June 2021 Legal Report
By: Milan Rada, Esq. with John Hewson, Esq.
It was our esteemed privilege to once again address the executive board, and the delegate and trustee bodies at the most recent educational seminar presented by the PBA. These opportunities are always fantastic for both us and the leadership body to have the chance to discuss the important issues that affect all of the members from a disability perspective in one way or another. In addition to our presentation, Bill Miller, Esq. and Steven Losquadro, Esq. talked about their specialties, disciplinary and labor matters, respectively. While the Legal Report each month also gives us an excellent opportunity to go over many of the issues that pop up from time to time, the educational seminars are an unique chance to touch on some of the questions that are routinely posed inside the precincts. As always we are honored and privileged to represent this organization as its disability counsel for the past 33 years, and we take that responsibility with the highest regard.
From a practical standpoint, the seminar is a chance for our office to share some of our expertise in this field and show our great appreciation for the hard work that is constantly being done by the PBA on a day to day basis. While we certainly receive our fair share of questions on a daily basis from members, typically this interaction comes from a member who is a client of the firm or plans on becoming a client. For the delegates and trustees, communication with members is a daily occurrence with both big and small issues with questions sent by e-mail, text or phone calls at all hours of the day and night. We are huge advocates for the membership taking advantage of the resource that comes from highly trained and well-educated trustees and delegates. And of course, if the situation is one that even they cannot handle, we steadfastly remain yet another resource for the members to call in addition to their PBA leadership.
With that in mind and the summer coming up, several issues come up on a continual basis, which probably created the biggest feedback at the seminar. For starters, accident reports are always front and center when it comes to disability claims. The accident statement that is drafted at the beginning of a claim can be the difference between a member receiving a tax-free 3/4 Accidental Disability Retirement pension or receiving a 50% tax-free Performance of Duty Disability Retirement pension. It is scary to think that the moments following an injury, when a member speaks to a boss and starts putting together the paperwork, this exchange could be the difference between a 75% or 50% pension for the rest of his or her life, but that is the reality in which we live and operate. From a disability perspective, this is probably the moment when a member needs the PBA and his or her delegate the most. After years of hearing us speak, many delegates are absolute pros when it comes to drafting a complete and accurate statement that both convey the injury appropriately but also the FACTS AS TO HOW IT HAPPENED.
Any member who fails to take advantage of the expertise of his or her delegates when it comes to drafting the 206-a statement is taking too great a risk, in our opinion. As a reminder, the Departmental Manual states that the reporting of an injury must take place within seven (7) days of the occurrence. Therefore, that accident statement does not need to be completed immediately! In fact, we routinely tell members to take the requisite time to get the advice of the PBA when it comes to making sure that the paperwork is done correctly and accurately before submitting it to the Department. Taking a day or two to recall all the pertinent facts is advised. Quite often, your delegate or trustee will put you in touch with our office to review the statement and the facts for completeness and accuracy. This is entirely appropriate and is exactly why we are here to protect members. We are a resource that should be taken advantage of in even the most minor of circumstances…because we never know what those minor circumstances will turn into.
The other most current topic that has generated much interest is what to do with COVID-19 exposure cases that have touched our lives over the past year plus. Further, the question that was asked many times is how these cases are going with Workers’ Compensation as well as with the NYS Retirement System. The general answer is that in Workers’ Compensation the cases have gone very well although TRIAD did controvert or fight just about all of them in the beginning.. In fact, the vast majority of COVID-19 cases ended up being litigated at the Workers’ Compensation Board until very recently. After months of very similar if not exactly the same testimony being taken from members on their COVID-19 exposure cases, the Compensation Law Judges finally realized the burden and judicial inefficiency about the whole process and directed TRIAD to address the ongoing inconsistency between the NCPD accepting these cases as line of duty through the presumption that was granted by the NCPD last year and the fact that TRIAD was rejecting these very same cases. While we anticipated this fight as disability attorneys, due to the lack of a presumption at the NYS Retirement System level, we were happy to see that the WCB recognized how inefficient the claims of TRIAD were becoming to the system as a whole. As such, it appears that the TRIAD Group has changed its position going forward, and we obviously continue to monitor the situation as we represent hundreds of officers that have tested positive in the past year.
With over three decades representing the Nassau PBA comes the years of experience with dealing with both the routine as well as the more current issues that are facing officers in this county. It has always been our sincerest goal to simply do what is in the best interest of the officers for both the short term and long term of their cases. We take this responsibility seriously, and we simply will not give out bad advice that may lead to long term damage or without acknowledging what may occur in the future. With that in mind, please do not hesitate to contact us with any of your questions.
On October 8, 2021, our firm will be hosting a Nassau County PBA Appreciation Night at Adventureland Park as a show of our appreciation for the hard work that the members have been doing in the midst of the past year and a half. It is also our way of showing our appreciation for the men and women that we have been honored to represent for so long. Please see our ad for all of the information, and we hope to see you that night! Enjoy the summer…and of course, if you have any questions, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or by telephone at 516-496-0400. Have a wonderful summer!