March 8, 2021

Legal News You Can Use: Construction Worker’s Death Illustrates Dangers Within Industry

Almost 20 percent of deaths of US workers, who died on the job in 2019, occurred in the construction industry. Photo by Matthew T Rader on Unsplash.

The January death of a Connecticut construction worker exemplifies the risks, hazards and dangers faced by people employed within this industry. Serious and fatal injuries are not uncommon among construction workers.

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, of the 5,333 U.S. workers who died on the job in 2019, nearly 20 percent of the deaths – 1,061 – occurred in the construction industry.

‘Focus Four Hazards’

In the recent case, the 63-year-old construction worker died at a hospital after sustaining serious injuries in an afternoon fall on Jan. 26. The man reportedly fell roughly 10 ft. into a foundation hole at a home construction site where a crew was working on a basement. (And, as an aside, workers 55 and older accounted for 38 percent of workplace deaths in 2019.)

Annually, construction’s “Focus Four Hazards” – as dubbed by the Occupational Safety Health Administration (OSHA) – comprised roughly 60 percent of the industry’s fatalities. They include:

  • Falls:
    Elevated falls from scaffolding, ladders, structures and falls into holes are among these hazards that can lead to death and debilitating injuries.
  • “Caught-in or in-between” accidents:
    These situations may include the collapses of trenches as well as equipment rollovers.
  • “Struck-by” accidents:
    These may include being struck by construction vehicles or equipment as well as falling objects from a construction site.
  • Electrocution hazards:
    Construction workers are nearly four times more likely to face electrocution than workers in all other industries combined. Powerlines often prove fatal.

Looking to the Future

The construction industry’s focus on safety must continue to take priority among employers. Construction companies must provide the proper training and protective gear to their employees.

Reduction of serious injuries and fatalities within the industry is critical. The lives of working people are in the balance.

This is a sponsored post by 

Editor’s Notes: i) Suisman Shapiro is located at 75 State Street, New London, CT 06320. Their mailing address is 2 Union Plaza, P.O. Box 1591 New London, CT 06320. Visit their website or call 800-499-0145 — lines are open 24 hours a day.

ii) If you are involved in a construction accident, the attorneys at Suisman Shapiro can assist you. Attorney James Berryman of Old Lyme specializes in Workers’ Compensation and can be reached at the number above or at this link.

 

Legal News You Can Use: Understanding CT’s New Paid Family & Medical Leave Act

Happy New Year!  Welcome 2021! 

As Connecticut employers bid farewell to the year of “unprecedented times,” not so fast, I say.  This New Year ushers in a significant change in employment law for Connecticut employers of all sizes.  Connecticut has joined a handful of other states in creating a Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (PFMLA) that drastically changes the landscape of family and medical leave in this state.

Prior to the enactment of the PFMLA, Connecticut state law (CT FMLA) required only employers with 75 or more employees to provide 16 weeks of family and medical leave, and the leave could be unpaid.  Similarly, under the Federal FMLA, employers with 50 or more employees were required to provide 12 weeks of leave, paid or unpaid.

For Connecticut employers, however, the PFMLA changes family and medical leave by:

  • eliminating the threshold of a minimum number of employees (75 down to 1);
  • mandating 12 weeks of leave (instead of 16);
  • expanding the range of circumstances for which an employee may take a leave; and
  • providing wage replacement for all employees who take leave.

The PFMLA essentially provides most Connecticut workers with access to paid leave life events previously covered under the current federal and state FMLAs, as well as the Connecticut Family Violence Leave Act (CT FVLA), such as to:

  • To address the worker’s own serious health concern;
  • To care for a child after birth, adoption or foster placement;
  • To provide care to a seriously ill or injured family member;
  • To address qualifying exigencies arising from the foreign deployment of related service-member;
  • To serve as an organ or bone marrow donor; or
  • To address certain matters relating to family violence.

Under the new PFMLA, not only larger employers, but now even small Connecticut employers (with at least one employee), are required to comply with the mandates of the PFMLA.  Of note, the PFMLA generally excludes federal employees, Connecticut and municipal employees who are members of unions, employees of local and regional boards of education, and non-public elementary and secondary school employees.

Aside from employees of excluded employers, all other employees in the State of Connecticut will entitled to paid leave under the PFMLA starting on Jan. 1, 2022. In fact, even those who are self-employed or sole proprietors are eligible to opt-in to the program in certain circumstances where they contribute a portion of their income to the state fund.

How Does the Paid Family Leave Program Work?

The PFMLA authorized and established a quasi-state agency, the Connecticut Paid Leave Authority (“CPLA”), to administer the PFMLA program and trust fund.  The PFMLA program will be funded by employees and voluntary self-enrolled participants through the collection of wage deductions, capped at 0.5% of wages, beginning on Jan. 1, 2021. Payment of benefits to eligible employees will begin on Jan. 1, 2022.

The CPLA is the state-agency that will accepts applications for paid leave benefits, reviews those applications and if approved, administer benefits to eligible employees, those who are self-employed and sole proprietors. The CPLA is also responsible for collecting employee contributions and working with the Office of the Treasurer to properly invest and manage the contributions so that funds are available to pay benefits.

