Work Related Injury | Law Office of Louiza Tarassova

Lost in Translation: How Huge Corporations Play Nasty Games with Victims of Personal Injury.

By | Personal Injury | No Comments

Ever since I started representing clients in personal injury lawsuits, I started seeing a pattern. Large corporations, who were clearly responsible for the person’s injuries would act borderline illegally in an effort to make evidence disappear or alter it to make it very difficult for the injured person to prove their case.

In one particular case against a worldwide company worth approximately $179.5 billion,* I represented the company’s employee who had sustained an injury resulting from repeated physical labor. In Florida, employers are required to provide Workers’ Compensation coverage for all of their employees in case something like this occurs. The law also requires employees to inform their managers within 30 days of the injury.

My client’s injury occurred during her shift and was serious enough that she could not continue to perform her duties. She immediately told her manager that she had suffered an injury and requested to clock out to go see a doctor. She was not provided with any information regarding her automatic right to be treated by a physician, free of charge. Nor had she any idea that her employer is required to continue providing treatment until she heals, as well as compensation for missed work.

My client spoke limited English and this huge corporation took advantage of the fact.

She found out that she could make a claim to her employer only after paying out-of-pocket for several visits to her own physician. When she came to make the claim, the company had her write an explanation of how she sustained her injury. Since she could not write in English, they instructed her to write in Russian (her native language). Several days after she filed the Workers’ Compensation claim, she was officially denied coverage. The denial was based on two things: 1) her employer did not have a record of her notice of injury and 2) according to a translation of my client’s explanation of injury, the employer determined that the injury was unrelated to her job and therefore not covered by Workers’ Compensation laws.

Of course she was confused. Luckily she found our law firm and retained me immediately.

I immediately requested a copy of the Russian version of my client’s explanation and the company’s translation. The attorney even chuckled when I told him I wanted to see the Russian version. He said with a snicker, “What, can you read Russian or something?” I calmly told him I could.

When I received it, I was shocked. The translation, which did not indicate the name of the translator, completely misstated my client’s account of what happened. Later, when I took a deposition of the claims representative responsible for denying Workers’ Compensation claims at this multibillion dollar corporation, she stated that based on my client’s “own statements” the company had “proof” that the injury had no connection to her job. When confronted on the identity of the translator and the accuracy of the translation, she had no explanation. Shortly thereafter, we settled at mediation for a substantial amount of money, which was enough to pay for future medical treatment including surgery.

My client, who had worked for the company for over a decade, was almost left empty handed with an untreated injury, which required an expensive surgery that she could not afford.

If I had not been able to communicate with my client in Russian and truly understand her position and if I could not instantly evaluate the two conflicting documents, she would have been a victim of a game large corporations often play. I’ve seen many of these types of cases across Florida as well as surrounding states where the personal injury attorney must fight for the client to uncover the wrong doing.

In this example, the corporation took a chance, knowing that the likelihood of my client being able to find an attorney with whom she could communicate accurately was very low. On the surface, given the information the corporation had against her, it looked like she had no case, but when she retained an appropriate advocate to stand up for her, the giant buckled.

I have personally witnessed many other examples of how large corporations stop at nothing to avoid responsibility. When I take a new case, my staff and I always joke about what the new defendant corporation will be caught doing. Unfortunately this is common, but with a sharp attorney the client has a chance.

* According to Forbes Magazine

Workers’ Compensation Law in Florida

By | Business Law | No Comments

Many people get injured on the job everyday. Most common injuries include back injury due to overexertion in lifting or lowering, falls occurring on the same level, slip or trip without falling, violence and fall to a lower level. In the construction industry the four most dangerous injuries which cause about 468 deaths in America every year are falls, being struck by an object, electrocution and being caught in or between something, according to the United States Department of Labor.

What most workers may not know is that Florida law requires employers to carry worker’s compensation insurance to insure every employee (full or part time). The Florida workers’ compensation law requires every non-construction industry employer who employs four or more part- or full-time employees, to obtain workers’ compensation coverage. And employers in the construction industry who employ at least one or more part- or full-time employees must obtain workers’ compensation coverage.

Under the Florida workers’ compensation laws, any work related injury that occurs on the job site is covered by the employer’s insurance policy. The Florida workers’ compensation system is a no-fault system, which means that the employee does not have to prove that the employer was somehow at fault. Even if you hurt yourself, you are covered. The exception to this rule is if an employee’s injury was caused by any form of intoxication on the job or with willful intent to harm oneself. If you are hurt on the job, your employer must provide coverage for medical expenses (present and future) and lost wage compensation up to the legal limit. If an employee’s injuries cause him or her death, there are survivors’ benefits that may be payable to his or her loved ones.

To take advantage of this law, the employee must tell his or her employer that they have been injured, as soon as possible. The law requires that employees report the accident of a job-related injury within 30 days of the employee’s knowledge of the accident or injury.

If you are hurt on the job, you must notify your employer immediately. Explain in detail everything that happened and describe your injuries. Your employer is responsible for providing medical treatment. Do not go on your own to your own doctor for treatment. The employer’s insurance company must authorize the doctor who will be treating you. The doctor whom you will see will determine whether you are able to go back to work. Make sure you tell the doctor every symptom you are experiencing. The doctor will determine how injured you are, and will relay this information directly to the insurance company; therefore you must not minimize your pain. You should continue to see the assigned doctor regularly and notify him or her of any changes to your condition. Once your doctor says you are at Maximum Medical Improvement, you are as good as he or she expects you to get. At this point your doctor should evaluate you for possible permanent work restrictions and, a permanent impairment rating. If you receive a permanent impairment rating, you will receive money based on that rating. Therefore, your potential monetary recovery will depend on the severity of your injury.

In addition to your medical expenses you may be eligible for loss of wage compensation. To qualify, you must not be able to work for more than 7 days. You will be compensated for work missed on the 8th day forward. If you cannot work for more than 21 days, then the first 7 days of missed work will be compensated at the legal rate. 66 2/3% of your regular wages starting on the 8th day. If your injury is critical, you may receive 80% of your regular wages for up to 6 months after the accident. You can receive up to a total of 104 weeks of temporary total disability and/or temporary partial disability benefits.

Another important thing to note is that illegal status and lack of work authorization is irrelevant when filing a claim for workers’ compensation. The employee’s immigration status has no bearing on workers’ compensation cases and even illegal workers are not excluded from coverage under Florida workers’ compensation law. Many times, with the help of an attorney, these cases can be resolved without ever filing an official claim in court.

It is important to take the proper steps to ensure you receive the maximum payment for your damages. Hiring an attorney is highly recommended, because an attorney knows how to negotiate with the insurance adjusters and will be able to file a claim in the proper administrative court if the insurance company does not cooperate.

If you or a loved one has been injured at work and you have questions about your rights under the Florida worker’s compensation law, call our office today to schedule an appointment with Louiza Tarassova 407-622-1885.  

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