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Archive for the ‘Workplace Accidents’ Category

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.

MMI: What Does It Mean and When Is it Determined?

Every state provides for “workers’ compensation,” otherwise known as “worker’s comp” or “workers’ comp insurance” for workers who are injured on the job. Workers’ comp insurance works like this: employees who suffer work-related injuries or illnesses receive workers’ comp benefits for things like medical expenses and lost wages. 

The trade-off is that these workers’ comp benefits are the sole remedy for these employees. In most cases, they cannot sue their employer for these injuries, even if the employer was at fault. 

If you have been injured on the job in Pennsylvania, let a Lancaster workplace accident attorney help you with this important decision process.

What Does “MMI” Mean?

MMI, or Maximum Medical Improvement, is the point at which your doctor believes that your condition has improved as much as it ever will. You may be healed, or it may mean that your medical condition will not change in any meaningful way in the future. Your treating doctor is the one who determines whether you have reached MMI.

What Happens When I reach MMI?

The first consequence of reaching your MMI is that your insurance company will likely want you to be examined by one of its physicians for an independent medical examination (IME) to determine whether you have really reached your MMI. You may also be offered a settlement in the form of either:

  • A Lump-Sum Payment. In Pennsylvania, in return for releasing your employer and their insurance company from paying any future workers’ compensation benefits, you can receive a one-time payment as a settlement.
  • A Structured Settlement. You may receive payments on a schedule that you and the insurance company have agreed on.

Remember that your insurance company does not have your best interests in mind.

In Pennsylvania, reaching MMI is a prerequisite for the performance of an Impairment Rating Evaluation (IRE). When workers have been getting workers’ comp benefits for 104 weeks, a medical impairment rating is needed to verify the existence and extent of a worker’s injuries and whether he or she can return to work. If you have not reached MMI at this time, the IRE would be invalid.

Assessing the loss of physical function determines the impairment rating. If, according to the IRE, it is determined that an employee has an impairment of less than 35%, then wage loss payment benefits will be capped at a maximum of 500 weeks.

If you have reached MMI, and your IRE determines that you are healthy enough to return to work, your benefits will stop, and you will return to your job.

If the IRE shows that you are left with an ongoing medical problem that prevents you from going back to work at all or only lets you work part-time on a limited basis, you may then qualify for benefits that may include:

  • Permanent Total Disability. If your injuries are such that you will not be able to ever return to work, you may receive permanent benefits.
  • Permanent Partial Disability. If your injuries cause permanent partial disability, you may receive benefits based on the percentage of permanent partial disability caused by the injury.

Under Pennsylvania law, there is no limit on how long an injured employee can receive total disability payments.

If your doctor and the IME doctor disagree on your condition, you do not have to accept the IME doctor’s determination, and a Lancaster workplace accident attorney at Vanasse Law LLC can negotiate for further benefits. If both physicians agree that your MMI has been reached, but you still have an ongoing disability, your attorney can help you reach a settlement with your employer’s workers’ comp insurance company.

Contact a Lancaster Workplace Accident Attorney at Vanasse Law LLC If You Are Dealing with Workers’ Comp

The rules surrounding workers’ comp in Pennsylvania can be complicated. A Lancaster workplace accident attorney at Vanasse Law LLC will help you understand Pennsylvania law regarding workers’ comp, help you identify your options, and file any workers’ comp or legal claims on your behalf. 

Contact us online for a same-day response.

Have You Been Hurt at Work and Offered Light-Duty Work? Our Lancaster Hurt at Work Lawyers Handle Workers’ Comp Claims

Workers’ compensation is a self-explanatory expression; in other words, workers’ compensation law is designed to compensate employees who have been hurt at work. 

One particular aspect of workers’ compensation law concerns the situation in which an employee who has been hurt at work, after some time in rehabilitation for his or her injuries, obtains permission from the doctors to return to work with restrictions. In this case, he or she may be offered what is known as “light-duty” work. However, there is the risk that the employer may be asking the injured employee to perform duties that are beyond your doctors’ restrictions.

If you have been hurt at work, this is just one of many potential issues you’re facing, some of which are complicated. Therefore, you should immediately call the Lancaster hurt at work lawyers at Vanasse Law LLC to help you navigate this difficult time. 

Light-Duty Work

Light-duty work, sometimes known as modified-duty work, can be simply defined as work that is physically, or even mentally, less demanding than your typical job duties. Therefore, your employer will either offer you other types of work or alter your current work duties to fit within the restrictions placed upon you by your doctors.

