s recent proposal could mean that up to five million additional workers could get “time-and-a-half” overtime pay when they were not eligible before. “It’s the hottest area of litigation at the federal level- by far,” says one expert. But others point out that “if new (FLSA) proposals go through, there will be a lot less litigation because anyone paid less than $50,000 will not be exempt from overtime.”
What Happens When Employees Are Misclassified As Independent Contractors?
When companies misclassify workers as an independent contractors, they can be cheated out of many benefits they deserve. Benefits can include overtime pay, vacation pay, health insurance, employer-sponsored retirement plans, and expense reimbursements. You may also be cheated out of unemployment and workers’ compensation benefits. Classification as an independent contractor or an employee comes down to how much control your employer has over you and the work you perform. Here are some characteristics that typically show up when employees are misclassified as independent contractors:
• Employees should have been given a Form W-2, but were instead given a Form 1099. • Employees have set work hours, work full time, and/or receive paychecks on a regularly scheduled basis. • Employees work at employer’s premises, and/or use the employer’s tools (e.g. computers, phones, vehicles, etc …). • Employees are required to comply with a boss’s instructions about when, where, or how they are to do the work. • Employees typically receive training for the job skills needed for the company they are working for. • You work product is not your own and goes to the company when you are done.
If you believe any of these factors apply to you, please contact J. Price McNamara for a complimentary case review.
What Is A Class Action Lawsuit?
A class action, class suit, or representative action is a type of lawsuit where one of the parties is a group of people who are represented collectively by a member of that group.
What Is The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)?
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is administered by the Employment Standards Administration’s Wage and Hour Division within the U.S. Department of Labor. Basically, FLSA is a set of legal rules that prescribes standards for the basic minimum wage and overtime pay. FLSA impacts most private and public employment and requires employers to pay at least the federal minimum wage and overtime pay of one-and-one-half-times the regular rate of pay. For nonagricultural employers, it restricts the work hours for children under the age of 16 and stops the employment of children under age 18 for jobs deemed too dangerous. For agricultural operations, it prohibits the employment of children under age 16 during school hours and in certain jobs deemed too dangerous. For more information on FLSA, see the U.S. Department of Labor website at: www.dol.gov/compliance/laws/comp-flsa.htm.
For Help With Your Employment Law Case Call J. Price McNamara
If you or someone you know is dealing with an employment law issue, you need to find an experienced and effective attorney to help you get the resolution you deserve. J. Price has been serving Baton Rouge for decades and has gained the respect of his colleagues for his dedicated service. Call us today for a free case review and get our experienced and aggressive legal team working for you.
Toxic-Exposure Case Dies For Injured Farm Workers
In a case that has gone far beyond a simple workers compensation case and into a complex legal fight, plaintiffs in a long-standing case against Dow Chemical and Dole recently received a blow in their toxic exposure case. And despite an impassioned dissent from the Third Circuit, a decision was handed down barring migrant farm workers from suing the two large companies.
The case initially started in 1993 when 200 farm workers brought their claims forward, stating that they developed significant health problems directly related to chemical exposure between 1960 and the late 1980s. The suit alleged that Dow Chemical and Dole intentionally exposed them to dangerous levels of dibromochloropropane, or DBCP, causing their injuries
According to legal experts, the procedural history associated with these cases is extremely complex and no court has ever had the chance to review the actual merits of the workers’ claims. Instead, procedural questions tied the litigation up for decades.
After the first round of lawsuits was tanked due to procedural issues, the workers tried again with a 2011 federal complaint in the state of Louisiana. Another suit was filed in Delaware one year later.
Unfortunately, the Louisiana court ruled that the state’s statute of limitations barred the lawsuit and it was dismissed. Later, the Delaware court ruled that the Louisiana dismissal also blocked it from hearing the farm worker’s case.
The Third Circuit then went on to affirm the Delaware court’s decision claiming that the “first-filed rule” controls. This means that the later courts will look to the rulings in the earlier dismissed cases to determine if they will hear the case.
“They wanted to keep the same litigation going in two different federal forums simultaneously to see which one they would fare better,” Judge Nygaard wrote. “This duplication of litigation was of their own making and it was not an abuse of discretion for the Delaware District Court to dismiss their second-filed complaint with prejudice, instead of staying the matter.”
Although many injured workers were disheartened by the ruling, the blow was softened slightly by Judge Julio Fuentes in his dissent.
“More than two hundred plantation workers brought this suit alleging their employers and certain chemical companies knowingly exposed them to toxic pesticides over a period of many years,” Fuentes wrote. “As a result, they say, they have injured kidneys, are infertile, and are at heightened risk of cancer. Twenty years after first bringing suit, no court has heard the merits of their claims.”