Employers must comply with the PFMLA by either using the state-run program administered by the CPLA or, the PFLMA provides employers with the option to apply to the CPLA for an exemption because the employer opts to provide the PFMLA benefit to their employees through an approved private program that provides all of the same rights, protections and benefits as the PFMLA (e.g. private insurance carriers such as long-term/short-term disability insurance carriers are providing private programs).

Note that an employer’s private plan must also comply with specific application requirements, including the requirement that a majority of the employer’s employees working in Connecticut vote in favor of the private plan. In the event that an employer receives an exemption and provides a private plan, the withholdings from employee paychecks are held by the employer, instead of the CPLA.

The first step for employers is to register their business with the CPLA (registration opened on November 1, 2020) and, if necessary, to apply for an exemption if providing the benefit through a private program.  Please note that third parties, such as payroll providers, may handle the application procedures with the CPLA and there are separate processes for these third parties when registering with the CPLA.

 Why is Jan. 1, 2021 Important to the PFMLA for Connecticut Employers?

When the law was enacted in June, 2019, the Connecticut legislature selected Jan. 1, 2021 as the commencement of the first “phase” of the program. Commencing with the first pay-period following Jan. 1, 2021, the mandatory payroll deductions from employee wages to fund the state program commence and employers not otherwise exempt must begin withholding the required amounts from employee wages and submitting the same to the CPLA.

During this first phase, the program is being seeded through these payroll deductions for one year; however, employees may not apply for benefits under the program until January 1, 2022.

 How Much Will Employees be Paid During PFMLA leave?

Under the PFMLA, an employee will receive a weekly benefit for the full 12 weeks of leave. An additional two weeks may be available for pregnancy-related issues.

If an employee’s weekly wages are less than or equal to the then-current Connecticut minimum wage multiplied by 40, the weekly benefit rate under the PFMLA will be 95 percent of the employee’s average weekly wage.  If an employee’s weekly wages exceed the Connecticut minimum wage multiplied by 40, the weekly benefit rate will be 95 percent of the Connecticut minimum wage multiplied by 40, plus 60 percent of the amount by which the employee’s average weekly wage exceeds the Connecticut minimum wage multiplied by 40. The benefit rate is capped at 60 times the Connecticut minimum wage.

Employers may supplement the paid leave benefits provided by the PFMLA, as long as the total amount received by an employee does not exceed 100 percent of their usual weekly wages.

What Should Employers Be Communicating to Employees Now?

At this time, employers should communicate with employees regarding the payroll deductions that begin Jan. 1, 2021, and regarding the benefits that will be available to them via the PFMLA as of January 1, 2022.  The CPLA provides a poster that may be displayed in your workplace and/or distributed to employees.

Employers and employees alike may refer to the CT Paid Leave Employee Factsheet or may contact Attorney Kristi Kelly at Suisman Shapiro Attorneys-at-Law at kkelly@sswbgg.com or 800-499-0145 to obtain legal advice on this and other employment-related topics.

Legal News You Can Use: Why CT Motorcyclists Should Never Pass on a Helmet

Photo by Sam Balye on Unsplash.

Experienced motorcyclists possess a high level of skill that helps keep them safe during each trip. Yet no matter how skilled a rider may be, there is also some element of luck that helps motorcyclists avoid a negligent driver when they are riding on Connecticut’s highways.

When luck is no longer on your side, wearing a helmet may help prevent serious injuries or death.

Do motorcyclists have to wear a helmet in Connecticut?

Helmets are not mandated in Connecticut. Only passengers and riders under 18 and those with motorcycle learner’s permits must wear a helmet. Even though there isn’t a rule that forces you to wear a helmet, there are plenty of reasons why you should.

How will a helmet help me?

Recent data shows that wearing a helmet has meant the difference between life and death, time and time again. Here are some specific examples from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

  • Nearly 5,000 individuals died in motorcycle accidents in 2018
  • The most recent CDC data suggests helmet use saved the lives of 1,859 people and could have potentially saved 802 more lives
  • Helmet use reduces the risk of death by 37 percent and the risk of a head injury by 69 percent

Instead of pressing your luck and relying on skill alone, it’s essential to add an extra layer of protection whenever possible. In an instant, your whole world can change if you cross paths with a motor vehicle operator, who is negligent or distracted.

This is a sponsored post by

Editor’s Notes: i) Suisman Shapiro is located at 75 State Street, New London, CT 06320. Their mailing address is 2 Union Plaza, P.O. Box 1591 New London, CT 06320.

ii) If you are involved in a motorcycle accident, the attorneys at Suisman Shapiro can assist you. Visit their website or call 800-499-0145 — lines are open 24 hours a day.

Legal News You Can Use: Understanding the Importance of Title Searches

Many people fail to acknowledge the many steps required to purchase a home. Real estate transactions involve far more than touring a property, making an offer and closing on it.

For one, you will likely want a mortgage pre-approval before submitting an offer. Once you’ve signed a real estate contract for the home you’re buying, you will need to have it inspected to ensure it’s free from major defects. Furthermore, you must perform a title search on the property to make sure no barriers to your transaction exist.

What do title searches uncover?

To purchase a home, you must ensure it has a clean title. A title search will determine whether claims or issues exist that make it unsaleable.

While you can perform this search on your own, an attorney or a title company usually completes it. These professionals will know what to look for when evaluating the property’s title and going through public records. Their research may uncover problems that could prevent you from taking ownership of the property.

