Donald W. Kohler Law
 
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Donald W. Kohler Attorney at Law
Before earning his law degree in 1998,
Mr. Kohler graduated from Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, MN, with a BA in Communications in 1991. Prior to and while going to school, he worked at United Parcel Service.

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WORKERS' COMPENSATION NEWSLETTERS

Casual Employment

Many states apply an exemption to the workers' compensation system for "casual" employment, although the majority also requires that the employment not be within the employer's regular course of business. As to the majority's additional requirement, it is important to note that no matter how brief or irregular the employee's work may be, if it falls within the employer's regular course of business he will be covered by workers' compensation. In some states, the casual employee exemption has been specifically denied.

Disfigurement

Though not universal, awards for disfigurement are allowed in the majority of states. Usually, disfigurement awards are arbitrary in nature in that there is a somewhat fixed sum allocated, which can vary by jurisdiction. Unlike other awards, those for disfigurement are not normally based on the employee's loss of wages. However, the language in some state statutes is such that compensability will only be found when the disfigurement would impact the employee's earning capacity or general employability.

Knowledge of Injury Imputed to Employer

When an employer has actual knowledge of an employee's injury and its possible connection to the employee's work, most courts will excuse the employee's failure to timely give notice of the injury. Sometimes, however, such knowledge will be imputed to the employer. If a person associated with the employer in a managerial or representative role received knowledge of the injury, that knowledge will be charged to the employer. For example, consider the supervisor who witnessed the accident that caused the employee's injury. The employer itself will then be deemed to be aware of the employee's injury.

"Severe Impairment" for Social Security Disability Determination

In order to recover social security disability benefits, an individual's impairment must be so severe as to significantly limit his ability to work. If the impairment is found to be "not severe," the individual will not be considered "disabled." As established by medical evidence, an impairment constituting only a mild abnormality that has only a minimal effect on the individual's ability to work is not "severe." If an individual suffers from more than one impairment, the impact of the combination of the impairments will be evaluated rather than each impairment independent of the other.

Uninsured Contractor

Some employers may seek to avoid workers' compensation liability by using contractors to perform work that would normally be performed by the employer's own employees. The reasoning is that employers are responsible only for the workers' compensation coverage of "employees." However, to preclude employers from evading liability by this method, most jurisdictions will impose liability here if the contractor itself is uninsured for workers' compensation. Thus, if an employer utilizes a contractor's employees to do that which the employer's own employees would normally do, and an employee of the contractor is injured, the employer will be responsible for worker's compensation despite the fact that the injured individual is not an "employee" of the employer. These state statutes basically deem the individual an "employee" to further the goals and purpose of workers' compensation. In order to determine whether the contractor is performing work that would normally be done by the employer's own employees, courts will look to the employer's past practices as well as the practices of other employers in the same industry or trade.  

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