Workers’ Compensation Claims Defense
While Julie Petraborg provides the varied legal services described below, most of her time is spent with the day to day defense of workers’ compensation claims. This involves finalizing settlements adjusters have made with pro se litigations, preparing legal updates on the status of cases, and appearing at Division prehearings and mediation settings in an attempt to settle cases short of hearing. Further into a case, Julie will depose claimants, secure medical reviews, depose medical and vocational experts, and ultimately represent her clients at hearing. A case may settle at any point in this process, and Julie’s goal is to make sure her clients are up to date on the risks and forecast for the rest of the case at every point.
Julie Petraborg has experience appealing cases to the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission and the Missouri Court of Appeals, from analyzing whether the cost of appeal outweighs the potential for recovery, to briefing and providing oral argument on the issues most likely to be successful. Although the scope of review becomes more limited at each successive level, ALJ’s occasionally issue an award that demands outside review. Julie sees the appeal process not as a last resort, but as another tool to represent clients persistently and diligently.
Civil Subrogation Litigation
When a work injury is wholly or partially caused by the negligence of a third party, the employee has an independent claim for recovery against that third party. This claim is pursued through the civil courts rather than the Division of Worker’s Compensation.
Further, an employer or insurer has a right of subrogation on this claim, meaning a right to claim reimbursement for all or part of the medical, temporary total disability and permanent disability payments made in the workers’ compensation claim. This right exists whether the employee pursues the third party claim or not. The Petraborg Law Firm is experienced in evaluating the merits of third party subrogation claims and representing its clients’ interests through negotiation and formal litigation.
Commutation of Permanent Total Disability Awards
Missouri law gives the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission authority to commute a permanent total disability award when it is in the claimant’s interest. To commute an award, the parties agree to a lump sum settlement that the claimant will accept in lieu of lifetime benefit payments. There are many factors that determine whether it is in an employer or insurer’s interest to propose or agree to a commutation, and many factors the Commission may weigh in deciding whether to approve such a settlement. The Petraborg Law Firm has experience successfully petitioning for commutations when it is in a client’s best interest.
Workers’ Compensation Policy Review and Consultation
While insurers and most medium to large employers typically have workers’ compensation policies of one sort or another, changes to the law can render those policies inaccurate or incomplete. Legislative actions like the 2005 changes to the Missouri statutes are obvious sources of changes in the law. However, a single Missouri Supreme Court case can drastically and suddenly alter an employer’s exposure on a certain legal issue, as the Scheomal case drastically changed the liability for dependents in permanent total disability death cases. The Petraborg Law Firm is available to advise employers and insurers on recent changes to the law and how those changes might affect internal policies.
Julie Petraborg enjoys public speaking, and has been giving presentations to peers and clients since 2004. She is especially interested in new and developing areas of the law, and has given presentations on workers’ compensation claims of illegal aliens, changes to the law proposed by the National Workers’ Compensation Commission, the financial condition of the Second Injury Fund and its impact from the employer and insurer’s perspective, and the effect of significant changes to Missouri workers’ compensation law in 2005. Julie welcomes invitations to speak from clients and third parties.