These problems include:

  • Competing claims of ownership
  • Mistakes in public records
  • Restrictive covenants
  • Outstanding liens
  • Encroachments

Why do title searches require insurance?

Before beginning your title search, you will want to secure title insurance on your property. Your mortgage lender will likely require you to purchase it since it protects them from any financial loss that title issues could cause. Keep in mind that standard title insurance will not protect you if your property’s title has defects. You have the option, though, to purchase owner’s title insurance, which will offer protection.

Title searches are a complex, confusing and necessary part of homebuying. Just because the process can be challenging should not dissuade homebuyers from completing their due diligence before they close.

Legal News You Can Use: I Am Me — The Feminine Side of Lawyering

Having a female lawyer can provide a level of personal comfort for some clients. Similar to seeking a female doctor, prospective clients routinely consider gender when seeking a lawyer’s legal advice and advocacy.

I am female and I am a lawyer, and oftentimes, clients say to me “I called you because I need to speak to a female about what has happened to me: only a woman will understand.”

Whether you are dealing with a life-changing event such as a divorce, you are the victim of a crime, accident or botched medical procedure, or you are grappling with the nearly impossible feat of work/life balance and facing workplace disparities or overt discrimination or harassment, your unique issue may be one where consulting and a retaining a female attorney may be most appealing.

Perhaps it is because women are natural listeners and problem-solvers, or because female attorneys tend to approach clients and their cases with empathy and a comforting, compassionate tone. We are smart, intuitive, collaborative and persistent.  Our ability to connect, on a personal level, with so many of our clients is likely because of these attributes, which work to the client’s advantage when in need of zealous advocacy.

Warning: underestimate a female attorney at your own risk.  Clients who are comfortable with their attorney willingly share the most important, more intimate details about a situation they are dealing with, arming their attorney with better-problem solving capabilities, which often leads to overall positive end results.

To their client’s advantage, female attorneys carry these attributes to the negotiating table or the courtroom, where we are well-organized and prepared, and we connect well with witnesses, judges and jurors, often having the tone and demeanor that not only commands respect but is viewed as credible and worthy of the fact-finder’s trust.

I recently read a piece published in 2020 Texas Law Review, “Reflections of a Lady Lawyer” by Lisa Blatt, which is relatable.  In speaking as a female lawyer, Blatt wrote “[w]omen don’t look or talk like Perry Mason, and you don’t want us to.”  When dealing with the situations in life that typically bring clients to seek a lawyer, there is comfort in having a lawyer who “gets you.”

I do not look or talk like Perry Mason.  I am me.  I am a female.  I am a mother.  I love my work.  I empathize with you.  I grapple with the work/life balance (and the inherent mother’s guilt) of maintaining a successful legal practice while driving the soccer carpool and being an attentive dance mom.  I hear you.  I represent you.

This post is sponsored by Suisman Shapiro Attorneys-at-Law.

Editor’s Notes: i) Suisman Shapiro is located at 75 State Street, New London, CT 06320. Their mailing address is 2 Union Plaza, P.O. Box 1591 New London, CT 06320.

Atty. Kristi Kelly

ii) Kristi Kelly concentrates her practice in labor, employment, and municipal law at Suisman Shapiro, the largest law firm in eastern Connecticut.  Living along the shoreline, raising her three children, Kelly is an attorney with whom the firm’s clients connect — they find her approach comforting in the most stressful times in their lives. Kelly regularly works with other female attorneys in the firm, Eileen DugganJeanette DostieCarolyn Kelly and Jillian Miller to meet client needs in many areas of law.  She is a VA accredited attorney and 2020 recipient of the Connecticut Bar Association’s Honorable Anthony V. DeMayo Pro Bono Award for her work to provide advocacy for veterans recovering from homelessness and mental illness to overcome barriers to housing, healthcare and income.

Legal News You Can Use: Filing a Motion for Contempt: What Do You Need to Know?

When Connecticut Family Courts hand down a final order, that order becomes law. If you do not agree with the ruling, you cannot choose to ignore it.

Instead, you must go through the courts to request a change. Your ex must do the same. Failure to abide by court orders may result in a contempt of court motion.

There are several reasons why parents file contempt of court motions, including but not limited to:

  • Child custody
  • Visitation
  • Child support
  • Health insurance
  • Medical bill payment

Filing a contempt of court motion

If you believe that your child’s other parent is in contempt of the court order, the first thing you need to do is file a form called Motion for Contempt.

This order does not automatically hold the other parent in contempt. Instead, it asks the parent to come to court to explain why he or she disobeyed the order in the first place. Once the court hears the explanation, it will decide whether he or she is guilty of contempt, what the appropriate punishment should be if guilty.

Hiring an attorney to file a Motion for Contempt

You do not need a lawyer to file a Motion for Contempt on your behalf, nor do you need an attorney to represent you at the hearing. However, many legal resources, including this one, highly recommend retaining the help of a qualified attorney who can help you with the process and fill out the forms appropriately.

A lawyer can also provide you with sound legal advice and ensure you do not do anything to jeopardize your case.

This post is sponsored by Suisman Shapiro Attorneys-at-Law.

