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Archive for June, 2016

Common Workers’ Compensation Concerns

workers' compensation concernWorkers’ compensation is a form of no-fault insurance that became law in Pennsylvania over 100 years ago. It provides a safety net for workers who are injured on the job, while assuring employers that they won’t be vulnerable to personal injury lawsuits. It provides compensation for medical expenses, as well as partial coverage for wages lost while out of work due to the injury, and as such it is an important benefit – yet one that few workers give any thought to until they are injured and actually need it. At Vanasse Law, we are here to help answer any questions you may have about your rights under workers’ compensation law, and to give you the answer to common workers’ compensation concerns. Here are answers to some of the questions we hear most frequently from people who have been injured in the workplace.

I hurt myself at work and told my boss. He says I have to see one of the doctors on the company’s list of approved physicians. Is that true? Why can’t I see my own specialist?

Pennsylvania’s workers’ compensation law requires you to see a company doctor in certain circumstances – they have to have a list of at least six health care providers for you to choose from, they have to give written notification of the existence of this list, and have your written acknowledgement of having received this list. If all of these are in place then you have to see one of those doctors for 90 days from the time of the first visit.

 How long does workers’ compensation last?

If you are receiving total disability wage loss benefits, there is no limit to how long you can receive payments. If you are receiving partial disability wage loss benefits, the maximum duration is 500 weeks, or just shy of ten years.

I have been receiving workers’ compensation and have been working desk work, but have not been able to return to my full time job. Now my supervisor says I have to come back or resign. Can they do that?

No. If your physician says that you are still restricted to light duty then you have a right to continue doing so. Do not quit! If they lay you off you can still receive your workers’ compensation wage loss benefits.

I had a heart attack that my doctor says was caused by stress at work. Can I file for workers’ compensation?

It is possible to get workers’ compensation wages following a heart attack if your physician provides evidence that it was a result of the work place environment. The attorneys at Vanasse Law can assist you in preparing and providing evidence of this claim.

My Human Resources department wants to send the company nurse to my appointments with my doctor. Can I refuse this?

You can’t stop them from going to the appointment, but you can say that they are not permitted in for the examination and you can tell the doctor that you do not want them talking to the nurse. If you have previously signed an authorization permitting your doctor to discuss your condition with a work representative, then you can withdraw that authorization.

As these questions show, Pennsylvania’s workers’ compensation laws are complex and often difficult to understand. If you have suffered a workplace injury, the attorneys at Vanasse Law are ready to provide you with the answers and explanation you need and the legal representation that will get you the compensation you need and deserve.

Farm Injuries and Workers’ Compensation

farm injuriesWhen people suffer an injury on the job, they are generally entitled to file a workers’ compensation claim to get reimbursed for their medical expenses and a portion of the wages that they lose if they need to miss work for treatment, recovery, or rehabilitation. Injuries can occur in nearly any kind of work environment, whether an office, a construction site, a retail setting, or elsewhere, but one of the job settings that puts workers most at risk is the farm. No matter what the job title or responsibilities, the potential for injury exists. Farm workers often work with animals or crops, and that can expose them to chemicals or disease. They also work with heavy machinery and tools. Despite the hazards they face, farm workers in some states do not have the same rights as other workers to file a worker’s compensation claim, and in the state of Pennsylvania only some workers have those rights. If you are injured on a farm in Pennsylvania, you need to know whether you are eligible to file for workers’ compensation. The Lancaster law firm of Vanasse Law can advise you on how the law applies to you, and can represent you when you file a claim.

What determines whether a farm worker in Pennsylvania can file a workers’ compensation claim when they are injured is the number of employees that the farmer employs and how much those workers are paid. The rule specifically states that a farmer has to have at least one agricultural worker to whom they pay at least $1,200, or else employ at least one worker for a minimum of 30 days or more per calendar year. If you are a farm worker whose owner is large enough to meet this threshold, then you can proceed with a workers’ compensation claim.

In some cases, a farm owner may tell you that they are not required to carry workers’ compensation because of these rules, but hey may be incorrect, even if they believe that they are. A farmer who brings in day workers as independent consultants who has not checked to see whether their employer has provided appropriate insurance may end up responsible for the workers’ injuries.  Even if not, there are still options available to you. A farm owner who does not provide workers’ compensation to a worker can be held liable in a personal injury lawsuit, and so can any third party whose negligence contributed to your injury.

An experienced workers’ compensation attorney from Vanasse Law will be able to help you answer these questions, and to determine what your options are. We will help you get compensation the compensation that you deserve for the damage that you’ve suffered. Contact us for a no obligation appointment to discuss your situation.

Steps to Begin Filing for Workers’ Compensation

Lancaster workers' compensationWorkers’ compensation is available to workers who have suffered any injury, or any other kind of medical condition that was caused by their job. It doesn’t really matter what kind of injury it is, or even whose fault it was that the worker was injured. It doesn’t even matter if you the condition existed before if it was made worse by the job. What matters is that you can show that it was job related, and that you take the right steps when filing for the benefit. At the Lancaster workers’ compensation firm of Vanasse Law, we are committed to helping those entitled to workers’ compensation to get what they deserve, whether that is compensation for medical expenses, payment for wages that they lose during their treatment, recovery and rehabilitation, or payments for long-term or permanent disability. The first step in getting your benefits is to follow the process correctly. Here are the steps to begin filing for workers’ compensation.

The first thing that you need to do is notify your employer of your injury. This must be done within twenty-one days after your injury, though you may have as long as 120 days. What’s most important is that you let them know, even if you don’t think that it’s a very important injury or that you won’t need treatment.

