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Archive for the ‘Workers’ Compensation’ Category

About Work-Related Illnesses

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “an ‘occupational disease’ is any disease contracted primarily as a result of…exposure to risk factors arising from work activity. ‘Work-related diseases’ have multiple causes, where factors in the work environment may play a role, together with other risk factors, in the development of such diseases.”

Discussion of workers’ comp issues revolves around work-related injuries, but work-related illnesses can be just as dangerous and arguably more damaging in the long run. Furthermore, work-related illnesses can be harder to prove than a bodily injury claim. This is why it is a good idea to contact a Lancaster workers’ comp attorney for a free case evaluation. If you have what you suspect may be a work-related illness, Vanasse Law LLC can help.

What Are Some Common Work-Related Illnesses?

Some common work-related illnesses include:

  • Respiratory illness
  • Black lung disease
  • Rotator cuff syndrome
  • Carpal tunnel
  • Bursitis
  • Tendinitis
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • Rotator cuff injuries
  • Stress-related mental health disorders
  • Various types of cancer, such as mesothelioma or asbestosis.

How Do I Prove a Work-Related Illness?

The main obstacle facing work-related illnesses is that for any particular illness or condition, you have to show it is indeed “work-related.” In other words, you have to show a link between the illness or your job. For example, black lung disease is caused by inhaling coal dust over a long period of time. 

If you are a miner working for decades in a coal mine, there is little doubt that your work caused black lung disease. However, if you work in an office building a block or so down the road, showing the link can start to become more difficult.

Furthermore, unlike an injury, there is typically not a single “triggering event” that leads to a work-related illness. The illness may not develop into noticeable symptoms for months, years, or even decades after exposure to an illness-causing toxin.  This makes it even more difficult to show a clear link between the job and the illness.

This difficult situation becomes even more difficult if exposure to some toxin at work merely exacerbated a pre-existing illness, as it is not only difficult to establish the link between work and the illness, but you also have to be able to show how much of the illness was pre-existing, and how much was compounded by your exposure at work.

Contact a Lancaster Job Injury Lawyer at Vanasse Law LLC for Help With Your Job-Related Illness

Despite these challenges, there is good news. The Lancaster job injury attorneys Vanasse Law LLC are experienced in this area. If you have suffered a work-related illness, let us help. Handling workers’ comp claims is all we do. Our experienced workers’ comp attorneys will help you examine your legal options, which may include third-party claims, and guide you through the claims process.

Let us help. Contact us online. You will receive a same-day response.

What Happens to My Workers’ Comp Claim if I Lose My Job?

If you are a worker in Pennsylvania with a serious job-related injury or illness, you’ve likely considered this question: “What happens to my workers’ comp benefits if I lose my job?” The good news is, employers cannot retaliate against an employee for filing a workers’ comp claim. In other words, you cannot be fired for simply filing a workers’ comp claim.

However, there may be other circumstances under which you may lose your workers’ comp benefits, and the rules are complicated. If you are receiving workers’ comp benefits and lose your job for any reason, contact a Lancaster job injury attorney at Vanasse Law LLC. We’ll discuss your claim with you for free.

Why Would I Want to Quit My Job Just Because I Was Injured?

There are a variety of reasons why people quit their jobs after an injury, some of which include:

  • You Feel Like Your Injury was Your Own Fault. Workers’ comp in Pennsylvania is a no-fault system. This means it does not matter if you or your employer are responsible for your work-related injury.
  • You Feel Like Your Job is Too Dangerous. It’s hard to argue against this reason when you’ve recently been injured on the job. However, remember that, from a common-sense standpoint, your job is no more dangerous than it was before you were injured. Furthermore, your employer may consider you for another position with less risk.
  • I Feel Like I’m Not Completely Capable of Returning. As a general rule, when you can return to work is generally determined by your doctors. You may be able to return to a different, less-demanding role or be assigned to light-duty work.
  • I Had a Pre-Existing Condition. Typically, workers’ comp benefits are only for injuries and illnesses related to job activities. However, if you were already suffering from a pre-existing condition that is worsened because of job activities, you may be entitled to workers’ comp benefits.