Judge Fuentes also noted that many nearby circuits have determined that the first-filed rule is not equitable and should not be applied when it prevents meritorious claims of injured parties from being heard.
In their multiple lawsuits, hundreds of injured workers argued that Dow and Dole had known about the toxic effects of DBCP for many decades. The substance is so dangerous that the Environmental Protection Agency banned its use, with limited exceptions, in 1979. Many of these workers are now dealing with significant injuries including aggressive cancer and progressive brain damage.
Bring Your Legal Case To J. Price McNamara
If you or a loved one are dealing with an accident or a worker’s compensation claim, you need an experienced and knowledgeable attorney to help you with your case. Aggressive and skilled representation could make all the difference in the outcome of your case. Additionally, the law may limit the amount of time you have to file your case, so don’t wait. The legal team at J. Price McNamara is ready to help. So if you currently reside in or around Baton Rouge, LA, call us now to get a free case review.
8 Important Facts About Worker’s Compensation
1) What is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is a state-sponsored form of protection that offers benefits to employees who are injured on the job. The benefits can include medical care, wages, rehabilitation, and/or death benefits. All employers must pay for the medical care and indemnity wage benefits if one of their employees is injured on the job, unless they are statutorily exempted.
2) Am I Covered By Workers’ Compensation Law?
Most employees in Louisiana are covered regardless of whether they are full-time, part-time, seasonal, or minors. Most subcontractors, domestic employees, real estate agents, uncompensated officers, directors of certain non-profit organizations, and public officials cannot receive these benefits. Volunteer workers are also not entitled to benefits.
3) What Kinds Of Injuries Are Covered Under Workers’ Compensation?
Most types of mental and physical injuries are covered if they are related to on-the-job accidents or occupational diseases. Mental injuries must be proven to be the result of a physical injury or of a sudden, unexpected and extraordinary stress related to the job.
4) Are There Any Instances Where Recovery Would Be Barred?
Compensation is usually barred if the injury was caused by the employee’s willful intention to injure himself/herself or others; intoxication at the time of the injury, the injuries are the result of an unprovoked physical altercation or the worker was involved in “horseplay” at the time that the injury occurred.
5) What Happens If I Am Barred From Receiving Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
If you are barred from receiving Workers’ Compensation benefits, you can file a Disputed Claim for Compensation. This process provides a means to appeal your case through an administrative law proceeding in one of ten offices in the State of Louisiana. The appeals process can take six to nine months to resolve.
6) Can I Get My Job Back After I Am Recovered From My Injury?
Employers are not required to hold a job for you if you are unable to perform your job due to your injury. Your employer also does not need to create a new job for you when you are able to return to work. However, you cannot be terminated solely because you filed a workers’ compensation claim. If this happens you would possibly be able to file a lawsuit against your employer and recover damages.
7) What If I Cannot Return To My Old Job?
Employees can sometimes obtain vocational rehabilitation services after they recover from their injury. Rehabilitation services are intended to return a disabled employee to work, with a minimum of retraining, as soon as possible after an injury occurs.
8) Do I Need To Hire An Attorney?
You are not required to have an attorney for a workers’ compensation case. However, because of the complexity and potential for serious problems, it is best to have a lawyer for more complicated cases.
If you have more questions about Worker’s Compensation Law, it is important that you speak to someone who knows about cases like yours. J. Price McNamara has a long history of dealing with Worker’s Compensation Cases like yours. The first step is to call and set up a consultation so one of our skilled attorneys can review the facts of your case. We are here to help, so call us today to get started.
Call J. Price McNamara Today For Help With Your Workers’ Compensation Case
Here at the law firm of J. Price McNamara, we know how important effective and aggressive legal representation is for your Worker’s Compensation case outcome. J. Price McNamara has the experience, skill and drive to fight for your case and help you get the compensation you deserve for your injuries. The law limits the amount of time you have to file your case, so do not wait. The law firm of J. Price McNamara is here to help you resolve your case now. Call our practice today for your free case review.
How Does Louisiana Compare With National Worker’s Compensation Benefits?
Louisiana is one of the states that pays the least for serious injuries suffered while on the job. Although it may sound gruesome, every state has an exact schedule of benefits that lists the amount of compensation worker’s comp insurers will pay for lost body parts. The numbers vary from state to state. One example of this is a lost arm while working is worth approximately $400,000 in Illinois but just $48,000 in the state of Alabama.
The good news is that Louisiana does not have the lowest worker’s compensation numbers. However, it bears the negative distinction of being far below the national average. According to national reports,
Louisiana paid less than the national compensation average for all but one of 13 body parts.