Editor’s Notes: i) Suisman Shapiro is physically located at 75 State Street, New London, CT 06320. Their mailing address is 2 Union Plaza, P.O. Box 1591 New London, CT 06320.

ii) As Suisman Shapiro slowly begins to expand operations in their office building once again, the staff has made painstaking efforts to assure that their public spaces and work areas are thoroughly cleaned daily. Hand sanitizer is available at each entrance to our offices, and of course, everyone is carefully practicing social distancing.  Additionally, arrangements have been made for our clients to meet one-on-one with their attorney in a separate conference space. There is no need to enter the workspace or visit the reception area.  Prior to your appointment, your attorney will make specific arrangements with you regarding when and where to meet.

iii) Family law attorneys at Suisman Shapiro can discuss divorce issues with you and answer questions on the subject. Visit their website or call 800-499-0145 — lines are open 24 hours a day.

Legal News You Can Use: What to Do, What to Avoid When Creating a Co-parenting Plan

Co-parenting may become the new reality for parents after divorce. Photo by Jude Beck on Unsplash.

When a couple with minor children gets divorced, they face areas of adversity that childless divorcees or those with children, who are of legal age, will never know. Co-parenting may become the new reality for parents after divorce.

The couples that make it work are willing to make some minor concessions, create a plan that works for the children, and stick to it. There are do’s and don’t’s to follow when creating a co-parenting plan that will benefit the children and accommodate both parents’ schedules.

The Do’s

  • Consider your child’s situation: What will their new life be like? How much travel will be involved? Will it interfere with the child’s usual routine? Young children thrive with stability, so limiting distractions will benefit any child involved in a divorce.
  • Think about proximity: When you and your partner divorce, one or both of you may move out of the prior residence. If you do, how is this going to impact your children? Will they be able to attend the same school and be around their friends? Will you be able to keep using the babysitter your children are used to seeing? These are all important questions.
  • Talk with your spouse about letting your children speak their minds: Especially if your children are older and have a very detailed routine, they may have an opinion on their new schedule or bring up a good point that neither of you had considered.
  • Special needs: Does your child have special needs? If so, that must be addressed and planned around when considering your new home, custody arrangements, and any other change in their schedule and routine.

The Don’ts

  • Don’t focus on your convenience: Parenting is hard work. Making the co-parenting plan convenient only for you can create stress between you and your ex-spouse. Successful and amicable co-parents learn how to compromise together to ensure your children’s best interests are met.
  • Store away the need to win and seek revenge: Co-parenting shouldn’t be a competition; focus on the children’s best interests. Believe that your ex is also making the necessary concessions to make the plan work. If your ex makes a mistake a couple of times, try to avoid seeking revenge and resentment, because we all make mistakes. The time will come when you will likely have an issue (flat tire, stuck at work, etc.) that will interfere with the pick-up plan or cause your ex-spouse to pick up the slack. It happens. But if the errors become constant, it’s time for a more serious conversation.
  • Don’t belittle the other parent: Some parents don’t think so, but both parents have strengths that can help their children grow. Children should be able to rely on both of their parents. Most parents can learn new skills if offered the opportunity.

Lastly, don’t say yes to a schedule with “assumed conditions”. If your ex has to move to your child’s current school district, make sure the move is complete before agreeing to the co-parenting schedule. As stated above, successful co-parents stick to the plan and only make concessions when necessary.

This post is sponsored by Suisman Shapiro Attorneys-at-Law.

Editor’s Notes: i) Suisman Shapiro is physically located at 75 State Street, New London, CT 06320. Their mailing address is 2 Union Plaza, P.O. Box 1591 New London, CT 06320.

ii) As Suisman Shapiro slowly begins to expand operations in their office building once again, the staff has made painstaking efforts to assure that their public spaces and work areas are thoroughly cleaned daily. Hand sanitizer is available at each entrance to our offices, and of course, everyone is carefully practicing social distancing.  Additionally, arrangements have been made for our clients to meet one-on-one with their attorney in a separate conference space. There is no need to enter the workspace or visit the reception area.  Prior to your appointment, your attorney will make specific arrangements with you regarding when and where to meet.

iii) Family law attorneys at Suisman Shapiro can discuss divorce and co-parenting issues with you and answer questions on the subject. Visit their website or call 800-499-0145 — lines are open 24 hours a day.

Legal News You Can Use: US Senate, House of Representatives Pass Modifications to PPP

Congress has enacted legislation that modifies a number of provisions in the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) that was implemented as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act and its response to COVID-19. The new legislation gives business owners more time and more flexibility in using loan proceeds received through the PPP, and modifies provisions related to loan forgiveness. The bill now goes to the President for his signature.

Under the earlier version of the PPP, as administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA), business owners seeking loan forgiveness were required to use 75 percent of such loan proceeds for payroll costs, with payment of other costs limited to the remaining 25 percent of the proceeds. The new legislation revises the ratio of costs, and provides that the payroll portion must be at least 60 percent and the non-payroll portion no more than 40 percent.

The new legislation also gives small businesses more time to use emergency loans under the program. Prior rules provided that funds must be used within eight weeks for the recipient to qualify for loan forgiveness. That time-frame has now been extended to 24 weeks from the date of the loan’s origination, or Dec. 31, 2020, whichever is earlier.

The bill also revises the time-frame for repayment of any loan proceeds that are not forgiven. After passage of the CARES Act, the SBA assigned a two-year maturity date for such loan proceeds. The bill extends this period to five years. Although this provision applies only to PPP loans that are made after the enactment of the bill, lenders and borrowers are free to negotiate the terms of any pre-existing PPP loan in order to match the newly permitted five-year period.

