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Louisiana Appeals Court Holds that Injured Worker’s Compensation Claim Cannot Be Dismissed Before Final Judgment of Eligibility

In a recent case before the Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal, the court reviewed a judgment dismissing an injured worker’s claim for compensation on the grounds that he had sought federal disability compensation through the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. In this case, Shawn Johnson appealed a judgment that dismissed his claim for state compensation benefits under the Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Act, with prejudice. Mr. Johnson worked as a mechanic for the Wood Group. While working on a boat, he was injured. The boat was involved in a collision as it traveled in Grand Pass, a waterway cutting from the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico. After his accident, Mr. Johnson set forth claims under the Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Act and the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA).   The Wood Group had insurance coverage for state benefits under the LWCA as well as federal benefits under the LHWCA with two separate insurers.

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Louisiana Appeals Court Affirms Injured Worker Performing Construction Work on Land is not a Maritime Employee under the Longshoreman & Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act

Recently, a case before the Louisiana Third Circuit addressed the definitions of “situs” and “status” under the Longshoreman & Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA). In this case, the situs, or location, and the status of an injured employee determined his compensation. The plaintiff, Mr. Hernandez, was cutting timber for the construction of a boat ramp when he suffered an injury. The ramp was being built on Bayou Teche in Loreauville to launch boats in the waterway. Mr. Hernandez was injured while working in a grassy area, about 100 feet from the ramp. Mr. Hernandez filed a disputed claim for compensation with the Office of Workers’ Compensation. He was an employee of UNO Enterprises, which had assigned him to work under Durand, LLC, a construction company. When Mr. Hernandez filed his claim, he named UNO as his employer and Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Corporation (LWCC) as UNO’s insurer. LWCC admitted it was UNO’s workers’ compensation carrier, but it denied coverage for Mr. Hernandez’s claim, asserting he was a longshoreman under the Longshoreman & Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. UNO then named Durand as the employer of Mr. Hernandez, filing a third-party demand. Mr. Hernandez amended his claim, and Durand filed a cross-claim against UNO and LWCC, alleging that if it was liable as the borrowing employer for benefits, they were liable for half. Durand filed a Motion for Partial Summary Judgment on a jurisdiction issue, and LWCC filed an Exception for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction.

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Injured Workers May Want to Consider Avoiding Epidural Steroid Injections For Back and Neck Pain

Many of my Louisiana Workers Compensation, Longshore & Harborworker and Defense Base Act clients injure their back or neck on the job. Often they have back or neck pain that their treating physician wants to treat with epidural steroid injections. According to a recent April 23, 2014 warning put out by the Food and Drug Administration, these injections inserted into the spine may cause serious negative consequences, including loss of vision stroke, paralysis and even death. A number of the adverse effects have occurred within 48 hours of the injection. The FDA has not approved injections for back and neck pain. Speak with your healthcare provider if you want to switch to an alternative form of treatment.

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Louisiana Worker’s Compensation Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor’s Ethical Obligations

Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors are typically paid the the workers compensation insurer or the employer of injury. The Labor Market Surveys counselors generate are used to reduce the amount of money that the employer of injury and its insurer are obligated to pay injured workers. Yes, the insurance companies uses vocational counselors primarily to reduce injured workers benefits. However, the Louisiana licensed vocational rehabilitation counselor’s Code of Ethics says that the counselor’s primary obligation is to individuals with disabilities who are receiving services from licensed rehabilitation counselors. Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors are not immune from professional tort liability under the Louisiana Workers Compensation Act provided the injured worker complies with administrative remedies set forth in LA-RS 23:1226. See, Brown v. Adair; 2002-2028 (La. 04/09/03),846 So.2d 687 and LA-RS 23:1226.

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