Briskman, Briskman, and Greenberg - Chicago personal injury lawyers
1.877.595.HURT (4878)

Free consultations • Calls answered 24/7
Never a fee unless we win your case.
Se habla español.

Former Illinois Police Officer Charged With Workers Comp Fraud

A former police officer for the village of Maryville has been indicted by a grand jury in Madison County, Illinois on charges related to an alleged fraudulent workers’ compensation claim.

Richard Turner is facing charges relating to a claim he made in 2009 while employed by the Maryville Police Department. Turner is alleged to have reported suffering an injury to his back while on the job. The Village of Maryville paid employment compensation to Turner, and its insurer paid his medical expenses.

Upon discovering questionable circumstances, internal investigators with the police department determined that Turner’s injury did not take place at work. The results of the investigation were presented to the grand jury. Turner has been charged with two counts of felony theft, Class 1 and Class 2, and is also facing two counts of violating the Workers’ Compensation Act, which is a Class 4 felony. He has since resigned from the police department.

Circuit Judge Rich Tognarelli set Turner’s bond at $10,000. He faces a maximum penalty of four to 15 years in prison for the Class 1 felony, three to seven years for the Class 2 felony, and one to three years for the Class 4 felony.

Bob Briskman is a workers compensation attorney and Chicago workers compensation lawyer with Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. To learn more call 1.877.595.4878 or visit http://www.briskmanandbriskman.com/.

Briskman Briskman & Greenberg
351 West Hubbard Street #810 ChicagoIL60654 USA 
 • (312) 222-0010

BLS Releases Data on Nonfatal Occupational Injuries and Illnesses

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has released final data from 2011 on nonfatal on-the-job illnesses and injuries that required days away from work.

The rate of such injuries was 117 cases for every 10,000 full-time workers, which was statistically the same rate as 2010. The total number of cases with days spent away from work was 1,181,290, also statistically unchanged from 2010. This included all work injuries in state and local government and private industry.

The median number of days away from work was 8, a figure that is used to measure the severity of the work injury or illness.

Twenty percent of work injuries or illnesses requiring days away from work occurred in just five occupations: nursing aides and orderlies, laborers, janitors, police officers and truck drivers. The incidence rate for police officers was five times higher than the average for all occupations, and the rate for laborers was three times higher than the average.

Thirty-three percent of all cases were musculoskeletal disorders (MSD). Truck drivers who suffered MSD injuries were out of work for a median 21 days, compared to the average of 11 days out of work for all workers suffering from an MSD injury.

The preliminary count of fatal work injuries for 2011, according to the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, was 4,609, a slight decrease from the count of 4,690 in 2010. Since 2006, fatal work injuries have decreased 21 percent.

Bob Briskman is a Chicago workers’ compensation attorney and Chicago workers compensation lawyer with Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. To learn more call 1.877.595.4878 or visit http://www.briskmanandbriskman.com/.

Employers Who Allegedly Failed to Obtain Workers Comp Insurance Are Indicted

Three Illinois employers have been indicted by a Cook County grand jury on Class 4 felony charges for allegedly failing to obtain workers’ compensation insurance. If convicted, the employers face 1 to 3 years in the state prison and fines of up to $25,000.

The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (IWCC) named the individuals charged as follows.

In addition to being charged individually, John Linek was charged as President of Chicago’s SMS Logistics. While Linek has workers’ compensation insurance on other businesses, he has allegedly operated a trucking business without obtaining insurance, and at least one worker has been injured.

Kevin Warren has been charged individually and as President and Secretary of the Melrose Park company Symphony Transport, also known as Big R Transport. Although Warren reached a settlement agreement to secure insurance and pay a $10,000 fine, the insurance he obtained was allegedly canceled after a few months.

Ahmed Ghosien of the Hometown company Ghosien European Auto Werks was also charged. Ghosien agreed to pay a fine and secure insurance, but allegedly failed to make payments, resulting in the cancellation of the insurance after a few months.

All those charged are presumed innocent until proven guilty by a court of law.

The IWCC has also taken action against uninsured employers by issuing citations. The Commission has cited 199 employers for being uninsured, collecting over $100,000 in fines and resulting in more than 1,000 employees being covered by workers’ compensation insurance.