The national average compensation for the loss of a foot is $91,779, but is only $78,750 in Louisiana. In Hawaii, a workers can be compensated $161,130 for a foot and in Alabama they receive $48,840.
In Louisiana, the loss of a hand entitles workers to $94,500, compared with the national average of $144,930. A lost arm is worth $126,000 in Louisiana, as compared to the national average of $169,878.
The loss of an eye will get you an average of $63,000 in worker’s compensation in Louisiana, while the national average is $96,700.
The importance of workers’ compensation is that laws require employers to buy insurance that covers medical bills and partial wages until they can return to work. Alternatively, it provides payment of lost wages if the injuries prevent the worker from being able to work again. Permanently disabled workers receive Social Security from the federal government.
According to researchers, one of the reasons for low compensation in many states is that legislatures capped amounts of wages lost more than 20 years ago, when overall average wages were lower. And many of these states have prevented change to their policies because they want to attract industry and remain competitive in national markets.
What quickly becomes apparent is that many of the states researched had not updated worker’s compensation numbers in many years. A comprehensive update for Louisiana and many other states is necessary to compensate for inflation.
J. Price McNamara Can Help You With Your Worker’s Compensation Case
If you have recently been in an accident or suffered from an injury while on the job, you may be entitled to compensation. Serious injuries that prevent your from working could impact your life in very serious ways. For this reason, you should also have an experienced attorney with extensive knowledge of Louisiana law to help you get the compensation you deserve for your on-the-job injuries. J. Price McNamara can help you fight for your case and get the results you need. Having practiced law in Louisiana for many years and he has an outstanding reputation in the community and among his legal peers. Don’t wait to call. The law may limit the amount of time you have to file your case. Call us today to schedule a free case review. The legal team at the Law Offices of J. Price McNamara is waiting to help you with your worker’s compensation case today.
Is Sick Leave Part Of Workers Compensation?
According to the Center for Economic Policy and Research, the U.S. is one of only a handful of countries with no national policy for sick leave. Despite many efforts by grass roots groups and legislators, the business community continues to fight hard against legislation that would require employers to provide paid sick time to employees.
However, in recent times, lawmakers are calling for legislation that would allow workers to earn up to seven days of paid sick time per year. Experts claim that paid sick leave cost employers very little, but forcing sick employee to come to work does not preserve productivity or efficiency in the workplace.
Proponents claim that keeping sick workers at home has historically been intended to prevent them from making others sick. But statistics show that back pain is the highest cause of missing work for illness and that is not a condition that is contagious.
In the U.S., many workers through the years have been granted paid sick leave under their individual employer policy or a collective bargaining agreement. Accordingly, roughly 65% of workers have access to paid sick leave. But many claim that a national policy regarding paid sick leave is long overdue.
At present, only 3 states and 16 cities have mandatory sick leave laws with many claiming that the movement is gaining necessary momentum. Despite this evidence, Republicans opponents are pushing back. So far, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee and Wisconsin have all passed legislation prohibiting municipal governments from enacting paid sick days.
Conservative groups have long argued that paid sick time is detrimental because employers will be forced to reduce salaries and other compensation to cover the related expenses. However, supporters claim that there is little evidence to support this position.
In Connecticut, the first state to require employers to provide earned paid sick days, the effect on the cost of business operations has been more modest than expected. Surprisingly, no measurable reduced wages or other negative effects were reported.
Lawmakers and policy changers argue that the need for paid sick time is critical at the lower end of the pay scale. Workers that need sick leave most are low-wage, part-time and service industry workers.
Low-income workers, women and minorities are least likely to have paid time off to care for themselves or dependents. This is particularly troubling because it puts workers in a position where they must make a choice between going to work ill or taking unpaid time and threatening the most basic economic needs of their family.
Lawmakers recommend that employees earn one hour of paid sick pay per 40 hours worked. This would be 40 hours of paid sick time on a rolling basis, beginning immediately upon employment. The sick time would be limited to 90 days after employment. Furthermore, earned leave could be used for care of close relatives or instances of domestic violence.
Limitations would exempt federal and state employees, workers covered by a collective bargaining agreement, temporary employees, interns, adjunct faculty, independent contractors, pool workers including per diem hospital workers, and part-timers working less than 15 hours per week.
All in all, it is evident from the state of our current system that change is needed. No, sick leave is not part of workers compensation. However, at some point in the future, it may be part of a larger mandatory compensation system or available to a broader range of employees through government agencies.
