Cyrus Dugger

“Rocket Docket” New York Workers’ Compensation Task Force Up and Running

From the NY Workers Compensation Alliance Law Blog:

"Rocket Docket" New York Workers' Compensation Task Force Up and Running

Since our last post about the lack of progress of the workers' compensation task forces created by Governor Spitzer, the Workers' Compensation Alliance was invited to a meeting last Monday at the New York State Insurance Department in downtown Manhattan. Representing the Workers' Compensation Alliance were Co-Chairs John Sciortino of Rochester and Troy Rosasco of Long Island. Representing the New York Injured Workers' Bar Association were President Barbara Levine and Director James McCarthy. (keep reading)

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Posted at 4:58 PM, May 14, 2007 in
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To: Rocket Docket Task Force:

This response is to the portion of your post regarding:

"It would be a gross violation of the worker's medical privacy. Imagine if your employer can now get medical records regarding your past abortion history or other sensitive medical histories."

The problem here is that insurance carriers and employers are already wrongfully exploiting irrelevant and sensitive medical histories of workers with injuries - and - they are illegally doing so without fright or consequence.

I know a NYS worker with a job related Permanent Partial Disability who was grossly exploited by the carrier/ employer by illegally exposing her past abortion to numerous people. This woman "HAD" to petition the WCB herself because she could not find a lawyer inside or outside the system would help her fight for her rights to privacy and dignity. Even the WC attorney representing her for her work injury would not represent her on the privacy issues.

As a result of the stress involved in experiencing this severe humiliation as well as having to read thousands of pages of law in an extremely short period, this woman collapsed at the Workers Compensation board in front of numerous staff and no one even called an ambulance.

Thereafter, she began experiencing a myriad of new physical affects including but not limited to several trips to emergency rooms for acute stress reactions.

She eventually succeeded in petitioning the board to remove these Highly Personal and Sensitive records - but - I must ask - at what cost?

Even though her appeal to the Board clearly requested them to seal her petition on the grounds the wordage revealed the sensitive information she sought to revoke from the record, the board refused to do so on the grounds that the information may be necessary for further adjucation of the claim. Talk about a Catch 22 Abuse!!

Basically, after exposing the ugly truths and setting an "In House" precedent this woman has been receiving the royal run around from the Workers' Compensation board on nearly every single issue she is seeking to address.

FYI... "In House" means no other workers with injuries or their attorney's will be able to learn or benefit from her ordeal because the facts are HIDDEN in her case file. Unfortunately, she could not find an attorney willing to take the case further through the legal system to establish the appropriate "Legal" precedent, which could better secure the enforcement of existing privacy protections by demanding bullet proof procedures and consequences.

In addition to being wrongfully denied a legitimate claim for Workers Compensation related to her work injury - she has been quoted by at least one WC attorney that it would cost her in the ballpark of $15,000 to obtain legal representation to go to the appellate courts to over turn the frivolous decision of the workers compensation board to cease all benefits. Just imagine the fees and high costs of also having to hire a privacy attorney. Whew!

Where is the justice and who is protecting vulnerable workers in these types of situations? Why are lawyers dodging her requests to get the legal help she requires - while others are using the example of exposing an abortion as a gross abuse of medical privacy rights?

Even though she is willing to pay a fee, lawyers throughout the state are still refusing to represent her Workers Compensation claim as well as her privacy violations claim.

The problem here is that these kind of gross medical privacy abuses already exist and at alarming rates.

If no one is talking about how to ensure the Workers Compensation Board enforces existing law, how does anyone expect them to enforce new ones?

Good Luck with your Advocacy Efforts!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 3, 2007 11:49 AM