Teaching Lawyers About Louisiana Workers Compensation

Attorneys Craig Mitchell, Kiana Aaron Mitchell and Michael Rodriguez each had the opportunity to teach fellow lawyers the ins and outs of Louisiana workers compensation recently. They were each featured separately as continuing legal education presenters and got to show off what they know about workers compensation. It goes like this…

As the end of the year nears many lawyers across Louisiana are going back to school. Attorneys in Louisiana have to take 12.5 hours of continuing legal education classes every year. It keeps them up to date with new developments in the law, which is a good thing. The classes have to be approved for credit, and there’s no shortage of topics. There are many opportunities throughout the year for an attorney to “get his hours”, and lawyers sometimes like to take advantage of the opportunity to take a trip somewhere exotic to earn their hours (the Times Picayune did an article about some trips a few judges took to ski resorts, beaches resorts and even Panama). Others will find packages that include tickets to Disney World, Jazzfest and the California wine country. Because of the mandatory requirement good speakers on good topics are in high demand. Workers’ compensation being the unique area of law it is many lawyers look to fulfill their CLE requirements by attending seminars of Louisiana workers compensation.

Workers Compensation Nuts and Bolts

Craig Mitchell was asked to present “Workers Compensation 101” at the Greater New Orleans Martinett Society End of Year CLE: “Nuts and Bolts.” With approximately forty New Orleans area attorneys registered for the event, Craig gave a compelling overview of how the Louisiana Workers Compensation Law was formed, how it is administered and how claims are handled. Many were surprised to hear that workers’ compensation insurance companies brought in nearly $815,000,000 in premiums in 2013.

Another fact that got attention was that in 2012 there were 2,787 trials for workers compensation benefits in Louisiana in 2012. Craig then got into the “nuts and bolts” of workers compensation. He explained what an “accident” and “injury” are under the workers compensation laws. He explained how claims get denied. He explored the different type of benefits that are available, from temporary total disability to death benefits. Finally he walked the attorneys through the various forms that are needed to get workers compensation benefits and to successfully bring a claim.

Social Security and Workers Compensation

Kiana Aaron Mitchell’s presentation was perhaps the most technical of the three. She was asked to present and explain the difficult area of the “Reverse Social Security Offset” to a packed house of Louisiana lawyers attending the 3rd Annual Advanced Workers Compensation Seminar held by Sterling Education Services in the French Quarter. You may be asking yourself “what in the world is a social security offset, and why in the world would you reverse it?” That’s what the lawyers in attendance wanted to know too.

Kiana was able to teach them about the origins of the offset. It was established by the Social Security Administration to allow it to reduce the amount of benefits it paid to injured workers who were also receiving workers compensation benefits. The idea is that the worker might actually get more than they were making when you combined what he or she got from Social Security and workers compensation. To deal with what some thought was “double dipping” social security benefits can be reduced by what the recipient gets for workers compensation as long as they don’t end up getting less than they would otherwise. Whew, that’s a lot to grasp, but Kiana made it all make sense.

How Employers Benefit From Louisiana Workers Compensation

Michael Rodriguez also had an opportunity to teach other lawyers a thing or two at the 3rd Annual Advanced Workers Compensation Seminar. Showing again that the lawyers of Mitchell & Associates understand workers compensation, Michael’s presentation was called “Big Benefits for Employers with the 1002 Process: Exploring the Unforeseen.” Sounds technical, doesn’t it? Well it was. It all started when the Louisiana Legislature decided to change the Louisiana Workers Compensation Law to create a “safe harbor” for employers who may have handled a workers compensation claim wrong. Rather than letting the injured worker go straight to court a series of procedures were put in place. If during these procedures the employer owned up to the mistake they wouldn’t be penalized. It was heady stuff, but the lawyers in the room left that much smarter.

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