January 27, 2011

If You Suffered a Slip and Fall Injury at Work, Remember to FIle Your Illinois Workers’ Compensation Claim

Illinois slip and fall accidents can happen anywhere—in your home, on the sidewalk, at a shopping mall, in a friend’s driveway, or while at work. If the slip accident occurred on someone else’s property and it could have been avoided were it not for the premise owner’s negligence, you may have grounds for a Chicago slip and fall lawsuit.

If the work injury occurred at work or while doing your job on property that is not owned by your employer, you may also be eligible to receive Chicago injury compensation for your slip accident, in addition to Illinois workers’ compensation benefits.

Common causes of slip and fall accidents at work:
• Poor lighting
• Slippery floors
• Failure to put up signs warning of slippery conditions
• Spilt foods or drink
• Debris on the premises
• Damaged carpeting
• Uneven flooring
• Snow or ice on a walkway

Although you do have to prove negligence to obtain Chicago slip and fall injury recovery, no one has to be at fault for you to receive Illinois workers’ compensation benefits for a slip and fall. As long as you weren’t behaving in an appropriate or dangerous manner or violating company policy in any way, ideally you should be able start receiving work injury compensation soon after you file your claim.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out this way. An employer or its insurer might reject your claim, which could put you in a financial bind—especially as an injured worker generally is not allowed to sue an employer over a work injury.

If this happens, don’t despair. An experience Chicago workers’ compensation lawyer can help you pursue your work injury benefits. This may mean taking your case before the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission or, if that doesn’t work, taking other legal measures to make sure you get what you are owed.

Related Web Resources:
Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission

Illinois Workers' Compensation Act (PDF)

Slip and Fall Accidents, Nolo

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July 14, 2010

$6.25 M Chicago Construction Accident Settlement for Injured Roofer

Roofer Luis Vasquez has received a $6.25 million Chicago, Illinois construction accident settlement for serious injuries he sustained on March 8, 2004. Vasquez was a roofer for Knickerbocker Roofing and Paving Co. when he fell some 20-feeet through a roof of a Metra-owned premise to land on the concrete floor. A waver of the $560,000 lIlinois workers’ compensation lien was included in the settlement.

The defendants in the case include Walsh Construction Company, the general contractor for the construction project, Metra, and Consoer Townsend Environdyne and Cotter Consulting, a contractor on the project.

Roofer Injuries
Roofers risk serious injuries when doing their job. Chicago slip and fall accidents, fall accidents from elevated heights, falling objects and debris, falls through skylights and unstable floors, and roof collapses are just a few of the hazards faced by roofers. According a University of Florida study from 2000, almost 88% of roofing accidents require hospitalization or end in death. Broken bones, traumatic injuries, and spinal cord injuries can be very painful and costly for the victim and his/her family. A worker with such catastrophic injuries may become disabled for life and no longer be able to earn a living to support the family.

With so many parties normally taking part in a construction project, it can be difficult to determine who should be held liable for your Chicago, Illinois construction accident injuries. Your employer should pay you your Illinois workers’ compensation benefits, and an experienced Chicago workers’ compensation law firm can make sure you are getting all the work injury benefits that you are owed. However, there may be contractors, sub-contractors, architects, insurers, manufacturers of faulty equipment, engineers, and/or other parties who also should compensate you for your injuries.

$6.25 Million Dollar Settlement Paid by Insurers for 57 Year Old Roofer Injured at a Walsh, Forbes.com, July 14, 2010

UF Study: Lax Safety Causes More Home-Building Deaths And Injuries, University of Florida, December 18, 2000

Related Web Resources:
Construction Safety, CDC

Illinois Workers' Compensation Act (PDF)

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July 1, 2010

Long Haul Truck Drivers at Risk of Suffering from Upper Extremity Injuries and Back Pain

Long haul truck drivers can get hurt not just during truck accidents but they are also at risk of suffering from upper extremity injuries and lower back pain due to the nature of the job. Unfortunately, because the job requires that a truck driver spend long periods of time on the road, many injured truckers do not receive the medical attention that they need.