Let J. Price McNamara Help You With Your Worker’s Compensation Case
Have you recently suffered from an injury while at work? If so, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. Only an aggressive personal injury attorney with knowledge of Louisiana law can help you get the money you deserve for your case. J. Price McNamara has been practicing law in Louisiana for many years and has handled many cases just like yours. The legal team at the Law Offices of J. Price McNamara is standing by to help you resolve your case. Don’t delay, the law limits the amount of time you have to file your case. Call us now and get an experienced worker’s compensation attorney on your side today.
12 Important Things To Know About Worker’s Compensation
Workers’ compensation was designed to protect workers and to cover medical costs and lost pay if you miss work due to on-the-job injuries. Here are some important things every worker should know about workers’ compensation:
1) Not Everyone Is Included.
By law, most employers must buy workers’ compensation insurance. However, workers’ compensation doe not cover everyone while they are at work. Agricultural workers, domestic workers and independent contractors are often excluded.
2) Who Is Included?
To be covered by workers’ compensation, you must be an employee and be accidentally injured while doing your job. You can also get coverage if you get sick from doing your job, like being exposed to asbestos during construction.
3) Ask Your Employer To Explain Your Workers’ Compensation If You Don’t Understand.
Be sure you understand your worker’s compensation rights. Your employer will usually have a brochure explaining workers’ compensation. Get it, read it and ask questions if you don’t understand.
4) Every Injury Or Illness Must Be Reported.
Every injury or illness must be reported to the HR department or supervisor when it occurs. Paperwork or a call from an insurance adjuster should occur within a short period of time. Follow up with your boss if these things do not happen.
5) Make Sure To Visit The Right Medical Office.
In most cases, if your injury is an emergency, you will go where the ambulance takes you. In a non-emergency, your employer may direct you to a particular hospital, clinic or doctor. Go where your employer tells you or your bills may not be covered by workers’ compensation.
6) Be Sure Your Medical Professionals Know That You Were Injured While At Work.
When you’re filling out the paperwork at the hospital or doctor’s office, be sure your medical professionals know that your injury happened at work.
If you choose to visit your own doctor, make sure that they are approved or certified to do workers’ compensation claims.
7) Your Medical Records Need To Include All Information About Your Injuries
Your medical records should detail the history and circumstances of your injury or illness. Be sure they list every body part involved as workers’ compensation benefits won’t cover body parts that aren’t listed.
8) Do Not Drink Or Do Drugs At Work.
Most employers require a drug and alcohol test immediately after an accident. If you test positive for either substances, your worker’s compensation claim will be denied.
9) Avoid Horseplay.
Actions that are not within the scope of your employment or that may be beyond actions of a normal, reasonable or prudent person could result in denial of worker’s compensation benefits. If you don’t know if something is horseplay, then don’t do it! It is not worth an injury that could result in lost wages or loss of a job.
10) You Might Need An Attorney.
Individual states set their own workers’ compensation payouts, so there isn’t much room for you to get more or less than you deserve for your injuries.
You should be aware that workers’ compensation attorneys usually take around 20 percent of your settlement, so don’t hire one unless you absolutely need one, have a complex claim or you feel you were unfairly denied payment of medical bills related to your injury.
11) Most Worker’s Compensation Claims Are Small
The average maximum workers’ comp benefit for lost pay is under a thousand dollars a week.
12) Fraudulent Claimers Usually Get Caught.
Falsely claiming worker’s compensation is a crime and those who claim falsely are punished with fines and possible jail time. Because it is so prevalent, insurers and employers regularly make home visits, do surveillance and see if anyone else is contributing to your Social Security or other income.
Let J. Price McNamara Help You With Your Worker’s Compensation Case
If you or a loved one has recently suffered from an injury while at work, you may be entitled to compensation. Companies and employers usually have experienced lawyers working hard for them. You need an aggressive personal injury attorney with knowledge of Louisiana law to getting you the money you deserve in your case. J. Price McNamara has been practicing law in Louisiana for many years and has handled many cases just like yours. The legal team at the Law Offices of J. Price McNamara is waiting to help you with your case. Call us today to schedule your free case review and get an experienced worker’s compensation attorney on your side.
BNSF Railway Employee Awarded $500,000 in Personal Injury Trial
RAILROAD WORKER INJURY IN BATON ROUGE, LA
In the United States, and especially in the state of Louisiana, workers who are injured while on the job are legally entitled to worker’s compensation. Sometimes the employer may shirk the responsibility of providing their employees with adequate recompense for an on-the-job injury. This was the case when, in 2006, Thomas Tsohonis suffered an on-site accident while working on a train crane for his employer, BNSF Railway. After a long legal battle, a Billings, MT jury awarded Mr. Tsohonis with a $500,000 award on June 17, 2014.