Paul Greenberg is a Chicago workers’ compensation attorney and Chicago workers compensation lawyer with Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. To learn more call 1.877.595.4878 or visit http://www.briskmanandbriskman.com/.

AMA Impairment Guidelines May Negatively Impact Injured Workers

As part of reforms in the Illinois workers’ compensation system, impairment ratings promulgated by the American Medical Association (AMA) are now used by doctors and arbitrators to decide the workers’ compensation claims of injured workers in Illinois. However, this can have a negative effect on the claims of workers, in particular those with permanent partial injuries.

The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act mandates that physicians consider the AMA Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment to determine the level of permanent partial disability. The problem with this is that an impairment is not the same thing as a disability. Thus, according to the AMA guidelines, a worker may have only a minor impairment, but he or she may be suffering from a significant disability for the purposes of work performance.

For instance, a worker with an arm injury that permits basic daily functions like eating or getting dressed may have a low impairment rating under the AMA guidelines, but may be unable to perform a job that requires heavy lifting. In addition, studies have shown that impairment rates are often misapplied due to lack of knowledge and experience on the part of the examiner.

It is important to remember that AMA guidelines are only one factor considered in determining what compensation an injured worker should receive. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney will know how to use other factors, such as the worker’s medical records and future earning capacity, and evidence from medical experts, to ensure that the worker gets the compensation he or she is entitled to.

Paul Greenberg is a Chicago workers’ compensation attorney and Chicago workers compensation lawyer with Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. To learn more call 1.877.595.4878 or visit http://www.briskmanandbriskman.com/.

Nurse Working for State of Illinois Wins Workers Compensation Award

The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (IWCC) has decided a case of a nurse who slipped and fell during an authorized break in favor of the worker.

The nurse, who worked for the State of Illinois, was wearing a walking boot to compensate for an unrelated injury. She wished to go out to her car, which was parked in the employee parking lot, during an authorized break. A co-worker warned her of dangerous ice and snow conditions, but she chose to go to her car anyway, slipping and falling on the way back in and injuring her arm.

The arbitrator in the case denied workers’ compensation benefits to the injured worker, but the Commission reversed, ruling that the nurse had proved that her injury arose out of and in the course of her employment.

The Commission reasoned that the nurse was on an authorized break and did not take an unnecessary or unreasonable risk by going outside to her car, despite being warned of adverse weather conditions.

The IWCC operates the court system that decides workers’ compensation cases in the state of Illinois. Cases are tried by an arbitrator initially, and may be reviewed by a three-commissioner panel. Approximately 50,000 cases are filed with the commission each year. In 85 percent of cases, the injured worker is represented by an attorney, although many cases are filed as a settlement contract without a prior application, and in most of those cases, the worker is not represented by an attorney.

Paul Greenberg is a Chicago workers’ compensation attorney and Chicago workers compensation lawyer with Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. To learn more call 1.877.595.4878 or visit http://www.briskmanandbriskman.com/.

Illinois Businesses Illegally Classifying Employees as Independent Contractors

State agencies including the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission are joining together to crack down on businesses that improperly classify employees as independent contractors.

In contrast to employees, independent contractors who get hurt while working are not eligible for workers’ compensation.

Some business owners may make an honest mistake in misclassifying employees, but others do it deliberately in an illegal attempt to keep costs down, thereby gaining a competitive business advantage. State officials say the recent crackdown is aimed at businesses engaging in deliberate employee misclassification.

If you are hurt on the job and believe you cannot receive workers’ compensation because you are an independent contractor, you should make sure that your job classification is correct. Your employment status cannot be arbitrarily determined by your employer; it is determined by a variety of factors, including the manner in which your employer manages your work.

If your employer has a good deal of control over your work, you are likely an employee. Employers can tell employees when to work and how to do their jobs and will often provide tools and supplies. The same cannot always be said of an independent contractor.

Misclassification is bad for employees because they are not financially compensated in case of injury and cannot earn overtime. The State of Illinois says that it is bad for the economy as well; it increases the burden of insurance and taxes on honest business owners, raising their overhead and making it more difficult for them to stay competitive with businesses that break the law.

If you have been injured on the job or are unsure whether you should be classified as an independent contractor, we can help.

