Monday, November 28, 2005

Another One Of Those Workers Comp Cheaters....

This is a rare and unusual article. Unfortunately, it's not a rare or unusual story.
After an accident at work ripped his knee to shreds, Kendall Brown's life fell apart. And he fears there's nothing he can do to put it back together.

"I'm drowning. I'm one step away from the street," the Massapequa man said. "God forbid my wife lost her job."

It took a permanent disabling injury in 2004 for the husky trucker of 28 years to decide there is something wrong with the state's workers' compensation laws.

Under New York labor law, Brown, 47, cannot sue Master Mechanical Corp., the owner of which ordered Brown and three other workers to slide a 1,200-pound boiler into a basement stairwell, Brown said.

Brown said the company didn't prepare the crew to do the job. "We didn't have the proper equipment," he said.

Joel Shufro, head of the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health, said a state law passed in the early 1900s bars workers from suing their employers.

"The deal was that workers gave up their right to sue [in exchange] for prompt wage replacement and adequate medical coverage," Shufro said. "Unfortunately, the bargain has been broken here."


Two weeks ago, the doctor for Brown's insurance company met with him and determined "within five minutes" that his already meager disability income should be cut, Brown said. Now, Brown and his own doctor have to fight to get the payments back.

Brown earned about $3,500 per month before the injury. Now, he gets about $150 per week after $108 is deducted for child support.
Actually, every state has a workers comp law that prohibits employees from suing their employer, no matter how negligent the employer was. A few states have begun to make some very narrow exceptions to this rule, but the basic story is the same for injured workers: Chew 'em up, spit 'em out and forget about them.