At LOIS we encourage and foster an atmosphere of career-long learning and training. Our workplace encourages collaboration between attorneys in an informal sense – discussing cases and clients and trading “best practices” among colleagues. The Firm also facilitates formal training programs such as our Mock Trial Program. This Program, chaired by Partner Christian Sison, took place over six month, beginning in February 2018 and culminating in a awards ceremony on September 21, 2018.
Each team and attorney prepared six trial-related events and presented to their peers and the partners. This included cross-examination of hostile witnesses and preparation of trial briefs. The events were graded on several factors, such as issue spotting, knowledge of the issue(s), persuasiveness, tone, grammar, and professionalism. While teams rotated during the competition, individual scores were tallied from month to month.
Our 2018 Winners are:
TOP LEFT: The 2018 Mock Trial overall attorney winner, Associate Attorney Joseph Melchionne (left) pictured with Program Chair Christian Sison.
TOP RIGHT: The 2018 Mock Trial first runner up (attorney) Christopher Major, pictured with Program Chair Christian Sison.
BOTTOM LEFT: The 2018 Mock Trial overall paralegal winner, Ashlee Allgayer (left) pictured with Program Chair Christian Sison.
BOTTOM RIGHT: The 2018 Mock Trial first runner up (paralegal) Amy Figueroa.
Congratulations to the winners and all who participated in this year’s program!
The Board has adopted New Guidelines for Determining Impairment. These are the same Guidelines which were proposed in November 2017. The new Guidelines replace the prior methods of determining Scheduled Loss of Use for all claims where an impairment report was not submitted before January 1, 2018. For cases where an impairment rating report was submitted before January 1, 2018, the 2012 Guidelines will apply. The new Guidelines are here.
The day before Thanksgiving the Board released new proposed Guidelines – and these are not great for employers. But wait, what about the draft Guidelines that were issued in September and we were so excited for? Those Guidelines, widely viewed as favorable to carrier and employers as they appeared designed to curtail the worst abuses of the current impairment determination guidelines, have been scrapped.
The new proposed Guidelines are here. When you check them out it will be clear that the old “range of motion” system that the Board was supposed to scrap and start over from has returned. The whole point of the April 2017 statutory reform was that the Board had to adopt updated Scheduled Loss of Use guidelines that reflected “medical advances” (i.e., better outcomes for basic injuries) and were supposed to address the fact that employees with minor injuries, with little or no impact on their working ability, were collecting giant SLU awards, often with only a few days of lost time (which goes to show that there really wasn’t any impact on their working ability). Instead, the Board has caved into pressure from union and “pro-worker” groups (read: trial attorneys representing workers and collecting fat fees) and issued new Guidelines that are bad for businesses and carriers.
Why is this a big deal?
The Board must adopt new Guidelines for Determining Impairment in Schedule Loss of Use cases (think fingers, hands, wrists, elbows, shoulders, knees, ankles, feet, toes) which will take effect on January 2, 2018. The first proposed impairment guidelines were a departure from the prior practice before the Board – in a good way! The initial draft was favorable to employers in that the most frustrating and unfair cases – where the claimant loses minimal time from work for a Schedule Loss of Use Injury (meaning, a minor injury) would result in giant Scheduled Loss of Use awards based on range of motion testing. In those cases, where there was neglible (if any) impact on the claimant’s working ability, it is patently unfair that the employer must pay large Schedule Loss of Use awards based on turn of the century medical guidelines that don’t reflect anything more than subjective range of motion tests. These latest draft guidelines bring back that old range of motion system.
What can we do about it?
The proposed Guidelines are now in “comment period.” Comments can be made here. The Board was clearly persuaded by the flood of comments from the unions and trial attorneys – we are recommending that our clients review the “new” Guidelines and make comments urging the Board to adopt the first proposed impairment guideline.
Join us for training on the interpretation and application of the draft guidelines for determining Scheduled Loss of Use awards in New York. This webinar is offered in two sessions (12PM and 3PM EST) on October 2, 2017.
The New York Workers’ Compensation Law was changed on April 10, 2017. Lois LLC held a webinar for clients and guests on how the statutory changes will affect employers, carriers, and self insureds in New York.
Last night New York’s State Senate passed the Budget and associated bills. Senate Bill S2009C contains many changes to the New York Workers’ Compensation Law.
Good for employers and carriers:
Temporary disability benefits are limited to 2.5 years, after which payments of temp are credited to permanency. Source: Part NNN, Subpart A. (Of course, this is subject to exceptions, which we will discuss in the training).
Simplifying the drug formulary. The bill requires the creation of a simple formulary, listing the medications which can be dispensed and are pre approved. The MTGs already list drugs – this may simply the review of medications prescribed. Source; Part NNN, Subpart C.
Changes to the Disability Duration Guidelines & Scheduled Loss of Use findings. The Guidelines are used to determine the nature and extent of permanent residual disability in New York. The procedures for determining Schedule Loss of Use injuries will be reevaluated.
Bad for Employers:
Permanent partially disabled claimants will no longer have to establish that they have not “voluntarily removed” themselves from the workforce to remain eligible for ongoing partial disability benefits. Source: Part NNN, Subpart A.
Lowering the “safety net” from 80% partial disability to 75% disabled in order to qualify for extended permanent disability benefits when the initial allocation expires. Source: Part NNN, Subpart A, S2, 3.