Paul Greenberg is a Chicago workers’ compensation attorney and Chicago workers compensation lawyer with Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. To learn more call 1.877.595.4878 or visit http://www.briskmanandbriskman.com/.

Woman Allegedly Files Fraudulent Workers’ Compensation Claims

A woman living in McHenry, Ill., faces multiple charges after being arrested for filing fraudulent workers’ compensation claims against three separate employers.

Tracy Williams, 43, is charged with workers’ compensation fraud, insurance fraud, aggravated fraud, and perjury, according to a statement released by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

Williams is alleged to have filed fraudulent workers’ compensation claims and faking workplace injuries at Mastertek Auto Repair in Algonquin, Johnson’s Control Inc. in Geneva, and Thornton’s Gas Station and Store in East Dundee.

Williams’ bail was set at $90,000.

“The workers’ compensation system is supposed to cover costs of employees who are injured on the job,” Madigan said. “The evidence in this case shows the defendant was intent on defrauding the system for her own benefit.”

In one injury report, Williams claimed to sustain an injury to her left shoulder when a customer at her workplace punched her.

“Workers’ compensation fraud is a serious crime,” Illinois Department of Insurance Director Andrew Boron said in the statement. “The Department of Insurance Workers’ Compensation Fraud Unit is dedicated to rooting out the theft of benefits. We are pleased to work with the attorney general to pursue those who defraud the system, hurting taxpayers and beneficiaries alike.”

Robert Briskman is a Chicago workers’ compensation attorney and Chicago workers compensation lawyer with Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. To learn more call 1.877.595.4878 or visit http://www.briskmanandbriskman.com/.

Study Shows Race-Based Disparity in Illinois Workers’ Compensation Awards

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health have released a study that shows workers’ compensation settlements awarded to white, non-Hispanic construction workers in Illinois are, on average, higher than those award Hispanic and black construction workers with similar injuries.

The difference between average compensation levels for the two groups was approximately $6,000.

The researchers cross-referenced medical records from the Illinois Department of Public Health and data from the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. They evaluated 1,039 cases occurring between 2000 and 2005.

In order to accurately compare settlements with respect to a single variable—race—researchers had to control for other variables that are known to influence the amount awarded in workers’ compensation claims. These include wage rates, the severity and type of injuries, length of disability, percentage of partial permanent disability, and whether the claimant was represented by an attorney. After adjusting data to account for these factors, researchers found a significantly higher average settlement amount for white workers.

The study was purely statistical, and an examination of possible causes of the disparity was outside its scope. Still, the lead author offered two possible explanations.

“It’s really not clear why this is happening. One explanation is that there is some systemic bias or prejudices occurring within the system,” said Lee Friedman, assistant professor of environmental and occupational health sciences at UIC. “Or, it could be that the level of information and knowledge about how the system works — and what can actually be litigated, disputed, or requested for compensation — might vary by ethnic group.”

Friedman also speculated that the average white worker may tend to take more time off for a given injury than the average black or Hispanic worker with a similar injury, which would result in greater compensation for lost wages.

Friedman also commented on the 2011 overhaul to the state’s workers’ compensation laws.

“With the new law… there was a lot of house cleaning that occurred within the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission,” he said. “They’ve hired a whole new staff. It might have a very important effect on the potential disparities that are occurring between workers based on ethnicity.”

The study was published in the October issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. The Center to Protect Workers’ Rights, based in Silver Spring, Md., in cooperation with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, funded the study through a grant to the UIC School of Public Health.

Robert Briskman is a Chicago workers’ compensation attorney and Chicago workers compensation lawyer with Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. To learn more call 1.877.595.4878 or visit http://www.briskmanandbriskman.com/.

Illinois Supreme Court to Hear Workers Comp Case

The Supreme Court of Illinois is scheduled to hear oral arguments in the case of Skokie Castings, Inc. v. Illinois Insurance Guaranty Fund.

The case arises from a Skokie Castings employee who sustained a permanently disabling injury while at work. The employer was self-insured up to a certain amount, beyond which its excess insurance carrier would take over. However, the excess carrier went bankrupt shortly after Skokie Castings’ coverage kicked in.

