Category Archives: workers comp basics

Do I Need To File A Tax Return On My Workers Compensation?

Today’s post comes from guest author Paul J. McAndrew, Jr., from Paul McAndrew Law Firm.

If you received workers’ compensation benefits in 2011, you may be wondering if you will need to report this money to the IRS and pay taxes on it. Under the Iowa Workers’ Compensation Act, money that you receive as workers’ compensation benefits is not taxable, with a few exceptions.

You will have to pay taxes on your work comp benefits if:

  • if the benefits are retirement plan benefits (this is true even if you retired due to disability)
  • if part of your workers’ compensation benefit money lowers the amount you receive from your Social Security or Railroad Retirement Benefits. In that case, that the part of your workers compensation benefits is considered part of your Social Security (or RRB) and may be taxable.

If you return to work, your salary will be taxable again, as is it was before you received workers’ compensation benefits.

The 12 Things You Must Do If You Are Hurt At Work

Today’s post comes from guest author Paul J. McAndrew, Jr. from Paul McAndrew Law Firm.

Injured workers call me all the time asking me what they need to do to make sure they protect their legal rights.  If you are hurt on the job, whether it is due to an acute traumatic injury (like cutting yourself on a saw), cumulative-trauma injury (like carpal-tunnel syndrome) or some other job-related injury, there are several basic things you should do. If you do not do any of the things on the list below, you may lose your rights under Iowa’s workers’ compensation law. 

Although there may be rare exceptions to this list,  following it will leave you reasonably secure that your rights are protected:

  1. Report the injury. By “injury,” I mean almost any condition including but not limited to (a) an acute traumatic injury, (b) a cumulative-trauma injury, or (c) a disease or a hearing loss. You should report the injury to your supervisor or company nurse (for clarity we’ll just call these people your Supervisor from here on out), making clear your injury was caused by work. Under Iowa law, you need to make the report within 90 days of the date of your injury.
  2. Make sure your Supervisor prepares a company accident report.  If your Supervisor won’t prepare the report, Continue reading

Truckers are often entitled to benefits from multiple states.

Today’s post comes from guest author Rod Rehm from Rehm, Bennett & Moore.

Truckers are frequently entitled to benefits from multiple states for an injury. Each state sets rules for applying its workers’ compensation laws. Virtually all states cover accidents that happen in that state. Many states allow benefits if the employer has it primary location in that state. Others cover claims if the employer is doing business it the state. There are different rules in each state and you should talk to experience workers compensation lawyer to learn what laws cover your injury. However, you do not have to make a choice.

Unless the state law says it will not provide coverage if another state does, you have multiple forums and can file in all of them.

The law established by the United State Supreme court in Thomas v. Washington Gas Light Co. is that compensation does not involve a “choice of law” question. The issue is one of coverage. Does the injury come within the coverage of one or more state? If so, each of the states can apply their law and award benefits even if a claim is being pursued elsewhere at the same time. Unless the state law says it will not provide coverage if another state does, you have multiple forums and can Continue reading

What Should I Have Ready For My First Meeting With My Lawyer?

We provide a questionnaire for you to fill out before our first meeting

Today’s post comes from guest author Nathan Reckman from Paul McAndrew Law Firm.

Most injured workers seeking an attorney’s help on their workers’ compensation claim have never hired an attorney before. This post gives a brief overview of how you can prepare for your first meeting with your attorney after you have been hurt at work.

The most important part of that first meeting takes place before you ever set foot in the attorney’s office. For your attorney, the goal of the first meeting is to gain an accurate understanding of the facts surrounding your injury. This is so the attorney can assess how the law will be applied to your case. In order for the attorney to make an accurate assessment, you have to be prepared to Continue reading

I Told My Supervisor – Why Do I Need To File An Accident Report In Writing?

Today’s post comes from guest author Matthew Funk from Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano.

QUESTION: I TOLD MY SUPERVISOR ABOUT THE ACCIDENT BUT I DID NOT SUBMIT AN ACCIDENT REPORT. AM I GOOD TO GO WITH THE VERBAL NOTICE?

ANSWER: ALWAYS REPORT AN INJURY IN WRITING

Joe was working a construction job when Mike accidentally beaned Joe on the head with a 2X4. After seeing a couple of Tweety Birds and a whole bunch of stars, Joe went down to his supervisor’s station and told him he had just had an accident. Then he went off to the ER to make sure he was not seriously injured, relieved he had taken care of business at the job site. All he had to do now was get better.

No, Joe! No! Yes, Joe satisfied the notice requirement. However, Joe was NOT good to go.

Supervisors sometimes have a funny habit of forgetting conversations or oral notices of an accident. Even if Joe’s supervisor were his best friend, when push came to shove there could be no telling what the supervisor might say in Court front of a Judge. Furthermore, Continue reading

Who Calls The Shots, Your Employer-Selected Doctor Or The Insurance Company?

Insurance companies sometimes tell doctors that they will not pay for procedures that the doctor says are medically appropriate.

Today’s post comes from guest author Nathan Reckman from Paul McAndrew Law Firm.

In Iowa, employers have the right to control an injured worker’s medical care. This means that if you are injured at work, your employer gets to send you to a doctor of their choosing. The doctors chosen by the employer are called “authorized treating physicians.” In theory, after an employer chooses their authorized treating physician, they are required to pay for any care that doctor believes is necessary to treat the work injury. In practice, the employer and their workers’ compensation insurance company often try to interfere with the care the injured worker is entitled to by refusing to pay for procedures or tests recommended by their handpicked doctor.

