Reforms Made to Government Whistleblower Claims Laws

by Keith | July 22nd, 2014

When workers discover their health or safety is being put in jeopardy by the actions of their employer, their employment is protected under the law. These laws were not created until 2010 though and required further action earlier this year in order to implement the changes to the laws that regulate government whistleblower claims.

Earlier this year in February, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) drafted and implemented several changes to the Food Safety Modernization Act that protects employees of the food manufacturing and distribution industry from retaliation in the event they come forward with reports of safety violations. The changes include:

  • Food industry companies cannot take retaliatory action against an employee for reporting food safety violations.
  • Whistleblowers must file their complaints with OSHA no more than 180 days after the incident occurred.
  • Either side of a whistleblower case can call for an appeal of any decision that’s made by an administrative judge.
  • Decisions from the Department of Labor review board can be appealed to the United States Court of Appeals.

Government officials say they hope the changes will encourage more employees to come forward with safety and health violations they notice, thus better protecting the public from harm.

The St. Louis personal injury attorneys with Cofman Townsley Injury Lawyers understand the importance of government whistleblower claims and laws, which is why we are here to help if you’ve noticed unsafe conditions at your place of employment.

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VA Allowing Veterans to Utilize Private Medical Services

by Keith | May 27th, 2014

When soldiers and veterans are injured or ill as a direct result of their service to our country, they are entitled to medical care and treatment from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The problem with the system though, is that there can be extremely long waits to get these benefits.

These extended wait times were highlighted by a recent VA scandal that uncovered documents which allegedly show the agency had been “cooking the books” in order to make it seem as though the amount of time soldiers and veterans were waiting for care was much shorter than it actually was. FOX News reports this discovery has resulted in a change of policy that is aimed at getting veterans faster care and easier access to other benefits.

Typically, veterans who need health care must go to VA facilities to receive treatment, but now they will be allowed to visit certain other facilities outside of the VA’s system in order to cut back the backlog of service.

Experts say the new policy may help to relieve the heavily strained VA system.

In situations where a veteran is struggling to get the medical care or other benefits they need in a timely manner, it may also help to have legal representation by your side.

At Cofman Townsley Injury Lawyers, our team of St. Louis veterans benefits lawyers are dedicated to getting soldiers and veterans the care and compensation they deserve. If you are struggling to collect the benefits you are entitled to from the VA, call us today at 1-888-223-6225.

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National Safety Council Announces 2 Leading Causes of Accidental Injury in U.S.

by Keith | April 1st, 2014

April 1, 2014

Each day, thousands of American citizens become the victims of accidents that result in serious injuries. While the list of causes to these accidents could be endless, the National Safety Council just released its 2014 list of injury facts that shed some light on the most common causes of accidental injury in the United States today.

The report states that accidental Drug Injury, including unintentional overdoses of opioid prescription painkillers, is the leading cause of accidental death in the nation. The findings show there was an increase in such accidents this past year compared to previous annual numbers that were collected.

The report also indicates car accidents caused by distracted drivers are at the top of the list of causes of accidental injury and death. Researchers found the number of collisions involving cellphone use rose to 26 percent from the previous year’s total. Five percent of those accidents involved drivers who were sending or receiving text messages, while another 21 percent were attributed to motorists who were talking on electronic handheld or hands-free devices.

The St. Louis Personal Injury Lawyers with Cofman Townsley Injury Lawyers recognize the dangers these accident causes can pose and ask the public to do their part to stay safe by putting their phones down while driving and by properly taking medications that are prescribed to you.

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Worker Sustains Serious Burn Injuries In St. Louis Chemical Fire

by Keith | January 21st, 2014

January 21, 2014

One of the many dangers some workers in numerous industries face is the risk of burn injuries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an estimated 132 workers were killed as the result of injuries sustained in fires and explosions during 2012.

The St. Louis Workers Compensation Lawyers with Cofman Townsley Injury Lawyers explains an employee at a warehouse in downtown St. Louis, Missouri, suffered serious burn injuries as a result of a chemical fire that broke out last week.

