Browse recent news and blog posts related to workers’ compensation below. If you need an attorney for a workers’ compensation issue, visit our practice page here.

Workers’ Compensation

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION


PRACTICE AREA / UTAH WORKERS’ COMPENSATION ATTORNEYS

We specialize in all aspects of workers’ compensation compliance and litigation. Our experienced attorneys are retained by employers and carriers to ensure that exposure is limited, and that the laws of the state of Utah are applied correctly.

Utah’s Workers’ compensation laws are the exclusive remedy for workers injured on the job. These laws are designed to provide timely benefits to workers, and ensure that employers are protected from frivolous and excessive claims, as well as the uncertainty and cost of traditional civil litigation.

These laws provide benefits for workers and their dependents for injuries or deaths sustained because of work-related accidents or illnesses.

Our attorneys specialize in defending employers and insurance carriers in all aspects of workers’ compensation compliance and litigation. Workers’ compensation insurance is mandatory under Utah law, and provides benefits to workers who sustain workplace injuries. This insurance provides employers with legal representation to ensure that the laws of the state of Utah are applied fairly and correctly. Clients of our firm include some of the most highly respected employers and insurance carriers. Our firm works diligently to ensure that our clients’ exposure is limited.

The workers’ compensation system protects employers by limiting the amount an injured worker can recover from an employer. Our firm advocates on behalf of the employer and insurer to ensure that the laws are applied correctly and that workers are awarded only those benefits to which they are properly entitled under the law.

Our attorneys are experts at the interpretation and application of these laws and rules.



UTAH’S WORKERS’ COMPENSATION ACT



The Utah’s Workers’ Compensation Act is an exclusive remedy for employers, their officers, agents and employees.
The rules that govern the administration of the WCA can be found here.



WORKERS’ COMPENSATION AUDITS



Our attorneys work with employers to review employment files and provide training on workers’ compensation compliance. This simple preventative measure protects employers and provides a strong defensible position for when claims arise.



RECENT WORKERS’ COMPENSATION LAW UPDATES





WORKERS’ COMPENSATION ATTORNEYS AT RICHARDS BRANDT IN SALT LAKE CITY



FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQS)



BUSINESS TRANSACTIONS & CORPORATE GOVERNANCE / FEATURED FAQS



Answered by:

Barry G. Scholl

Barry Scholl

Shareholder, Cybersecurity Section Chair and Business Practice Chair

A: To decide which entity is right for you, we look at: liability, taxation, and maintenance. Both corporations and LLC’s have limited personal liability—this means that owners are usually not responsible for business debts. However, corporations and LLC’s are taxed very differently—corporations are classified as a separate taxable entity, whereas LLC’s are typically taxed as a pass-through entity (unless you choose otherwise). And corporations and LLC’s have different levels of maintenance—LLC’s have fewer reporting requirements and can operate solely with members acting as the managers. Conversely, corporations are required to hold certain annual meetings, keep certain records, and appoint boards and officers to manage the company for the stockholders. Every situation is unique so we recommend that you consult with an attorney in making your decision. Contact our firm, Richards Brandt, if we can help you decide which entity is right for you.

Answered by:

Barry G. Scholl

Barry Scholl

Shareholder, Cybersecurity Section Chair and Business Practice Chair

A: To decide which entity is right for you, we look at: liability, taxation, and maintenance. Both corporations and LLC’s have limited personal liability—this means that owners are usually not responsible for business debts. However, corporations and LLC’s are taxed very differently—corporations are classified as a separate taxable entity, whereas LLC’s are typically taxed as a pass-through entity (unless you choose otherwise). And corporations and LLC’s have different levels of maintenance—LLC’s have fewer reporting requirements and can operate solely with members acting as the managers. Conversely, corporations are required to hold certain annual meetings, keep certain records, and appoint boards and officers to manage the company for the stockholders. Every situation is unique so we recommend that you consult with an attorney in making your decision. Contact our firm, Richards Brandt, if we can help you decide which entity is right for you.