Remember: accidents are just accidents; nothing more, nothing less. The workers’ comp laws don’t consider who was at fault. Generally, if you suffer a job-related injury or illness, you are entitled to your benefits. For help with your workers’ comp claim, contact the Lancaster job injury attorneys at Vanasse Law LLC. 

What Happens to My Workers’ Comp Benefits If I Lose My Job?

Your workers’ compensation benefits should not cease simply because you have been laid off or terminated from your employment. Put another way, a workers’ comp insurer should continue paying wage loss and medical benefits even though the employee no longer works for the employer.

If you have suffered a work-related injury, when you return to work is generally determined by your doctors.  Most likely, a doctor will release an injured worker to return to work with some restrictions regarding what they can do or cannot do.  Providing your doctors with specific information about your job duties will allow them to maintain a good idea of your job’s physical requirements.

Contact a Lancaster Job Injury Lawyer at Vanasse Law LLC for More Information

Generally speaking, you shouldn’t have to lose your workers’ comp benefits just because you lose your job. If you have suffered a work-related injury or illness, contact a Lancaster job injury attorney Vanasse Law LLC. Workers’ comp claim is what we do. Our experienced workers’ comp attorneys will help you explore your legal options, which may include third-party claims, and help you with your claims.

Let us help. Contact us online for a same-day response and a free case evaluation.

Avoiding Workers’ Comp Claim Denials

Under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act (the “ACT”), most workers are eligible for workers’ comp benefits to help pay for their work-related injury or illness, including compensation for medical expenses and lost wages. However, employers may deny workers’ comp claims for many reasons. The trick is to avoid giving your employer any reason to deny your claim. Let a Lancaster workers comp lawyer at Vanasse Law LLC help.

The Most Common Reasons for Denial

To avoid the pitfalls of fighting through a denied claim, you should be aware of the most common reasons for denials. Such reasons include:

  • The Injury is Not Compensable. To be considered “compensable” under the Act, an injury must have been sustained while the employee was within the course and scope of their employment. If the injury occurred outside of work, an employer may deny the worker benefits. 
  • Worker Behavior. While the workers’ comp system is “no-fault” (which means you have no obligation to show the employer was negligent), there are some types of employee behavior that may cause a claim denial, such as horseplay, ignored safety procedures, or being under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident.
  • Insufficient Information. Your claims paperwork should include all relevant details, such as when and where the accident occurred, whether there were any witnesses, and what injuries were sustained. It is better to be over-thorough rather than merely supplying the bare minimum.
  • Not an Eligible Employee. Some employees are not eligible for state workers’ compensation benefits, including federal workers, railroad workers, longshoremen, independent contractors, and sole proprietors. However, they may be able to receive alternative forms of benefits.
  • Outside the Reporting Deadline. Injured workers should report their injuries to their employers as soon as possible. The Act states that injuries must be reported within 120 days of the incident, but you should file well before that limit — preferably immediately. Those who fail to report their injuries within the 120-day limit may be denied.
  • Pre-existing Condition. Employers have been known to deny claims involving pre-existing conditions, but this is not a valid cause for denial. Pre-existing conditions are covered under the Act if the condition was worsened by the employee’s work activities or environment. Common pre-existing injuries include back injuries, knee injuries, arthritis, broken bones, asthma, and even chronic anxiety.
  • Suspected Fraud. If the employer’s investigation reveals information that contradicts the employee’s information, the claim may be denied. Employers may even seek to back up their information with video surveillance, written statements from co-workers, or witness accounts.

If Your Claim is Denied, Call a Lancaster Workers Comp Lawyer for Assistance

In Pennsylvania, employees have several rights to appeal a denied workers’ compensation claim. Employees may also have alternative options, such as a personal injury lawsuit or a third-party claim. Still, the appeals process is complicated, and personal injury lawsuits can be quite tricky. That said, we encourage you to speak with our Lancaster workers comp lawyer as soon as possible to learn more about your rights and options under the law.

Contact a Lancaster Workers Comp Lawyer at Vanasse Law LLC for Help With Your Claim

If you are dealing with a claim denial, you do not need to handle it on your own. Contact a Lancaster workers comp lawyer at Vanasse Law LLC. Workers’ comp is what we do. Our experienced workers’ comp attorneys will help you examine your options and file any claims that are required.

If you have suffered a work-related injury or illness, contact us online for a same-day response.

