Workers' Compensation Newsletters

Compensation for Black Lung Claims

The Black Lung Benefits Act covers total disability claims of United States' miners suffering from pneumoconiosis (aka black lung disease), which was contracted due to their employment. Such miners are awarded monthly cash benefits as well as medical benefits. Payments to dependent survivors are also provided for in the Act and include the surviving spouse, children, and dependent parents and siblings.

"Dual Persona" and the Attachment of Tort Liability for a Worker's Injury

Normally, given the nature of the workers' compensation system, employers are immune from an injured worker's tort action; his exclusive remedy is workers' compensation benefits. However, when the employer has such a distinct persona, separate and apart from its persona as the "employer," the employee may then pursue a tort action. The two personas of the employer are seen as separate legal entities, one of which (the employer persona) is immune from suit, and the other, distinct persona that is vulnerable to suit.

Non-Business Exemptions

The workers' compensation system was designed to provide benefits to those employees who are injured in the course of employment. However, not all "employments" are considered to be within the contemplation of the system. By way of contrast, consider the factory worker who cuts his hand while working on an assembly line making car parts for the employer and the teenage boy who cuts his hand trimming hedges for his neighbor. Both the factory worker and the teenage boy were "employed" to perform a service for another. However, workers' compensation would only be applicable to the factory worker's injury. Other examples where resulting injuries would likely not qualify for workers' compensation, even though the individuals were paid for their services, include a housecleaner hired to perform a one-time spring cleaning on your home, a babysitter who cares for a young child on a weekend evening, and a mechanic friend who helps to fix a broken vehicle.

Social Security Benefits

Generally, all states provide a measure of rehabilitation for an injured worker though the expansiveness of such provision can vary greatly among them. Although rehabilitation is generally covered, the system for providing the injured worker with such services has been hampered by a lack of rehabilitative sources such as clinics and appropriate numbers of personnel to provide the necessary care.

What is a Social Security "Disability?"

A "disability," as far as the receipt of social security benefits is concerned, is not defined the same as for other programs. Social security disability benefits are only paid for total disability; the complete inability to work is the benchmark. At its essence, a person is disabled under the Social Security Act if he is unable to engage in any substantial gainful activity due to a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that has lasted or is expected to last for twelve months or that results or is expected to result in death. A disability can result from either a physical or mental impairment, or a combination of impairments.