Additionally, the bill revises the deferral period for payment on paycheck protection loans that are not forgiven. Under the CARES Act and the Small Business Act, lenders were required to defer the payment of principal and interest for six months. The new act allows recipients to defer payments until the date that the lender receives the forgiveness amount from the SBA. Recipients who do not apply for forgiveness shall have 10 months from the program’s expiration to begin making payments.

The bill also eliminates a provision that makes a paycheck protection loan recipient, who has such indebtedness forgiven, ineligible to defer payroll tax payments. The bill provides that deferral of payroll tax payments is available even if the loan is forgiven.

It is anticipated that the Small Business Administration will release guidance concerning the terms of the new law and its impact on those who participate in the Payroll Protection Program.

Suisman Shapiro offices in New London.

Attorneys at Suisman Shapiro are available to discuss the Paycheck Protection Program with you and answer your questions on the subject.

Visit their website or call 800-499-0145 — lines are open 24 hours a day.

Sponsored Post 

Legal News You Can Use: Does Mediation Make Sense for Your Divorce?

If you and your spouse are pursuing an amicable divorce, going through litigation may not make sense. No matter what your feelings are toward each other, you may both be clear communicators and able to work together.

If you have children, you may want to avoid a contentious process to protect them, too. In these cases, mediation may be your solution.

Yet, it’s important to understand both its benefits and drawbacks before moving forward with it.

What are the benefits of mediation?

Mediation is a dispute resolution process where a neutral third party – the mediator – can help both spouses reach an agreement. Mediators are trained to help couples avoid conflict, find points of agreement and reach an amicable resolution to their divorce in a timely manner.

Mediation makes sense if you hope to keep a peaceful relationship with your spouse, especially if there are children in the picture. By pursuing an amicable divorce, you two will serve as role models and display a united front despite your differences.

If you are also looking to reduce divorce expenses, mediation is typically far more affordable than litigation. And you may find that mediation gives you more control over your divorce, too, since you and your spouse are making decisions rather than the court. Yet, you two will still need any legal aspects of your agreement finalized by a judge before they are binding.

What are the challenges of mediation?

By choosing mediation, you and your spouse may run the risk of not reaching an agreement. Your mediator will not provide you legal advice and will only help you work toward a resolution.

Furthermore, mediation requires transparency from both parties, since all disclosures are voluntary. If there’s any chance your spouse is hiding assets, their failure to report them may prevent you from receiving your fair share.

Nonetheless, mediation may prove a worthwhile option for keeping the peace during your divorce. If you pursue this route, an attorney with family law experience can help you through the process.

This post is sponsored by Suisman Shapiro Attorneys-at-Law.

Editor’s Notes: i) During this challenging time, Suisman Shapiro is providing essential legal services via electronic communications that keep staff in touch with clients while, at the same time, keeping both groups safe.

ii) Family law attorneys at Suisman Shapiro can discuss the mediation process with you and answer your questions on the subject. Visit their website or call 800-499-0145 — lines are open 24 hours a day.

Legal News You Can Use: Work, Disability and SSD in the Age of COVID-19

Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash.

From New London to Los Angeles and beyond, the world has shut down to contain and fight the COVID-19 virus. The global lockdown has upended life for billions who now find themselves isolated in their homes.

While the isolation of self-quarantine and the anxiety of worrying about the illness that could lead to death is an alien experience for most people, it is for many disabled people a way of life that is not entirely new. Many who are unable to work because of injury or illness are excluded from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

recent article pointed out that even when those with disabilities can continue working, the odds of continuing their careers are long. After all, “people of working age with disabilities have an employment rate that is 28.6 percentage points lower than that of people without disabilities” the author stated, adding that only 4 percent of companies offer positions inclusive of disability.

It is almost impossible to find anything positive about the pandemic. Still, Americans have largely shown their best in dealing with the virus, going out of their way to protect not only themselves but to protect friends, family members, colleagues, customers and strangers.

Businesses have responded quickly to the virus, implementing home-work systems and customer-protection measures to keep us all safer.

The swift business adaptations have hopefully shown many CEOs and managers that companies can make simple accommodations that would successfully include valuable, productive workers who happen to have disabilities.

Of course, for those whose disabilities make them unable to continue working, no accommodations or adaptations will change their situations. They must instead turn to a social safety net, such as Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits.

Obtaining those benefits is a complicated process, however, requiring the disabled to complete and submit extensive and detailed applications and then gain approval from the Social Security Administration.

In many cases, applications are rejected. Appeals include revised applications and a hearing before an administrative law judge.

An attorney experienced in SSD appeals can guide you through the complex legal process and obtain for you needed medical records and physician statements, prepare you for the hearing and represent you before the administrative law judge.

This post is sponsored by Suisman Shapiro Attorneys-at-Law.

Editor’s Notes: i) During this challenging time, Suisman Shapiro is providing essential legal services via electronic communications that keep staff in touch with clients while, at the same time, keeping both groups safe.

ii) Attorneys at Suisman Shapiro can discuss Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits with you and answer your questions on the subject. Visit their website or call 800-499-0145 — lines are open 24 hours a day.

Legal News You Can Use: I Filed For Workers’ Comp: Can I Get Fired?