Are Your Injuries Covered By Workers’ Compensation?

In most cases, when an employee is injured on the job or develops an occupational illness, it is considered a workers’ comp injury that is eligible for a workers’ comp claim. For help regarding work-related injuries and illnesses, contact a Lancaster job accident lawyer at Vanasse Law LLC.

If the claim is approved, the employee can receive medical coverage, wage replacement, and other benefits as compensation for the injury. However, to access these benefits, both the employee and employer must follow certain steps to ensure the benefits are distributed.

Workers’ comp protects employees in that they do not have to establish fault by the employer. If you are hurt at work, benefits are likely available to you even if your employer did nothing wrong. Workers’ compensation also protects employers in that the benefits are generally the employee’s sole remedy — meaning you typically can’t sue the employer even if they were at fault. This is why workers’ comp is sometimes referred to as “workers’ comp insurance.”

Of course, our Lancaster job accident lawyer knows there are various exceptions to these rules. The process of filing a workers’ comp claim for a workplace injury or illness can be quite complicated because of the multiple parties involved. These parties may include the employee, the employer, the insurance company, the healthcare provider, and the state’s workers’ compensation board.

Common Injuries Covered by Workers’ Comp Insurance

Workers’ comp covers injuries and illnesses that are within the “course and scope of your employment.” Most courts have interpreted this phrase broadly, in favor of the employee, and have been lenient regarding covered injuries. In general, if you were engaged in an activity that benefits your employer, your injury will be covered.

Some of the most common workplace injuries/illnesses include:

  • Slips, Trips, and Falls. Slip, trip, and fall injuries are quite common, as nearly every surface in the typical workplace will become slippery or cluttered at some point. Another major risk in many work environments is falling while working at heights, such as from a ladder, scaffolding, and other high platforms.
  • Falling Objects. Being struck by falling objects is also quite common. This isn’t just a problem in warehouse-type environments. Objects may fall from shelves or out of cupboards and can cause serious injuries, particularly if the individual doesn’t see it coming.
  • Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI). RSIs are another problem that’s become increasingly common in workplaces. It’s not just about developing carpal tunnel from computer keyboard use, but RSI can result from any joints’ repetitive motion. The long-term, cumulative impact of RSIs can be severe in some cases. Taking regular breaks and using ergonomic equipment can help prevent these types of injuries.
  • Crashes and Collisions. Crashes and collisions can result in serious injuries, often involve company cars/vans or forklifts, and are also quite frequent at work. Employers need to enforce seat belt laws and take other safety precautions, such as adequate training, especially for forklifts.
  • Cuts and Lacerations. All sorts of office apparatus can cause painful cuts. From paper cutters to scissors, it’s easy to cut yourself at work. Employers need to stress safety and encourage employees to take their time when using sharp instruments. 
  • Strained Muscles. Strained muscles are more common than you might think, especially for those who regularly lift heavy items at work. Neck and back strains, in particular, frequently occur in the workplace. These injuries can be avoided with some basic training on proper lifting techniques.
  • Occupational Illnesses. Workers’ comp typically covers illnesses or diseases that employees develop due to on-the-job exposure. Work-related illnesses can range from traditional occupational illnesses like black lung disease, exposure to coal dust, and asbestosis caused by asbestos exposure.
  • Stress-Related Injuries. The medical profession has increasingly recognized the link between long-term stress exposure and a wide range of physical and psychological illnesses. Still, it may be challenging to get workers’ comp benefits for illnesses caused by on-the-job stress, as it may depend on where you live, the nature of your illness, and the reason for the stress.

Contact a Lancaster Job Accident Lawyer at Vanasse Law LLC for More Information

It can be difficult to determine if workers’ comp covers some types of work-related injuries or illnesses. If you have suffered what you suspect is a compensable injury, contact a Lancaster job accident lawyer at Vanasse Law LLC. Workers’ comp is what we do. Our experienced workers’ comp attorneys will help you explore your legal options, which may include third-party claims, and help you with your claims.

Let us help. Contact us online for a same-day response.

Do I Lose My Workers’ Comp If I’m Laid Off?

