2015 KidsChance Scholarships have been announced!

July 1, 2015 by · Comments Off
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The numbers for the 2015 Scholarship Awards are in! I must say, the growth of this program over the last couple of years has been amazing and I am so happy to be a part of this program that benefits my clients! Thank you to all of our sponsors and applicants and a HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to all of our scholarship recipients!

Year                           Awards                                                  Total Awarded
2012                          3 Awards / $2,500.00 each            $7,500.00
2013                          8 Awards / $3,000.00 each            $24,000.00
2014                         12 Awards / $4,000.00 each           $48,000.00
2015                         22 Awards / varied amounts             $102,500.00

If you want to get involved and support this program or if you would like to get some information on applying for next year’s awards, money rollcontact my office at (804) 755-7755, or if you would like more information on the workers’ compensation system order my book, dollar signs“The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia” by clicking this link.

~Author
Michele Lewane, Esq.

Congratulations to Clara’s family!

June 29, 2015 by · Comments Off
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KidsChance of VAI got an email recently from my client, Clara. Clara’s is an injured worker who has been working with my office after an injury at work and she had told me about her son who is currently in college. I told her about the KidsChance program that I work with and how her son could apply for a scholarship with them. Clara and her son filled out the application and I’m THRILLED to announce that Clara’s son was awarded $4,000.00 through the KidsChance program to help with his educational expenses. Clara’s son is a very bright young man with honor roll grades in his 3rd year of school at Virginia Tech in the Business Information and Technology program and is currently taking part in an internship.

Congratulations to Clara’s family! We are so happy for you and you your son!

If you would like more information about the workers’ compensation system or the KidsChance program, contact my office at (804) 755-7755, or order my book, “The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia” by clicking this link.

~Author
Michele Lewane, Esq.

More information on FMLA and workers comp

June 26, 2015 by · Comments Off
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I’ve written about FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act) before but I read a great blog today by a Nevada workers’ compensation attorney named Virginia Hunt, Esq. Ms. Hunt explains how injured workers’ who are out of work and meet the FMLA requirements might be able to use unpaid FMLA to protect their job for a period of 12 weeks FMLA Badgewhile they are off collecting workers’ compensation pay (since workers’ compensation in Virginia DOES NOT offer any type of job protection to folks injured at work).

Click here to read the full article

If you would like more information on the Virginia Workers’ Compensation system order my book, “The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia” by clicking this link, or call our office today (804) 755-7755.

~Author
Michele Lewane, Esq.

The Life Expectancy Table

June 19, 2015 by · Comments Off
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The Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission calculates life expectancy for the estimation of future medical benefits. If you are familiar with my blog, you know that settlement values are based in part on future medical needs.elderly hands

Virginia Code section 8.01-419 is where you will find the tables for life expectancy. Right now, men are estimated to live an average of 74.7 years and women an average of 80 years. Yes fellas, the ladies are estimated to live longer! This table does offer exceptions for those of us who are lucky to live past the average years.

View the Code of Virginia table here

If you would like more information on the Virginia Workers’ Compensation system, order my book, “The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia” by clicking this link, or call our office today (804) 755-7755.

~Author

Michele Lewane, Esq.

The Adjuster said I was overpaid and has reduced/cut my check– what is going on?

June 12, 2015 by · Comments Off
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Sometimes if the insurance carrier pays you benefits you are not owed (for example if you return to work and are earning your full wages but still receiving a check from the carrier for lost wages) you may have an over-payment. This can get a little confusing so bear with me here:

If you have an Award protecting your wages, the carrier can recoup this loss at rate of 25% of your weekly check or out of any lump sum you receive. They may also be able to take some of the owed wages out of any mileage reimbursement or Cost of Living Adjustment that the injured worker qualifies for.

