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Archive for the ‘Workers’ Compensation’ Category

The Most Common Summer Seasonal Job Injuries

First Aid Kit Whether you’re a student or teacher who is off for the summer, a full-time year-round employee looking for extra work or a person who relies on seasonal employment as your source of income, the summer season brings big opportunities. Theme parks and farms, ice cream stores and golf courses are all looking for extra help to manage the increased flow of business that warmer weather and vacation season brings. Unfortunately, summer’s seasonal jobs leave you vulnerable to countless workplace injuries. Though many people think of seasonal work as providing fewer protections than full-time employment, when it comes to workers’ compensation, most employees are covered.  Though nobody wants to incur a work-related injury, it’s nice to know that your employer is required to provide compensation for medical expenses, as well as for lost wages and other expenses depending upon the situation.

 

Each type of job has its own risks, and not all summer seasonal job injuries are related to the weather or weather-related activities, but some are. Here are the four most common summer seasonal job injuries.  

 

  • Dehydration

You’ve heard the warnings about needing to drink more water, but most people don’t take them seriously, and that includes employers. Everybody needs to drink plenty of water each day, but if you are working in a high-heat situation or outside in the sun, it becomes even more essential. Your employer should provide you with a break time and you and your coworkers should be checking with each other to make sure you’re staying hydrated.

 

  • Heat Stroke

If your job has you working in the sun or in a space that is not cooled or well-ventilated, you stand a good chance of suffering from hyperthermia. When a person becomes too overheated, the body can shut down its symptoms. You need to make sure you are hydrated, take breaks, and have the opportunity to cool down frequently.

 

  • Motor Vehicle Accidents

You may think that accidents are more likely to happen in the winter time, but statistically speaking the summer is the most dangerous time to be in the car. If your job involves you driving or riding in a vehicle, you need to be aware of this risk, especially around construction sites, which tend to be more prevalent when the weather is warm.

 

  • Falls

Falls are one of the most common workplace injuries all year long, but they are especially common when it’s warm out. You need to stay alert to avoid serious injury, but if you do fall and get hurt, workers’ compensation should reimburse you for your expenses.

 

Whatever your on-the-job injury, workers’ compensation is there to provide for your needs. For representation and information about your case, contact us today to set up an appointment.

The Most Common Workers’ Comp Injuries in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania State SealWhen you think of all the different types of work and work environments that exist in the state of Pennsylvania, it is easy to imagine that there is a wide variety of injuries that are suffered by the state’s workers. But according to the Pennsylvania Bureau of Worker’s Compensation, though the state agency tracks claims in a way that is broken down by industry and occupation job descriptions may vary, the injuries suffered across different occupations remain largely the same. The following are the state’s most commonly reported work-related injuries and illnesses reported each year that result in workers’ compensation claims.

 

Back Injuries

 

More than any other type of injury, workers in Pennsylvania are at risk for hurting their back, and especially their lower back. Though the work setting may vary, in most cases back injuries are a result of overexertion. Back pain affects most people at some point in their lives, so it is not a surprise that workers who are required to push, pull, or lift as part of their job description would be particularly vulnerable to this type of injury.

 

Finger Injuries, Wrist and Arm

 

At first glance, finger injuries may seem too minor an injury to warrant a workers’ compensation claim, but many occupations’ workers rely on their hands, whether they are in a construction or industrial setting or typing on a keyboard. Our fingers are vulnerable, and so are our wrists and arms. When they are injured and we are unable to use them, it can lead to a real disability.

 

Knee Injuries

 

The knee is a particularly vulnerable part of the body, and when workers’ job responsibilities involve standing, walking, or climbing they are put under stress. When the structural elements of our knees undergo strains or tears, recovery can be time-consuming and workers often need surgery or a long period of rehabilitation before they can return to work

 

Head Injuries

 

When workers fall or are struck from above by falling objects, they often suffer skull injuries. Those who work with chemicals or flame are vulnerable to materials being splashed in their eyes or faces, and this can result in disfiguring scars, while those who work in high noise environments are vulnerable to hearing loss.