If you’re on workers’ comp, you’re already feeling the stress of providing for your family, are likely in some amount of pain, and possibly having trouble merely making it to all of your medical appointments. On top of this, you may be concerned about your company, as thousands of businesses are cutting back or simply going under. What happens to your workers’ comp if your business files for bankruptcy or simply shuts its doors?

If you have been injured on the job in Pennsylvania, and you fear for your company’s long-term viability, let a Lancaster workers comp lawyer help you through this difficult time.

Workers’ Comp After a Layoff

In some cases, your company may seek to cut costs by laying off employees. If you are not working because of a workplace injury, you are not immune from layoffs, but your benefits should not change. Even if you have returned to work on restrictions, your benefits should remain the same. If you continue to receive workers’ comp benefits after you have returned to work, the workers’ comp company must continue to pay reasonable and necessary medical expenses after a layoff.

Workers’ Comp and Bankruptcy

Your workers’ comp benefits will not necessarily end if your company files for bankruptcy. In many cases, companies enter into what is known as Chapter 11 bankruptcy, during which their debts are reorganized, but the company can remain operational. 

Even if the company files for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, during which all assets are liquidated and the company effectively closes, your worker’s comp benefits may not be affected. Workers’ comp payments are generally paid by an insurance company, so as long as your employer stayed current on their payments, you will continue to receive benefits.

Workers’ Comp if You’re Fired

In Pennsylvania, it is unlawful for an employer to fire you in response to a workers’ comp claim. However, an employer can fire you if you have a disability that will keep you out of work for an extended period or, having reached MMI, you will never be able to return to your current position, and they do not have another job for you. Even if you are fired for cause, such as repeated tardiness or other policy violations, it is still possible you will be able to collect workers’ comp for your injury.

Contact a Lancaster Workers’ Comp Lawyer at Vanasse Law LLC for More Information

The rules surrounding workers’ comp in Pennsylvania can be complicated, especially when the company is making significant changes such as bankruptcy. A Lancaster workers comp lawyer at Vanasse Law LLC understands workers’ comp law in Pennsylvania and can help you examine your options and file any workers’ comp or legal claims on your behalf. 

Contact us online for a same-day response.

Filing a Lawsuit Instead of a Workers’ Comp Claim

Every state provides for “workers’ compensation,” otherwise known as “worker’s comp” or, perhaps most accurately, “workers’ comp insurance” for workers who are injured on the job.

How Workers’ Comp Works

Workers’ comp insurance is designed to work like this: workers who suffer work-related injuries or illnesses receive workers’ comp benefits for things like medical expenses and lost wages. 

The good news for workers is that they are not required to show that their employer was at fault for their injuries; if they are hurt at work, they receive the benefits. The bad news for workers is that these workers’ comp benefits are their only remedy; in other words, they are not allowed to sue their employer for the injuries, even if the employer was indeed at fault. 

In some cases, this means they cannot collect money for damages like “punitive damages,” which could potentially add up to millions of dollars. In this way, workers’ comp insurance protects employers as well as employees. Nonetheless, this seemingly simple arrangement can be more complicated than it appears to be.

If you have been injured on the job in Pennsylvania, let Lancaster hurt on the job lawyers help you with this important decision process.

When You Can Sue Your Employer

There are some limited circumstances under which you are allowed to bring a lawsuit against your employer for job-related injuries:

  • Intentional Employer Acts. You may be able to sue your employer for harm caused by their intentional acts if they have acted with the specific intent of harming you. For example, if your supervisor walks up behind you and pushes you down the stairs, this would likely be considered an intentional act meant to harm you. However, remember that showing mere negligence is not sufficient. The act must be deliberate. 
  • Your Employer Has No or Insufficient Workers’ Comp Insurance. Employers in almost all states are required to carry adequate workers’ comp insurance. If they do not,  you may be able to file a lawsuit against your employer to recover damages for your work-related injury or disease, even based on mere negligence.
  • Lawsuits Against Third Parties. In some cases, you may also be able to sue a third party other than your employer who is partially responsible for your injury. For example, suppose you suffer an injury at work caused by using a defective product. In that case, you might be able to sue the manufacturer of that product in addition to filing a workers’ compensation claim. This may entitle you to more significant recovery amounts, including punitive damages.

