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Archive for September, 2018

How Do I Calculate My Worker’s Comp Benefits?

workers' compYou’ve been hurt at work, and it’s bad enough that you’re going to have to miss a good amount of work. What are you going to do now? You and your family rely on your weekly paycheck to pay the bills as well as the extras. Now you have medical bills to pay, as well as a loss of income. The good news is that you have a safety net: workers’ comp.

Most people don’t pay attention to the existence of workers’ comp until the time comes when they need it. Workers’ comp is a no-fault insurance policy that your employer provides for you. It specifically compensates you for your medical expenses, including rehabilitation and recuperation, as well as providing a portion of your income to help you pay your other bills when you have to miss work during your period of recovery.

Calculating your workers’ comp benefits is not difficult. Pennsylvania’s lawmakers have established a formula that is based on your gross average weekly wage from all of your employers. That means that the calculation includes your salary, hourly wages, bonuses and tips, and even what you have been paid for overtime, vacation or lodging for business-related trips. The amount of time that you have worked for your employer can come into play also, particularly if you are paid a set amount each pay period.

Once you have calculated your gross average weekly wage, it gets compared to the Department of Labor and Industry’s threshold for the statewide average weekly wage and paid on a sliding scale, with those who are paid the least getting the highest percentage of their average pay. For 2018, the maximum weekly compensation rate that you can be paid has been set at $1,025.00, and compensation is based on two-thirds of your weekly wage. If your average weekly rate falls between $1,537.50 and $768.76, you will be paid 66 2/3% of that amount each week ($1025 = 66 2/3% of $1,537.50). If your average weekly wage falls between $768.75 and $569.44, you will receive $512.50 per week, and if your average weekly wage is $569.43 or less, you will be paid 90% of whatever your weekly wage is.

This is the most basic calculation of what your workers’ comp benefits will be, but it is important to note that there are often other factors that can come into play. For assistance in making sure that you are getting the compensation that you deserve, contact our office today to set up a free consultation to discuss your case.

What is the Busiest Time of Year for Agriculture in Lancaster, Pennsylvania?

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is one of the nation’s top agricultural producers, and Lancaster County leads the way.  The area, which is just an hour’s drive east of the state capital and less than two hours west of Philadelphia, ranks first in the state for the value of its agricultural crops and production, as well as its livestock and poultry. The area supplies much of the nation’s grains, vegetables, eggs, milk, and tobacco, with dairy farming the area’s leading agricultural business.

 

The county’s position as a national leader makes sense when considering that it boasts more farms than any other county in the nation. It also is a national leader in the number of food processing employees. Between the area’s 6,000 farms, wide-ranging farmland and its supporting industry, Lancaster County provides more than 51,000 jobs, with the number of employees surging during the summer, the area’s busiest time of year for agriculture.  With an increased number of people working there is a related increase in the number of work-related injuries. For the vast majority of those injured employees, workers’ compensation provides a lifeline that pays for the medical treatment that they need and the wage replacement that helps them while they recuperate.

Agricultural work is notoriously dangerous. From accidents that can occur when working with heavy machinery and equipment to injuries caused by farm animals or exposure to chemicals and pesticides, farm workers are at significant risk for injuries major and minor, and even death. Though some people believe that agricultural workers in Pennsylvania are not entitled to workers’ compensation, that is only true in some scenarios. Every farm employer who pays one agricultural worker $1,200 or more or who employs one employee for thirty days or more per year is required to provide workers’ compensation, though the state has decided that undocumented workers are not entitled to replacement wages.

Fortunately, workers who are injured on the job have the ability to pursue compensation from other sources, even if they are unable to collect workers’ compensation. Personal injury lawsuits can be filed against third parties whose actions, products or negligence have contributed to injuries, and employers who do not provide coverage are also able to be pursued for compensation. If you are a Lancaster County employee who has been injured and you need information on how we can help, contact our office today.

 

 

 

Understanding Potential Teacher Risks During the Back-to-School Season

Teacher RiskIt’s that time of year. Office supply stores and Target have dedicated aisle after aisle to binders and crayons and backpacks, and teachers are back in the classroom, putting the final touches on their lesson plans and making sure that their classrooms are color-coordinated and ready. We all think of teachers as underpaid heroes, but few of us are aware that their profession is among the most at-risk of on-the-job injury and illnesses.  Not only do a large percentage of our schools represent unhealthy environments that put teachers at risk of toxic exposure, but teachers are facing new challenges that may lead to workers’ compensation claims, including the risk of injury caused by interactions with their students.

The top causes of teacher workers’ compensation claims in the United States include:

  • Slip and fall accidents –30% of all school-based workers’ compensation claims
  • Being struck –27% of all school-based workers’ compensation claims
  • Strain injuries –24% of all school-based workers’ compensation claims
  • Cut, puncture or scrape – 5% of all school-based workers’ compensation claims
  • Exposure to toxins – 5% of all school-based workers’ compensation claims

Beyond the same types of slips, trips, and strains that are seen in almost every work environment, the other major on-the-job-injury risk that teachers face comes from violence in the classroom or on campus. Roughly 25% of school employee injuries arise from interactions with students, and experts say that teachers are victimized far more frequently than the public realizes — in fact, they have indicated that the problem has reached the level of being a national crisis. A report issued by the Department of Education in 2015 indicated that injuries suffered by teachers led to more than $2 billion in losses included both lost workdays and workers’ compensation benefits.

Teachers are also exposed to a number of toxins in their classrooms, but the most concerning is the risk of exposure to asbestos. Most of America’s school buildings were constructed prior to the 1970s, and that means that asbestos-contaminated products were used in their construction. Asbestos ceiling and floor tiles and asbestos insulation are extremely common, and though they are not a concern when they are intact, as soon as those items begin to break down, there is a risk of microscopic asbestos particles being inhaled or ingested and leading to an increased risk of malignant mesothelioma, asbestosis, and other asbestos-related diseases. Other toxic exposures in schools include mold, mildew, and lead.

There are a number of actions that school districts can take to guard against the most common workplace injuries, including:

  • Promoting a hands-off approach to situations where students are acting out
  • Preventing winter slip-and-falls, and similar accidents caused by slippery floors, debris in the hallways or lunchrooms, etc.
  • Encouraging teacher fitness to minimize the risk of strains

If you are a teacher or school employee who has suffered an on-the-job injury, contact us to set up a free consultation to discuss your rights.