 

If you have suffered a work-related injury in the state of Pennsylvania and you need assistance filing a workers’ compensation claim, contact our Lancaster law office today to set up a convenient time for a consultation.

Dressing to Work in Extreme Heat

sun and cloudsThe hottest days of the year are right around the corner, and with high heat comes additional risk for those who work outside. Whether your job is under the baking sun or inside in high-heat conditions, both situations put you at risk for heat-related injuries or illnesses. Though workers who are injured or sickened at work are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits including compensation for medical expenses and lost wages, the best answer is always to avoid injury in the first place. Here are some tips for dressing to work in extreme heat.

How Heat Can Lead to Fatalities, Injuries and Illnesses

Heat can take several different forms, from high air temperatures or humidity to radiant heat and direct physical contact with hot objects. The human body is made to maintain a constant temperature and when it comes into contact with too much heat or overheats itself, it attempts to cool itself. When the air temperature is warmer than the body it makes it difficult for the body to do that, and instead, it absorbs the heat’s energy. From a localized standpoint this results in a burn and from a whole-body standpoint it can raise the heart rate and cause whole-body symptoms. Heat-related illnesses include:

  • Burns
  • Sunburn
  • Heat rash
  • Heat cramps
  • Heat exhaustion
  • Heat stroke

If your job demands that you work outside in the sun, the following type of clothing can provide you with much-needed protection:

The fact sheet offers these tips for workers who must work in the heat:

  • Guard against sunburn by covering up and wearing tightly woven clothing. Use sunscreen and wear a hat that protects the neck, ears, eyes, forehead, nose and scalp. Wear UV-absorbent shades.
  • Those who work in the sun are best served by clothing that has an aluminized outer layer that is reflective. Clothing should be breathable but still provide protection against any hazards imposed by the job’s responsibilities
  • Those who work in high heat industrial environments of over 200 degrees must be protected by specialized suits and a system that provides breathable air.
  • Those who work with hot objects need protective gear that will not deteriorate or auto-ignite.

In all cases, high heat workers are reminded to hydrate frequently and to take breaks if they believe that they are overheating. If you suffered a heat-related injury on the job and need information about workers’ compensation, contact us today to set up a convenient appointment.

What are the Most Common Food Service Injuries?

food service injuriesWorking in food service can be extremely rewarding and offers a wide range of opportunities. From fast food spots to four-star restaurants and from serving or busing tables to working behind the line as a sous chef or head chef, you can earn a fair income, learn a lot, and spend time with interesting people. Unfortunately, these jobs come with risks and food service injuries are common.

Those who work in customer-facing roles can hurt themselves reaching across tables to serve or clear. They can trip on a slippery fall, or even find themselves face-to-face with robbers. Those who work in the kitchen are subject to the risk of burns and other injuries from stoves and ovens, knives and electrical appliances, as well as exposure to hazardous chemicals. Even the employees that work at drive-thru windows or who deliver food can end up injured on the job.

No matter what your position or how you were hurt, if you were injured while working in a food service establishment you may be entitled to workers’ compensation.

Workers’ compensation is a no-fault insurance policy that covers nearly every worker in America. It represents an agreement between employer and employee that means that injured workers will not need to file a personal injury lawsuit against their employer, and in exchange, their employer will insure them and provide compensation for medical expenses, as well as for any time needed away from work to recuperate and recover.

For those who work in food service, some injuries are more common than others. According to Cintas Corporation, one in every 20 on-the-job injuries occur at eating and drinking establishments, and the top four restaurant injuries are:

  • Lacerations and punctures – these are a result of working with knives, as well as the risk from broken dishes.
  • Burns – Restaurant workers face the constant risk of burns from hot stoves, fryers and boiling water, as well as from touching hot plates and other hot surfaces. Though many minor burns are treated on-site, others require medical attention.
  • Sprains and strains – These occur to both front of the house and kitchen employees, and usually result from improper lifting and reaching.
  • Eye injuries – In most cases these are incidents that occur in the kitchen because of splashes from grease, hot liquids and sanitizing chemicals

When you’ve been hurt on the job, you need to know your workers’ compensation rights to make sure that you receive the benefits to which you are entitled. Contact our office today to learn more.

