Workers Compensation Claim After Retirement?

by Bobbie
(Syracuse, NY)

My husband was injured at his place of employment in February of this year. He was out of work from February 'till May of this year. His doctor didn't want him to go back to work, but he has worked all his life and convinced the doctor to release him.

Prior to him returning to work we received a letter from the Union that they were going to cut the retirement benefits of those that were still working by 6% and their lump sum account would be rolled into their pension. We went to the Union to find out more about this and do the #'s. After the first couple days that my husband had returned to work, he became very quiet and depressed. One day after returning home I found him sitting in the dark crying, something I have never seen him do before, ever.

He finally opened up to me. He told me that he was afraid of hurting someone, because of something he might forget to do on a piece of equipment. He was having difficulty remembering how to do the job he had done for 26 years. It was taking him longer to put an engine back together, because he couldn't remember if he did things so he would constantly redo them.

His job was fuel systems on large Caterpillar Equipment. He was afraid that either he would get fired because he was taking too long on the job, each job was timed; or someone would get killed because he sent a piece of equipment out that the fuel system wasn't right and it blew up. He told me he couldn't live with himself if that happened.

He has and still is being treated for a concussion. He has short term memory loss, confusion, change in behavior and moods. We have been dealing with this since a week after the accident. He thought that by getting back to work everything would come back and be fine, but it hasn't. He is going to therapy, but we still don't know what is going to happen.

To make a long story short, my husband is proud, has always been my rock. He didn't want anyone at work to know what was going on. So we decided to take the early retirement. We told no one about the reason why. We had plans that in 5 years he would retire get his pension and SS, and we would be fine.

This was not planned. By leaving early instead of the 6% cut he lost 15% for early retirement. That hurt us terribly. My husband tried a couple of other jobs after leaving to help make end meet, but unfortunately he had difficulties and was unable to keep them.

The insurance carrier is claiming that since he took the early retirement without telling anyone the reason why that he is not entitled to compensation. We are at the end of our rope and don't know what to do. I am looking for work, but as you know that is not coming fast enough. Do we have a case and if so how can I get our attorney to see it? Thanks for any info you can give.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Workers Compensation Claim After Retirement?":

Your question of whether you have a case is hard to answer because it is not clear whether you have previously filed the workers compensation claim against your husband's employer. This is a workers compensation claim, so without question that is the direction you need to pursue.

The fact that he has now retired may have caused the time within which to file a workers compensation claim to expire. If that's the case, you may need to consider other options such as breach of contract, etc.

But for now, I would speak with your husband's former union representative about filing a workers compensation claim. This is the first step, if you have not already done so. If you have submitted a claim, they should have covered much of your expenses and, with such a terrible injury, they should have offered a considerable settlement.

I think what may be happening is that you are being taken advantage of based upon your lack of knowledge about the system. This is not a criticism to YOU because most people do not know the rules of the workers compensation system on their own. I would suggest finding a well known, competent workers compensation attorney in your area who knows the law inside and out. his is your best chance of turning this case around.

Since laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions, you should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state (if you haven't already). Find an experienced local attorney to give you a free personal case review here.

Best of luck,

Judge Anthony

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