An over-payment can also happen if the Carrier paid you at the wrong rate, for example if you should have been receiving $300.00 a week in lost wages but you were paid at a rate of $375.00 a week, you would have been paid $75.00 too much for every week that the carrier sent you a lost wage check. Some folks assume that if the carrier paid them at the wrong rate they don’t have to pay back the over-payment, unfortunately this is not the case.Writing a Check

If you don’t have an Award, the carrier may stop your check all together until the over-payment is satisfied. This can be a very difficult situation for injured workers, this is why I always tell injured workers to file their Claim for Benefits form and get under an Award to protect their benefits!

If you believe that they are not correct, contact your attorney immediately to get a print out of their payment history and to figure out if there was an actual over-payment.

If you would like more information on the Virginia Workers’ Compensation system, order my book, “The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia” by clicking this link, or call our office today (804) 755-7755.

~Author

Michele Lewane, Esq.

Why IWLF does not do appeals cases when we didn’t handle the original hearing

June 5, 2015 by · Comments Off
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Injured workers sometimes call me office after they have: 1) been a hearing on their own and have been denied benefits by the Virginia Workers Compensation Commission or 2) been to a hearing with another attorney and lost and they want to know if we will take their case on appeal.

The truth is, we do not takes cases on appeal because if the injured worker (or their attorney) has filed all the evidence and the Commission still does not believe they are Cartoon Judgeentitled to benefits, then under Virginia law, they probably are not( or their attorney would appeal the matter himself). If the injured worker or attorney did NOT file all of the necessary documentation prior to going to a hearing, it is TOO LATE. I cannot take your case and submit new evidence and the Commission will only re-review the information that was presented at the first hearing making the chances of a successful appeal very slim. The appeal is only if the Deputy Commissioner applied the wrong case law in your case. If I handled the initial hearing, I definitely appeal cases when I believe the law has been incorrectly applied.

This is why I ALWAYS tell injured workers to consult an attorney. If you handle things improperly there may not be a way to “fix” it later. This is also why I tell people to do plenty of research before they hire an attorney to make sure they have an attorney who can meet their needs – don’t just hire the first person listed in the yellow pages or the first name that comes up on a Google search! Make sure they understand and know Virginia Workers Compensation laws and how to build the facts and evidence in your case so you will win your workers compensation case.

If you would like more information on the Virginia Workers’ Compensation system order my book, “The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia” by clicking this link, or call our office today (804) 755-7755.

~Author

Michele Lewane, Esq.

Need help getting your Prescription covered?

May 29, 2015 by · Comments Off
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Our office uses Summit Pharmacy to fill prescriptions for my clients in cases where the carrier is refusing to pay for necessary medication or if Adjuster is just dragging their feet on the approval.

Summit promises to quickly fill prescriptions for my clients, even those prescriptions that are denied and in the appeals process, so long as an attorney is on the case advocating for the injured worker. This company handles any pre-authorizations that might be required, billing the adjuster, and has staff that knows how to properly handle workers’ comp claims. Some of the other benefits Summit offers to my clients are that Rx_symbolthey can deliver your medication to your front door and because they are a larger company, they typically don’t have the out-of-stock problem that many of my clients have encountered with local pharmacies not having sufficient quantities of medication. Enrollment is quick and easy and my staff can help you get the application submitted.

If you would like more information on Summit Pharmacy or the Virginia Workers’ Compensation system order my book, “The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia” by clicking this link, or call our office today (804) 755-7755.

~Author
Michele Lewane, Esq.

“One Man’s Opinion”- An insurance investigator comes clean

May 22, 2015 by · Comments Off
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I just read an article written for a workers’ compensation advocacy group by a man who spent 30 years as a private investigator for the insurance company. While it is unclear exactly which state or states he operated in, the insight he reveals is horrifying!

The writer talks about how the insurance company knows that most injured workers are not educated on the rules of the workers’ compensation system and how they exploit this in order to deny claims and save money.

“In all my years in the business, I can count on one hand the number of Claim Adjusters and/or Examiners who provided assistance and/or real advice to an injured person; an exception to the rule. Most I’ve worked and/or have interacted with believe all claimants represent some type of exaggerated or fraudulent claim.”Private investigator

He even goes as far as to reveal some of the tricks investigators use to “tip the scales” and catch an injured worker breaking their restrictions on camera. Things like leaving change on a person’s front porch to get a video of him or her bending over to pick it up- Just awful!