A story from KMOV 4 News states the incident occurred at approximately 8:00 p.m. last Monday evening at a U.S. Paint manufacturing plant located at the corner of 21st Street and Papin. Reports indicate leaking Acetone caught fire and spread to the worker’s body. Rescue crews were called to the scene and transported the victim to a local trauma center.

The incident has left many workers wondering what they should do in the event they are seriously injured in a fire or explosion. Cofman Townsley and their team of St. Louis Personal Injury Lawyers believe getting an accident victim the medical care they need should be the top priority in the moments following an accident. Once their injuries have been cared for, evidence should be gathered and discussed with an attorney prior to filing claims for any potential compensation. Doing so will help ensure your rights are protected at all times.

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Missouri Workers Compensation Insurance Costs Expected To Rise Next Year

by Keith | October 22nd, 2013

October 22, 2013

Most businesses in Missouri are required by law to ensure the safety and health of employees by carrying a workers’ compensation insurance policy. The St. Louis Workers Compensation Lawyers with Cofman Townsley Injury Lawyers explain the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) have called for premium rates on such policies to rise significantly in the coming year.

According to an article published by The Missouri Times, the number of worker injury claims exceeding more than $500,000 have significantly increased in recent years. The rise in payouts on such costly claims combined with changes in law to the state’s Second Injury Fund have led to insurance company costs skyrocketing.

In response, officials have called for companies in the state to pay a roughly 15 percent increase in premiums for their policies next year.

Officials with the NCCI state that an increase in premiums is only a temporary fix to a larger problem though. Ray McCarty, President and CEO of Associated Industries of Missouri, adds the state must determine what is causing medical costs to increase so rapidly and then find ways to reduce those specific costs.

Cofman Townsley’s St. Louis Personal Injury Lawyers are aware of how complex the laws surrounding workers compensation claims can be. That is why the firm encourages anyone considering applying for such benefits to discuss their legal options with a reputable attorney.

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Grant to Be Used to Help Missouri’s Homeless Veterans

by Keith | August 6th, 2013

August 6, 2013

In 2011, more than 140,000 U.S. military veterans sought emergency shelters or transitional housing due to homelessness. Many ended up in such a position due to a lack of Missouri Veterans’ Disability Benefits for treatment of service-connected illness or disability.

The Department of Veterans’ Affairs is hoping to help alleviate the situation by offering a grant of roughly $500,000 to veterans assistance organizations to help homeless veterans get a roof over their heads and pay off home debt. According to an article from the Springfield News Leader, the grant will go into effect on October 1 and is expected to help roughly 150 homeless veterans.

The grant comes as part of the $300 million Supportive Services for Veterans Families Program. Half of the money will be used to contract case managers who will help homeless veterans find housing and work. The other half will go directly to veterans and their families to pay mortgages, rent, and other housing expenses.

The St. Louis Personal Injury Lawyers with Cofman Townsley Injury Lawyers applaud the efforts to help homeless veterans find shelter. However, the grants will not address why so many of these individuals are in such a predicament, which is the fact they suffer from disabling conditions that need medical treatment.

The firm urges any veteran suffering from a debilitating condition to discuss their legal options for compensation with an attorney.

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Missouri Lawmakers Reform State’s Workers’ Compensation Program

by Keith | June 11th, 2013

June 10, 2013

Several major changes were recently approved to the way Missouri Workers’ Compensation Benefits are distributed to those who have been harmed while on-the-job. Senate Bill 1 will allow a wider array of injured workers to receive more money than the previous law allowed.

According to CBS News, one of the major reforms was to have businesses pay double the previous amount in surcharges to help replenish funding for disabled workers who suffer on-the-job injuries upon returning to work. More than 1,000 people who were supposed to receive funds from the trust have had their payments delayed for extended periods of time due to the cash flow shortage.

Those who have been afflicted with job-related illnesses may now also qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. Furthermore, more funding will be provided to those who have developed diseases after being exposed to asbestos as part of their jobs.

