“On a pain scale of 0-10, how bad is your pain?” This is a familiar question that is usually asked whenever you see a medical provider for an injury or illness. It’s important to answer accurately because it can affect how medical providers treat you and your credibility in your workers’ compensation or disability claim.
Rating pain on a 0-10 pain scale can be difficult because pain is a subjective experience: one person’s 7 can be another person’s 2. Pain can also change over time or when you engage in a different activity.
Our attorneys describe what to do if an insurance adjuster calls and asks you to settle your Vermont workers’ compensation claim. You can find more videos answering your legal questions at our YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/c/bfslaw.
Attorney Heidi Groff is excited to spend today at Gillette Stadium–although it’s for work not a sports event. She is attending the New England Workers’ Compensation Conference in Massachusetts, which brings together workers’ compensation professionals from around the region for learning and discussion.
Heidi is representing Vermont on a panel discussion about medical marijuana and alternative treatments at the New England Workers’ Compensation Conference.
We are proud to announce that Best Lawyers 2017 has recognized Pat Biggam and Heidi Groff for their work with workers’ compensation claimants. Best Lawyers is a national publication that lists high-ranking lawyers and law firms. Our attorneys were selected by other lawyers in Vermont through a peer-review process. Congratulations to Pat and Heidi on being recognized for the superb job they do every day helping our clients with their workers’ compensation claims.
Read on for feedback from our clients about working with Pat and Heidi.
This is National Nurses Week and today is International Nurses Day. It’s celebrated each year on May 12 in honor of Florence Nightingale’s birthday. This year, American nurses are advocating for safe staffing. Lower staffing ratios result in better quality care for patients and safer working environments for nurses.
How You Can Support Vermont Nurses Today
Say thank you: Thank your nurse today for her dedication and hard work.
Educate your friends and family: Go to #safestaffingsaveslives on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to learn about safe staffing and two federal bills (HR 2083 and S.1132) that would mandate safe staffing ratios for nursing care.
Safe Staffing rally: On May 12, nurses will gather in Washington, DC for a grassroots event to raise awareness around safe staffing.
Ask a nurse to share his/her story: Nurses see firsthand how staffing affects the health and safety of patients and themselves. If you see a nurse today, ask him how many patients he has and what he thinks a safe staffing ratio would be.
Kids’ Chance of Vermont provides need-based college scholarships to children of injured workers. They’re taking applications right now and are actively looking for people they can help.
Applications Due Next Month
Applications are due by April 29, 2016. If you’re interested, e-mail BFS paralegal Chris O’Neill at firstname.lastname@example.org to request an application form.
Common sense will tell you that the family of a worker who suffers a serious injury or fatality at work usually doesn’t have extra money for big expenses like college. Kids’ Chance of Vermont helps by awarding scholarships to those children of injured workers who have graduated from high school and are interested in pursuing higher education.
Massive, anonymous thefts of medical records and other personal data make news but don’t often result in much actual damage. More harm, and heartache, is caused when employees access the health records of someone they know – and then share what they learn with others.
Are you traveling to medical appointments to treat your work injury? If you have an accepted Vermont workers’ compensation claim, you can now get paid back for every mile you travel to and from medical appointments.
In Vermont, insurance companies are required to pay all of a workers’ compensation claimant’s medical expenses, including mileage reimbursement for travel to medical appointments. Previously, claimants could only get paid back for additional miles traveled over their round-trip travel to work. They had to subtract the number of miles they traveled to work and back from the number of miles they traveled to a medical appointment—even if they weren’t working anymore or if they weren’t going to the appointment from work.
Now, claimants can get paid back for the full distance traveled to medical appointments. They no longer have to subtract their work commute miles. This makes it much simpler to calculate miles and, more importantly, it increases the number of miles that claimants can get compensated for.
“As we observe the 100th anniversary of the workers’ compensation system in Vermont, it is more important than ever to uphold this vital safety net that helps injured workers rebuild their lives,” says attorney Ron Fox. “That’s why we at BFS support the new rule and are eager to see it implemented.”
Attorney Patrick Biggam, a founding partner of the firm, will present at a workers’ compensation seminar in Burlington, Vermont on May 12, 2015. With 35 years of experience helping injured workers, Pat will teach attendees about legal ethics and the general principles of workers’ compensation. The seminar, Workers’ Compensation Law & Practice is aimed at attorneys as well as professionals in the areas of HR, vocational rehabilitation, health and safety, occupational health, and mediation who are involved in the workers’ compensation process. To register, go to www.sterlingeducation.com or call 715-855-0498.
Nursing staff are highly likely to get injured on the job—and back injuries from moving and lifting patients are the primary cause. A series on NPR, Injured Nurses, explores this situation in more depth. At Biggam, Fox & Skinner, we see many of the people behind the statistics–like our client V.B., a certified wound care nurse who worked at a hospital in southwestern Vermont (see “A Nurse’s Story” below).
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nursing employees suffered more than 38,000 back injuries and other musculoskeletal disorders that caused them to miss work in 2013. At the top of the list for musculoskeletal injuries were nursing assistants, with registered nurses ranked fifth—both ahead of firefighters, construction workers, and manufacturing workers. As part of their jobs, nursing staff regularly lift heavier loads than many industrial workers. Not all hospitals invest in patient-lifting equipment, and in those that do it’s not always readily available 24/7.
Attorney Kelly Massicotte notes that injured nurses may often overlook work restrictions out of a desire to help their patients. “This isn’t surprising,” says Kelly, “because most nurses care deeply about their patients and go out of their way to help them. When a patient falls or needs to get to a bathroom, there’s often no time to wait for the hospital’s lift team to arrive. Nurses automatically step in to help, often at considerable risk of injury to themselves.”