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Attorney Groff On Panel at New England Workers’ Compensation Conference

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.

Best Lawyers List Recognizes Heidi Groff and Pat Biggam

Biggam, Fox & Skinner, LLP

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.

Thank Your Nurse on Nurses Day

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 provides scholarships to children of injured workers

A Chance for Children of Injured Workers to Attend College

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 info@bfslaw.com 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.

Injured Workers Now Reimbursed for Every Mile Traveled to Medical Appointments

injured-workerAre 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.”

Patrick Biggam Presents on Workers’ Compensation

Patrick BiggamAttorney 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.

Caring for Patients Puts Nurses in Harm’s Way

Nursing staff are hNurse with back painighly 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.”

Workers’ Compensation ‘Reforms’ Hurting Injured Workers

worker-neck-injuryStates are cutting workers’ compensation benefits to save money, according to a report by ProPublica and National Public Radio. These changes are forcing injured workers to turn to less generous, taxpayer-funded welfare programs, while employers pay the lowest rates for workers’ comp insurance since the 1970s; in 2013, insurance companies enjoyed their most profitable year in a decade. In a separate report also released in February, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration linked the cutbacks in workers’ compensation benefits over the last decade to increasing income inequality in the US. “Although Vermont’s worker compensation benefits are better than in many other states, a work injury can strike you and your family hard no matter where you live,” says attorney Ron Fox. “As these reports show, we have to be very careful about limiting benefits that help vulnerable workers stay afloat.” In his volunteer role as legislative liaison for the non-profit Vermont Association for Justice (VTAJ), Attorney Fox monitors developments at the Vermont State House related to workers’ compensation, and helps VTAJ—and BFS–respond to threats to worker compensation benefits. “The century-old workers’ compensation system is a critical safety net and we must be alert to any action towards dismantling it in Vermont,” he says.

Testimonials

Edward Shattuck, St. Johnsbury, VT

"I have been around a lot of attorney's offices; never been treated as well as Biggam, Fox & Skinner. Phone calls answered fast!"

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