Saturday was a perfect weather day for members of L&E to participate in the 2018 Southeastern Guide Dog Walkathon at Payne Park in Sarasota. This incredible organization enjoyed a great turnout. Lancaster & Eure is honored to support Southeastern Guide Dogs , as well be a part of this event in our community!
Cindy Hochstetler Position: File Clerk
Lancaster & Eure's 2nd Quarter Employee Spotlight Recipient is Cindy Hoschstetler.
Cindy joined Lancaster & Eure in January, 2007 and has been an essential member of the firm for over 11 years. She has been flexible in job assignments, ranging from her day-to-day position as file clerk to assisting with restocking supplies as well as helping with office maintenance assignments when needed. Cindy goes above and beyond to make certain her job gets done!
Cindy is recognized for her genuine sense of responsibility and commitment and we are grateful for her longstanding tenure here at Lancaster & Eure!
What do you like most about your job?
I like that the firm provides health insurance to its members which is a great relief with rising health care costs.
What motivates you to continue with your career at Lancaster & Eure?
The employee perks are great, as are the firm members.
What has been your major contribution to the firm this year in your job?
Spending extra time covering the file room until the firm brought in another file clerk.
What aspect of your position gives you the most personal satisfaction?
Doing a good job keeping the files in order so the attorneys and legal assistants can give their best for our clients.
Whom do you feel is the most influential person in your life past or present?
Past: My grandfather took the time to teach me about nature and our responsibility to take care of the earth we live on.
Tell us something that might surprise us about you.
I like to write poems about my life. I call it “situation poetry” and have been doing this since I was a teenager. I write when I need to purge my thoughts. It is much cheaper than therapy and fun to read years later!
Under the current Worker’s Compensation law, F.S. 440.093(1), a mental injury such as depression or PTSD is not compensable unless it is accompanied by a physical injury that requires medical treatment. This means that for many first responders, such as police officers and firefighters, a traumatic event will not be covered if the only injury is psychological, regardless of how severe the psychological injury may be. Many first responders have suffered from depression, anxiety, and PTSD as a result of the experiences they have had on the job. In light of recent events, such as the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting, it has become evident that arriving upon a horrific emergency scene can cause debilitating psychological effects. However a new law has been proposed that would allow first responders to qualify for workers compensation coverage for mental and nervous injuries. 2018 SB 376, which amends the existing worker’s compensation law, would ensure that first responders who are psychologically traumatized due to an event occurring on the job can receive covered treatment and lost wage benefits, even if their injury does not include physical damage. The proposed law has been approved by both the Florida House and Senate, and now only awaits the signature of Governor Rick Scott. On March 7, 2018, Gov. Scott stated that he would sign the bill.
Lancaster & Eure members participated in a relaxing, yet invigorating night of Yoga at the Ringling Museum. After enjoying a peaceful mind and body experience, the museum and grounds of the Ringling Museum were open to explore during Art after 5. The Ringling Museum is truly a treasure in our local Sarasota/Bradenton Communities!
Members of Lancaster & Eure were pleased to again be a part of the Glitz at the Ritz-Carlton extravaganza honoring Carolyn Michael and Howard Millman as this year’s 2018 Schoenbaum Humanitarian Award Honorees.
L&E recognizes the vital role the Salvation Army provides in our local community and is a proud supporter of its mission.
Attorney Eric Christiansen has recently received significant, favorable decision on behalf of his client in a Workers’ Compensation Case.
In A.H. v. Beall’s Distribution Center/Sedgwick, the employer and its workers' compensation administrator refused to pay lost wage benefits due to an injured worker who was often unable to complete her normal work hours because of medical appointments occurring during the work week, as well as chronic pain resulting from significant injuries that required four separate shoulder surgeries. The employer and its workers' compensation administrator also refused to increase the injured workers’ average weekly wage (used for lost wage benefit calculations) to include discontinued employer contributions toward health insurance, even though the Florida Workers’ Compensation Law requires such an increase to be made when employer contributions for health insurance stop post-accident.
After months of litigation, including several depositions, Attorney Christiansen represented the injured worker in a Final Hearing held before the Judge of Compensation Claims. The Judge of Compensation Claims entered an order fully favorable to the injured worker, awarding lost wage benefits, penalties and interest, and an increase in average weekly wage. Employers and their workers' compensation administrators often refuse to pay benefits that are due under the Florida Workers' Compensation Law.