The 60 year old Mr. Tsohonis allegedly suffered a debilitating personal injury when he slipped and fell while repairing a train crane in the city of Billings, MT. Resulting in severe back pain, the accident condemned him to a premature end to the physically demanding work that had kept him employed with BNSF for over 31 years. According to an economist’s analysis and estimate, Mr. Tsohonis forwent between $489,000 and $716,000 in lost wages between the time of the accident and the expected time of retirement.
BNSF Railway is the second-largest freight railroad firm in the United States, controlling three transcontinental rail routes and a variety of other inter-regional rails spread across 27 U.S. states. The Fort Worth, TX based company employs over 40,000 employees, 6,400 locomotives, and more than 85,000 freight cars. According to Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) data, BNSF reported total equity for the fiscal year of 2011 being $43.8 billion.
According to Jon M. Moyers, Mr. Tsohonis’ attorney, his client had suffered from a hyperextension of the back in October 2006, while working for BNSF as a mechanic. A hyperextension exists when the lordosis, which refers to the natural curve of the lower back, is excessively rounded. This type of injury causes both immediate and long-term pain, which can make the carrying out of everyday activities difficult and uncomfortable. As a result of the back injury, Mr. Tsohonis claims that he was no longer able to continue working for BNSF as a mechanic.
BNSF attorney Anthony Nicastro denied that this particular injury had resulted from an at-work accident and argued that Mr. Tsohonis’ back problems stemmed from an injury sustained at home in December 2007. The company did acknowledge that their employee had suffered an accident in October 2006, but held that it did not lead to the physical health problems that Mr. Tsohonis seeks to make BNSF liable for. In response, Moyers accussed Nicastro of making an “offensive” argument and suggested that the firm had failed to take responsibility.
“It’s [BNSF’s] fault, 100 percent. What is their defense? I really don’t know,” claimed Moyers while giving his closing argument.
The jury apparently agreed with Mr. Tsohinis and with his attorney, Jon Moyers. Believing that BNSF Railway had violated its duty of precaution, the jury awarded the plaintiff a $500,000 award for the injuries sustained and the wages lost as a result of incapacitation.
Schedule Your Free Case Review Today
If you have suffered an injury while on the job, Price McNamara and his expert J. Price McNamara legal team have the know-how and experience to represent your interests in court. A former prosecutor and insurance company defense attorney, McNamara specializes in using this accumulated knowledge to protect workers from insurance companies and firms intent on evading their responsibility to provide compensation. Contact our Baton Rouge, LA to schedule your free case review and consultation with our practiced legal team today!
Workplace Injuries & Worker’s Compensation
WORKER’S COMPENSATION BATON ROUGE, METAIRIE, LA
Injured on the Job?
The great state of Louisiana provides a legal remedy for employees injured on the job within its borders in the form of worker’s compensation under the Louisiana Worker’s Compensation Act of 1983. Those injured while performing the duties of their jobs are automatically entitled to certain benefits. These benefits include medical care for the injury, indemnity wage benefits, vocational rehabilitation benefits, and even death benefits in some circumstances. If you have been injured on the job and you are unable to work due to your injury, then the Contact the Law Offices of J. Price McNamara can help you determine if you may be eligible for worker’s compensation, compensation from your employer, or compensation from another party. J. Price McNamara is a former insurance company attorney who now represents clients who have suffered workplace or other types of personal injury. Read on to learn more about on the job injuries and what to do if you have suffered an injury at work.
Types of On the Job Injuries
Any injury that occurs during the proper course and scope of a job is usually covered by workers compensation. There are certain exceptions that are not covered by worker’s compensation such as injuries suffered while committing a crime, self-inflicted injuries, and injuries sustained while under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs. Some of the most common workplace injuries include:
Workplace Violence Between Employees
Repetitive Motion Injuries
Machine Accident Injuries
Vehicle Accident Injuries
Falling Object Injuries
Slip/Trip, and Fall Injuries
Chemical or other burns
Overexertion Injuries: Lifting, Pulling, Carrying, etc.
These common workplace injuries are simply a small selection of the types of injuries that may covered by worker’s compensation in Louisiana. If you suffered any of the injuries listed above while on the clock, then it is important that you select an experienced and knowledgeable personal injury attorney like J. Price McNamara to represent your best interests and to assist you in determining any compensation that you may be entitled to as a result of your workplace injury.
