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Archive for April, 2017

Over 75 percent of Farm Injuries Go Unreported

There are some occupations that are more injury prone than others. Construction work, maritime occupations, and mining are among the work environments that are known to be dangerous, and which are most likely to see injuries to employees and workers’ comp claims. One area that tends to fly under the radar in terms of dangers is agricultural work. To illustrate this, according to data collected in 2011 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics there were only 32,100 injuries to farm workers – a number that is remarkably low considering how many farms there are in the United States.

At first glance, it would seem that farms must institute a remarkably high number of safety measures to protect their workers. But a closer analysis of the results reveals that the number of injuries gathered only come from farms that employee more than eleven employees. The statistics also do not include the temporary or contract workers who are injured or those injuries suffered by relatives of the farms’ owners. When you add in those employees and those work settings the number suddenly jumps to over 143,000 injuries per year.

Unfortunately, despite the high number of injuries that actually impact arm workers in the state of Pennsylvania, many injured workers are not able to file for workers comp benefits because of the nuances and limitations of the state’s workers’ compensation laws and protections. To learn whether you are eligible to file for compensation, contact the attorneys at the Lancaster law firm of Vanasse Law today.

Though the state requires most employers to carry Workers’ Compensation insurance, the requirements for farm employers are extremely limited. The only circumstance under which an employer must provide workers’ compensation is when there is at least one worker who is paid wages of $1,200 or more, or when there is at least one employee who works 30 or more days in a calendar year. This allows farmers to keep their per employee compensation low or to only hire temporary help in order to avoid having to pay for expensive workers’ compensation insurance. Additionally, workers who are undocumented are not entitled to receive replacement wages, even from those employers who provide workers’ compensation benefits.  This can make it difficult for an injured employee to get the compensation or reimbursement that they need to help pay for lost wages or medical expenses.

Though the lack of availability of workers’ compensation presents a roadblock for temporary workers or those who work on a limited basis and who are injured, that does not mean that it is not possible to file a claim. The best route for an injured farm worker in Pennsylvania is often to file a third-party personal injury claim against others who may have contributed to or displayed negligence that led to the injury. At Vanasse Law, we work hard to ensure that injured farm workers are provided with the information and representation that they need to get the justice they deserve. Call us or contact us online today to learn more about your rights to compensation.

What is the Time Limit for Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Pennsylvania?

When you go to work each day, you do so with the best of intentions. No matter what your industry or occupation, it’s your goal to get through the day’s projects as best you can. There are things that can get in the way – unexpected roadblocks can take many forms. One of the biggest roadblocks you might encounter is a nagging injury. In a way, hidden or subtle injuries are far more insidious and damaging to you and your employer than an acute injury that comes from an on-site accident. This is because when you are confronted with an emergency situation, the impact of an injury is clear and predictable. In the case of a less visible problem like a back injury or a chronic lung condition, it may take time for you to link the condition to your work, or to make a decision to seek reimbursement through workers’ compensation. Holding off is fine, but you need to make sure that you don’t let so much time go by that you lose your workers’ compensation benefits. You need to keep aware of the time limit for filing a workers’ compensation claim in Pennsylvania, and to consult with an experienced workers’ compensation law firm.

 

The statute of limitations that the state of Pennsylvania has imposed for filing a workers’ compensation claim is three years. This specifically applies to how long you have between the time that you are injured – or become aware of your injury – and the time that you complete and submit a claim petition. Failure to give this paperwork to the appropriate authority will preclude you from getting the compensation that you deserve.

 

In addition to the statute of limitations for filing the actual claim, Pennsylvania has prescribed specific time limitations on other aspects of the process. These include:

 

  • For the first 90 days after you have reported your injury to your employer, you are required to seek your medical treatments from your employer’s list of approved physicians and healthcare providers rather than from your own.
  • You are required to provide your employer with notification of any injury that you have sustained within 120 days of the date of injury or when you become aware of the injury.

 

There are certain exceptions to each of these rules, including for those instances where a disease is occupational and takes an extended period of time to begin to manifest symptoms. Another is for those situations where an employer may have provided payments without the benefit of a workers’ compensation order being in place.

 

Every individual situation is different and has different requirements, so it is important that you speak with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to ensure that your rights are preserved. The Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorneys at Vanasse Law are here to help. Contact us today to learn more.