This is what the Attorneys at Lancaster & Eure do for our clients, and this is what we can do for you. Know your rights! If your workers' compensation benefits have been denied in part or in full, call Lancaster & Eure to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced, professional attorneys. Contact us today at (941) 365 7575.
On February 15th, Lancaster & Eure was one of the proud sponsors of SPARCC’s “SPARCCle on the Runway: Fashion Police” fashion show. The event is a fundraiser in support of SPARCC (Safe Place Rape and Crisis Center), a Sarasota charitable organization devoted to the serving survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence. Sarasota fashionistas came together for this great cause at the Ritz Carlton, where event-goers enjoyed shopping, lunch, and a fashion show that showcased 80s-retro styles. All items from the fashion show were curated from the SPARCC Treasure Chest, a consignment store whose proceeds are donated to SPARCC. The Treasure Chest is open to the public and they are conveniently located at 1426 Fruitville Rd, Sarasota, FL 34236.
Lancaster & Eure is honored to support local organizations that provide such crucial help and support to the Sarasota-Bradenton communities.
Position: Intake Specialist
Dina joined Lancaster & Eure in September, 2006 and has been a vital member of the firm for over 11 years. Her flexibility in covering multiple positions and assisting with job assignments as needed, as well as handling urgent situations, is a tremendous asset to the firm.
Dina is a hard worker who recognizes the responsibility of her position and is a team player who supports various positions within the firm.
Lancaster & Eure is truly fortunate to have Dina in our team of professionals and we are grateful for the tremendous efforts she brings to her position!
Our Employee Spotlight focuses on Dina to learn more about her achievements and what motivates her at the firm and in life:
What do you like most about your job?
The interaction with clients, whether in person or over the phone.
What have been your major contributions to the firm this year in your job?
Helping each and every individual that comes into my office
What aspect of your position gives you the most personal satisfaction?
Most of our clients never had to hire an attorney. I see a big difference between when a potential client walks in our front door and after s/he leaves our office after they have signed up with our firm knowing that someone is on their side and will fight for their rights.
Tell us something that might surprise us about you.
I did not get my driver’s license until I turned 21, and now am the best driver ever!
How do you define success?
Having a good balance between work and family.
Where is the best place you’ve traveled and why?
Washington, DC because of all the American history. USA!
What is your favorite thing to do?
Watch the sunset.
We are extremely proud to announce that two of our very own attorneys, Eric Christiansen and David Wieland, were both named as one of The Nation's Top Injured Workers' Attorneys for 2017. The Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group is a national non-profit membership organization dedicated to representing the interests of millions of workers and their families who, each year, suffer the consequences of workplace injuries and illnesses.
The Workers’ Injury Law & Advocacy Group's Top Injured Workers' Attorney program is an invitation only, professional recognition program comprised of America’s leading attorneys representing injured workers. The group acts principally to assist attorneys and non-profit groups in advocating the rights of injured workers through education, communication, research, and information gathering.The Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG) was founded in 1995 by a small group of attorneys representing injured workers and has grown into an organization of nearly 1,000 members representing every state in the nation.
For a listing of The Workers’ Injury Law & Advocacy Group's Top Injured Workers' Attorneys please visit their website.
For more information on Eric Christiansen visit his page on our website and his AVVO profile. For more information on David Wieland please also visit his page and AVVO Profile.
The Lancaster & Eure family took part in the Halloween festivities today by wearing some fun and creative costumes to the office. Believe it or not, law firms (and especially our amazing team) aren't always “all work and no play”!
We hope everyone has a safe and Happy Halloween!
Remember, avoiding a trick today is worth 1,000 treats in the long run!
Our very own Workers' Compensation attorney Eric Christiansen was featured in the Thursday Night Football intro video starring John Cleese.
Make sure to look for the Pirate at the 0:43 mark in the video (and pictured on the video thumbnail). Way to show that Buccaneers pride Eric!
As our community is still recovering in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, we are very fortunate that the Suncoast region was spared of any major destruction. Unfortunately, for those in Puerto Rico, Dominica, and the US Virgin Islands, the damages and despair caused by Hurricane Maria did more damage than any of us ever could have imagined.