Contact the Law Offices of J. Price McNamara
If you have been injured on the job then you may be entitle to seek compensation for your injuries. J. Price McNamara is a former insurance company attorney and Louisiana state prosecutor who now works to prevent insurance companies from exploiting those that are injured or disabled. The exensive courtroom experience and in-depth knowledge of Louisiana Worker’s Compensation of the Contact the Law Offices of J. Price McNamara can provide you with the assistance, advice, and expertise you need to move forward with your personal injury case for your on the job injury. If you were hurt at work you may be eligible to seek compensation in addition to your worker’s compensation depending on how you were injured, where the injury occured, and the circumstances of your injury . The Law Offices of J. Price McNamara has proudly served the communities of Baton Rouge, Metairie, and other Louisiana communities on both sides of the courtroom for many years. Contact our offices to schedule your free consultation with expert personal injury attorney J. Price McNamara today.
East Baton Rouge Parish Man Sues Former Employers Over Permanent Hearing Loss
On February 10th, an East Baton Rouge Parish man filed a lawsuit against several of his previous employers in the 23rd Judicial District Court claiming that he was exposed to unreasonable noise levels at work. Robert T. Firmin sued Exxon Mobil, Entergy Gulf States Louisiana, BASF Corporation, Honeywell International, Star Enterprise, PCS Nitrogen Fertilizer, Hexion Specialty Chemicals, Marathon Petroleum Company, and each former employer’s insurance company over his alleged permanent hearing loss.
According to the lawsuit, Firmin claims he suffers from high-range hearing loss after being exposed to repeated and prolonged occupational noise for years. Firmin accused his former employers of battery for failing to notify him of the dangers associated with the noise. He also accused the defendants of negligence for exposing him to unreasonable levels of noise, failing to provide him with proper safety protections and training, failing to provide medical monitoring, failing to keep the noise at a safe level, and failing to alert him to the risks associated with prolonged exposure to loud occupational noises. Firmin asked the court to award him up to $75,000 in damages for disability, medical expenses, suffering, pain, and loss of enjoyment of life.
These days, injuries sustained while at work are all too common. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to navigate the laws put into place to protect workers in Louisiana. Whether an injury takes place on land, at sea, or adjacent to navigable waters will have an effect on which law applies to an employee injury. For most workers who are hurt while working on land in Louisiana, the Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Act will generally provide the only avenue for recovery. Workers’ compensation benefits are paid to an employee hurt while at work regardless of who caused the injury.
There are exceptions to Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Act remedies, however. An employee hurt at work may sue an at-fault third-party for damages beyond those available under traditional workers’ compensation laws. Also, the intentional act exception to Louisiana’s workers’ compensation laws allows an employee to sue an employer for negligence if the worker can demonstrate the employer either consciously desired the physical result or knew it was reasonably certain to occur as a direct result of the employer’s conduct. If you were hurt on the job, it is a good idea to contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to assist you in determining your rights.
J. Price McNamara is a knowledgeable Metairie workers’ compensation lawyer. He assists hardworking clients who were injured at work throughout the State of Louisiana including Mandeville, Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Metairie, and Lafayette. For a free initial consultation, contact J. Price McNamara at (866) 248-0580.
Louisiana’s Third Circuit Rules Lake Charles Server Who Tested Positive for Drugs May Receive Workers’ Compensation Benefits
The Third Circuit Court of Appeals of Louisiana held a worker who tested positive for both marijuana and Xanax following a 2008 workplace injury was entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
Deloris Stenson was employed as a waitress at Pat’s of Henderson Seafood when she allegedly tripped over a box of potatoes left in the walkway of a food preparation area. Stenson immediately went to the emergency room at a local hospital for her injuries. While being treated, she was also tested for drugs and alcohol in accordance with restaurant policy. After Stenson tested positive for marijuana and Xanax, her employer’s insurer denied all workers’ compensation benefits except for the costs associated with her emergency room visit.
Because Stenson had a prescription for Xanax and admitted to taking the drug for a back problem on the day of the accident, a workers’ compensation judge determined intoxication was not a cause of her accident. The judge ordered the restaurant to pay Stenson temporary total disability benefits and medical benefits. Following the workers’ compensation judge’s ruling, her employer appealed to Louisiana’s Third Circuit.
On appeal, the restaurant argued a valid drug prescription did not overcome the presumption in Louisiana Revised Statutes 23:1081 that Stenson was intoxicated at the time of her accident. Her employer also argued that the workers’ compensation judge should not have taken the prescription into account when determining whether or not Stenson was intoxicated.
Louisiana’s Third Circuit Court of Appeals, however, agreed with the workers’ compensation judge, reasoning that although the restaurant met its burden of proof regarding its employee’s alleged intoxication with her drug test results, the burden then shifted to Stenson. Once the burden shifted, it was up to Stenson to prove her drug use was not a contributing case of her accident. The Appellate Court also found that although Stenson admitted to smoking marijuana four days prior to the accident, there was no reason to believe it was manifestly erroneous for the workers’ compensation judge to find Stenson overcame the intoxication presumption. Because no one offered testimony stating that Stenson appeared intoxicated on the day of the accident, the Appeals Court upheld the workers’ compensation judge’s ruling.