Officials say they are hopeful the changes will create a more streamlined process for those who are disabled to receive the assistance they need.

The Missouri Personal Injury Lawyers with CofmanTownsley are aware of just how complex the laws and policies regarding the distribution of disability funds can be. That’s why the firm suggests discussing your legal rights with an attorney if you are considering applying for workers’ compensation benefits or have a claim that was denied in the past.

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Bill To Provide Police With Workers’ Compensation Coverage For Mental Conditions

by Keith | April 30th, 2013

April 30, 2013

For emergency responders, the development of mental disorders and other conditions that can be caused by working in a traumatic environment are a serious occupational risk. Now, the government in Missouri is considering a bill that would allow law enforcement officers to receive Missouri Workers’ Compensation Benefits for such conditions.

The law was heard before the Senate Small Business, Insurance, and Industry Committee this past Tuesday and was approved. The law was introduced to give law enforcement the same benefits firefighters receive.

According to an article from Northwest Missouri News, the law covering firefighters for similar conditions, such a Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, was adopted after a hotel collapsed in Kansas City, Missouri, during the summer of 1981. The disaster left a total of 114 people dead and another 216 injured. The event resulted in many of the first responders struggling to mentally deal with the events they witnessed that day.

The new law would require police department insurance policies to cover medical expenses and other costs associated with an officer who developed a life-altering condition as a result of their job.

Similar laws are being considered in the state of Connecticut following a recent school shooting.

The St. Louis Personal Injury Lawyers with Cofman Townsley Injury Lawyers recognize the risks emergency responders face daily while on the job. The firm may be able to help an individual who has suffered due to a work-related injury.

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Veterans’ Disability Benefits Wait Times Longer Than Ever Before

by Keith | March 19th, 2013

March 19, 2013

Numbers show soldiers returning from service overseas are waiting longer than ever to receive Veterans’ Disability Benefits they desperately need. This fact was highlighted when the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) announced it took the agency an average of 327 days to process claims filed by soldiers coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Kansas City Star explains the VA has made efforts to solve the problem by implementing a new computerized processing system; however, there have been numerous reports the new system may actually be slower than the old one.

During recent audits of the system, reports rose of it taking between three and four minutes to open a document. Others stated the system would repeatedly crash, while another employee claimed it took twice as long to perform an integral part of the claim process.

Despite these concerns, the VA has announced the new processing system will be rolled out to all offices by the end of the year. VA spokespeople affirmed the decision by arguing most of the problems were due to factors outside of the agency’s control.

The St. Louis Personal Injury Attorneys with Cofman Townsley are knowledgeable in the complexities of the Veterans Disability system. The firm urges anyone who was permanently disabled during their time in the service to discuss their legal rights with a qualified attorney immediately.

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Missouri Legislators Changing State Workers’ Compensation Laws

by Keith | February 19th, 2013

February 19, 2013

The Missouri state government is currently in the process of overhauling the policies surrounding the ability of citizens to receive Missouri Workers’ Compensation benefits. A story released by the Insurance Journal Thursday explains senators are currently working to supply funding for special state funds, while also reworking policies that oversee the processing of benefit claims.

In 2005, lawmakers placed a cap on the amount of money employers were required to pay into special funds used to give benefits to disabled workers who suffer further on-the-job injuries. Now, the Second Injury Fund is nearly $25 million in the red. Lawmakers are attempting to build funding back up by temporarily doubling the fees employers pay into the fund and limiting the types of injuries covered by the money.

Lawmakers are also attempting to repair legislation that covers the exclusion of certain conditions from workers’ compensation coverage. Current law states that work-related illnesses, such as cancer from Asbestos exposure, are not “accidents” under legal definition of the word and, therefore, are not covered by the program. Lawmakers are changing this to ensure these workers are not only covered, but also receive special benefit programs.

The St. Louis Personal Injury Lawyers with CofmanTownsley Injury Lawyers understand how devastating a work-related injury can be and are hopeful these changes will better protect injured workers’ rights to compensation following an on-the-job accident that occurred at no fault of their own.

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