Our hearts go out to all the victims of these devastating storms and we wish them a swift and full recovery. It is during times like these where help and support is greatly needed and where the term neighbors helping neighbors truly comes into play. While Lancaster & Eure understands the importance of helping the community not just in times of need, it is now more than ever where your help is truly needed. In an effort to provide an extended level of support, we have compiled a list of trustworthy organizations who are hosting fundraisers and collecting donations for those affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria:
Salvation Army of Sarasota - donations go towards Irma and Harvey relief
All Faiths Food Bank - food donations and other items can be dropped off at the All Faiths Food Bank office in Sarasota or any local Goodwill in the yellow bins they have set up.
FOR THOSE STILL SUFFERING THE EFFECTS OF HURRICANE HARVEY, IRMA, OR MARIA PLEASE SEE BELOW FOR INFORMATION ON WHERE TO FIND ASSISTANCE AND SUPPORT
FEMA - for local residents who sustained losses from Hurricane Irma and need disaster recovery assistance. Sarasota County has been named as an area eligible for federal aid under FEMA's Individual Assistance Program.
Sarasota County Emergency Services- provides up to date information on the location of FEMA Disaster Survivor Assistance Teams and additional information regarding post-Irma clean-up including debris pick-up information, landfill, etc.
Manatee County Emergency Management- Information on what to do if you need assistance after Hurricane Irma, as well as ways you can help through donations, volunteering and more
PBS has put together a list of ways that you can help those affected by Maria's devastation to Puerto Rico including cash, supplies, volunteers, and outreach. See their article on the many avenues available here.
For those wishing to volunteer: One of Florida's biggest volunteer agencies, Volunteer Florida, is looking for volunteers and donations to help those affected. Donations may also be made to their Florida Disaster Fund to assist in their efforts.
As our communities continue to rebuild following the destruction of Hurricane Irma the most important thing to remember is that you and your family's health and safety come before all else. We also want to thank all first responders for putting themselves at risk in order to help those in need, especially in the areas with mandatory evacuations. Please make sure to stop and thank all first responders for their sacrifice and assistance during Hurricane Irma and do all you can to avoid making their jobs even more difficult. We are all in this together so let's make sure to show the Nation how Floridians assist each other in their time of need. We can and will rebuild but it will take all of us coming together to do so.
We have compiled a list of tips on how to stay safe and rebuild following Hurricane Irma
An article recently published by National Public Radio (NPR) and ProPublica highlights the issues undocumented workers face following on the job injuries. (En Español) The article shows how insurance companies use a Florida law to get undocumented workers arrested and deported when they get injured on the job.
Florida’s Workers’ Compensation law provides the right to undocumented workers to receive medical care and lost wages for on the job injuries. However, in 2003 Florida’s legislature modified the law to make it a crime to file a workers’ compensation claim using false identification. Additionally, under the law it is a crime to knowingly make false statements, oral or written, for the purpose of obtaining workers’ compensation benefits. If a false social security number is used in the claim such as writing it on an intake form at a doctor’s office, or while speaking with the insurance carrier (especially if it’s recorded), the injured worker can be denied workers’ compensation benefits and prosecuted for fraud. However, there is nothing in the law to require providing a social security number to obtain workers’ compensation benefits. See our tips for undocumented workers below for more advice on how to avoid pitfalls while pursuing a workers’ compensation claim.
For the article, ProPublica and NPR analyzed 14 years of state insurance fraud data and thousands of pages of court records. They found close to 800 cases statewide in which employees were arrested under the law, including at least 130 injured workers. Among the findings:
While most employers in Florida require applicants to complete forms to verify their identity, the majority of those employers fail verify the information at the time of hiring. Yet, those same employers will only attempt to verify the employee’s information AFTER a workplace injury and attempt to use that to deny the claim, no matter how significant the injury. In fact, as the article points out, a large private investigation firm (hired by insurance carriers to investigate injured workers) posts the arrests it has been involved in on their website which is unsurprisingly full of undocumented workers who provided false information (likely a fake social security number) in their workers’ compensation case.
The issue is injured workers don’t provide this false information to defraud the insurance company. Rather, they are usually told by their employer or the insurance carrier that they have to provide that information, such as a social security number on intake forms at doctors’ offices or when speaking to the carrier. It is clear that the insurance carriers have used these changes in the law to avoid their financial and ethical obligations to provide care for undocumented workers’ on the job injuries. Luckily, Republican State Senator Anitere Flores has pledged a legislative review of the law. Hopefully this is a sign that more protections will be added for undocumented workers but those who have suffered on the job injuries should remain vigilant as they are still vulnerable under the current law.
