A blog by a retired Colorado attorney on legal news, views and tips on Colorado Workers Compensation and Social Security Disability. Written from the point of view of the injured or disabled worker.
Thursday, December 08, 2011
Issues to Think About for 2012
Around this time of the year I look back at the year and ahead too. Someone asked me about national issues in the field of workers comp but really not much has changed over the last year in Colorado. By that I do not mean that there were no changes or interesting developments but that it was a year of slow or minimal changes in the law. Still there were some developments. For the statutory developments just click here for an overview. For what is new at the Division of Workers Compensation you can click here. For caselaw we cover this in our blog. But as for the national or evolving issues in this field I guess the overriding issue is the economy. Still that is not unique to workers comp. What I have noticed over the years is there are increasingly technical or more precisely medical issues in workers comp. They usually trigger a battle of experts. What you then see are many cases that have become medical battlegrounds. The battling experts are the doctors. In such battles the advantage is often with the insurer. First, the treating doctor is usually selected by the insurer or the employer. Not exactly a good deal for the employee especially when there is a controversy. Next they cultivate those doctors who issue reports and testify to the benefit of the insurer position. It's expensive for a claimant to use his or her own doctors. Testimony expenses are billed at $450 an hour in most cases and includes commuting and wait time too. It is easy to spend over $2000 for one such expert. Advantage? Insurer (I have had insurance defense attorneys tell me they can pay $5000 or even $10000 for their experts). This can cripple a claimant's case. It strikes me that this is impairing a fair fight or what I would call access to the system. In civil matters there is a growing awareness of a need to simplify proceedings because when matters are complex or highly technical it works to the advantage of those with the money. In Colorado there is a interesting new seminar on this as relates to civil proceedings other then workers comp but it strikes me that improving access in workers comp is extremely important. By permitting many experts we skyrocket the costs of a hearing. It may be wise to limit this. Perhaps for a fair fight we should let the claimant have his expert as a covered benefit but that is not the current law. In my opinion any effort that speeds the process, makes it a fair fight and reduces something that is complicated to what the computer crowd would call user friendly is to be lauded. The workers compensation system was not intended to be unfriendly to injured workers. It was intended to be an efficient way to deal with work injuries and hopefully protect the worker while he recovers from his injury. In my view that is not happening and perhaps we need address this so we get back to the original purpose of the workers comp laws...to assist injured workers even if benefits are limited by statute. Otherwise the problem is shifted to all of us.
"...this is the cause of my life, new hope that we will break the old gridlock and guarantee that every American -- north, south, east, west, young, old -- will have decent, quality health care as a fundamental right and not a privilege." Ted Kennedy Aug 26, 2008 (Update: June 28, 2012 the US Supreme Court upholds Obamacare)
Do We Pass the Test?
"It was once said that the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the aged; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped."
I've been living in beautiful Colorado and practicing law for over 35 years. It's been a great place to raise a family. Originally from New York I settled here, married here and raised two daughters, Jenny and Mary. I practiced near downtown Colorado Springs but now consider myself "retired" so I am not taking any more legal matters, clients or cases but I appreciate being able to help as many clients as I could for so many years. Now I especially enjoy my retirement time with family including 4 special ones...a grandson, Max, twin granddaughters, Penny and Cici and last but not least grandson Eliot. You can contact me at my email address which is email@example.com.
In the past we offered free consultations in cases but we are not taking any more legal matters or cases as retirement calls. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We've been protecting injured workers for many years and truly went the distance for many people. We made a difference for most of them and stood up for right not might. If you need an attorney I suggest you find someone where you live who offers free consultations. Also I urge you to discuss your case with an attorney if at all possible. This field is technical and complex. I would even call it tricky so seek advice from an attorney. If that is not possible call the Colorado Division of Workers Compensation customer service section for helpful information.
The information in this blog is intended to represent my personal views and opinions. It is not intended to be specific or personal legal advice which should only be obtained by a consultation with an experienced attorney. All this blog provides is general information I consider important to me. It may be of interest to others but for any advice or advisory statements consult with an attorney not a blog.
Special Personal News on Cici, our grandaughter (September 2011)
Nearly 3 years ago our grandaughter Cici had a serious medical problem. Her survival was at risk and she was deprived of oxygen because of a tragic choking/swallowing problem. It is known as an anoxic brain injury. The recovery has been challenging and slow but some progress has been made. We are thankful to be part of her recovery. I remain truly grateful for the prayers and touching support provided by so many people to my daughter and the family. We are actively committed to Cici's recovery and to her loved one's for as long as it takes. You can follow this difficult but amazing journey on my daughter's and husband Matt's Blog. Where there is life there is hope. We've had tough times but we have also seen courage and love in action for her and also for others. For examples look below.