When an employee is hurt at work in Louisiana, workers’ compensation laws generally afford the only avenue for recovery. A worker may be temporarily disabled, permanently partially disabled, or permanently totally disabled as a result of a workplace injury. The Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Act provides for a variety of benefits based on the worker’s gross earnings at the time the disability began. Benefits should continue until an employee is medically released by a physician to return to work, but in some cases a workers’ compensation insurance company may be willing to settle a case for a single lump-sum payment. If you were injured at work, a qualified workers’ compensation attorney can help you determine what benefits you may qualify for.
J. Price McNamara, a Contact the Law Offices of J. Price McNamara, represents clients throughout Louisiana, including Baton Rouge, Metairie, New Orleans, Lafayette, and Mandeville. To speak with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer, call J. Price McNamara at (866) 248-0580 today. You may also contact us through our website.
Lawsuit Against Employer for Ignoring Worker Safety Concerns Removed to New Orleans Federal Court
In October, an industrial worker filed suit against his employer and another party in Jefferson Parish District Court for an injury which allegedly occurred after his employer failed to heed his protests regarding the safety of a work procedure. In his lawsuit, Tyrone Wilson claims he was injured on October 10, 2010 while working for T.T. Coatings Inc. on a petroleum chemical barge. Wilson claims he was instructed to pull frozen test rods out of the open end of a metal shaft assembly with pliers while another employee heated the rods from the opposite end. He also stated after he protested the procedure to his employer he was threatened with termination if he did not continue. While the rod was being heated, it purportedly exploded in Wilson’s direction and injured him.
Wilson has accused TT Coatings of committing an intentional tort by ordering him to engage in a dangerous activity despite that his employer knew he was likely to be harmed. He also accused Kirby Inland Marine Transportation Co. of negligence. Wilson alleges the Kirby Corporation required TT Coatings employees to engage in an inherently dangerous work activity, failed to maintain the company’s equipment, placed workers in harm’s way in an attempt to save money, and demanded workers use an unsafe method to accomplish their task.
On January 11th, the case was removed to New Orleans federal court. In his complaint, Wilson asked the court to award him compensation for medical expenses, physical and mental pain and suffering, lost of wages, loss of enjoyment of life, permanent disability, court costs, and interest.
Unfortunately, workplace accidents and injuries occur all too often. Navigating the laws designed to protect employees can be complicated. In Louisiana, workers can be killed or injured while working on land, on the open seas, or adjacent to navigable waters. Where an injury occurs will have an effect on an employee’s right to recovery. The Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Act applies to most injuries which occur on land. Meanwhile, the Jones Act protects employees injured at sea and the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act applies to worker injuries which occur adjacent to navigable waters.
The Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Act provides monetary relief to employees who are injured on the job regardless of fault. The same is true for the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. Workers’ compensation laws generally provide an employee with the only remedy available from an employer for workplace injuries. Exceptions do exist, however. Louisiana’s intentional act exception allows a worker to sue his or her employer for negligence if the employee can show the employer either consciously desired the physical result or knew it was fairly certain to happen as a result of the employer’s conduct. Additionally, a worker injured on the job may sue an at-fault third-party for damages beyond those available under traditional workers’ compensation laws. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can assist you in navigating the legal process.
If you have questions regarding your workplace injury, Contact the Law Offices of J. Price McNamara J. Price McNamara for a free initial consultation. Our Louisiana personal injury lawyers represent clients throughout Louisiana. With offices conveniently located in both Baton Rouge and Metairie, our lawyers are nearby and ready to discuss your case. To speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer, call J. Price McNamara today at (866) 248-0580 or contact us through our website.
Wrongful Death Case Filed in New Orleans After Man Burned With Molten Steel
WORKERS’ COMPENSATION, WRONGFUL DEATH
On December 30, 2011, the spouse of a manufacturing worker killed after a steel ladle unexpectedly erupted and discharged melted steel on him filed suit in New Orleans federal court against his employer and the manufacturer of the steel ladle. Samuel N. Moyer received third degree burns when the ladle purportedly malfunctioned on February 1, 2011 while he was working as a furnace second helper at ArcelorMittal Laplace steel manufacturing mill. He died as a result of his injuries two days later
. Moyer’s wife filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Signal Metal Industries Inc., Danieli Corp., North American Refractories Co., Siemens Vai Services, and Black Diamond Capital Management seeking compensation for conscious physical suffering and pain, mental suffering and pain, medical and funeral expenses, court costs, and other damages such as loss of support and grief. She has alleged the steel ladle itself as well as a transfer car, nest block assembly, and stir plugs were unduly hazardous in design, composition, and manufacture. She also claims the defendants failed to warn Moyer of the hazards associated with the equipment and alleges the equipment failed to conform to the manufacturer’s express warranty.
