Articles Posted in Workers Compensation

workers_road_workers_site-scaledEmployment law disputes are very fact-specific inquiries. Judges, especially workers’ compensation judges, are typically well-equipped to handle these cases. But when a judge mishandles the facts or misinterprets the law having an excellent attorney in your corner helps in the appeal process. For the Sewerage & Water Board of New Orleans (“SWBNO”), the appeal detailed below involves several issues that SWBNO argues were in error based on the workers’ compensation judge’s decision.

To provide important background information, this case involved a former employee, Catherine Johnson (“Johnson”), who was hired by SWBNO in April 2013 as a probationary employee, meaning she was not considered a full-time employee during the six months after she started the job. However, while Johnson was still in this designated probationary period, she was injured on the job during her employment with SWBNO. About a month before Johnson’s probationary period was set to end, SWBNO held a pre-termination hearing that determined Johnson displayed a poor work performance unrelated to her injury, which caused her employment to be terminated.

Johnson subsequently filed a disputed claim for compensation against SWBNO with the Office of Workers’ Compensation that included a request regarding penalties for failure to timely reimburse mileage expenses, among other payments for wages and benefits. SWBNO denied the claims, and a hearing ensued before the workers’ compensation judge.

time_clock_defect_showing-scaledTiming is an important part of claiming worker’s compensation in Louisiana. Louisiana R.S. 23:1209(C) requires that:

  1. The employee files an initial claim or makes other suitable arrangements within one year of the injury; and
  2. The employee makes any subsequent claims no more than three years after the last payment of medical benefits.

forklift_machine_crane_1645850-scaledWorkers’ compensation is a financial support system that may be available to injured employees. It aims to ensure employees are compensated for their injuries and do not bear the entire expenses of medical bills. Workers’ compensation laws differ from state to state. Still, the general idea is that employees can get benefits regardless of who was at fault for the injury so long as the injury arose from an act during employment. 

While workers’ compensation provides employees a safety net, not all claims fall under the statutory regime. Sometimes plaintiffs, like David Lindsay,  believe that their injury might result from an intentional act by their employer, which could allow for a more significant damage award. Those workers will try to file their workplace accidents as intentional tort claims. The following case from the First Circuit in Louisiana discusses how employees try to recover damages outside of Workers’ Compensation benefits for their injuries on the job. It also helps answer the question, when can I file a tort claim against my employer if I am hurt at work in Louisiana?

David Lindsay was an employee at Packaging Corporation of America (PCA), where he operated forklifts as part of his duties. He suffered severe injuries when the forklift he was driving slipped and fell off a loading dock. This accident lodged his left forearm between a railcar and the safety cage on the forklift. 

bike_abandonment_urban_exploration-scaledAnyone involved in a lawsuit knows that litigation can take months or even years to resolve. Though courts try to expedite the process, the parties involved are also responsible for moving the case forward expediently. If the plaintiff in a lawsuit files a complaint and fails to take further action for a certain amount of time, the defendant may file a motion to dismiss on the grounds of abandonment. The case below is an example of how the abandonment of a lawsuit by the plaintiff resulted in the dismissal of the action. 

Deborah Allen was an employee of the Louisiana Department of Social Services (“LADSS”). On February 2, 2007, she was riding as a passenger in a LADSS vehicle struck from behind by a car driven by Matthew Humphrey. Allen filed a lawsuit against Humprey and his automobile insurer, Imperial Fire and Casualty Insurance Company, seeking compensation for the injuries she received in the crash. Shortly after that, Louisiana’s Division of Administration, Office of Risk Management (“ORM”) filed a petition of intervention, seeking reimbursement from the defendants for workers’ compensation payments made to Allen. You can think of an intervenor as being a replacement or substitute plaintiff in an action who has a related claim against the defendants. 

Because Humphrey was underinsured, Allen filed a lawsuit against LADSS. However, LADSS claimed that it had no underinsured motorist coverage and that Allen was only entitled to workers’ compensation from LADSS. LADSS was successful in securing a dismissal of Allen’s lawsuit. In early 2013, Allen and LADSS settled Allen’s workers’ compensation claims. On February 8, 2013, Humphrey and Imperial Fire filed a motion to reduce the jury bond, which is money to procure a jury. In 2014, Humphrey and Imperial Fire sent a settlement letter to Allen, but neither Allen nor the ORM responded to the letter. In 2016, Humphrey and Imperial Fire filed a motion to dismiss Allen’s lawsuit on the grounds of abandonment. After the trial court granted the defendants’ motion, ORM appealed. 

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