If you have been instructed to provide information in your workers’ compensation claim that you know is fraudulent, make sure to read our tips below and to consult with an attorney regarding your rights under the law.
Tips for Undocumented Workers
If you or your loved ones have sustained a work-related trauma, contact the attorneys at Lancaster & Eure today to ensure you will have an advocate who will fight for the benefits you truly deserve.
Rosemary B. Eure Elected to Executive Council of the Workers' Compensation Section of the Florida Bar
We are proud to announce that our founding partner, Rosemary B. Eure, was recently elected to the Executive Council of the Florida Bar's Workers' Compensation Section. She is seen pictured here with Chair Paul Anderson and Chair-Elect Leopoldo Garcia.
For more information on the Workers' Compensation Section of the Florida Bar please visit http://www.flworkerscomp.org
As discussed in our prior post, Bill Introduced to Help First Responders with PTSD, Florida's Workers' Compensation law does not cover psychiatric injuries without an accompanying physical injury. The law currently forbids, "payment of benefits under [the workers' compensation law] for mental or nervous injuries without an accompanying physical injury requiring medical treatment." Section 440.093(1), Florida Statutes (2015). Mr. Gerry Realin was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after he was assigned to carry bodies out of Pulse nightclub but he was denied workers' compensation and retirement benefits due to the bar on psychiatric only injuries.
It seems that the State has taken a step in the right direction following the unanimous approval Mr. Realin's disability pension. Currently, Florida law only allows payment of early pension for physical injuries. However, the board unanimously agreed that Mr. Realin should receive the disability pension based on his diagnosis of PTSD and their findings that the PTSD was a permanent and total disability that was attributed to his response to the shooting at the Pulse nightclub.
Hopefully this is a step in the right direction for Florida's legislature to amend the Workers' Compensation law to include psychiatric only injuries so that individuals such as Mr. Realin aren't forced to suffer with no support.
For Social Security Disability claimants in Florida, the average processing time from the date of the application until the hearing decision is approximately 627 days. While the Social Security Administration has implemented initiatives to decrease the wait times for hearings by attacking the back log, the delays seem to be ever increasing. According to a recent study, the average wait time for post-hearing decisions has increased since the end of 2015 and as many as 11% of all claimants are forced to wait anywhere from 120-180 days to receive their decision following their hearing.
This past week the attorneys of L&E attended the annual Florida Workers’ Advocates (FWA) conference in Orlando. FWA is an organization committed to protecting and defending the rights of injured workers throughout Florida, and it has truly become an invaluable platform for many civil justice attorneys throughout our state. We are proud of the work put in by FWA and its many members who spend a significant amount of time in Tallahassee and away from their loved ones.
Unsurprisingly, our members continue to step up to the fight as all members of FWA battle not only for their clients, but for the rights of all injured workers. FWA is one of the few organizations who stands between special interest groups and lawmakers to put the rights of Florida's injured workers first. FWA members are there to provide insight and remind the powers at be that it is ultimately Floridians, namely injured workers, who suffer at the hands of business friendly agendas. Thankfully, the citizens in Florida are blessed with an organization like FWA who fights for the rights of injured workers and reminds lawmakers of the impact of their "talking points" and ultimately decisions on the real people in Florida.
Our attorneys are extremely proud to be members of such a powerful and dedicated organization. Surrounded by the best minds in workers’ compensation, our firm is able to expand and strengthen their expertise under the law in order to continue fighting for the rights of their clients.
For More information on Florida's Workers' Advocates please click on the following link: Florida Workers Advocates.
“The World will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch & do nothing.”-Albert Einstein
Twenty-six years ago, in May of 1991, Debbie joined Lancaster & Eure and she has been an integral part of our firm ever since. In 1990 Debbie graduated from Manatee Junior College with an Associate of Science degree and went on to complete the Certified Legal Assistant’s exam in 1991. In addition, she regularly attends legal seminars and other conferences specializing in Workers’ Compensation to maintain her CLA status. She currently resides in Venice, FL.
At Lancaster & Eure, we are lucky to have someone as focused on the clients and passionate about assisting our team as Debbie and we thank her for her service!
Today we focus our Employee Spotlight questions on Debbie to learn more about her accomplishments and what motivates her to excel:
What do you like most about your job?
Lancaster & Eure has always been very supportive to their employees in the office and with their personal lives. They encourage continued education and provide their employees the opportunity to grow. I feel fortunate to have found a position with L&E.