Contact the Lancaster Hurt on the Job Lawyers at Vanasse Law LLC If You Have Been Hurt at Work

If you have been hurt at work, the Lancaster hurt on the job lawyers at Vanasse Law LLC will help you understand the current state of Pennsylvania law regarding workers’ comp, help you understand your options, and file any workers’ comp or legal claims on your behalf. 

Contact us online for a same-day response.

Choosing a Doctor for Worker’s Comp Claims

Workers’ compensation is designed to cover all reasonable and necessary medical treatment for work-related injuries and/or illnesses, including doctors’ appointments, medications, surgeries, physical therapy, etc. 

Your treating doctor is a key player in your workers’ comp treatment, from your actual treatment to overseeing all of your medical care to giving opinions that will affect what treatments to which you are entitled. Therefore, it’s important to find a treating doctor you can trust. However, that search may be complicated by your particular state’s limits on doctor selection.

If you have been injured on the job in Pennsylvania, let a Lancaster workman’s compensation lawyer help you with this important decision.

Selecting Your Treating Doctor

You should be careful when selecting the best treating doctor for you, even if you’re limited to a network or a list of physicians. To the extent you are allowed to choose your own doctor, consider:

  • The doctor’s willingness to work within the workers’ comp medical fee schedule
  • The doctor’s knowledge of the workers’ compensation claim process
  • The doctor’s willingness to support your workers’ comp claim with detailed reports
  • The doctor’s experience and understanding of your particular medical condition
  • The doctor’s availability for medical appointments
  • How comfortable you are with the doctor

Doctor Selection Rules in Pennsylvania

Typically, in Pennsylvania, you must see an approved doctor for the first 90 days of your treatment. Nonetheless, you are still allowed input on this decision. Employers generally have a panel of doctors posted at your worksite. If the posted panel has six or more doctors listed, you must see a doctor from that list for those initial 90 days after your injury.

The employer doctors must be qualified professionals licensed to practice medicine and provide reasonably competent treatment. If your employer does not have a panel of doctors posted anywhere at your job site, you can choose your own doctor from the beginning.

After the initial 90 days, you can choose your own doctor as long as you provide notice to the workers’ compensation insurer within five days of changing physicians. Keep in mind that there is some value in the continuity of your treatment, so, from a practical standpoint, you should only change doctors if you feel strongly that the change will benefit you.

Contact a Lancaster Workman’s Compensation Lawyer at Vanasse Law LLC for More Information

The workers’ comp process is complex, and selecting your treating doctor is a small but relatively important part of that process. 

A Lancaster workman’s compensation lawyer at Vanasse Law LLC will not only help you select your treating doctor but will also help you understand the current state of Pennsylvania law regarding workers’ comp. We will also help you explore your options, protect your rights and file any necessary claims on your behalf. Additionally, even if your injuries do not qualify for workers’ compensation, you may have other legal options.

If you have suffered a work-related injury or illness, contact us online for a same-day response.

A Brief Look at Pennsylvania’s Heart and Lung Act

As people all across the world are staying at home to try and slow down the spread of COVID-19, first responders and other essential workers who are manning the frontlines do not have that option. They risk exposure to COVID-19 every day as they provide essential services for their communities.

If you or a loved one have contracted the virus through their essential work, let a Lancaster workers comp lawyer at Vanasse Law LLC help you explore your possible options, including workers’ comp and Pennsylvania’s Heart and Lung Act. 

Pennsylvania’s Heart and Lung Act

Pennsylvania’s Heart and Lung Act (HLA) protects various types of employees in Pennsylvania if they become sick or injured at work. This protection supplements Workers’ Compensation insurance, providing additional financial support for employees diagnosed with COVID-19 and other temporarily debilitating conditions.

The HLA provides a full tax-free weekly salary without overtime for certain types of employees in Pennsylvania. The HLA also covers medical expenses related to any work-related injury or occupational illness suffered while performing official employment duties.

Who is Covered by the HLA?

The HLA covers municipal employees in law enforcement and firefighting. This includes the following types of job classifications:

  • State, County, Township, and City Police Officers and Firemen
  • Drug Enforcement Agents
  • Sheriffs and Deputy Sheriffs
  • Liquor Control Board Enforcement Officers and Investigators
  • Correctional Employees with Principal Duties of Care, Custody, and Control of Inmates
  • Psychiatric Security Aides Employed by the Department of Public Welfare
  • Psychiatric Security Aides Employed by the Department of Corrections
  • Members of Delaware River Port Authority Police
  • Special Agents of the Office of Attorney General

What Types of Illnesses are Covered by the HLA?

