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Archive for the ‘Workers’ Compensation’ Category

Five Workers’ Compensation Issues That Benefit From Legal Representation

Not all workplace injuries are life-changing events. Even those that require medical attention are often minor enough to require minimal doctor visits and maybe a few days away from work.  While simple injuries do not typically require legal support, more serious injuries can add complexities to a claim.

To help ensure that injured workers or their families obtain the benefits due to them, it is important to recognize situations that commonly signal the need for representation by a Lancaster workers’ compensation attorney.

Learn to Recognize the First Signs That Claims May Go Wrong

No one suffering from injury or illness should have to face additional stress caused by claim issues. The following are common indicators legal help may be advisable:

  • Unfair denial or reduction of claims: Short of injuries that are caused by employee intoxication or certain willful acts, PA workers’ compensation should pay for expenses related to workplace injuries. Claims denied based on the circumstances behind the injuries often merit further appeal. All too often, employers and insurers attempt to deny or reduce valid claims in the hopes that injured employees will take an unfair “no” for an answer. Knowledgeable legal representation can help level the playing field.
  • Delays in receipt of benefits: Pennsylvania law contains specific rules pertaining to the timing of benefit payments — and it also frowns on undue delays in the review of a claim that might prevent an injured worker from receiving timely benefits. Any type of payment or processing delay generally signals issues that can benefit from quick legal representation.
  • The employer expects a return to work too soon: As a general rule, employers should not expect injured employees to return to work until their conditions allow them to perform all duties. While employers might offer light or part-time duty jobs prior to full recovery, they can only do so only when those duties do not exceed employees’ capacity to perform them. When workers believe they’re not ready to return, they should seek legal advice from a knowledgeable Lancaster workers’ compensation attorney.
  • Signs of employer retaliation: A seemingly-undeserved demotion, pay cut, termination or other discriminatory acts after filing a workers’ compensation claim may signal employer retaliation and require immediate examination by an experienced attorney.
  • The potential for third-party claims: Sometimes injured workers may have the right to pursue compensation from an outside third party. This might be the case, for example, when a worker sustains injury from an exposed live wire due to mishandling by an outside electrician. Most workers’ compensation attorneys can help injured employees pursue these outside claims while helping ensure that they also receive all workers’ compensation benefits allowed by law.

Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Claims are not Always Straightforward – Contact a Lancaster Workers’ Compensation Attorney Today

Even when minor cuts and contusions sustained on the job require a trip to the doctor, filing workers’ compensation claims is a relatively minor effort. That said, many issues can come up that make the process seem as complex as the field of medicine itself.

Victims of workplace injuries have the right to expect timely medical treatment and payment of all valid expenses without incurring out-of-pocket costs. However, they might need to enlist advice and support from an experienced Lancaster workers’ compensation attorney to protect those rights. Since it costs nothing to seek an initial consultation, injured workers can afford to err on the side of caution and contact a lawyer at the first sign of concerns about a claim.

Get Answers to Your Pennsylvania Workers’ Comp Frequently Asked Questions

If you have sustained injuries while performing your job duties, you may have many questions about what to do next and your legal rights in general. Our Lancaster job accident lawyer provides answers to some of the most common questions about the workers’ compensation process in Pennsylvania to help you understand your rights and options. These questions and answers are meant to assist with your research and do not replace speaking directly to an attorney about the specifics of your situation.

Workers’ Comp Coverage: Which Illnesses and/or Injuries Are Covered in Pennsylvania?

Regardless of fault, a great majority of illnesses and injuries that are caused by a work-related incident are covered by workers’ compensation. There are, however, a number of situations that may not be covered, such as injuries and/or illnesses caused by:

  • Illegal acts
  • Your own drug and/or alcohol intoxication
  • Co-worker physical attacks for personal reasons
  • Suicide or intentionally self-inflicted harm
  • Individuals outside of the workplace
  • Your commute to/from work

It is best to speak to an attorney to discuss whether your injury or illness will qualify for compensation.

Can I Get Compensation for Repetitive Motion Injuries?

Yes, as long as you can demonstrate that your injury is related to your job. This can include compensation for carpal tunnel, trigger finger, ganglion cysts, bursitis and other repetitive motion disorders.

Am I Entitled to Workers’ Comp if I’m a Part-Time Worker in Pennsylvania?

Both part-time and full-time workers in the Commonwealth are covered under the Workers’ Compensation Act. The only instances where coverage may not be applied is if your employer unlawfully decides not to provide workers’ compensation coverage or if you are self-employed. Even if you are the employer’s only employee, you should be covered.

If a Co-Worker or My Employer Caused My Illness or Injury, Can I Sue Them?

