News Digest 4-29-2022


North Carolina bus driver still fighting for workers’ comp, three years after gas explosion

A North Carolina bus driver who suffered a traumatic brain injury in a natural gas explosion is still attempting to collect workers’ compensation more than three years after the incident, which killed two people and injured 25 others west of downtown Durham. His symptoms include headaches, fatigue and disruptive sleep and says he hasn’t been able to get the medical therapies he needs. WRAL (Raleigh, N.C.)


Vermont agency fines company for mishandling first responder PTSD claims

The Vermont Department of Financial Regulation has fined W.R. Berkley Corporation $85,000, and required it to contribute $15,000 to the state’s Financial Services Education and Victim Restitution Special Fund, for allegedly engaging in “unfair claim settlement practices,” with respect to first responders’ workers’ compensation claims for post-traumatic stress disorder, from 2015 to 2019. The company is a third-party administrator for Acadia Insurance Company. Burlington Free Press


Former gubernatorial chief of staff joins new West Virginia Intermediate Court of Appeals

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice announced this week Charles Lorensen, a former gubernatorial chief of staff and cabinet secretary, is joining the new West Virginia Intermediate Court of Appeals. In addition to non-criminal appeals of circuit court cases, family court cases, appeals of administrative law judge decisions and other matters, the intermediate court also replaces the Workers’ Compensation Office of Administrative Judges with a Workers’ Compensation Board of Review. The West Virginia Senate has approved the appointment. Weirton Daily Times


D.C.-area fire captain succumbs to occupational cancer

West Springfield, Virginia Fire Capt. Kimberly Schoppa died Tuesday after a battle with occupational cancer. About a year ago, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, which is now recognized in Virginia as an occupational cancer in the fire service. As a result, her death is considered to be in the line of duty. NBC Washington


Federal firemens’ comp claims to get special handling

The Labor Department has created a special unit to handle federal firemens’ workers’ compensation claims and eased the requirements for establishing certain heart and lung conditions and cancers are work-related, for purposes of the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act. The policy makes claims asserting certain conditions as eligible for expedited processing if the employee was engaged in firefighting activities for at least five years and was diagnosed with one of those conditions within 10 years after the latest such involvement. If those standards are met, additional evidence of specific exposures or medical evidence addressing causal relationship need not be submitted. FEDweek