The writer does explain a lot of the inner-workings of the system and points out a lot of the flaws in this bureaucracy. If you have a few minutes, it’s a good read. Click here to read the full article.

If you would like more information on the Virginia Workers’ Compensation system order my book, “The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia” by clicking this link, or call our office today (804) 755-7755.

~Author
Michele Lewane, Esq.

How to get your mileage reimbursement

May 15, 2015 by · Comments Off
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Virginia Law allows for Injured Workers to be compensated for their travel expenses for trips to the doctor’s office, therapy, meetings with vocational rehab counselors and job interviews.. They don’t cover expenses to driving to the pharmacy or going to a hearing. The insurance company will reimburse expenses for uncontested (or accepted) claims; they will not however reimburse expenses for contested (or denied) claims until the claim is approved.Car Cartoon

Follow the steps listed below to fill out the IWLF MILEAGE REIMBURSEMENT FORM and submit it for payment:

1) Completely fill in the MILEAGE REIMBURSEMENT FORM including your name, address, employer (at the time of the injury), social security number, date of birth and date of accident.

2) Fill in the chart including the dates you traveled, TRAVELED FROM information (including address), TRAVELED TO information (including address), the total ROUND TRIP MILEAGE and any BRIDGE TOLLS/PARKING/PUBLIC TRANSIT expenses in the appropriate column.

a. If you have to take a taxi or other form of public transportation you do not                         have to fill in the mileage amount; you can simply list the TRAVELED FROM                        and TRAVELED TO addresses and the cost of the taxi ride or bus ride but you                      MUST keep your receipt.

Cartoon public bus

3) For ROUND TRIP MILEAGE, Log on to MapQuest or Google Maps and print out the directions page showing the distance to the desired locations; you need to do this for each different location you have traveled too. The print out will show you the trip distance for one way; double this number and this will be your ROUND TRIP MILEAGE. These directions/distance print outs need to be attached to the form when the form is submitted for reimbursement.

4) Once you have completed the chart, total up all the miles in the ROUND TRIP MILEAGE column and list this figure in BOX A.

5) Once you have the amount of BOX A, multiply it by $0.555 (or multiply by $.505 for mileage expenses incurred prior to October 1, 2011). This will give you the dollar amount of your reimbursement for the miles traveled; list this figure in BOX B.

6) Total up the cost of any public transit, bridge tolls, turnpike fees or cab fare and insert this total into BOX C.

7) Add BOX B and BOX C together and insert this figure into BOX D, this is the amount of your total reimbursement.

8) For any trips made or costs you are requesting reimbursement for, you MUST:

a. Show that you were at the appointment – this can be done by getting a print out from your doctor’s offices or counselors showing which days you were seen. The easiest document that shows you were actually seen at the doctor’s office is called a “Bill Payment History”. An appointment card is not sufficient proof to show that you were present for an appointment.

b. Show the total distance of travel that you are requesting – this is done by the MapQuest or Google Maps print out.

c. Show the cost of any of your out of pocket expenses – this is done by attaching any receipts for any public transit, bridge tolls, turnpike fees or cab fare.

REMEMBER – IN ORDER TO GET YOUR REIMBURSEMENT, YOU HAVE TO ACCOUNT FOR THE MONEY YOU ARE REQUESTING – THE INSURANCE COMPANY WILL NOT JUST TAKE YOUR WORD FOR IT!

9) Sign the MILEAGE REIMBURSEMENT FORM at the bottom and attach all necessary documentation.

10) Keep a copy of the documents for yourself and send one copy to the insurance adjuster and, if applicable, send one copy to your attorney’s office for your file. If the attorney’s office needs to follow up on the progress of your mileage reimbursement, they will need a copy of the form and all of the documentation in order to do so.

