Workers Compensation attorney Phillip B. Shell has been successfully representing injured workers for over 30 years. A true expert on the system and its many complexities, Phil develops creative solutions that provide injured or ill workers with needed compensation while addressing the employer's concerns when possible. Although his first approach is to seek win-win solutions, he will also pursue matters through the Utah Labor Commission and beyond. He has received accolades from Utah Business Magazine and has been a featured speaker at many legal education seminars, and is dedicated to helping sick and injured workers and their families.
Call Phil to discuss your occupational disease claim. The initial consultation is free, and ify ou choose to retain him you'll only pay if he settles or wins your case. He represents clients throughout Utah as well as many states with Utah-related claims. He has the experience to help you. He is available for appointments during our normal business hours (Monday - Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m) as well as during evenings and weekends.
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Additional Information About Workers Compensation
Where an occupational disease arises and the injured worker has been employed by several employers over a period of time, it is possible that all or some of the employers may share in liability for the injury, even if it has been several years since the employee worked for some of the employers. This situation arises often in carpal tunnel, tendonitis or asbestosis claims by union, construction or mine workers.
Sometimes such a person may work for a single employer for only a few months or part of a year before going to another job with another employer. All employments may have been substantially the same with respect to the physical exertion required, such as with a brick mason or a pipe fitter. If the applicant's doctor feels that all employments played a role in development of the disease, the applicant may need to join all Utah employers in his application for hearing with the Labor Commission or risk not being fully covered.
If non-Utah employment is involved, you may wish to speak with an attorney in the applicable state to determine if a concurrent claim can and should be made in that state as well.
However, there is an exception to this situation of having multiple employers involved in an occupational disease claim, and that is where the applicant worked for the last employer for a year or more. These scenarios are dealt with by Utah Code section 34A-3-105, UCA. It reads as follows:
1. To the extent compensation is payable under this chapter for an occupational disease which arises out of and in the course of an employee's employment for more than one employer, the only employer liable shall be the employer in whose employment the employee was last injuriously exposed to the hazards of the disease if:
(a) the employee's exposure in the course of employment with that employer was a substantial contributing medical cause of the alleged occupational disease; and
(b) the employee was employed by that employer for at least 12 consecutive months.
2. Should the conditions of Subsection (1) not be met, liability for disability, death, and medical benefits shall be apportioned between employers based on the involved employers' causal contribution to the occupational disease.
In other words, if the employee's condition was worsened (if the employment was a substantial contributing medical cause) by the last employer, and if he worked for that employer for at least 12 consecutive months, then only that employer and its insurance carrier are responsible for the disease, at least to the extent that the disease was caused by Utah employment. However, if the employment did not last for a continuous year, then liability for the employment related portion of the disease is to be apportioned between all Utah employers involved. Also, if the employee has worked for one employer for over a year, but prior to that, worked in another state, then any percentage of the claim that is attributed to the non-Utah employment is excluded from payment.
Where the employment did not last with one employer for at least a year, this can sometimes result in a roomful of employers and attorneys if the matter goes to a hearing. These cases are very difficult to litigate and very complex, yet, there is often no way around it. The term of the employment and the nature of the exposure to the health risk can be quite important in arriving at a fair apportionment between the employers. Adding to the complexity of the matter is the fact that sometimes a single employer will have two insurance carriers that insured it during the time of the employment at issue.