What would you say have been your major contributions to the firm this year in your job?
I have been able to assist our new employees in learning how to do different aspects of their positions.
What aspect of your position at Lancaster & Eure gives you the most personal satisfaction?
When I am assisting clients with their settlements and they finally see the light at the end of the tunnel and they get a feeling of relief that they will no longer have to deal with the WC insurance companies in their lives.
Tell us something that might surprise us about you?
I love to fish. I caught a 300 pound blue marlin while fishing off the coast of Hawaii. Also, I was a rowing coxswain and I competed in many regattas where our crew was very successful. I am currently a US Rowing referee. I work at many regattas each year.
How do you define success?
I define success as being reliable. Reliable to my employer, husband, and family.
What is the best place you’ve traveled and why?
For our wedding anniversary my husband and I took a cruise to French Polynesia. We traveled to Tahiti, Bora Bora, Moorea, Tahaha, and Rhiatea. It is so beautiful there. The diving was phenomenal and the people were very friendly.
What is your favorite thing to do?
I love being with my husband and I love to cook.
In the event of a car crash, there are several important steps to follow that will ultimately protect yourself and your interests. With over six million car accidents reported each year in the United States, it is better to be safe than sorry. As a helpful tool, here is a Top 10 List of things to do after a car accident:
When you hear the term "black box" it typically evokes thoughts of plane crashes authorities working to determine what went wrong to cause the crash. The "black box" is an event data recorder (EDR) that automatically captures information during the flight including recording cockpit conversations and flight data.
An interesting topic has come to the forefront recently and continues to garner attention throughout the state of FL. Recently, a little know feature called the Event Data Recorder (EDR) has been added to later model vehicles. The EDR is the "black box" of your vehicle automatically recording crash-related data and vehicle performance statistics. The EDR is typically utilized by repair shops to capture information used to ensure optimal performance or detect any issues. However, the EDR also captures crash-related data such as speed and breaking, factors that can be very important to determine fault in an accident.
The addition of the EDR has given rise to a debate as to whether information recorded from this device, and gathered by police without a warrant, should be allowed as evidence in court to prove the other party’s negligence. Does collecting data from the EDR without a warrant violate a person’s 4th amendment right to privacy? According to a recent ruling by the Court in State v. Worsham, No. 4D14-2733 at 1 (Fla. 4th DCA Mar. 29, 2017), the answer, at least for now, is yes.
However, there is a possibility that the 4th DCA's holding does not remain as the law of the land for long. The 4th DCA is the first appellate court to consider this issue and
For more information please see the article written by Simone Marstiller, Esq. who previously served an appellate judge with the First Disctrict Court of Appeal for Florida: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/little-black-box-simone-marstiller.
Self-driving, autonomous cars are a hot topic these days, and quite possibly the wave of the near future. With society headed in that direction, who would you turn to if you were injured by a self-driving vehicle?
This article explores the issue of government regulations concerning self-driving cars and if the companies who own these vehicles should ultimately be held liable.
Click here to read the full article: http://www.heraldtribune.com/news/20170328/self-driving-car-crash-comes-amid-debate-about-regulations
We are proud to share the Winter Edition of the News & 440 Report, featuring one of our very own attorneys as guest editor: David Wieland, along with his esteemed family members. 50 Years, 3 Generations. Click here, http://www.flworkerscomp.org/…/2-ne…/72-news-440-winter-2017, to read the articles.
Currently, psychiatric only injuries such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are not covered under Florida's Workers' Compensation law. The law currently forbids, "payment of benefits under [the workers' compensation law] for mental or nervous injuries without an accompanying physical injury requiring medical treatment." Section 440.093(1), Florida Statutes (2015).
Following the 2016 Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, FL first responder Gerry Realin was diagnosed with PTSD after having to carry almost 50 bodies out of the club. However Mr. Realin was denied workers' compensation benefits because he did not sustain a physical injury that required medical treatment. While this might seem like an arbitrary distinction to most, the effect is a total denial of benefits and forcing Mr. Realin to go entirely without compensation while trying to recover from the trauma he sustained.
Senator Keith Perry (R-Gainesville) recently introduced a bill that seeks to extend protections for psychiatric only injuries to first responders like Mr. Realin. While the introduction of the bill is by no means a victory for injured workers, it is a step in the right direction to provide protection to those who put their own lives on the line on a daily basis to protect all others.