If you suffer an injury on the job in Connecticut, the law protects you when you file a workers’ compensation claim. However, some employers may try to find ways around these anti-discriminatory laws. 

Your employer is not going to tell you they are terminating you because you filed a workers’ compensation claim. Most employers know it is illegal. Instead, an employer may try to find other reasons to fire you. 

Your type of employment matters

Like most states, Connecticut is an at-will state. Your employer can terminate your working relationship at any time, for any reason, as long as that reason is nondiscriminatory. But retaliatory termination due to a workers’ compensation claim falls under the discrimination category. The law protects you in this case. 

If you are a contracted worker, your specific agreement could contain a common termination clause. The clause usually stipulates that the employer can terminate you if you are unable to work for a certain length of time. Employers can legally use this provision to fire you if you cannot return within that period. 

It is important to note that retaliation is not the only prohibited rationale for termination. Your employer cannot fire you for filing a discrimination claim or for refusing to violate state or federal law as part of your job duties.

Reasonable accommodation hardship

If you can return to work after an injury but have permanent restrictions, you and your employer must discuss reasonable accommodations. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, your employer cannot discriminate against you because you now need a reasonable accommodation. 

However, the ADA also states that if providing the required accommodation presents an undue hardship to your employer, the law may not require it. Your employer might try to use this to fire you, unfairly citing undue hardship as the reason for termination. 

When an employer retaliates against you for filing for workers’ compensation or otherwise tries to discriminate against you, you have protections under state and federal law. Pursuing a wrongful termination or disability discrimination lawsuit gives you the right to obtain compensation for the damages you suffered.

Attorneys at Suisman Shapiro can discuss Worker’s Compensation with you and answer your questions on the subject. Visit their website or call 800-499-0145 — lines are open 24 hours a day.

Sponsored Post

Legal News You Can Use: Why are ‘Gray Divorces’ on the Rise?

While the overall divorce rate has declined steadily over the past few decades, the number of couples over age 50 who decide to end their marriages keeps climbing. So-called ‘gray divorces’ have quadrupled since 1990, according to multiple studies.

Divorce can be an emotional and devastating experience for anyone, and it can be especially challenging for couples who have spent many years together raising a family and sharing many wonderful experiences as well as attaining a certain standard of living.

What are the leading causes of gray divorce?

Getting a divorce doesn’t have the same social stigma it once had, which has no doubt contributed to the surge, but there are many reasons why older couples choose to end their marriages, such as:

  • Financial management: Disputes over money are some of the most common reasons for divorce. Managing finances can be tricky, especially when one spouse controls the checkbook. Couples who constantly fight about money often decide to split.
  • Growing apart: Many couples who have been together for a long time say they have lost the spark they once had, especially after their children are grown and have left the house. Others say the relationship is just “not working out.”
  • Infidelity: Spouses who cheat on their partners are another leading cause of divorce for older couples. Relationship experts say baby boomers tend to be more independent than previous generations putting their needs and happiness ahead of others.
  • Living longer: Life expectancy is also much higher for baby boomers than it was for their parents and grandparents, and many older people are still healthy. Many who are struggling in their relationships believe that they are not too old to find happiness with another partner.
  • Addiction: Spouses who develop dependencies for drugs or other negative behaviors, such as gambling or sexual addictions also tend to put their needs ahead of others, and many refuse to get help. Those actions often spell the end for their relationship, even if their spouse has been supportive in the past.

Divorce can be a positive but challenging decision

Gray divorces create significant dilemmas for all members of a family, even if the children are adults. Dividing assets can be complicated, and many couples believe that they will need to go to court to get a fair outcome.

However, a compassionate and experienced family law attorney here in Connecticut understands how the process works. Your lawyer will look to avoid a court battle through mediation or a collaborative process, if it’s in your best interests, but will also fight for you in court if litigation is necessary.

Attorneys at Suisman Shapiro can discuss the divorce process with you and answer your questions on the subect. Visit their website or call 800-499-0145 — lines are open 24 hours a day.

Sponsored post by Suisman Shapiro Attorneys-at-Law.

Legal News You Can Use: What Happens When You Suffer From Chemical Burns?

Chemical burns are a real problem in some workplaces. Whether you’re working in a chemistry lab or teach at a local university, you could be exposed to chemicals that could leave your skin burned and damaged.

Chemical burns can be caused by some common chemicals found in schools, homes and workplaces. For example, common products that sometimes cause chemical burns include:

  • Ammonia
  • Denture cleaners
  • Chlorine
  • Bleach
  • Battery acid

What are some symptoms of chemical burns?

Symptoms of chemical burns include:

  • Irritation or redness in the affected area
  • Loss of vision if the eyes came into contact with the chemicals
  • Numbness
  • Dead or blackened skin

If swallowed, some symptoms that might occur include:

  • Headaches
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Shortness of breath
  • Seizures
  • Dizziness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Muscle twitches

If you believe that you’ve suffered a chemical burn or that you’ve ingested chemicals at work, it’s important to call 911 or get to the hospital quickly. Your health care provider will then make a diagnosis based on your condition.

Chemical burns can affect the epidermis, resulting in superficial burns with a high likelihood of recovery. They can also cause burns that go into the dermis, which is a second-degree burn. Third-degree, or full-thickness burns, are when the subcutaneous tissues are involved.

Chemical burns must be treated as quickly as possible. The chemical needs to be removed from the skin or body in whatever way possible. Usually, the skin must be rinsed for 10 to 20 minutes with running water.