Common upper extremity injuries included arm and hand tingling, scapula shoulder pain, lateral epicondylitis, humeral head and supraspinatus rotator cuff damage, medial epicondylitis, impact trauma to the shoulder, repetitive-stress injuries, and postural-related injuries. Causes of the most prevalent upper extremity injuries include:

• Having to raise and lower heavy truck hoods.
• Pulling the fifth wheel pin.
• Slip accidents while getting out of the truck and grabbing the handle bar.
• Sleeping on one side of the body while in a bouncing truck.
• Lowering of the landing gear.
• Driving with one elbow leaning against the window frame.
• Unloading a truck.
• Resting one hand on the gearshift lever as it constantly vibrates.

As these tasks are part of a long haul trucker’s job, for most truck drivers is only a matter of time before upper extremity injuries develop. These injuries can cause physical and emotional suffering while making it impossible for the injured trucker to do his/her job.

Truckers are also at risk of suffering from lower back pain. Truck driving can cause the body to vibrate for long periods of time. All of the heavy lifting and bending to pick up cargo can also cause back strain. Driving for hours at a time, cranking up dolly wheels, putting on and taking off tarps and chains, and jumping down and into truck cabs can also cause back injuries. As an injured employee, you are likely entitled to Chicago workers’ compensation benefits.

Truck Drivers and Lower Back Pain, Suite 101, March 18, 2003

Upper Extremity Injuries in the Trucking Industry, Dynamic Chiropractic, June 14, 1999

Related Web Resources:
Back pain and sciatica - Risk Factors, University of Maryland Medical Center

Truck Driver Demographics and the Risk of Musculoskeletal Injuries, EHS Today, April 24, 2009

Continue reading "Long Haul Truck Drivers at Risk of Suffering from Upper Extremity Injuries and Back Pain" »

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June 30, 2010

Wal-Mart Employee Who Sustained Brain Injury While Trying to Stop Shoplifter Dies

Wal-Mart worker Bruce Florence has died after sustaining a brain injury that he sustained when he attempted to detain a shoplifter at the store where he worked. Florence got hurt on June 14 when he tried to stop a man that was trying to sneak a TV that hadn’t been paid for out of the store.

The alleged thief, William Allen Kennedy, is accused of pushing the Wal-Mart employee and knocking him to the ground before running outside to a waiting motor vehicle.

Florence hurt his head when he fell. Doctors say that he began experiencing bleeding in the brain. After Florence was hospitalized for a number of days, he passed away on Father’s Day.

Kennedy, who is a suspect in other store robberies, is charged with aggravated robbery and shoplifting. Police say that he could be charged with murder if the medical examiner determines that Florence died because of the brain injury he sustained when Kennedy shoved him.

Although working in a department store may seem like a safe occupation, injuries can occur on the job, including:

• Ladder fall-related injuries
• Electrical accidents
• Injuries from falling merchandise
• Slip and fall injuries
• Back injuries
• Repetitive strain injuries
• Neck injuries
• Injuries sustained during store robberies and other violent crimes

Injured workers are likely covered under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. These employees cannot sue their employer, but they should receive their Illinois workers' compensation benefits in a timely manner. If third parties were involved, the injured employee may have reason to file a Chicago personal injury lawsuit.

Local Wal-Mart Worker Injured By Shoplifter Dies, CBS11TV, June 23, 2010

Wal-Mart worker dies after being pushed down by Fort Worth shoplifting suspect, Dallas News, June 24, 2010

Related Web Resources:
Wal*Mart Corporate

Workers' Compensation Overview, Justia

Brain Hemorrhage, Web MD

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January 7, 2010

Union Pacific Worker Can File FELA Lawsuit for Parking Lot Injury, Says Court

A state’s Supreme Court says that a retired Union Pacific worker can obtain work injury compensation for a knee injury he sustained while walking to work from the parking lot. Glenn Holsapple was hurt in April 2006 after he stepped into a pothole. He tore knee cartilage, underwent surgery, and took time off from work to recover.

