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Bridgeport Workers Compensation Law Blog

Checking out of a hotel with an injury? You have rights.

When you choose to spend the night in a Connecticut hotel, you almost certainly have the expectation that you will be safe from unnecessary hazards. However, injuries in hotels do happen, and they are not always the fault of the guest. You may think that your slip-and-fall or other type of accident was the result of your own clumsiness, but that may not necessarily be the case.

Hotels are responsible for ensuring that their premises are safe for all visitors. This means that there are no hazards, such as unmarked wet floors or broken stairs, which could cause harm to a guest. If you were hurt in a hotel due to circumstances beyond your control, it is possible that you have grounds for a premises liability claim.

Worker settles workers' compensation claim for $325,000

How much is the ability to work worth? The question is a common theme in workers' compensation claims. A worker in New Britain who asserted that he would never work again after a workplace accident injured his back recently agreed to accept $325,000 from his employer and the employer's insurer in full payment of workers' compensation benefits for his permanent and total disability.

The worker was a manual laborer for a food service distribution company. He slipped and fell on the job in 2013. In 2014, he underwent a spinal fusion to alleviate back pain. At the workers' compensation hearing in September, the worker's lawyer argued that the residual pain from the fusion was permanent and prevented the man from ever working again. The employee's expert said that the pain was work-related and that it was permanent. The employer offered expert testimony that came to the opposite conclusion.

Explosions and fire in cosmetics factory kills one, injures 125

Connecticut and her neighboring states are dotted with small manufacturing plants. Many of these facilities use chemicals that can cause fires and explosions if they are mishandled or used improperly. A recent factory explosion in eastern New York state shows how even the manufacture of mundane products such as cosmetics can produce a devastating workplace accident.

The incident occurred at a factory that is located in a small town about 55 miles north of New York City. At about 10:15 a.m. on November 20, 2017, the first of two explosions tore through the factory. A second explosion occurred about 25 minutes later. About 125 workers out of a total of 250 were injured in the two blasts. Most of the injuries were non-life-threatening and were quickly treated. One individual was reported to have been killed by the explosions. The ensuing fire sent clouds of thick black smoke into the sky, and more than 100 firefighters were required to extinguish the fires.

Connecticut Supreme Court limits reach of firefighters' rule

Firefighters and police officers in Connecticut are often injured in the course of their employment. In virtually all such cases, the state's workers' compensation commission provides compensation for medical expenses, lost income, and temporary and permanent disability. Like other injured workers in the state, firefighters and police officers can also maintain third-party liability actions against parties who are not employers but who may be at fault for any injuries. However, this right is limited by the state's so-called "firefighters' rule," a legal doctrine that limits the kinds of third-party actions that firefighters and police officers can bring.

The common law firefighter's rule provides that a firefighter or police officer who enters private property in the exercise of official duties cannot bring a civil action against the owner of the premises for liability based upon a defect in the premises. In two recent cases, defendants asserted the firefighter's rule as a defense to third-party lawsuits by police officers. In the first case, the plaintiff police officer suffered injuries when he tried to break into the defendant's home. The complaint alleged that the defendant had acted negligently. The trial court invoked the firefighters' rule and dismissed the complaint. In a similar case, a state trooper sued for damages caused by a hospital's negligence when he attempted to sue an emotionally disturbed person. Relying on the firefighters' rule, the court dismissed the complaint.

How does an injured worker obtain workers' compensation benefits?

Most Connecticut workers are aware that the state's workers' compensation system will pay them certain benefits if they are injured while working, but the actual process for obtaining benefits can be something of a mystery. This post will provide an overview of the workers' compensation claim process in hopes of clarifying.

To start, in order to qualify for workers' compensation, the injury in question must be "work related," that is, it must have happened while the employee was engaged in carrying out a function of his or employment. Next, the employee must give prompt notice of the injury or illness to the employer. The employer will then send the employee to a physician of its choice for preliminary treatment. After this initial treatment, the employee can choose a physician to provide any necessary continuing medical care. The worker must also submit Form 30C, the claim form for workers' compensation benefits.