The title “Heart and Lung Act” is not entirely accurate, as the HLA covers many types of illnesses and injuries. In fact, the HLA covers any injuries and illnesses that occur “within the course and scope of employment” for all qualified Pennsylvania employees. 

Furthermore, certain groups of employees in Pennsylvania may be granted a presumption that COVID-19 is an “occupational disease” for their profession under certain provisions of the workers’ comp law. Nonetheless, while the HLA covers temporary illnesses or injuries, including COVID-19, permanent disabilities are not covered.

Contact a Lancaster Workers’ Comp Lawyer at Vanasse Law LLC for a Same-Day Response

Both the workers’ comp laws and the HLA are complicated pieces of legislation. If you are working during the pandemic and may be exposed to COVID-19, it is important that you understand your rights under workers’ compensation law and potentially the HLA. 

A Lancaster workers’ comp attorney at Vanasse Law LLC will help you understand the current state of the law regarding workers’ comp and the HLA, explore your options, protect your rights, and file any necessary claims on your behalf. If you need our help, please contact us online for a same-day response.

Will Workers’ Compensation Cover COVID-19? A Lancaster Job Accident Lawyer Can Help With Your Claim

Workers’ compensation law is designed to compensate employees who have been hurt at work. But what if you contract COVID-19 at work? Can you file a workers’ compensation claim? This issue is complex and rapidly evolving.

If you have contracted or fear you may contract COVID-19 from work, let a Lancaster job accident lawyer at Vanasse Law LLC help you explore your possible options. 

COVID-19 Workers’ Compensation Issues

Although many workers’ compensation issues are the same, the rules can vary from state to state. Aside from protecting employees, workers’ compensation insurance is also designed to benefit employers by providing coverage with predictable payments and reduced legal costs.

Recently, the COVID-19 pandemic has created numerous challenges for state legislatures across the country. One of the most challenging questions is: Does workers’ compensation insurance cover employees who have contracted the disease?

Naturally, the answer is complicated. Generally, workers’ compensation insurance does not cover routine community-spread illnesses, such as a cold or the flu. This is because they usually cannot be directly tied to the workplace. Some states have made exceptions for employees who have developed chronic illnesses, such as cancer, resulting from repeated exposure to toxic or carcinogenic materials.

However, it is unclear if COVID-19 illnesses fall into the former or the latter category. The unique issue presented by COVID-19 is that it presents a circumstance in which many jobs that have not historically been considered hazardous have suddenly become very dangerous for employees. Essential business employees, such as transit operators, health care workers, and grocery store workers are at a high risk of exposure to the virus while at work. But the more hazardous working conditions do not guarantee that a COVID-19 infection would be covered under workers’ compensation in most states.

Pennsylvania’s Response

Expanding workers’ compensation benefits appears to be high on the agenda in several states, usually specifically for first responders. An approach adopted by many states is to amend state policy so that COVID-19 infections in certain types of employees are presumed to be work-related and covered under workers’ compensation, thereby placing the burden to establish that the infection was not work-related on the employer and insurer. This burden-shifting technique makes it much easier for those employees to file successful claims.

A bill in Pennsylvania seeks to create a grant program for fire companies and emergency medical services companies to provide services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Contact a Lancaster Job Accident Lawyer at Vanasse Law LLC for a Same-Day Response

Do not hesitate. If you are working during the pandemic and may be exposed to COVID-19, it is critical for you to understand your rights under workers’ compensation law. Workers’ compensation law can be complicated and difficult to navigate, especially when it comes to unsettled issues like COVID-19 coverage. 

A Lancaster job accident attorney at Vanasse Law LLC will help you understand the current state of the law, examine your options, protect your rights, and file any necessary claims on your behalf. If you need our help, please contact us online for a same-day response.

Dealing With Your Workers’ Compensation Claim During the Pandemic

Many workers throughout Pennsylvania and elsewhere have been affected in some way by COVID-19. For those who are out of work, the concern likely centers around how they will be able to meet their financial obligations. For those who are still working, the concern likely relates to the possibility of catching the virus while continuing to perform their job duties.