Each year, literally thousands of deaths result from tragic events such as motor vehicle and workplace accidents. The death of someone close to you is always overwhelming, but it can be particularly devastating when the death resulted from a preventable accident. When a wrongful death occurs at a workplace, a death beneficiary may sue an at-fault third-party for damages beyond those available under traditional workers’ compensation laws.
In most instances of wrongful death, certain family members, referred to as death beneficiaries, will have a claim for damages against the at-fault party. A death beneficiary is generally the spouse of the person who died, but may also be the individual’s child, a parent, or even a sibling or grandparent under certain circumstances. In Louisiana, the death beneficiary of an accident victim may bring both a wrongful death claim and a survival claim. A beneficiary may bring a wrongful death claim against the at-fault party for their own loss of financial support and a loss of love and affection which resulted from the death. Additionally, a beneficiary may bring a survival action claim to recover for the decedent’s conscious suffering and pain, lost wages, and any medical expenses which may have occurred prior to the wrongful death.
If your loved one has been killed in a tragic accident, it is important to know your rights before talking to the at-fault party’s insurance company. Call J. Price McNamara, a Baton Rouge wrongful death attorney, for a free initial consultation. Our skilled and diligent personal injury lawyers represent clients throughout Louisiana, including Baton Rouge, Metairie, New Orleans, Lafayette, and Mandeville. To speak with an accident attorney at our firm, call J. Price McNamara at (866) 248-0580 today. You may also contact us through our website.
No Workers’ Compensation Exception in St. Landry Parish Landfill Death
The Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeals recently stated the parents of a man killed while working at the St. Landry Parish Sanitary Landfill failed to prove the intentional act exception to worker’s compensation immunity applied to their son’s accident. 22-year-old Martel Smith was crushed to death on April 22, 2008 while working at the 200 acre landfill. On the day of his death, Smith was working alone using a Mack truck with a tilting bed to dump canisters. The tilting truck bed was moved by a hoist system operated by spring loaded controls which required constant pressure and were located inside the truck’s cab. Although the landfill was closed to the public, 14 other employees were also working on the premises on the day of Smith’s death. After a co-worker found Smith crushed between the truck’s frame and the hoist, a number of co-workers extricated him and moved his body away from the truck. Unfortunately, all efforts to revive him failed.
There was no evidence the truck had malfunctioned and each of Smith’s co-workers testified at trial they were not present during his accident. Many of his fellow employees also stated it was likely impossible for Smith to operate the hoist’s controls from the location where his body was found. An expert hired by Smith’s parents testified a third party must have been involved in the accident due to the spring loaded nature of the hoist controls.
Smith’s parents alleged an unnamed co-worker must have killed him. According to his parents, Smith was the victim of an intentional act which nullified the exclusive remedy available through Louisiana workers’ compensation laws. Because his parents lacked further evidence to support their claim, the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Smith’s employer.
Generally, when a person is injured on the job while working on land, workers’ compensation laws provide the only remedy. Exceptions to state workers’ compensation laws exist, however. Louisiana’s intentional act exception put forth by Smith’s parents requires a showing the employer consciously desired the physical result or knew it was fairly certain to happen as a result of the employer’s conduct. Because Smith’s co-workers each testified they were nowhere near him at the time of his accident, his parents were required to show an issue of material fact regarding an intentional act existed. Instead, Smith’s parents only offered possible third-party causes for his death which failed to demonstrate his employer consciously desired his injury. Consequently, the appeals court affirmed the lower court’s ruling.
In Louisiana, workers’ compensation benefits are owed to an employee injured while on the job regardless of fault. Although few exceptions to workers’ compensation laws exist, other remedies may still be available to an injured party. For example, if the injury was also a result of the actions of a third-party, a hurt worker may seek additional benefits which cannot be recovered from an employer such as pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life. If you have questions regarding an injury you or a loved one received while on the job, contact Baton Rouge workers’ compensation attorney J. Price McNamara for a free initial consultation.
J. Price McNamara, aContact the Law Offices of J. Price McNamara, represents clients throughout Louisiana, including Baton Rouge, Metairie, New Orleans, Lafayette, and Mandeville. To speak with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer, call J. Price McNamara today at (866) 248-0580. You may also contact us through our website.
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