In Hawaii’s workers’ comp system, people with long-lasting injuries are often forced to battle doctors hand-picked by insurance companies to get treatment.
This is Part 1 of an ongoing series, “Waiting In Pain,” about Hawaii’s workers’ compensation system.
Kolen Kauwalu was pumping liquid concrete, helping to assemble a platform that would anchor one of the construction cranes that loom over the Honolulu skyline, when it started to rain.
He lost his footing on the slick platform, falling about 12 feet to the ground, landing on his left leg. The pain in his knee was immediate. His skin felt hot.
Kauwalu didn’t know it on that March day in 2007, but he was about to embark on a 10-year odyssey into Hawaii’s system for compensating and treating injured workers.
Hobbled by pain from work injuries, Vanessa Sylva had to overcome medical reports by insurance doctors that challenged her need for surgeries.
This is Part 2 of an ongoing series, “Waiting In Pain,” about Hawaii’s workers’ compensation system.
Dr. Leonard Cupo had just testified in a workers’ compensation case in a windowless hearing room in downtown Honolulu. Cupo, a gregarious man, stood up and shook hands with the small group of attorneys and officials who attended the hearing.
Then he came to Vanessa Sylva, the injured worker whose case was the subject of his testimony. He’d been paid by a workers’ comp insurance company to examine and write a report about her.
Surveillance is accepted practice in workers’ comp cases. It can lead to a cutoff of benefits, but things are not always as they appear.This is Part 3 of an ongoing series, “Waiting In Pain,” about Hawaii’s workers’ compensation system.
This is Part 3 of an ongoing series, “Waiting In Pain,” about Hawaii’s workers’ compensation system.
Ken Weir claimed he had seriously injured his neck, back, shoulder and knee when he stepped into two open drains at work and twisted awkwardly. So how was he able to help his uncle carry a washing machine?
Chris Brigham has exerted major influence on how Hawaii’s insurers treat injured workers claims. Critics say he has mostly made it easier to slash benefits.
This is Part 4 of an ongoing series, “Waiting In Pain,” about Hawaii’s workers’ compensation system.
Chris Brigham presents himself as an advocate for people who have been injured on the job.
Workers are “members of the family,” the 67-year-old doctor told listeners at a convention in Las Vegas in December. “They really define who the company is.”
And when they’re injured, he says, they should not be cast off as “disposable items.”
He can sound, at times, like an alternative healer, leading his Las Vegas audience in a one-minute mindfulness meditation. He describes his encounters with Peruvian shamans and the lessons they offer. He rails against Big Pharma advertising and advocates for universal health care.