Trump Administration to limit review of toxic chemicals

In the summer of 2016, Congress passed an amendment to the Toxic Substances Control Act that directed the Environmental Protection Agency to identify the 10 most hazardous chemicals based upon their potential for causing illness. The EPA published the list on November 29, 2016. Now the Trump administration is seriously undercutting the effectiveness of the amendment by refusing to include so-called "legacy" uses and long-term exposure to toxic chemicals in its review of the dangers of these chemicals.

Under the Obama administration's direction, the EPA said that it wanted to examine the hazards posed by chemicals already in widespread use. The Trump administration has said that it will look only at materials that are currently being manufactured and entering the marketplace. This policy effectively eliminates from EPA review a significant number of chemicals whose adverse health effects have been thoroughly documented but whose current use has become minimal.

A big rig crashed into your car -- what now?

Drivers of cars and SUVs will always be vulnerable -- especially when they have to share the busy Connecticut roads with big rigs. Regardless of how careful you are and your safe driving habits, a distracted semi driver can cause a devastating crash in the blink of an eye. Given the size of a tractor-trailer compared to a passenger vehicle, a truck driver may walk away unscathed while you and your passengers might suffer catastrophic injuries or worse.

Commercial trucks are dangerous and require specially trained operators. For that reason, their drivers must have commercial driver's licenses. Truckers and their employers have exceptional responsibilities to drive safely and comply with all the road laws.

We understand third party claims for workplace injuries

The Connecticut workers compensation system is predicated on a compromise: workers give up their right to sue their employers for workplace injuries or illnesses and employers agree to pay benefits without a showing of liability. This compromise does not, however, include entities that may be entirely or partially at fault for a workplace accident. Employees are not restricted in any way from seeking damages from parties other than their employers for on-the-job injuries.

These claims are usually called "third party claims" because they involve a party other than the employer and the injured employee. Third party claims often arise in construction accidents, where several parties may be involved in the work. A general contractor usually hires subcontractors, and subcontractors may hire other subcontractors. Occasionally, independent parties are hired to supervise the work.

What is the difference between workers' compensation and SSDI?

Most Connecticut residents are aware that the state's workers' compensation program provides certain payments to persons who are injured on the job. They may also know that the federal Social Security Act provides benefits to persons who are disabled. Most people do not, however, understand how the two systems work together or which one covers work-related injuries. This post will provide an overview of the eligibility requirements for workers' compensation benefits under state law and Social Security Disability Insurance benefits under federal law.

Eligibility for benefits rests on the nature and cause of the disability. Under Connecticut's workers compensation law, anyone who suffers an injury or illness that is related to the person's employment is eligible for workers' compensation benefits. These benefits may include medical expenses, replacement income, rehabilitation, and retraining expenses. It can also include payment for lost earning capacity. Workers' compensation benefits are paid regardless of the extent and duration of any disability, although those factors will affect the amount of the benefits that are paid.

Understanding carpal tunnel syndrome

Many people in Connecticut depend upon their hands to earn a living. Brick layers, carpenters, factory workers, and administrative assistants are only a few examples of such occupations. For anyone in one of these occupations, an injury to the hand can have a devastating impact on their earning capacity. One of the most debilitating injuries that can affect the hands is carpal tunnel syndrome.

Carpal tunnel syndrome can cause a number of symptoms, including tingling in the hands and fingers, numbness, and pain in the hand, wrist and arm. The syndrome most commonly affects people who perform repetitive movements with their hands. Carpal tunnel syndrome usually announces its presence with gradual numbness or tingling in the thumb, index finger, or middle finger. The tingling often spreads to the wrist and upper arm. Another symptom is the tendency to drop objects as the hand's pinching muscles become weaker.

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