If you suffer a chemical burn at work, remember that your workers’ compensation coverage should cover your medical care and other losses.

Sponsored Post on behalf of Suisman Shapiro Attorneys-at-Law.

Legal News You Can Use: Do You Know the True Purpose of Alimony?

Alimony is an important protection for some divorcees. If you are divorcing, it might be something you’re looking into seeking, too. Do you know how it’s determined? Do you have any idea about how much you need?

Here’s a little more about alimony, so you can understand what to expect.

1. Alimony is decided by the courts unless you and your spouse agree on an amount

Alimony is decided by the courts, but you and your spouse can decide on an amount yourselves in advance if you’d like. If you want to make up your own mind about how much you need, then you should sit down and budget. Find out how much you need in alimony to make ends meet, and then you and your spouse can talk about an amount that is feasible and how long it should be paid.

2. Alimony is designed to help a lesser-earning spouse and to “pay them back” for their support

Alimony has a few purposes. One purpose may be to help spouses who gave up their careers or who earn less and need time to make up the financial differences caused by moving out. Alimony can also be used as a way to pay them back for financial support while one spouse went to school.

3. Lump-sum alimony helps you avoid long-term obligations

Lump-sum alimony is a good way to avoid long-term obligations. With lump-sum alimony, the payer doles out the whole amount versus monthly installments. With lump-sum alimony, the recipient doesn’t have to worry about payments not being made, and neither the recipient nor payer have to stay in touch (unless for other reasons).

Attorneys at Suisman Shapiro can speak with you more about alimony and answer your questions on the subect. Visit their website or call 800-499-0145 — lines are open 24 hours a day.

Sponsored post on behalf of Suisman Shapiro.

Legal News You Can Use: Mothers Against Drunk Driving Remind Drivers to be Safe This Year

Photo by Matthew T Rader on Unsplash.

As the holiday season approaches, it’s important that people understand the dangers of drunk driving. That’s why Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has taken a stand again this year in Connecticut.

The Connecticut branch has spoken out to remind people to be safe on the roads this season, stating that 39 percent of the fatal crashes that took place in 2018 involved drugs and alcohol. The state ranked third in the nation for the highest rate of crashes involving drugs and alcohol.

In recent weeks, two people passed away as a result of drunk-driving crashes. In one case, the driver had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.137 percent, well above the legal limit of 0.08 percent.

MADD wants to remind people that it’s still possible to celebrate without driving drunk. You have options, such as limiting how much you drink on Thanksgiving, Christmas Day or other holidays, calling a ride-sharing service, staying the night wherever you plan to drink or walking to and from events. Whatever you do, you should not be getting behind the wheel of your vehicle if you’re intoxicated because it could put your life, and the lives of others, on the line.

What should you do if you are involved in a traffic accident with a drunk driver?

The most important thing to do is to get support for your injuries. You need to go to the hospital and go through a medical exam, so you can begin the process of recovery. With the right support, you can take the time to heal, and the other party can be held accountable for their actions.

Sponsored post by Suisman Shapiro.

Legal News You Can Use: How do you Know When to Return to Work after a Burn Injury?

Photo by Cullan Smith on Unsplash.

Burn injuries are serious. They can lead to infections, deformities and other chronic issues with your body. Severe burns range from the most painful to those that leave you without the nerve endings you need to recognize pain.

When you’re at work and exposed to fire, hot items or chemicals that could cause burns, you must take steps to stay safe. Those steps could be anything from wearing appropriate personal protective gear to staying a distance away from hot objects.

After a burn injury, returning to work can be frightening. However, there are many resources that can help you return to work. One benefit offered by workers’ compensation, for example, is training for a new position or job so that you can return to work when you are able.

How do you know when you’re ready to return to work?

There are a few ways that you will start noticing that you are ready to return to work.

  • Your medical provider has stated that you are physically capable or safe to return to work
  • Your health care provider agrees that you are mentally or psychologically prepared to return to work
  • You feel you have the support and guidance to return to the job
  • You and your employer have discussed having you return to work and the role you would take on

Not everyone gets to a point where they can return to work, especially with serious burn injuries. However, if you feel you are ready, you may be able to train for a new position away from hot items or be able to return to your old position with new safety steps in place to prevent similar accidents in the future.

Editor’s Note: This is a Sponsored Post from Suisman Shapiro Attorneys-at-Law.

Legal News You Can Use: What is a Nonadversarial Divorce?


Sponsored Post from Suisman Shapiro Attorneys-at-Law 

If you are in a situation where you and your spouse agree that a divorce is the right path, then you may want to pursue a nonadversarial divorce. The nonadversarial divorce process takes only 35 days at most and doesn’t require you to go before the judge. Typically, a divorce takes three or more months.

What makes you eligible for a nonadversarial divorce?

You may be eligible for a nonadversarial divorce if you have been married nine or fewer years, are not pregnant, have no children (adopted or biological), have no real property or interests, have no pending bankruptcy and have no property owned over $80,000 in value.

You will also have to show that there are no protective orders or actions for the dissolution of your marriage pending at the time you apply for the nonadversarial divorce. If so, you may need to wait for those to be dismissed.