11) If you have not received your mileage reimbursement check within 3 weeks, call your attorney’s office and let them know. If you do not have an attorney working on your claim and have not received your mileage check, you can call the insurance adjuster directly.

If you would like more information on the Virginia Workers’ Compensation system or if you need mileage forms, order my book, “The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia” by clicking this link, or call our office today (804) 755-7755.

~Author
Michele Lewane, Esq.

GUIDELINES FOR VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION

May 8, 2015 by · Comments Off
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I get a lot of calls from injured workers wondering what is all this talk about vocational rehabilitation is (I call it voc for short). Voc is the process of working with a counselor to help the injured workers re-enter the workforce, usually under physical limitations that they did not have prior to their work accident. This below is what the Commission has laid out as the guidelines for Vocational Rehabilitation.

A) Vocational rehabilitation services, including vocational evaluation, counseling, job coaching, job development, job placement, on-the-job training, education, and retraining, shall take into account the employee’s pre-injury job and wage classification; age, aptitude and level of education; the likelihood of success in the new vocation; and the relative costs and benefits of such services. Retraining should be considered if job placement efforts are not successful, or the employee’s transferable skills are not readily marketable.

B) The provider should not ask the employee to engage in a job search or vocational rehabilitation until he/she is medically released for work. However, the provider may require the employee to meet in order to assess the employee’s potential for work, and to prepare resumes and to schedule other appropriate actions, such as attending job preparation training, in anticipation of employment.

Paperwork and 2 ppl at deskC) The two goals of vocational rehabilitation are to restore the employee to gainful employment, and to relieve the employer’s burden of future compensation. Rehabilitation providers should attempt to find employment consistent with the employee’s pre-injury position and salary level, and the provider should take into account such factors as distance, transportation costs, and actual anticipated earnings from the potential job, when considering such alternative employment.

D) It is the rehabilitation providers responsibility to assess employment opportunities by direct contact with potential employers, and to determine whether a suitable position is presently available that is within the employee’s restrictions and for which the employee is qualified. Until such prescreening contacts have been made to purge inappropriate leads, the provider should not ask the employee to attend interviews, but the provider may ask the employee to complete resumes and to attend job preparation training. The provider may ask the employee to attend interviews for present employment opportunities Where it is anticipated that the employee will be released to such work within a reasonably brief period.0511-1001-1820-1158

E) Telemarketing and commission sales positions are not appropriate job placement, unless the employee has demonstrated aptitude or ability in this line of work. Interviews with sheltered workshops and selective employers who are subsidized by employers/carriers are also inappropriate, if they do not provide the potential for legitimate rehabilitation, such as learning work skills or restoring the employee to a productive place in the labor market.

F) Requiring employees to look in newspapers contact a specific number of potential employers per week, check listings at the VEC, or register with temporary services does not constitute appropriate “vocational rehabilitation.” However, an employee may volunteer to do these activities. It would also be inappropriate for the rehabilitation provider to impose a blanket requirement on the employee to submit all job applications within twenty-four hours. It is not unreasonable for the provider to request written confirmation of the employee’s job interviews or applications, where possible.

G) Rehabilitation providers may not advise the employee to withhold information about his/her injury or job capabilities during job interviews or on applications. However, the employee may not discuss them in such a way as to sabotage the interview or application process.Job Interview with Smiles

H) Employees are not required to give rehabilitation providers personal or financial information, such as number of children, spouse’s employment, or credit history, unless such information relates to a bona fide occupational qualification for employment. An employee is required to disclose whether he/she is legally eligible for employment, has a valid driver’s license, or has been convicted of a felony, and to provide his/her previous employment history.

WATCH OUT!!!! These rules are about to change and unfortunately for the benefit of the insurance companies. I will update you when the changes are finalized and go in effect. In the meantime, click here for more information from Section 65.2-603(A)(3) of the Workers’ Compensation Act.

If you would like more information on the Virginia Workers’ Compensation system, order my book, “The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia” by clicking this link, or call our office today (804) 755-7755.

~Author
Michele Lewane, Esq.

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