Answered by:

Barry G. Scholl

Barry Scholl

Shareholder, Cybersecurity Section Chair and Business Practice Chair

A: To decide which entity is right for you, we look at: liability, taxation, and maintenance. Both corporations and LLC’s have limited personal liability—this means that owners are usually not responsible for business debts. However, corporations and LLC’s are taxed very differently—corporations are classified as a separate taxable entity, whereas LLC’s are typically taxed as a pass-through entity (unless you choose otherwise). And corporations and LLC’s have different levels of maintenance—LLC’s have fewer reporting requirements and can operate solely with members acting as the managers. Conversely, corporations are required to hold certain annual meetings, keep certain records, and appoint boards and officers to manage the company for the stockholders. Every situation is unique so we recommend that you consult with an attorney in making your decision. Contact our firm, Richards Brandt, if we can help you decide which entity is right for you.



BUSINESS TRANSACTIONS & CORPORATE GOVERNANCE – CASE STUDIES





Utah Manufacturing Company Needed Employment Contracts For Key Staffers




Utah Construction Company Needed Planning For Business Growth & Protection




Utah Family Enterprise Needed Guidance and Representation to Sell Business

REVIEWS




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Utah Workers’ Compensation: The Important Distinction Between Accident and Disease

Workers' Comp Article ladder fall

January 2015

What is an industrial accident?
The answer to this question is of paramount importance to both employers and injured workers in Utah. The amount of benefits available to an injured worker, and potentially owed by an employer, are directly impacted by whether an industrial injury is classified as an “industrial accident” under the Utah Workers’ Compensation Act, or an “occupational disease” under the Utah Occupational Disease Act.

Utah workers’ compensation law is somewhat unique in that it allows for apportionment in occupational disease claims. Apportionment allows a court to identify all causes of a medical condition, and then adjust the benefits awarded to reflect only the percentage of the injury actually caused by the employment. This system ensures fairness as the worker is paid for the industrial portion of her injury, no matter how slight, and the employer is released from liability for any non-industrial causes of the worker’s condition.

In contrast, apportionment is not available in industrial accident claims. A worker injured by “accident” is awarded full benefits for her entire condition upon proving her claim—even if the industrial accident only slightly contributes to, or aggravates a primarily non-industrial injury. The tradeoff is that, unlike in occupational disease claims, the employment is not assumed to be a legal cause of the worker’s condition. Instead that causal connection must be proven by the worker, the failure of which completely bars an award of benefits.1

Historically, Utah courts drew a common-sense dividing line between the two types of claims. An “industrial accident” was logically defined as a distinct, injury-producing event at work (e.g., falling off a ladder). An “occupational disease” was considered a medical condition that developed gradually as a result of a worker’s exposure to the regular duties of employment (e.g., extensive use of a ladder every day for months or years, resulting in a damaged knee).2

Unfortunately, Utah courts have since departed from that common-sense distinction. In the 1940s, Utah passed an exceptionally restrictive statute that essentially limited occupational disease claims to only a few, specifically identified types of conditions. The courts reacted by steadily expanding the definition of “industrial accident” to cover those gradually developing conditions which fell outside the narrow coverage of the new occupational disease statute, but which also failed to meet the original definition of “industrial accident” due to their gradual onset. Unfortunately, this initially well intentioned expansion has proceeded unchecked for nearly 75 years, and has now far exceeded the bounds of necessity. The courts’ current interpretation of the law essentially allows all gradually developing conditions (even those arising over a period of years) to be claimed as “industrial accidents.” This unbridled expansion has essentially caused a de facto repeal of the Occupational Disease Act and its apportionment provision.

The Utah Legislature has, somewhat recently, indicated its desire to reverse this unnecessary judicial expansion. In 1991, a new Occupational Disease Act was enacted, eliminating the restrictions of the original Act, and expressly providing compensation for “all” injuries and conditions gradually caused by the duties of employment. However, in the 23 years since its enactment, the Utah appellate courts have not been presented with the opportunity to interpret the “new” statute and define its impact upon the current expanded interpretation of what constitutes an industrial accident. As a result, the lower courts have maintained the status quo, continuing to apply the judicially expanded interpretation of the now superseded Occupational Disease Act. Through a currently-pending appeal before the Utah Court of Appeals, our firm has provided the Court with the opportunity to interpret the new statute. In doing so, we have requested that the Court give force to the Legislature’s intent that there be a clear and logical distinction between “industrial accidents” and “occupational diseases.” In issuing this challenge to the Court, we acknowledge the general hesitance of appellate courts to overturn longstanding precedent. However, we are hopeful that the Court will see the overwhelming need for clarification and reform in this hotly contested area of law. The specific details of the case will be shared in a second installment of this article once the Court of Appeals has rendered its decision.

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