 

Do Temporary Workers Have Access to Workers’ Compensation Insurance?

Back Injury - Lancaster Workers Comp - Vanasse LawSummer is on the horizon, and that means that students and teachers are going to be searching for employment. Whether you’re enmeshed in the 9-months-per year world of education or seek temporary or seasonal work for any other reason or at any other time of year, temporary workers are an important part of the workforce. Where full time and part-time employees are entitled to workers’ compensation insurance in case they get hurt on the job, many seasonal workers wonder whether temporary workers also have access to these important protections.

Workers’ compensation insurance exists to provide medical expenses and wage replacement for injuries or illnesses that occur on the job or as a result of the job. Injured workers can file claims to have their medical expenses fully compensated, while wages are reimbursed at a specified rate and percentage based on established schedules. In the state of Pennsylvania, this coverage is extended to temporary and seasonal workers, though there can sometimes be questions as to who is responsible for providing them with coverage.

The reason for this confusion revolves around who has actually hired the employee. If a temporary worker has applied directly to a company for a job and that company has employed them, then that company is responsible for providing their workers’ compensation coverage: the injured employee would report their injury directly to them and they would be listed as their employer on their workers’ compensation claim. But many temporary workers are placed in jobs through staffing or placement agencies that they list themselves with, and that means that the agency is their employer. Their workers’ compensation insurance is provided by the staffing agency unless their contract with the employee or the contracting client specifically states otherwise.

To apply for workers’ compensation, a temporary worker needs to report their injury to the company that has hired them. The notification should include details such as when and where the injury took place and how the injury occurred. Workers’ compensation is a no-fault type of insurance, so workers do not need to worry about attributing blame or having made a mistake before their injury. If you are a temporary or seasonal worker who has suffered an injury and you need more information on your rights, contact us today to set up a convenient time to meet and discuss your case.

Pennsylvania’s Amish and Mennonite Communities Skip Workers’ Compensation Due to Religious Exemption

workers' compensation

When employees in the state of Pennsylvania are injured on the job, they can rest secure in the knowledge that their medical expenses and time away from work is covered by Workers’ Compensation insurance. But few realize that if they are working for a company owned by either Amish or Mennonite owners, there is a chance that no such insurance coverage has been purchased for them. This is because Pennsylvania’s religious exemption laws permit participation in what is an otherwise mandated form of protection.

The Amish and Mennonite religions specifically bar against insurance. The religious sects make it an employer’s responsibility to pay the expenses for an injured worker on their own. The religions emphasize personal responsibility and, as a result, Amish businesses also don’t have to purchase commercial liability insurance. Ironically when considering companies that do not have to pay workers’ compensation, they are also granted an exception to U.S. Department of Labor workplace safety rules involving the use of hard hats.

The Amish have long argued against having to pay insurance premiums, as they say they will never make a claim because it is against their religious beliefs, which mandate taking care of their own liabilities. They also believe that filing an insurance claim goes against the Biblical principles of trusting in God. Many pay into separate church aid funds, which they are able to tap if they are unable to afford an injured workers’ expenses on their own.

An article published in the Philadelphia Inquirer several years ago highlighted this practice while discussing the disparity of prices charged between Amish businesses and non-Amish businesses. Though owners of the non-Amish businesses blamed the price differential on the Amish not having to purchase workers’ compensation insurance, the paper’s investigation revealed that not all firms take advantage of the religious exemption. Those who do generally set up their businesses as partnerships, with each member named as an owner. This exempts them from having to have workers’ compensation.