The Illinois Insurance Guaranty Fund is intended to protect insurance claimants when an insurer goes bankrupt. Companies operating in the state are required to contribute to the fund. The state Insurance Code limits the Fund’s payments on any single claim to $300,000, but that limitation does not apply to workers’ compensation claims.

The Fund decided the Skokie Castings employee’s claim was not a workers’ compensation claim; it discontinued payments once it reached the $300,000 ceiling.

Skokie Castings took the Fund to court, claiming they had improperly stopped paying. The trial court granted plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment, holding that the claim was a workers’ compensation claim despite being filed by the self-insured employer.

The Appellate Court affirmed the ruling. It found that the Insurance Code described the Fund as being intended to protect not only claimants, but also policyholders. The Court held that absent any language in the Code that specifically excluded claims by self-insured employers, it was reasonable to infer that the legislature’s intention was for the Fund to cover those claims.

Oral arguments before the Supreme Court of Illinois are scheduled for November 20.

Paul Greenberg is a Chicago workers’ compensation attorney and Chicago workers compensation lawyer with Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. To learn more call 1.877.595.4878 or visit http://www.briskmanandbriskman.com/.

Medical Malpractice vs. Product Liability in Meningitis Lawsuits

A fungal meningitis outbreak which has caused 19 fatalities and afflicted 400 people in 19 states has been linked to contaminated steroid injections. Victims and their families have begun filing lawsuits against the clinics and doctors who administered the contaminated steroid shots. The success or failure of the lawsuits could depend on whether judges decide that the cases are sound in medical malpractice or strict product liability.

New England Compounding Center (NECC), the drug compounding pharmacy that produced and sold the tainted shots, already faces numerous lawsuits. But the company is fairly small, and those infected with meningitis are now suing larger targets.

In New Jersey, two doctors and orthopedic clinics that provided the steroid injections have been sued. Legal experts predict more cases will follow in that state and others.

If courts define the injections as products, doctors and clinics could be sued for product liability. But if the administration of the injections is deemed to be a service, plaintiffs would likely have to prove negligence under medical malpractice laws—a much more difficult task.

Plaintiffs’ lawyers may look to clients’ medical bills to determine whether they have a case under strict product liability laws. If a bill lists the steroid and its administration as separate line items, an argument can be made that the drug was a product sold. This argument would be less sound if patients were billed only for the injection.

In some states, doctors cannot be sued under strict liability standards. In others, caps are imposed on damages for such claims. NECC’s tainted injections have infected patients in 19 states. Because laws vary across those states, the outcomes of lawsuits against doctors and clinics are likely to vary as well. Some plaintiffs may even file claims both for malpractice and for product liability in the hopes that at least one holds up.

Distributors of NECC’s products may also find themselves named in lawsuits.

Another possible target is the State of Massachusetts, which regulates drug compounders like NECC within the state, but legal experts say the legal standards necessary to sue the state are difficult to meet.

The federal government will likely not face any lawsuits. The agency is under scrutiny because it had cited NECC for regulatory violations as recently as 2006, but the FDA’s authority to regulate drug compounders is quite limited.

Paul Greenberg is a Chicago medical malpractice lawyer and Chicago medical malpractice attorney with Briskman Briskman & Greenberg. To learn more call 1.877.595.4878 or visit http://www.briskmanandbriskman.com/.

Awards and Associations
Talk to An Attorney - 1.877.595.4878
Chicago Law Office
351 West Hubbard Street, Ste 810
Chicago, IL 60654
Phone: 312.222.0010
Fax: 312.222.1203
MAP / DIRECTIONS
Joliet Law Office
175 N. Chicago St.
Joliet, IL 60432-4126
Phone: 312.222.0010
Fax: 312.222.1203
MAP / DIRECTIONS
Podcast
Connect With Us
The Chicago Illinois personal injury law firm of Briskman Briskman & Greenberg represents injured people throughout Illinois, including Chicago, the Chicagoland area, Joliet, Waukegan, Cicero, Evanston, Arlington Heights, Wheaton, Bolingbrook, and Naperville, as well as other cities within Cook County, Will County, DuPage County, Lake County and McHenry County.
Website by SEO | Law Firm™, an Adviatech Company