The general answer to this common question is no, you cannot sue anyone for a work-related illness or injury (but there are a few exceptions). You are typically only permitted to file for workers’ comp to cover your lost wages and related medical costs. Unfortunately, pain and suffering will not be compensated.

However, if your illness or injury was caused by a defective product, you may be entitled to sue the manufacturer for your personal injuries. Likewise, if your injuries were caused by the physical assault of a co-worker as part of a personal issue, you may be able to pursue a criminal or civil lawsuit against that individual.

How Long Do I Have to File a Claim for Workers’ Compensation?

First, it is important to note that you are required to report all injuries related to your job to your supervisor or employer immediately. Pennsylvania allows 120 days for you to inform your employer of the work-related injury or illness, but reporting it right away is always best and preferred. Doing so will give you a stronger case overall. If you fail to advise the employer within 120 days of your injury, you may lose your right to receive compensation. As for how long you have to file the actual claim, you will have three years from the date of your injury to do so.

What if I Live in Pennsylvania But Work in a Different State?

You are encouraged to speak to a Lancaster job accident lawyer first to determine whether you can file for compensation in Pennsylvania because we typically have a higher payment than many other states. All claims are different, but it is certainly worth checking with your attorney, as you may still be permitted to file if you live, work or were hired by a company located in Pennsylvania.

Are There Documents That I Must Sign? How Do I Know Which Ones to Avoid?

We certainly understand that you may be confused about which documents are okay to sign and which ones should be avoided. The key is to always read each document carefully and ensure that you understand them, as Pennsylvania courts will assume that you read and completely understood what you’ve signed.

You may be provided numerous forms, such as an Authorization for Medical Records, an Employee Verification Form, a Supplemental Agreement and a Final Receipt. It is generally fine to sign the authorization and verification forms, as these forms release your medical documentation to the insurer in order to review and process the claim, as well as verifies your employment in order for you to receive benefits, respectively.

The agreement and final receipt documents can be tricky. Be very careful about signing an agreement, as some of them not only say that you can return to work even though your claim is still active, but it may include a clause stating that your benefits are being terminated. If you have not fully recovered from your illness or injury, do not sign that agreement! The same goes for a final receipt — if you are still in recovery, do not sign that document and speak with your attorney immediately if you are being pressured to do so.

What if I’m Being Pressured to Go Back to Work Even Though I’m Not Ready?

Employers should not try to force or pressure an employee to return to work if the company-provided doctor has not cleared your return. However, we encourage everyone to visit their own doctor as well, as using the company-provided one is not your only option. If the medical professional provided by the company says you can return to your job, but your personal doctor disagrees, you can refuse to go back to work. Ultimately, a judge will look at your case and any petitions to modify, suspend or terminate benefits to make an appropriate decision.

What if My Claim is Denied?

Claims can be denied for several reasons. However, if you believe your workers’ compensation claim was wrongfully denied, speak to a Lancaster job accident lawyer right away. Your attorney will be able to review your situation and address it properly.

Let a Lancaster Job Accident Lawyer Help You Pursue Your Rights Under the Law

If you still have questions or concerns about your entitlement to workers’ compensation in Pennsylvania, contact a Lancaster job accident lawyer today. We are here to help.

Four Avenues for Recovery in a Construction Site Accident Lawsuit

If you’ve been injured in a construction site accident, then you may be entitled to damages and/or benefits as compensation for your losses.  Recovery is not always straightforward, however, particularly as construction lawsuits may require a comprehensive evaluation and the subsequent pursuit of multiple different pathways for compensation.

As it’s not always possible for inexperienced accident victims to accurately determine whether they have an actionable claim under the law, we encourage potential claimants to work with a skilled Lancaster workplace injury lawyer as soon as possible to learn more about their legal rights and options under the law.

Let’s explore the different avenues for recovery.

Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ compensation laws in Pennsylvania entitle construction workers who are actually in employer-employee relationships (not independent contractor relationships) to file a claim for benefits and receive compensation for their injuries.  It’s worth noting that these benefits do not cover non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering.  As such, the compensation tends to be substantially lower than what would be available through a traditional lawsuit.

Suing the Employer

Though workers’ compensation regulations prevent injured workers from bringing a lawsuit against their employer for injuries caused by mere negligence, reckless and intentional misconduct can give rise to an actionable claim (thus overcoming the workers’ compensation barrier to a lawsuit).  Whether you can sue the employer directly therefore depends quite a bit on the circumstances of your case.  If you can show that the employer was grossly negligent or intentionally caused you to suffer injuries (perhaps they intentionally cut corners on the maintenance of equipment in order to save some extra money, violating construction industry regulations), then you will be able to sue and recover against the employer.