Following the work accident, Holsapple, then a conductor, filed a FELA claim seeking work injury compensation. Union Pacific, however, argued that it shouldn’t be held liable for the knee injury because the accident happened before Holsapple reported for work.

A judge issued a summary judgment ruling in Union Pacific’s favor. However, the state's Supreme Court says that the railroad company can be held liable for the knee injury because the accident happened during the course of employment, right before work, and on a driveway that employees use to go from the parking lot to the railroad depot. The parking lot is owned by the city.

Holsapple’s FELA attorney, however, says that the only reason his client was in the driveway was because he was headed to his job. He says the railroad company has a responsibility to make sure that the parking lot is a safe premise for its workers.

FELA Lawsuits
Under the Federal Employees Liability Act, railroad workers can collect damages for railroad worker injuries. Compensation can be obtained for medical expenses, rehabilitation, lost wages, and other damages. Unlike Illinois workers’ compensation, which provides work injury benefits but doesn’t allow an injured worker to sue an employer, FELA lets an injured railroad worker sue for damages. However, in order to obtain recovery an injured worker must prove that the work injury was at least partially caused by the railroad company’s negligence.

Neb. high court says UP worker can sue for injury, AP, December 11, 2009

Read the Advance Sheets for the case (PDF)

Related Web Resource:
Union Pacific

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November 18, 2009

Recent Railroad Injury Lawsuits Claim Damages for Injuries and Slip and Fall

A railroad worker is suing BNSF Railway Company for spinal injuries he says he sustained on the job. Gary Bremer, who has worked as a conductor since 1979, says he has cumulative spinal and low back trauma because of the work he did for BNSF.

While doing his job, Bremer has ridden on locomotives and other equipment that he claims caused the excessive stress injuries. In his Illinois railroad worker injury lawsuit, he is accusing BNSF of neglecting to provide a safe working environment, safe equipment, safe working conditions, and safe working methods. He also says the railroad company neglected to decrease the degree of cumulative trauma exposure, exposed him to the trauma, and failed to inspect his work injuries.

In another Illinois railroad worker injury lawsuit, this one involving injuries sustained during a trip and fall accident, former Union-Pacific Railroad Company worker Phillip Roberts says that the railroad company neglected to award him damages for the disfigurement he suffered during the work accident, as well as for his lost wages.

Roberts worked for Union-Pacific as a trackman. He hurt his lower back when he tripped on a wire that was extended along the company’s railroad tracks. He had to undergo surgery.

Union Pacific argued that the trackman had been warned about the trip hazard. The railroad injury case went to trial and a jury found Roberts 50% liable. They awarded him $250,000 of $500,000 but did not award damages for his disfigurement.

Roberts is seeking a new trial. He claims the jury neglected to award him damages for his disfigurement and that the award he received for economic damages is too low.

Illinois Railroad Worker Injuries
Railroad workers are susceptible to injuries when doing their job. While some injuries can happen instantly, such as those that are sustained by workers during a train crash or a work-related blast, many injuries are cumulative and can become progressively worse over the years. Back injuries, soft tissue damage, and repetitive strain-related issues are some of the painful and damaging injuries that can result.

Most railroad workers are covered by the Federal Employee Liability Act. They can file a FELA claim for injuries.

Spinal injuries claimed in worker's suit against BNSF, The Record, November 18, 2009

Plaintiff asks for new trial in railroad slip and fall, The Record, November 13, 2009

Related Web Resource:
FELA Quick Facts, EzineArticles.com

BNSF Railway Company

Union Pacific

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November 12, 2009

Illinois Manager Obstructed OSHA Investigation into Worker’s Fall Accident Death

An Illinois roofing company manager has been ordered to serve 30 days in jail after pleading guilty to obstructing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s probe into a worker’s death. The charges that Moline resident Stephen Vynke agreed to plead guilty to are one count of making false statements related to the work accident probe and two felony counts of obstructing pending proceedings.

Vynke must also pay a $5,000 fine. He is to spend two years under supervised release.

