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Archive for October, 2016

Reporting Unsafe Work Conditions

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Workers’ compensation is there to provide for employees who are injured on the job. But what happens when you see an unsafe situation in your work environment and want to take action before or you any of your coworkers get hurt? Many times an employee will become aware of a work hazard and be uncertain as to what steps they should take, especially if they fear repercussions from their boss. The truth is that every employee is entitled to a workplace that is free of safety conditions that could jeopardize their health, and they have a right to report problems to their employer and/or the proper authorities. They even have the right to refuse to work if they feel that they are in immediate jeopardy. Here is some helpful information on reporting unsafe work conditions. If you are uncertain about your rights or feel that you are being punished for taking action, contact the Lancaster law firm of Vanasse Law for assistance.

The federal agency that is responsible for ensuring that work environments in the United States are safe is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Their mission is to make sure that employers provide a work environment that is safe and that won’t cause injury, illness or death. There are many safety standards that the agency has established to accomplish this goal, and their rules extend to the actions that employees can take on their own behalf. If you believe that conditions in your workplace present an immediate danger, you have the right to report the problem directly to OSHA. This applies to situations where you think that somebody is going to imminently be killed or suffer serious injury and your boss will not take action to address the problem. If you do not have time to report the problem to OSHA and you have no other reasonable options, you have the right not to go to work under the existing conditions, and not face repercussions.  Where the danger that is present is not imminent, the expectation is that the employee first addresses the situation with their employer in writing. Only after the employer fails to take action should the situation be escalated to OSHA or the state occupational safety agency.

It is important for you to realize that in taking action to notify your employer or OSHA about a significant safety issue, you are protected against retaliation, including being fired or demoted, a pay cut, or any other form of negative action. If you feel that you have been a victim of retaliation, you can seek reinstatement of your previous pay level or job, and also receive compensation for any wages that you have lost in the interim.

The primary interest of your employer is to make money, but they need to do so in a way that ensures that all of those that work for them are safe and healthy. If you are having a problem in the workplace or have already suffered an injury, contact the workers’ compensation attorneys at Vanasse Law today for immediate, knowledgeable legal representation.

Workers’ Compensation and Job-Related Stress

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There is a lot to be said for engaging in work that fills us with pride and a sense of fulfillment. How often do we hear about lottery winners who insist that they are not going to leave their job because of the sense of purpose that it provides to them.  This type of work environment is what we all hope and strive for, but is unfortunately not what we all have. There are many situations where our jobs fill us with stress and worry, and this can lead to both mental and physical issues. When a physical or psychological condition develops as a result of job-related stress, the costs can be very real: workers may need time off, may incur medical expense, and may even be unable to return to the work environment. Workers’ compensation provides coverage for both physical injuries and mental injuries that are caused by job-related stress, and the Lancaster law firm of Vanasse Law can help you get the benefits that you need.

When it comes to stress and workers’ compensation, there are a few different categories of injuries for which you can claim benefits. These are:

  • Physical situation or injury that creates a mental injury. A good example of this would be that of an employee who was involved in a traumatic accident at work, such as a serious fall, or having suffered an amputation or having been badly burned, and then suffering from depression or post-traumatic stress disorder afterwards.
  • Emotional or mental situation that creates a physical injury. A good example of this would be that of an employee who was suffering severe stress on the job as a result of pressure or harassment on the part of a supervisor, and subsequently suffering a heart attack.
  • Emotional or mental situation that creates a mental injury. A good example of this would be that of an employee who was subjected to extreme harassment or discrimination on the job that subsequently results in them being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, or anxiety.

Though the first category cited here, a physical situation that creates a mental injury, is often the easiest type of job-related stress injury to prove, all three situations represent valid workers’ compensation claims that a qualified and experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help you with. Though employers and their insurance companies often initially reject a claim for workers’ compensation benefits for job-related stress, the workers’ compensation board and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court have both found in favor of employees in many of these cases, acknowledging that stress can have a very real and debilitating impact on a person’s physical and mental health that often interferes with their ability to perform their job responsibilities.

If you are an employee who has suffered as a result of work-related stress, you are not alone. Contact the compassionate attorneys at Vanasse Law to learn more about your rights and how we can help you get the compensation that you deserve.