Suing a Manufacturer

Many construction site accidents occur due to product defects — design, manufacturing, or a failure to warn of inherent dangers.  If, say, a ladder collapses due to a design defect, then you may be entitled to directly sue and recover damages from the ladder manufacturer, giving you an avenue for compensation that might not have existed otherwise.

Suing a Third-Party Individual or Company

On any given construction site, there are often other workers who are not employees of the same company — third-party subcontractors, delivery workers, etc.  If these third-parties played a role in causing your injuries, then you may have an actionable lawsuit against said defendants entitling you to damages in proportion to their contribution of fault.

For example, if a third-party delivery driver accidentally hits and injures you while turning into the construction site, then you might have an actionable claim against that driver and their employer.

Let a Lancaster Workplace Injury Lawyer Help You Today

Contact a knowledgeable Lancaster workplace injury lawyer today to discuss your legal rights and options.

What Careers Are Most Vulnerable To On-The-Job Heart Attacks?

heart attackWe’ve all heard about job-related stress, but have you ever heard of anybody actually having a heart attack attributed to their work? Though most people think that only injuries like strains, sprains, fractures and concussions count as job-related injuries, it is actually quite possible for a job to lead to a heart attack, and for a worker who has suffered a job-related heart attack to file for and collect workers’ compensation. Though a work-related heart attack can happen in just about any career, there are some jobs that make workers much more vulnerable to on-the-job heart attacks.

These include:

  • Any kind of desk job – It may seem as if a desk job is the safest possible type of career, but studies have shown that people who sit at a desk all day are at higher risk for heart disease than those who work at active jobs. Research has shown that when we sit too long it can lead to dysfunction in insulin sensitivity and in enzymes ability to dissolve fat.
  • First responders – Whether you’re a firefighter, an emergency medical technician/paramedic, or a police officer, you’re at risk for heart attack. In fact, 22 percent of on-the-job deaths in police and 45 percent in firefighters are due to a heart attack.
  • Bus drivers – Driving a bus is a toxic combination of stress and being sedentary. One study showed that 51 percent of bus drivers suffer from high blood pressure, as well as high cholesterol, body weight and heart disease.
  • Shift workers – No matter whether you’re working a shift because you’re a physician or nurse, or because you work in a factory, studies have shown that people who work irregular hours throughout the nighttime have a much higher risk for a heart attack then do people who work normal daytime hours. This is blamed on a disrupted circadian rhythm, which in turn leads to insulin dysregulation, obesity, insomnia and other medical issues linked to heart attack.
  • Bartenders and cocktail waitresses – Though many states have introduced no-smoking policies, bars are often exempt from the rules, leaving staff in these establishments vulnerable to the harmful effects of cigarette smoke. Exposure can lead to a heart attack.

If you have suffered a heart attack on the job, there’s a good chance that you may be entitled to file a workers’ compensation claim. For more information about your rights and the process, contact Vanasse to schedule a meeting with our workers’ compensation practice in Lancaster today.

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.

 

Avoiding Injury During a Seasonal Job

Emergency Room entranceSpring, summer, fall and winter. Each season offers different seasonal job opportunities for people looking for extra money. Whether you’re a college student home on break or a homemaker looking to earn a little extra gift money before the holidays, it’s important that you understand your rights as a seasonal employee as well as the risks that are involved. For example, did you know that seasonal workers are at a much higher risk for workplace injuries than is true of full time or part-time workers who are in the same job through the course of the year?  It’s true. Whether you’re talking about helping out during the harvest or retail sales during the Christmas shopping season, you need to focus on safety and understand what your rights are in the event that you get hurt on the job.

There are a few reasons why seasonal workers are at greater risk than others. The most common reason is that workers who are viewed as being short-term help, and who are hired to fill in during the busiest times of the year, are often not given the same amount of training as those who employers view as long-term employees. Where companies are willing to invest in people who will be staying with them for an extended period of time, those who are only going to be with the company for a few months aren’t seen as worth the time or money. Though this may not seem like a big deal to the seasonal worker, safety should always be a priority: you need to know what the hazards of the job are, what to do in an emergency, and proper use of equipment. Cutting back on training and safety instructions for seasonal employees is short-sighted. When this type of on-the-job training isn’t provided, it leaves employees far more vulnerable to injury, and far more likely to end up needing to file for workers’ compensation from their employees.

Workers’ compensation is not only available to employees who work throughout the year. When seasonal workers are hurt on the job, they are just as eligible for this benefit as the rest of a company’s employees. Workers’ compensation provides relief by paying for medical expenses and can also provide a portion of lost wages. If you have been hurt on the job and need information about your right to file for this important benefit, 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.

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.