A 36-year-old worker with Winter's Architectural Roofing Company died on October 10, 2007 after falling 16 feet from the roof of a building he was working on. Vynke admits that he set up safety fall protection after Walter L. "Boe" Whipple's fall accident and made false statements when speaking to OSHA.

Fall accidents, including falls from roofs, cranes, scaffolding, elevated heights, and slip and fall accidents, continue to be common causes of work injuries or deaths.

Companies are supposed to make sure that safety measures are in place so that workers are protected from hazardous conditions that could result in injury or death. However, in Illinois, it shouldn't matter whether the employee or the employer was at fault for causing the work accident if the employee is entitled to Illinois workers’ compensation benefits.

Filing your work injury claim as soon as possible is the first step to obtaining your benefits.

Manager at Illinois Firm Sentenced for Obstructing OSHA Investigation, Claims Journal, October 21, 2009

Vyncke pleads guilty to covering up safety violations, Quad Times, May 22, 2009

Related Web Resources:

Benefit Rates, Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission

Continue reading "Illinois Manager Obstructed OSHA Investigation into Worker’s Fall Accident Death" »

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November 2, 2009

OSHA’s 2009 Top 10 Safety Violations

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued its list of the 10 most common workplace safety violations for the year:

9,093 Scaffolding violations: Most common causes of scaffolding accidents involve the support or planking giving way or the employee slipping or getting hit by a falling object.

6,771 Fall Protection violations: Workers in the general industry working at a height of four feet or greater must be adequately protected. In the construction arena workers must be protected when working at six feet or higher.

6,378 Hazard Communication violations: Chemical makers and importers must evaluate the hazards of their products and develop safety data sheets and labels so that downstream clients are made aware of these hazards.

3,803 Respiratory Protection violations: Workers must be protected against dangerous dusts, smokes, fogs, gases, mists, sprays, vapors, and inadequate oxygen environments. Failure to do so can result in lung impairment, cancer, and other diseases. It can also lead to deaths.

3,321 Lockout-Tag Out violations: Employees must be protected from hazardous energy released during maintenance or service. They also must be protected from the unexpected activation of equipment and machinery.

3,079 Electrical Wiring Violations: Electricians, engineers, sales people, office workers, and other employees must be protected from the hazards of working directly or indirectly with electricity.

3,072 Ladder violations: Falls from ladders can result in traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and death. Fall accidents cause 8% of all occupational-related fatalities involving trauma.

2,993 Powered-Industrial Trucks violations: Tens of thousands of people are injured each year because of forklift accidents.

2,556 Electrical violations

2,364 Machine Guarding violations: Protecting workers from any part, process, or function that can injure or kill a worker.

Compared to same time period last year, the number of top 10 violations has gone up nearly 30%.

Regardless of who or what caused a work accident, most workers are entitled to Illinois workers’ compensation benefits.

OSHA Reports on Top 10 Safety Violations for 2009, Reuters.PR Newswire, October 27, 2009

Related Web Resources:

Continue reading "OSHA’s 2009 Top 10 Safety Violations " »

August 5, 2009

Illinois Painter Sustains Serious Work Injuries During Stairwell Fall Accident

A painter says she sustained serious injuries to her head, shoulders, neck, spine, arms, legs, back, and feet when she fell off a stairwell that did not have railing. Laurie Hilliard was employed by Touched by an Angel when the Illinois construction accident happened on July 30, 2007. The company had been hired to provide trim and paint work at the home.

Injured Illinois workers usually are entitled to obtain workers’ compensation benefits from their employers. However, there also may be third parties that can be sued for personal injury because they are liable for the work accident.

Hilliard’s Illinois personal injury complaint, file last month, names Dan and Elaine Whys, Brandon Wyhs, Wyhsco Construction, Don Waddles, Archway Construction, Don Waddles, and Matt Mallinex as defendants.

The injured worker says the work accident caused her to experience great physical and emotional pain and suffering, loss of normal life, disability, and lost wages. She also has medical expenses stemming from her work injuries.