Our Lancaster workers’ comp lawyer has heard from both unemployed and currently employed workers who have active workers’ compensation claims during this time, so we would like to take a moment to address some of the commonly-asked questions you may have as we all continue to navigate through these unprecedented times. For the most up-to-date information, we are still available to speak with you even though our physical offices are closed.

I’m still working during the pandemic. If I get COVID-19 while at work, will that be considered a work-related disease or injury?

The PA Workers’ Compensation Act identifies occupational diseases and discusses the diseases that routinely happen when working in specific types of industries or jobs. Generally, illnesses that were caused by work-based exposures can be deemed an occupational disease and/or injury. That said, if you were exposed to COVID-19 such that it resulted in the illness you’re suffering from currently, it could be considered an injury or it may even be considered an occupational disease, depending on the work or industry itself.

If I make a Pennsylvania workers’ comp claim, will I be paid from the first day that I’m unable to report to work?

Pennsylvania has a waiting period which is currently seven days. Accordingly, employees seeking workers’ compensation must have missed work for at least 14 days in order to be compensated for their first seven days of disability.

What are my options if my claim is denied?

Once a worker files a claim, the petition will be assigned to a workers’ comp judge in the county where the worker lives. In general, workers have up to three years from the date the injury occurred to file their petition to seek coverage for their injuries under workers’ compensation. Once the petition gets assigned to a judge, all relevant parties will be advised of the place, date and time of the hearing.

Once my claim gets assigned to a judge, what happens next?

When you seek legal guidance from our Lancaster workers’ comp lawyer, we will advise you of the next steps in your case. The Workers’ Compensation Office of Adjudication (WCOA) handles the litigation of all workers’ comp cases. Information can also be obtained directly from the WCOA.

I had already filed a case prior to the pandemic. Will the processing of my claim be affected by COVID-19?

Governor Tom Wolf ordered all state offices to be closed back in mid-March. That order was effective for a period of 14 days. Currently, staffing needs have been adjusted and staggered work schedules have been implemented. Those with claims and questions will still be able to contact the office and get the claims processed. A temporary phone hearing protocol was set up in an effort to lessen the amount of person-to-person contact. Our Lancaster workers’ comp lawyer will be notified directly about your hearing the procedures to be followed. What’s important to note is that, while there may be some delays in hearing times, your claim will not be dismissed.

What if I need to file or answer a petition? Will I be able to do so during the pandemic?

You absolutely will! The WCOA is working to ensure that all petitions are filed in a timely manner and handled during COVID-19. As mentioned above, hearings will be adjusted and modified accordingly until the health crisis has been subsided.

I did not have a Lancaster workers’ comp lawyer when I filed, but my case has been assigned to a judge already. How will I know what the status of my claim and/or hearing is and what will occur next?

Once you seek our legal services, we will work with the WCOA directly to find out all relevant information about your case. Additionally, you should also continue to get notices in the mail. If you have online capabilities, the WCOA keeps updated information on the WCAIS, which is their online filing service. If you register online, you will be able to check the site for any changes, office closures, early closures and/or delayed openings.

If I was injured or obtained an illness while at work, will workers’ compensation allow me to use telemedicine services at this time?

The Pennsylvania Department of State’s (DOS) Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs (BPOA) issued guidance back in March that discussed this very issue and noted that health care professionals who have been licensed under a BPOA licensing board can offer their services to patients by telemedicine during the pandemic.

Accordingly, visits that are held via telemedicine can be used for either ongoing treatment of workplace injuries or new injuries. Stated clearly, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry Office of Workers’ Compensation, in recognition of the CDC and PA Department of Health guidelines regarding social distancing, wants all workers, employers and healthcare providers to keep in mind that telemedicine and virtual care is a viable option for those who sustain injuries and illnesses in the workplace.

Let Our Lancaster Workers’ Comp Lawyer Work for You — We Are Here to Help

Whether you have already submitted a workers’ compensation claim prior to the pandemic or you are still working and need to submit a claim due to a recent injury or illness that happened on your job, we are here to help. Contact our Lancaster workers’ comp lawyer today for immediate assistance.