You might ask yourself who would pursue this type of divorce, but there are many people with few marital assets and no children. Those are the primary factors that you’ll need to meet to get the divorce, along with being married less than a decade. If that sounds like your situation, then you may wish to reach out to your attorney to see if this divorce is right for you.

Legal News You Can Use: Injured at Work? Should I Make a Worker’s Comp. Claim?

Looks safe enough, but injuries can happen anywhere in a work environment.

Sponsored Post from Suisman Shapiro Attorneys-at-Law 

Imagine that you’re working at your desk. There are no significant hazards around you. You reach up and pick up a heavy box above you, and you suddenly feel a snap along your shoulder. You’ve been working in the same position for many hours, and combined with the strain of the weight of the box, you’re now struggling with a painful injury.

Situations like yours aren’t uncommon. It’s actually relatively common for accidents to happen on the job with little that can be done to prevent them. Whether it’s because of repetitive motions, picking up something too heavy or other causes, injuries can happen in an instant.

When they do, you need to know what to do next. No matter what kind of injury you suffer, your employer should help you file a claim with the workers’ compensation insurance carrier. If your injury is extremely painful, a coworker can take you to the hospital, or your employer can call for an ambulance.

It’s important that you receive care right away so that you can prevent the injury from worsening.

What information should you keep from the hospital visit?

Keep every piece of paperwork you receive. You should also inform the medical provider that this is a work-related injury so that they can give you copies of the correct documents for your employer.

If you are hurt on the job in any way, workers’ compensation should be there to protect you and pay for your medical care. Don’t delay in telling someone if you get hurt so you can get care quickly.

The Suisman Shapiro website has more information on the compensation and benefits you may receive after a work injury.

Legal News You Can Use: Are Connecticut Roads Prepared for Winter?

Snow’s so pretty but are the roads — and you and your vehicle — ready for the next winter storm? Photo by Korey Moore on Unsplash

SPONSORED POST by Suisman Shapiro Attorneys-at-Law.

Connecticut’s first winter storm of the season in mid-November caught many people off-guard, including the Department of Transportation. Snow blanketed many areas of the state just as people left work. Although the DOT salted the roads, it wasn’t enough.

Crashes and stuck cars closed three highways, causing major back-ups. A man from Florida died when he left his spun-out vehicle and another car hit him. Connecticut is no stranger to snow and winter driving, so what went wrong this time?

More snow than expected

First, the state received more snow than expected, but not by a huge amount. Fairfield County took the brunt of it, but many areas received over half a foot. This may have been enough to cause trouble. Drivers knew there would be snow, but didn’t expect quite so much of it. Connecticut drivers are used to driving in snow, and they may have thought they could handle it.

Bad timing

The storm’s timing did not help matters, either. Anytime bad weather coincides with the rush hour commute, you have a terrible combination. Commuters hurrying to make it home blocked the plows trying to clear the roads. Police had to escort them out of traffic.

Operations center failure

Unfortunately, the storm also caught Governor Malloy off-guard. He was speaking on prisoner reforms in California at the time of the storm and did not activate the emergency operations center. Nor did his chief of staff, Brian Durand, who sought advice from the Transportation Commissioner.

Are you prepared?

If you haven’t done your winter car check, now is the time to do it. You should check the following before hitting the snowy roads:

  • Battery. Many garages can test your battery. Carry jumper cables, even if you have a good battery. You may be able to save a neighbor in need.
  • Fluids. Top them off, especially windshield washer fluid and anti-freeze. Keep your gas tank at least half-full, as well.
  • Tires. Switch to winter tires if you have them. Otherwise, make sure your all-weather tires are in good condition.
  • Lights. It gets dark much earlier, and you want other drivers to see you.
  • Emergency kit. Make sure you fully stock your winter car kit with flashlights, water, snacks, a warm blanket, a first aid kit and kitty litter or sand.

Winter has only just begun. We will see more snow before the season is over. Stay safe and make sure you are prepared for the next winter storm. 

Visit the Law Firm of Suisman Shapiro  at this link for more information.

Legal News You Can Use: Prepare for Autumn Driving Hazards

Photo by Val Vesa on Unsplash

Sponsored Content by Suisman Shapiro Attorneys-at-Law. Driving around to see the beautiful fall foliage is a welcome activity for many people. If you are planning on heading out to do this, you must ensure that you are prepared for driving in this season.

You might not think of autumn as a season with specific hazards. Here are a few to remember as you head out the door:

  • The glaring sun can make it difficult to see, so choose polarized sunglasses as part of your driving gear
  • Leaves that have fallen are slippery, so don’t brake quickly on them
  • Deer and other wildlife might cross the roads, so remain watchful for them
  • Your eyes need time to adjust to the light outside, so plan for a couple of minutes for this before you pull out of the driveway
  • Fall rains can make driving conditions treacherous, so remember to avoid slamming on your breaks and steer into a skid if you hydroplane

Remember, even when you are driving safely, others might not be doing the same. There is a chance that you will be involved in a crash. If this happens, be sure to keep your wits about you.

  • Get medical care if there is any sign that you suffered an injury
  • Contact the police to get an accident report
  • Try to gather what evidence you can at the scene, including pictures and contact information
  • Be careful about what you say as you don’t want to admit fault, even if you didn’t mean to

All of this can protect your right to seek compensation if you should decide you need to pursue that path.

The Law Firm of Suisman Shapiro focuses on this area of the law. Visit their website at this link for more information.