The plaintiff’s 16-count lawsuit is seeking over $700,000 plus costs and other relief. Hilliard blames Elaine and Dan Wyhs of neglecting to reasonably inspect the premises, failing to note that there was a fall hazard, not exercising enough care to make sure she didn’t get hurt, neglecting to remedy the fall hazard, and failing to properly supervise the work site.

Hilliard says that all of the defendants created a fall hazard when they took off the railing that served as a barricade to the unfinished stairwell.

In June, another Illinois painter was awarded over $2.84 million for a heel injury he sustained during a fall accident at a school construction site. In 2003, William Theiss fell 15-feet while working on a lift that didn’t have a guardrail.

He had to undergo a number of surgeries to treat his injuries and was unable to properly do his job after the Illinois construction accident. After taking into account the issue of comparative negligence, Theiss’s award was reduced to $1.98 million.

Painter sues after falling from unfinished stairwell, The Record, August 5, 2009

Related Web Resource:
Construction Accidents Overview, Justia

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July 24, 2009

Illinois Worker Undergoes Tracheotomy After Falling From Ladder

An Illinois worker sustained serious injuries when he fell while climbing down a ladder. Richard L. Godwin fractured several ribs and vertebrae, as well as sustained a serious head injury during the Illinois work accident, which occurred on April 24. He had to undergo a tracheotomy and use a feeding tube following the work accident. Godwin was working for Survant Air Systems on a job in Fairview Heights when he got hurt.

While Illinois workers’ compensation law allows an injured worker to obtain work injury benefits for any injuries sustained on the job, state law also allows an injured employee to sue third parties for personal injury.

On July 21, Godwin and his wife Dianna filed their Illinois personal injury lawsuit against Old Style Roofing Company. They are accusing the company of failing to secure the ladder to the roof and neglecting to warn Godwin that the ladder was not secured properly.

They are seeking an over $100,000 personal injury judgment. The couple contends that Godwin suffered disability, pain, mental anguish and distress, and loss of enjoyment of life as a result of the work accident. He also can no longer attend to his regular responsibilities and has medical bills that must be paid because of the work accident.

Common Kinds of Injuries Caused by Ladder Falls:

Spinal cord injuries
• Head injuries
Traumatic brain injuries
• Arm injuries
• Leg injuries
• Chest injuries
• Pelvis injuries

Falls from scaffolds and ladders account for a significant number of work injuries. It is important that a ladder is properly positioned, secured, and in proper working condition when used by a worker on the job. Regardless of why a ladder-related work accident occurs, Illinois workers are more than likely entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.

Roofing company blamed for worker's fall and tracheotomy, The Record, July 24, 2009

Related Web Resources:

Misuse of Portable Ladders, OSHA

Safe Ladder Management, Safety-Engineer.com

Continue reading "Illinois Worker Undergoes Tracheotomy After Falling From Ladder" »

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June 24, 2009

Chicago Slip and Fall Work Accident: Worker Dies After Falling into Manhole

A Chicago Park District employee was killed after he slipped and fell into a manhole. William Daniels III was in Mann Park doing maintenance work last week on the wading pool when he appears to have opened a drain, slipped, and fell in. He was partially submerged in the drain after he was struck by a rush of water. Someone saw him leaning into the manhole and contacted 911.

Firefighters arrived to rescue Daniels, who was in cardiac arrest by the time they arrived. Daniels, 59, was pronounced dead at St. Margaret’s hospital. Tests will be conducted to determine if he died from drowning.

Manhole Accidents
Manhole accidents can cause serious injuries to workers. Just this April, two contract workers collapsed while in a manhole. One of the workers died. Investigators have said that the air in the manhole contained 13% oxygen. Less than 16% oxygen in the atmosphere is considered very dangerous. The deadly work accident happened just one block away from where a worker had to be rescued from another manhole.

Just last month, a judge issued an order that allowed family workers of two workers that died in a manhole accident to move forward with their wrongful death lawsuit against Boyd Gaming, the owner of the hotel-casino where the tragic work accident happened. Boyd supervisors were accused of ordering the employees to go into the manhole even though they allegedly knew it could prove fatal. A third worker also sustained serious injuries during the work accident.