Typically, when an authorized doctor suggests an expensive course of care (like surgery) the first thing the doctor will do is check with the insurance company to make sure the surgery is going to be paid for. Instead of immediately scheduling the needed surgery, the doctor will wait until the insurance carrier agrees to pay for the procedure. Doctors do this so they don’t have to worry about how they are going to be paid. Asking for this unneeded authorization from the insurance company means the insurance company now has a say in determining what individual procedures are proper for the care of the work injury.

We often see injured workers whose injury was initially accepted by the employer until the doctor requests authorization for an expensive surgery. When faced with the additional cost of surgery, the insurance carrier denies the work injury hoping the injured worker will either forego surgery or try to pay for the surgery through other means, such as their personal health insurance.

This situation may also arise when the authorized doctor recommends expensive diagnostic procedures, like CT scans, or refers the injured worker to a specialist, for example a psychiatrist for depression related to the work injury.

To make sure your rights are protected, it’s often helpful to have an experienced workers’ compensation attorney on your side if you’re facing a situation where your employer is trying to interfere with the decisions of their handpicked doctor. Injured workers should get the care that their doctor, not an insurance company, determines is medically appropriate.

Well-documented Expense Records Increase Value of Your M&T Reimbursement

Today’s post comes from guest author Michael Furdyna from Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano. In North Carolina, if medical travel is 20 miles or more round trip the rate of reimbursement after January 1, 2009 (on a Form 25T) is .55 cents per mile.

While receiving medical treatment related to a workers’ compensation case, claimants often have additional expenses such as mileage, fuel costs, transportation fares, and out-of-pocket prescriptions. Yet many claimants don’t realize they are entitled to reimbursement for expenses they incur in obtaining treatment. Submitting information related to these expenses is an important part of the workers’ compensation process. Problems can arise, however, when incomplete or disorganized information is provided to an insurance carrier. This can result in delays and errors in receiving the proper amount to which they are entitled. Claimants can avoid these sorts of problems with small acts of diligence and record keeping.

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Save your receipts and keep a record of your doctor visits. Keeping a log and saving receipts incurred from specific doctor visits provides a “narrative” that makes it easier to tie together dates and expenses.
  • Make sure to use the correct form. The New York State WCB requires Continue reading

How To Select A Good Lawyer For Your Problem

Today’s post comes from guest author Rod Rehm from Rehm, Bennett & Moore.

Selecting and hiring a good lawyer is critical in dealing with a legal problem. Lawyers are increasingly limiting the types of cases handled in an effort to provided better representation. The Internet is a common starting point for consumers to locate and select lawyers who have the right kind of knowledge and experience for their problem. I recommend the following steps for selecting a lawyer.

  1. Check with family, friends, neighbors, or others whom you trust and respect to learn if they know of a lawyer or law firm who they would recommend for the kind of problem you are dealing with. This approach is the traditional way to find a professional and often leads to a good attorney-client relationship with satisfactory results.
  2. Consult a general-practice lawyer you know and ask for recommendations. This approach gives you the advantage of having someone who knows area lawyers help you find the right mixture of knowledge and expertise.
  3. Internet searches will turn up a large variety of lawyers who handle the kind of problem you are experiencing. Read several of the websites with a careful eye for the following: a. Is the firm A-rated by the leading peer-rating organization Martindale and Hubbell? The ratings are very good indicators of how the firm is regarded because they come from judges and other lawyers who work with the firm. b. Do the members of the firm appear to be actively involved in organizations dealing with your kind of problem? Are the lawyers officers or board members of such groups? Have the lawyers been speakers at seminars? This kind of activity shows the lawyers are interested in improving and protecting the law for people with your kind of problem and respected by other lawyers and judges. Here are some examples of law organizations. For employment matters, see the National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA). For workers’ compensation organizations, see the Workers’ Injury Law and Advocacy Group. For other personal-injury matters, see the American Association for Justice. For general trial-attorney needs, see the American Board of Trial Advocates. c. Do the lawyers from a firm belong to any organizations indicating that they have been honored or selected for membership based on knowledge and experience? d. Do the lawyers appear to belong the bar associations in their area? Have they served on any committees, sections, or governing bodies?
  4. Go to Martindale and Hubbell and use the lawyer search. You can search for lawyers by city, state, and specialty. Lawyers are rated as follows. AV® Preeminent™ is the highest rating, followed by BV® Distinguished™ then Distinguished. We recommend only A-rated lawyers if they are available. One way to get the best of the best is to limit the search by checking the box “Featured Peer Review Rated.” The website is very user friendly.
  5. Contact the lawyer or lawyers you focus on, and talk to the lawyer. Learn how the lawyer interacts with clients. The following are some questions that might be helpful: Do you feel comfortable talking with the lawyer? Are they Internet users? Will you have a specific team of people working with you? How do they charge? Can you have Skype conferences or do they have other face-to-face conferencing options through the Internet? Will retainer documents be required and available for review before an appointment?

These suggestions provide a framework on how to locate and evaluate an attorney to help you. The references we refer to are industry standards, so they not subject to as much manipulation as other online approaches, such as reviews, testimonials, or video recommendations on lawyers’ websites.