 

Who is Held Accountable if You’re Injured by Livestock While at Work?

Vanasse Livestock Injury Workers Comp Lawyer PA

People tend to romanticize the idea of working with animals. We hold veterinarians and animal shelter workers in high regard, and visualize pastoral images of lambs, calves and chickens when we think of farm work. The reality of the situation is far different. A report conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that in the five-year period between 1992 and 1997, animals were either partially or entirely responsible for 375 fatal on the job injuries, accounting for one percent of all of the fatalities during that period. During the same period of time there were 75,000 animal-related injuries that were not fatal. These types of injuries result in significant harm, with employees having to seek medical attention and take time from work in order to recuperate.  If a worker is injured on the job and their employer is required to carry workers’ compensation insurance, then those injuries would be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. If the injury was the result of negligence on the part of a third party, then the employee may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against those responsible. The Lancaster law firm of Vanasse Law has extensive experience in helping injured workers get the justice they deserve. We can help you get the compensation you deserve.

When livestock are present as part of the work environment, their actions are generally included in the owner’s legal responsibilities. Though farm animals such as sheep, goats, pigs, horses and cows may be considered domesticated, they are still capable of causing serious injuries to those who are around them, including those who are working with them.  Injuries and accidents can include:

  • Animal bites
  • Animals trampling on an employee
  • Animals charging at employees
  • Animals knocking over or crushing an employee
  • Animals goring an employee with their horns
  • Diseases being transmitted to employees from animals

Those who own the animals are responsible for taking actions to protect their employees from their animals. These actions may include providing proper training, providing appropriate fencing and equipment to provide a barrier between employees and the animals, establishing safety protocols for what to do when animals escape or get out of control, and making sure that first aid supplies are available to provide immediate care to anybody who has been injured.

Under workers’ compensation rules, an employer cannot be held personally responsible for injuries sustained by their employee for animal attacks on the job, but the owners of the animal can be, and so can third parties who may have contributed, or to whom the animals belonged. Employees do, however, have the right to file for workers’ compensation benefits to provide compensation for medical care and lost wages. For information about how to access these benefits or for representation, contact the Pennsylvania law firm of Vanasse Law.

Should I Be Suspicious of Alternative Dispute Resolution Proposed by My Employer?

Vanasse Workers Compensation Lancaster, PA

Alternative Dispute Resolution is a fancy term for mediation. It offers an option outside of litigation when two parties are having a dispute about how to resolve an issue. When Alternative Dispute Resolution is used to settle a legal disagreement, the two parties involved take their case to a mediator who has experience in the issue at hand, who will listen to both sides, then try to ask as a go-between to arrive at a mutually agreeable way to settle the matter. Alternative Dispute Resolution has become increasingly popular in a number of arenas for several reasons: it is generally a faster and less expensive process than going to court, and both sides generally end up feeling that they’ve had the opportunity to have their say during the proceedings, and to work together to come up with an answer – but that is not always the case. When it comes to Workers’ Compensation awards, the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution offers a couple of advantages. At Vanasse Law, we are happy to provide you with some helpful information on the process.

In Pennsylvania the Alternative Dispute Resolution Process provides the ability for both the injured worker and their employer to sit down and have an information discussion about their differences. A workers’ Compensation judge participates, working to help them each see the other’s side. This can happen through mediation, an informal conference, or a settlement conference. Many people prefer this process to the more formal workers’ compensation hearings because they can save both time and aggravation. Mediation is generally a faster process and the conversations are less formal: there is no sworn testimony, no need to prepare or provide exhibits, and no conversations are recorded. The lack of formality allows for a more open line of communication gives both sides the ability to speak directly and without interruption or formal framework about their concerns and their needs. Not only does this give both sides a sense of being heard, but also provides the ability to understand one another.

Perhaps most importantly, when Alternative Dispute Resolution is used, people feel that they have a better sense of control of the outcomes, a clearer sense for what to expect, and they are all able to do so without having to constantly appear at different hearings or to file appeals.

If you are considering choosing Alternative Dispute Resolution to resolve your Workers’ Compensation Award, remember that you always have the right to work with an attorney and to have them represent you throughout the proceedings. An attorney from the Lancaster law firm of Vanasse Law can provide you with both experience in negotiations and knowledge of workers’ compensation law that will work to your advantage. For more information, call us today to set up a convenient time for an appointment.