In October, a Consolidated Edison worker that was splicing cable was killed in a manhole blast. In 2003, a construction worker broke his leg while working in a manhole.

Sewer death: Autopsy set for Park District worker who died, Chicago Tribune, June 24, 2009

Chicago Park District employee drowns in catch basin, Chicago Sun-Times, June 16, 2009

Suit in Orleans worker deaths allowed to proceed, LasVegasSun.com, May 1, 2009

Worker dies while in manhole, ABClocal.go.com, April 24, 2009

Related Web Resources:
Chicago Park District

Illinois Industrial Commission

Continue reading "Chicago Slip and Fall Work Accident: Worker Dies After Falling into Manhole " »

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March 26, 2009

Illinois Industrial Commission Awards Benefits to Worker Injured in Trip and Fall Accident in Employee Parking Lot

The Illinois Industrial Commission awarded benefits to a claimant who tripped and fell after finishing her shift, leaving, and then going back to the workplace. The employee fell in the company parking lot. She worked for North American Lighting.

The woman was a shift factory worker. She worked on the second shift. On the day of her work accident, she clocked out at 1:30am and went to her motor vehicle. She got into her car and moved the vehicle closer to the building. She went back into the building, used the bathroom, and got a candy bar and a cup of coffee.

The claimant tripped and fell over a parking curb as she went to the vehicle. The woman claims that she did not see the curb because the lighting in the parking lot was dim.

Based on the personal comfort doctrine, the arbitrator awarded her benefits and a majority of the commission affirmed this decision. The outcome of this workers’ compensation claim affirms going back into one’s workplace to use the facilities after one’s work for the day has ended is considered a reasonable and foreseeable act per the personal comfort doctrine. This means that her work injury is covered under Illinois’s workers’ compensation law.

The Personal Comfort Doctrine
The personal comfort doctrine allows an employee to engage in certain acts essential to one’s comfort and health while at work and during a reasonable period of time before the actual work begins and ends. Examples of actions that could fall under the personal comfort doctrine: include taking occasional work breaks, and getting something to eat or drink.

Factory worker assembles compensable claim for parking lot injury, Risk & Insurance, March 19, 2009

Related Web Resource:
Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission

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December 23, 2008

Undocumented Workers are Entitled to Illinois Workers’ Compensation Benefits, Says State Appeals Court

The llinois’ 1st Judicial District Appellate Court says that Illegal immigrants who are injured on the job are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits even though they are not legally allowed to work in the United States. The state appeals’ court’s ruling is in accordance with the rulings issued by appeals courts in other US states that hold that the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 does not prevent undocumented workers from receiving work benefits if they are injured on the job.

According to Economy Packing Co. v. Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, Mexican national Ramona Navarro got hurt during a slip accident when she was working on an assembly line in May 2002. Through arbitration, she was awarded $147/week for 60 weeks for her temporary total disability. She was also awarded permanent total disability benefits at $371/week for the remainder of her life.

The arbitrator determined that Navarro was an “odd-lot” worker, meaning that her disabilities, coupled with her limited skills, would keep her from finding work in the future. To qualify for permanent disability benefits as an “odd-lot” worker, the injured worker must show that age, experience, education, or training prevents her from obtaining work.

The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission and a trial court agreed with the arbitrator. However, Economy Packing Co. appealed the decision. The company said that undocumented workers can never be employed whether or not they have disabilities because they are not allowed to work in the US.

The Illinois appeals court disagreed with Economy Packing. The court found that even though Navarro cannot legally work in the US, she could have obtained work outside the country if she hadn’t suffered her permanent disability injuries.

A catastrophic or permanent injury sustained during an Illinois work accident could prevent you from being able to work in the future and support your family. If you are an illegal alien who was injured on the job while working in Illinois or another US state, do not be afraid to explore your legal options for compensation.

Ruling Allows Comp Benefits for Undocumented Immigrant, Workforce Management, December 16, 2008

Read the Court's Opinion (PDF)

Related Web Resources:

Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission

Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986

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