I wanted to write the blog following my attendance at the 2020 CAL FIRE Convention in downtown Sacramento between Thursday, January 9 and January 11. On the first day (Thursday), I handed out (and many members picked up) my free Workers' Compensation Safety Booklets.
On Friday and Saturday I had some people walk up and indicate that they read my booklet or had a friend that read my booklet. They wanted to speak to me about their experience with the workers' compensation system. It was an excellent opportunity for me to answer their questions and assist them, since I represent CAL FIRE firefighters. I see a lot of mistakes that happen, because most people don't have any idea how to handle their claims. Most people want to go back to work, they don't get attorneys, and many mistakes are made as a result.
To give you an example of how complicated the system is attorneys that I know who don't practice workers' compensation won't touch them, because they know how complicated they are. If an attorney won't mess with them, imagine a person who isn't trained in law.
The common mistakes that I heard while speaking to the membership were as follows:
Future medical care was not finalized in a formal settlement agreement and the insurance company is balking later on providing future medical care.
I had multiple people take "service retirement." When I asked them why they retired, they said, my body is giving out of me. Many of these people had workers' compensation claims and the injury essentially sent them into retirement. When that happens, a person must look at Industrial Disability Retirement (IDR)
. Most of the people I spoke with didn't even know what IDR was.
If you're somebody like that, you need to call CalPERS immediately and find out what you need to do to re-apply for industrial disability retirement because you can. And if you have trouble with them, reach out to me and I can try to make some referrals to disability retirement lawyers.
The next mistake I encountered was proceeding through the Qualified Medical Evaluator (QME)
process without being informed of the process, what it was, and how it could affect their claim.
While we're on the subject of CAL FIRE fire fighters
, I want to cover the presumptions that they have. Presumptions avoid us having to prove these conditions are work related:
- Lyme disease
- Blood Borne disease
- Bio-chemical exposure
It was great going to the CAL FIRE convention. I enjoyed meeting everyone. If you're one of the people that attended that event and talked to me, it was great and I wish you all well and I hope you have a safe year and I hope I don't hear from you, because you don't want to be injured and you don't want be in the system.