The religious exemption for Amish employers that nullifies their requirement to provide workers’ compensation coverage for their employees can create a dilemma for an employee working for the firm who is injured on the job. What are they to do if they are injured and their employer has not purchased insurance to cover their injuries? In instances like these, you need an experienced and knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney who can work as your advocate. Contact us today to learn how we can help.

Is PTSD a Valid Basis for a Workers’ Compensation Claim?

PTSDWe’ve all heard of PTSD or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. It first came into the lexicon in association with military personnel who had witnessed trauma that affected them psychologically or physically, but the term has now been extended to apply to anybody that has been exposed to a severe shock such as an accident or a terrorist attack. Just as injuries that can happen outside of work can also happen on the job, the same is true of PTSD. This means that if a traumatic event occurs in the workplace an employee requires treatment or is unable to function as a result, it is a valid basis for a workers’ compensation claim.

It is important to understand that there is a significant difference between PTSD and other mental injuries that might result from an unpleasant workplace. An employee who finds themselves experiencing anxiety because of a disruptive co-worker or depression because of losing their job is not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Hating your job is not the same as PTSD. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder that is work related is very specifically a psychological injury that is caused by a psychological stimulus that represents an abnormal working condition: a person cannot successfully be approved for workers’ compensation benefits because their boss favors other employees over them but may be able to if they witnessed their boss physically attacking another employee.

PTSD can also be a result of having suffered a physical injury or illness on the job. In other words, an employee who suffered a horrific burn, or who fell off a scaffold and was badly injured, as a result, could conceivably suffer the symptoms associated with PTSD in the aftermath. These symptoms include:

  • Having flashbacks or nightmares in which they relive the accident
  • Becoming fixated on the accident
  • Withdrawing emotionally and becoming depressed or anxious as a result of the accident
  • Being in a constant state of anger or stress following the accident
  • Having difficulty sleeping after the accident

PTSD is generally treatable through medication, therapy, or a combination of the two. Workers’ compensation benefits can provide for these medical expenses, as well as for temporary disability if the condition prevents you from returning to work. For more information on filing a workers’ compensation claim for your PTSD diagnosis following a workplace event or injury, contact us today.

How Do Insurers Investigate a Workers’ Compensation Claim?

investigate a workers' compensation claimThough the vast majority of workers’ compensation claims are filed by people who have suffered legitimate injury or illness on the job, there is a small percentage of people who file fraudulent claims. As a result, workers’ compensation insurers need to investigate suspicious filings to make sure that they are valid. Though it may feel intrusive to those who simply want to get better or get the compensation they deserve, the work is also necessary: workers’ compensation fraud perpetrated by both employers and employees account for 25 percent of all insurance fraud. The news media has covered some of the most notorious of these crimes, including a woman who claimed to have been disabled and then appeared doing something strenuous on a daytime television game show, and another employee who was videotaped water skiing.

To rout out this type of crime, investigators use several different investigative techniques, including:

  • Video and audio surveillance – Investigators can follow an individual worker around and record evidence that shows that they are not as disabled as they claim to be.
  • Social media surveillance – Investigators can review social media postings that provide contradictory evidence of disability.
  • Interviews with colleagues and others – Investigators are able to question friends and family members, co-workers, and others in a claimant’s community to determine whether their claims are legitimate.
  • Background checks and medical records research – Investigators can look into a claimant’s medical records to determine whether their reported illness or injury was actually a pre-existing condition. They can also pull records on previous insurance claims.

Though workers’ compensation insurance investigators may seem like the enemy, it is important to understand that workers’ compensation attorneys also investigate insurers and employers to make sure that claims are being appropriately paid. It is also important to note that there are limits to how far investigators for workers’ compensation insurance companies are allowed to go while pursuing their investigations. They are not permitted to be deceptive in their approach, and those that have used deceptive tactics have faced successful legal action.

Workers’ compensation insurance fraud is a crime that costs all of us. It drives up the rates of workers’ compensation insurance premiums and makes it more challenging for those who have been legitimately hurt on the job to get the compensation and benefits that they deserve. If you have been hurt on the job, contact us today to set up a consultation to discuss your case.

