Impact of Sequester, Sequestration on Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act System
It is even worse than it first appears.
As I reported to you first, a few weeks ago, the United States Department of Labor has issued a nationwide travel ban on traveling by Administrative Law Judges.
“To optimize resources in a manner that sustains our core mission to review and monitor injury/illness claims, facilitate dispute re solution and to make timely and accurate payments from the Special Funds, a decision has been made to suspend all travel by DLHWC Staff until further notice.” Impact of Sequester
This means, at least for the time being, all trials where the Judge has to travel to the hearing site have been immediately canceled. The Judges will only hear trials in the cities where they have offices. This affects many, many Longshore, Harbor workers, Defense Base Act workers, NAFIA workers and the like.
Let’s just focus on the west coast where we have offices. There will be no more Longshore trials - for the time being - in San Diego and Long Beach. However, this won’t affect trials in San Francisco for our San Francisco and Long Beach clients. There will be no more Longshore trials in Portland and Seattle.
Instead, the Judges are suggesting that you “submit your case on the record.” Which, of course, is a bad joke. This means that you don’t actually get your day in court where the Judge can see you. Or, you can have you and your witnesses testify via videotaped deposition. While this is better, it still isn’t all you could hope for. Or, you can move your trial to San Francisco or one of the other locations for Longshore and Harbor Worker’s Compensation Act Administrative Law Judges.
You Have To Read the Fine Print
This may have been the worse part of the Notice:
“This may have an adverse impact on the timeliness of case review and dispute resolution activities.”
You have got to be kidding. It already takes months if not years to get your case to trial. The Judges are backed up from 18 to 24 months in issuing decisions. The United States Department of Labor sits on the sidelines and allows all this bad stuff to happen. Now we are hearing that this may delay things even further?
Let me think out loud for a moment. Who gains by the Longshore and DBA insurance companies not having to actually pay benefits and claims during these long delays? Who gains when these insurance companies can invest the money owed to injured workers in the stock market or real estate market? Who gains when injured workers settle their claims for pennies on the dollar because they can’t wait years and years to get their benefits? Just wondering....
The hits keep coming for seriously injured workers. It goes from bad to worse. “Heads the insurance company wins, tails you lose.” Why is it that every time there is a change at the Department of Labor Longshore Division that injured workers take it in the shorts? Again, just wondering...