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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Filing Deadlines

Typically, a claim for compensation must be filed within three years of an injury. The three-year time period begins to run from the time the employee knew or should have known that her condition was caused by her job.

This deadline may not apply if the injured employee’s immediate superior was notified of the injury within 30 days of its occurrence. The employee must show not only that the supervisor knew of the injury, but also that he/she knew that it occurred on-the-job. Section 8119 of the Act gives specifics of notification requirements.

In the case of occupational disease, the time for filing begins to run when the employee knows or should have known that her condition was caused by her employment. Where the employee continues to be exposed to the work factors causing the condition, the time limitation starts over every time the person is exposed again, and will run from the date of the last exposure to the work factor. For instance, if you are exposed to loud noise or asbestos on the job, if you learn that you have a medical condition caused by that exposure, but you continue being exposed while continuing to perform your federal employment, your time limitation does not start running until the last day you are exposed to that work factor in your job.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Flaws in the AMA Guides, 6th Edition

There is a crisis occurring with schedule awards. OWCP has adopted the AMA Guides, 6th Edition. Unfortunately, the AMA appears to be completely in the pocket of the insurance industry as impairment rating percentages have plummeted under the 6th Edition. OWCP with its complete focus on pleasing employing agencies and complete disregard for the well being and rights of injured workers will likely characterize this immense cost savings as the result of good management practices, not merely the adoption of an anti-worker methodology for determining schedule awards. Doctors now complain bitterly about how much more complicated and time consuming it is to do a rating under the 6th Edition and how frustrating the process is because they are forced to provide ratings that vastly underrate workers' impairment. The design of the 6th Edition prevents them from rating all of the conditions impairing a rateable body part, which is in direct conflict with the FECA requirement that all impairments to the rateable body part due to the injury or pre-existing conditions must be included in the rating.

Recently, the Employees Compensation Appeals Board had an opportunity to correct this violation of FECA, unfortunately they also chose to go along with the anti-worker sentiment that is entrenched at OWCP. Obviously, OWCP should have done what many other jurisdictions have been doing and rejected the AMA Guides, 6th Edition, as fundamentally flawed and unfair to the injured worker.