Traveling to Work and Workers’ Compensation

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As an employee, your focus on the job goes far beyond the hours when you are in your work environment. You think about your responsibilities from the time that you start getting ready in the morning and you rehash the day’s skirmishes hours past the time that you leave. But is your employer’s responsibility to you as all-consuming as your focus on them is? Not necessarily. A good example is the issue of traveling to work and workers’ compensation. Workers’ compensation is a no-fault insurance policy that your employer provides to pay for any injury or illness that you suffer while on the job – but there are only a few situations where your company’s insurance will cover you if you are injured while traveling to or from work. Here is some basic information on traveling to work and workers’ compensation that may answer some of your initial questions. If you have been in an accident or suffered some kind of injury while traveling to work, the experienced workers’ compensation attorneys at Vanasse Law can help you with your specific questions and situation.

In most situations, workers’ compensation does not cover injuries that an employee suffers while on the way to or from work. Though an employee may think of their commuting time as being part of their job, from a legal and insurance perspective it is not. There are, however, certain scenarios that may entitle a worker who is injured while traveling to work to file a workers’ compensation claim. These include

  • Employees whose job responsibilities entail them being on the road on a constant basis. This can include sales professionals and traveling nurses for whom travel is an integral part of their responsibilities.
  • Employees whose job responsibilities require that they report to work when called, or on an “on-call” basis. This can include physicians or health care professionals and first responders. Employees that fall into this category are generally considered to be working from the moment that they are called to report in.
  • Employees that are traveling for business are covered by workers’ compensation when they are on their way to or from their business destination, and are often covered while at that destination even if they are not engaged in a recreational activity while away.
  • Employees that are asked to run a business or work errand while on the way to or from work. This exception also applies to employees that are asked to run a work errand in the middle of the work day.

When it comes to being injured while on the way to or from work, every situation is unique and requires analysis by an experienced and knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney. The attorneys at the Lancaster law firm of Vanasse Law have an extensive record of helping those who have been injured on the job to understand their rights and get the compensation that they deserve. Call us today to set up an appointment to discuss your case.

Guidelines of Workers’ Compensation

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Whether you’ve only worked for your company for a short period of time or have been with the same employer for dozens of years, you are probably covered by their workers’ compensation insurance. Workers’ compensation is an insurance policy that provides employees that are injured or sickened on the job with a way to be compensated for their medical expenses and lost wages without having to file a personal injury lawsuit against their employer. It also provides their employer with protection against that type of liability claim. Though the system was designed to decrease animosity, filing a workers’ compensation claim can, unfortunately, become an adversarial process. Having an experienced workers’ compensation attorney acting on your behalf is a good way of making sure that you are doing all the right things and have the best chance of getting the compensation you deserve. It is also a good idea to familiarize yourself with the basic guidelines of workers’ compensation provided here, but if you need assistance, contact the attorneys at Vanasse Law today.

With a few exceptions, the state of Pennsylvania requires employers to carry workers’ compensation so that they can cover the costs of your medical expenses and lost wages. If you suffer an injury or are diagnosed with a work-related condition or illness, you need to give your employer notice within 120 days, though it is a good idea to let them know sooner than that.

Once you have informed your employer of the problem, they have a responsibility to file a ‘first report of injury’ with the Pennsylvania Bureau of Workers Compensation’. In the meantime, you should seek medical treatment for your injury. In some cases, your employer may have a list of at least six health care providers for you to see; if they do have this list and you have signed a document showing that you have been provided with it, then you are required to see one of those professionals for the first 90 days after your injury. After that, you can seek treatment from whoever you would like.

Your employer or their insurance company can choose either to approve your claim or deny it. If you receive a denial, you are able to file an appeal. It is strongly recommended that if this is the case, you have an experienced Pennsylvania workers’ compensation lawyer working on your behalf and representing you throughout the process. Your company is very likely to have an attorney representing them, and the process can be confusing, complex and intimidating. Additionally, a workers’ compensation attorney may be able to identify others who can be held responsible for your injury, making it possible for you to file a third party claim against them and getting greater compensation for the damages that you have suffered.

Workers’ compensation benefits provide you with much-needed compensation for your medical expenses, as well as a way to minimize the loss of wages that you may experience as a result of your injury. Let the knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorneys from the Lancaster firm of Vanasse Law help you to get the benefits that you deserve.