Once you tell your employer, they have to tell their insurance company, and they have just 21 days from when you tell them to agree to pay for your claim or to deny it. You will need to give them proof of your injuries to get compensation, as well as information about whether and when you can go back to your job or if there are things you shouldn’t or can’t do. You’ll have to go to the company’s designated health care providers for 90 days if they have them.

If your claim is approved, you’ll be able to get compensation for you expenses, as well as a portion of your average weekly wage. If it’s denied then you’ll need to file an appeal. Though you may have filed your initial claim on your own, if the insurance company or your employer issue a denial then you will need to file an appeal in order to get your benefits. At this point it is strongly advised that you begin working with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney, as they will be able to assist you with the process and help you to gather the evidence that you need to support your case. You will also need an attorney’s help if you receive a petition to terminate, modify or suspend your benefits.

The workers’ compensation lawyers at Vanasse Law have a record of success in helping injured workers get the compensation and benefits that they deserve. Contact our office today to set up an appointment to discuss your case.

Common Back Injuries at Work

Common Back Injuries at the Workplace

Anybody who has ever injured their back knows that the pain of a back injury can be excruciating. If you are suffering from the spasms and misery of a back injury that occurred on the job, you may feel like you’re all alone, but in fact you’re in very good and expansive company – back injuries are the second most common injury that happens in the workplace. Workplace back injuries can range from minor to crippling, and can be the result of overexertion or overextension, a fall, or even sitting in an unhealthy position for an extended period of time. Whether your back injury requires extensive surgery and permanent disability or simply needs a bit of therapy and pain medication, you are entitled to workers’ compensation to cover your medical expenses and to provide replacement income for any lost wages that result from needing time off from work. It is important that you report your injury to your employer immediately to give them the opportunity to provide you with the compensation to which you are entitled. If they respond with a denial of your claim, contact the attorneys at Vanasse Law to give yourself the benefit of a powerful legal advocate.

The back injuries that most commonly occur at work include:

  • Lower back strain
  • Slipped, herniated, or bulging discs
  • Pinched nerves
  • Fractured vertebrae
  • Spinal cord damage

These injuries can occur in a number of different ways, ranging from simply lifting a box the wrong way to being involved in a catastrophic automobile accident while on the job. Repetitive motions can cause back injuries, a slip and fall can cause a back injury, and even standing or sitting for too long in an awkward position can lead to damage to your back.

If you injure your back while on the job, you are entitled to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. Workers’ compensation is a no-fault insurance policy that employers provide to their employees in exchange for employees not filing personal injury lawsuits against them. In theory, workers’ compensation should be a relatively straightforward process,  but many employers or their insurance carriers deny claims, questioning whether a worker is actually injured, or whether the injury is actually work related. As experienced workers’ compensation attorneys, the Lancaster, Pennsylvania law firm of Vanasse Law has extensive experience in representing workers whose workers’ compensation claims have been denied.  If you have reported your injury to your employer within the mandated time period and they have responded with a denial of claims, then you will need to file an appeal of this denial, and this is a complex process. Having a knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney working as your advocate and representative will give you the advantage of being certain that all deadlines are met, all documentation is in order, and that you have an impressive array of medical experts providing testimony on your behalf. Getting compensation for your work-related back injury is a complex, serious process. Contact the attorneys at Vanasse Law to make sure that you’re in competent, confident hands.

Causes of Heart-Related Injuries on the Job

Heart-Related InjuriesThere are some injuries and work-related illnesses that are clear-cut and rarely questioned. These include accidents that occur in the workplace and exposures to chemicals and toxins that are present in the workplace. Unfortunately, other medical conditions are not as straightforward, and workers who suffer these illnesses or injuries are rightly concerned about whether their workers’ compensation claim will be accepted. High on this list is heart attacks suffered by workers.

Though to the ill employee there may be no question that their heart condition or heart attack is a result of work-related stress, employers and their insurance companies are highly likely to deny the claim and put up an argument. In the state of Pennsylvania, ruling on the merits of a workers’ compensation claim for a heart attack are based on how much exertion your job requires. Though your job may place you under tremendous stress, that emotional challenge is not enough to win your case. If you have suffered a heart attack that you believe was caused by your employment, you need an experienced attorney who can help you gather evidence to prove your case. The lawyers at Vanasse Law have a long record of successfully winning heart injury workers’ compensation cases, and can assist you as well.

Heart attacks suffered on the job can be a result of a job requiring a person to be sedentary for long periods of time followed by periods of extreme exertion – a truck driver is a perfect example of this type of activity or job responsibility. In addition to being caused by physical stress, heart attacks can also be a result of mental stress, and in some situations the state has held that an upsetting situation at work has directly caused a heart attack. In these cases, despite the objections of the employer, the workers’ compensation bureau has been convinced that the physical injury of a heart attack was the direct result of a work-related mental stimulus. The sick worker’s attorney was required to prove that the heart attack existed, and to provide testimony from a medical authority stating unequivocally that the attack was related to what happened at work, whether mental or physical. This type of legal argument requires a highly skilled, knowledgeable attorney with extensive experience in workers’ compensation litigation.

Whether you have suffered a heart attack as a result of physical exertion required at work or because of the emotional stress of an event or situation at work, it is important that you work with an attorney who is well versed in the specifics of Pennsylvania’s workers’ compensation laws, and who has extensive experience in successfully representing injured workers like yourself. At the Lancaster law firm of Vanasse Law, we are committed to making sure that our clients get the compensation that they deserve and that their rights are fully protected. Contact us today to set up an appointment.