The Law Offices of Rick Barry P.C. was founded by Rick Barry in 1991. Since its inception the firm has provided legal assistance to firefighters, paramedics, and police officers and individuals they refer. This page is intended to provide information about recent legal developments and guidelines as to how First Responders can protect themselves in the workplace. If you have any questions or would like to speak with Rick please call us at 314-918-8900.
THE WORKERS COMPENSATION INSURANCE CARRIER
FALSEHOOD THAT KEEPS YOU FROM PROTECTING YOUR CAREER
This is written for first responders especially firefighters and paramedics. Workers’ Compensation (WC) defense insurance carriers have been running a new, below the radar campaign to discourage first responders from filing WC claims, or from hiring knowledgeable attorneys to assist them.
Here’s how it works ...
•The WC insurance carriers have figured out that most all of those in the Fire and EMS services are both dedicated to their careers and, in general, fairly well compensated in terms of pay and benefits.
•To prevent you from reporting, filing or effectively pursuing WC claims they are spreading the falsehood that pursuing a WC claim and receiving an award causes you to be classified as a partially “disabled” person who might not, because of this “disability,” be able to perform the job.
•In other words, the WC insurance carriers are getting richer than they already are by spreading the falsehood you will lose your job if you pursue a WC claim because in order to do so, you must accept being branded as a “disabled” person.
•Their hoped for result, if they can fool you, is to eliminate or sharply reduce the number of WC claims filed.
•The effect on the first responder community if they are successful could be disastrous.
•WC is intended to back up first responders who are injured on the job, basically by providing you with a monetary “bonus” for the lingering effect of an on the job injury.
•Most all on the job injuries sustained by first responders do not keep them from performing their full duties after they have recovered. If you have aches and pains you did not have before because of such things as injured knees, backs, shoulders or other body parts, you work around them and still do your job.
•Many First Responders sustain multiple on the job injuries to different body parts in separate incidents during the course of their careers. Separate back, knee and shoulder injuries for example. Despite the scare the insurance companies are trying to put into you, it is unheard of for a First Responder who can do the job to lose their job simply because of a multiple injury history.
•This WC carrier campaign depends on the confusion many have over the use of the term “disability” in the WC system. For example, if you hurt your shoulder on the job, make a claim and receive a monetary award, it is called an award for “permanent partial disability” (PPD). The use of the word disability does not mean you are considered to be a disabled person for the purposes of your job. It is just a word. The award does not raise issues about your being able to do the job. Those of you who receive these awards return to full duty with clearance from insurance carrier doctors who are eager to find you are able to do so because if they give an opinion you are not able to perform your job it increases the value of your WC claim and therefore the cost to the employer.
A documented WC claim settlement protects and preserves your career because it ensures your injury is classified as work related and you as still able to perform your job. Protect your career, your future and your family. Pursue your right to make a WC claim when you are injured on the job and seek experienced legal representation such as that provided by my firm.
Have You Been Injured at Work?
•Seek immediate medical treatment, do not wait!
•Notify your supervisor right away.
•Request your employer file report of injury right away.
•Be aware of “new” injuries that are now being recognized as compensable, like smoke/chemical inhalation, coronary episodes secondary thereto, and carpal tunnel, ulnar tunnel, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
•Follow your doctor’s specific medical directions and retain copies of all medical and claim documents for your records.
•Get the name, title, and telephone number of any adjuster or case manager assigned to your claim by your employer’s insurance carrier.
•If your injury arose out of an automobile accident, do not speak with any representative of the driver’s insurance company without speaking to us first.
•If your work injury also gives rise to a personal injury claim speak with us before giving any statement to an insurance company.
•If you are required to give a statement to a workers’ compensation case manager or adjuster, give us that person’s name, telephone number, and the circumstances surrounding the taking of the statement.
•Use Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and their state law equivalents to protect your job while you are recuperating.
•Don’t try to be your own injury attorney.
•Last but certainly not least, make sure that before returning to work, you are sufficiently healed to protect the public, co-workers, and yourself.
How to Assert Your Constitutional Rights
•Ask for union representation or for your attorney to be present at any meeting regarding potential disciplinary action against you.
•Ask for any meeting regarding discipline to be recorded, and for you to be provided with a copy.
•If Miranda is read as part of disciplinary interview, your request for an attorney must be granted. Don’t refuse to interview. Take the position you will do so if your attorney is present.
•Anti-union activity is unconstitutional retaliation and a violation of your 1st Amendment Rights. Contact us immediately if you believe your employer is discriminating against you because you are engaging in union activities.
3 Steps to Whistleblowing
•Blow the Whistle - Make it clear to your employer that you are reporting what you believe to be illegal behavior on the part of your employer including supervisors and fellow employees.
•Write a Letter - Either you or your attorney need to make a record of the reports that you have made, the contents of those reports, and to whom those reports were made.
•Inform Outside Law Enforcement – If you observe or become aware of conduct by your employer or one of its supervisors which is criminal implications, you should report it to the proper outside law enforcement agencies.
Reporting Discrimination in the Workplace
•Report discriminatory treatment to the person designated by your employer personnel policies. Do so in writing. • Contact us immediately to determine your rights under the law.