Ridge & Downes - Law Firm

  • New Year, New You

    It is the time of year to decide on your New Year’s Resolution for 2016!  Some of us have the same resolutions from year-to-year and never quite keep up with them, while others decide to change their resolutions each year.  This year, Ridge & Downes has a resolution suggestion for you….weight loss!  We know that this rocket-science resolution may shock you, but in all honesty, throughout the years we have seen weight loss benefit our clients in terms of assisting with smooth, speedy and permanent recoveries from orthopedic injuries.

    For many clients, weight loss has been the golden ticket to getting them through their workers’ compensation cases smoothly.  Although we have seen weight loss assist with many of our clients’ injuries, we most commonly see the benefits for clients dealing with back and knee injuries.  The weight loss success stories that have been shared with us are endless.  One client had a permanent spinal cord stimulator implanted in his back to assist with pain management after a failed surgery.  Several years later, the client lost a large amount of weight and had much less pain.  The stimulator (which was intended to be permanent) was able to be removed and the client now suffers very little pain!  Other clients have shared stories of relief from daily pain and the ability to stop wearing knee or back braces after successful weight loss!

    Weight loss not only helps clients gain relief from daily pain, but can also help clients receive the best care following an injury.  Our clients with excess weight often recover more slowly from on-the-job injuries and some are never able to have a permanent recovery.  We also see cases where our clients are unable to undergo certain medical procedures or surgeries because their excess weight causes them to be at too great a risk to undergo these procedures.  In these very unfortunate situations, insurance companies are known to cut off workers’ compensation benefits until the client’s weight is no longer an issue in terms of allowing the client to undergo the necessary treatment to cure or relieve the client from the effects of his or her workers’ compensation injury.

    As a general rule, it is always recommended that you start off a weight loss journey on a slow note.  And, of course (our legal disclaimer…) we do not recommend that anyone undergo a weight loss journey without first consulting with your physician, especially if you are undergoing treatment for a workers’ compensation injury.  Although weight loss almost always benefits clients, in some instances, your medical provider may wish for you to wait to start a weight loss journey or give you specific instructions on activities you may or may not perform while undergoing treatment for your work-related injury.

    At Ridge & Downes, we often start the New Year with a “Biggest Loser” weight loss competition.  Some years we have more drop-outs than others and some years we even continue after March!  This year, we will all resolve to work alongside of our clients and try to become healthier….even if that means eating or drinking a little less at some of our client functions!

    From our family to yours, we wish you a year full of peace, prosperity and WEIGHT LOSS!

  • Protect Workers' Rights

    Protect Workers' Rights

    As we’ve reported previously, Governor Rauner’s turnaround agenda listed workers’ compensation “reform” as one of his main goals. At this time, Governor Rauner is currently holding the State budget hostage in exchange for lowering or terminating the benefits of injured workers.

    Governor Rauner has indicated that structural reforms to our workers’ compensation system are needed to bring costs in line with other states. However, the Washington, D.C.-based Workers’ Compensation Research Institute, an insurance industry group, reported in October that medical payments per claim fall below those in Indiana and Wisconsin.  Crain’s reports that the WCRI study strengthens the arguments by Democrats who say more time is needed to determine the results of the 2011 reforms. The report says that the 2011 changes lowered the amount insurers spent per claim by 20 percent.

    ​Unfortunately workers’ compensation insurers have not passed along their savings in the form of lower premiums. This is in spite of the National Council on Compensation Insurance, an industry rate making agency, recommending a nearly 20% reduction for Illinois workers’ Compensation insurance rates.This would have saved Illinois employers over $1 BILLION in insurance premiums.

  • Truck Driver: Employee or Independent Contractor?

    The most abused aspect of the Workers’ Compensation Act is the misclassification of employees by companies who call the workers “independent contractors” to try and circumvent paying injured workers medical benefits, temporary total and permanency benefits. Signing a contract that calls a worker an independent contractor does not negate Court rulings. Several factors must be weighed to determine if a worker is covered by the Workers’ Compensation Act.

    The right to control the work and the nature of the work are the two most important considerations.

    The factors establishing an employment relationship are: requiring a pre-employment physical, drug test, orientation program, displaying the name of the company on the worker’s truck, requiring that the company be notified of any accident, and the ability to restrict the number of hours a worker can drive. Also, requiring that the worker call a dispatcher throughout the day and the right to discharge a worker for any reason, points to an employment relationship.

    The Court will examine the nature of the work performed by the worker in relationship to the general business of the company. The Courts have held that a worker, whose services form a regular part of the cost of the product, is presumptively within the area of intended protection of the Workers’ Compensation Act. The trucking company’s business is transporting machinery and product between sellers and buyers. The worker’s job was transporting the goods for the trucking customer’s business. The Courts have held that the worker is an employee of the company, even though he owns the trailer-tractor.

    There are more factors that weigh towards the employment relationship and other factors that weigh in favor of an independent contractor. This is a very complex issue so call if you have any questions.

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