How Does the Farm Labor Exemption Affect Workers’ Compensation in Pennsylvania?

Workers Compensation - TractorWorkers’ compensation is a no-fault form of insurance that covers injuries that workers incur on the job. It is available for the protection of both the employer and the employee. For the employee, it provides compensation for medical expenses for injuries or illnesses that occur on the job, as well as compensation for lost wages and disability if applicable. For the employer, workers’ compensation offers protection against getting sued for injuries that take place on your farm: the availability of insurance precludes the workers’ right to file a personal injury claim. Though there is a Farm Labor Exemption for certain farm sites in Pennsylvania, most farms in the Commonwealth will not qualify for these exemptions, as they generally only apply to extremely small operations who hire workers for very short periods of time.

Pennsylvania’s Workers’ Compensation Act has a subsection that is specifically devoted to agricultural worksites. This section indicates that workers’ compensation is to be provided for employees if during a calendar year they pay wages to a single employee totaling $1,200 or more, or who employs a single employee for 30 or more days. Even if the farm has just one employee that meets that description, the workers’ compensation insurance coverage needs to be provided for all employees. The employers’ spouse or child under the age of 18 is not considered an employee under the law unless there is a specific written employment contract in place.

Many farm owners in Pennsylvania make the mistake of believing that they do not need to have workers’ compensation insurance because of the agricultural employee exemption, but the only farms for which this applies are generally those who only hire seasonal labor for extremely short periods of time. If an employer is required under the state’s rules does not purchase workers’ compensation insurance, they can be penalized for their failure to do so. They are also likely to be held liable for any injury that occurs on the job as a result of negligence.

If you are an agricultural worker who has been injured on the job, you are entitled to compensation for your injuries, but you need an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to guide you through the process and advise you of your rights. Contact the attorneys at Vanasse Law today to learn more.

What Injuries are NOT Covered by Workers’ Compensation?

Work Injury - Stepping On A NailTo most people, workers’ compensation is little more than a line item in their paycheck. They don’t know whether it’s something that they pay for or whether it’s provided by their employer, and they’re not entirely sure what it’s there for. That all changes once you’re injured on the job and suddenly realize that it’s there for you – to make sure that your medical expenses are covered, and you’ll be able to pay your bills, even if your injury keeps you from going back to work. Though workers’ compensation is what’s known as a ‘no-fault’ insurance policy that’s paid without having to prove who’s at fault, there are a couple of notable exceptions.  Here are the circumstances under which injuries sustained at work are not covered.

  • Being intoxicated or having used illegal drugs. If you fall at work and you hurt yourself, it doesn’t matter whether it happened because the floor was slippery or because you weren’t watching where you were going: you’re covered either way. But if you fell because you were high, or it’s discovered that you’d been drinking, you are not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
  • Injuries that are self-inflicted or a result of having started a fight. It’s hard to imagine, but there have been unethical employees who have purposely hurt themselves at work to try to collect workers’ comp. Not only are those injuries not covered, but neither are injuries sustained in an on-the-job fight if you’re the one that instigated it.
  • Injuries sustained while committing a serious crime or while violating company policy. Rules are rules, and whether they are federal laws, state or local rules, or the rules that are posted in your company’s employee manual, if you’re breaking them and you hurt yourself while you’re doing it, then you lose many of your privileges, including workers’ compensation benefits.
  • Injuries sustained while not on the job. Being an employee does not mean that you’re always covered by workers’ compensation. If you’re hurt on your day off and you’re not working, then you’re not covered by workers’ compensation – even if you’re visiting the job site. However, if you’re off-site and working, or running a work-related errand then you are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits

If you’ve been hurt while on the job and you’re not sure whether workers’ compensation benefits are available to you or not, contact the workers’ compensation attorneys at Vanasse Law to set up a consultation to discuss your situation.