If your employer cannot or will not alter your current duties, they may ask you to perform altogether new tasks that require less physical or mental challenges. Some of these new types of duties may include:

  • Performing basic office tasks
  • Performing administrative tasks
  • Taking inventory
  • Reporting on job sites
  • Monitoring surveillance cameras
  • Performing other types of security monitoring or security tasks
  • Performing machinery and/or equipment light maintenance
  • Supervising other employees
  • Training new employees
  • Organizing files
  • Other types of filing
  • Handling office reception for incoming customers or vendors
  • Answering phones
  • Inspecting fire extinguishers
  • Replenishing first aid cabinets
  • Performing simple assembly
  • Operating a forklift
  • Driving a company vehicle and running office errands
  • Sorting and delivering mail
  • Ordering supplies
  • Shipping, labeling, and wrapping

Light-duty work may also include working your typical job, but at a slower pace, or working your regular job with specific limitations.

Challenges of Light-Duty Work

As mentioned above, when it comes to light-duty work, there is a risk that your manager or supervisor will either directly, by requiring you, or indirectly, by passive-aggressive tactics (such as “well, if you don’t want to work….”), expect you to resume your pre-injury duties before your doctor has approved such an increased workload. 

Many employees will comply out of fear of losing bonuses, other types of discretionary benefits, or even their job in such situations. However, the risk is that prematurely resuming heavier duties will result in an injury setback or additional injuries, and, as discussed below, employers are not allowed to take any adverse action against you for claiming your workers’ compensation benefits.

Employees who find themselves in this position should consult with their doctors first, and contact the Lancaster hurt at work attorneys at Vanasse Law LLC if your doctors cannot help you resolve the issue. Your long-term health is your most important consideration, and the team at Vanasse Law LLC can help you protect your rights.

In a related situation, some employees, especially type-A personality employees, may decide on their own to return to normal work duties too early. After all, some of the light-duty work, as listed above, can become tedious and boring rather quickly. However, you must follow your doctors’ recommendations precisely. Again, the risk of additional injury is simply too significant.

Other Light-Duty Work Issues

Employees who have been injured on the job and offered light-duty work face issues other than the critical issue of resuming regular work duties.

Light-Duty Work Pay

Although the law varies from state to state, salaried employees are generally entitled to receive their usual salary while working under light-duty work restrictions. Hourly-wage employees are typically paid based upon the number of hours worked while on light duty.

Light-Duty Work Hourly Wages

However, when an hourly wage employee accepts light-duty work, the employee will generally be paid less than what they earned from their former duties. Fortunately, workers’ compensation is designed to pay the difference. Unfortunately, unscrupulous employers may deny having any light-duty work available, which means they do not have to pay either wages or workers’ compensation benefits. If you suspect this is the case regarding your employer, you should contact the Lancaster hurt at work lawyers at Vanasse Law LLC to help you protect your rights.

Original Job Reinstatement

Generally, an employer cannot take adverse action to penalize an employee for taking advantage of any workers’ compensation benefits. This includes denying employees the right to return to their original jobs once they have sufficiently recovered from their injuries and received the green light from their doctors to return to their pre-injury jobs.

Refusal of Light-Duty Work

Generally, an employee has the right to refuse an offer of light-duty work if the employee’s health care provider has not authorized it. If the doctors have cleared an employee to return with light-duty work restrictions, a refusal to do so by the employee could result in the loss of workers’ compensation benefits.

Employer’s Duty to Offer Light-Duty Work

Generally, employers are not obligated to offer light-duty work to employees seeking to return after a work-related injury. There are, however, exceptions to this rule, which vary from state to state.

Contact the Lancaster Hurt at Work Lawyers at Vanasse Law LLC for a Same-Day Response

Workers’ compensation law can be complicated and difficult to navigate on your own, but the laws are designed to protect your rights as an employee. Furthermore, workers’ compensation claims may not be the only option if you have been injured at work. The Lancaster hurt at work lawyers at Vanasse Law LLC will help you explore all of your options, protect your rights, and file any necessary claims on your behalf during this difficult time. If you need our help, please contact us online for a same-day response.

Mistakes to Avoid When Pursuing a Workers’ Comp Case: Part IV

As we conclude our four-part series on mistakes to avoid when pursuing a workers’ compensation case, our Lancaster workplace accident attorney will discuss failing to hire an attorney for your case (or choosing the wrong type of attorney), lying to your attorney and providing the insurance company with a recorded statement and/or signing medical authorizations.

Error 8: Choosing the Wrong Attorney or Not Hiring a Skilled Lancaster Workplace Accident Attorney For Your Case

Insurance adjusters, regardless of how pleasant they are when speaking to you or how nice they seem to be, do not have your best interest in mind. Their goal is to save the employer’s insurer as much money as possible by paying out the least amount possible for the claim. That said, it is imperative that you seek legal counsel from a competent Lancaster workplace accident attorney who will look out for your best interests.

To ensure you are treated properly after your workplace injury, you should speak to a lawyer and discuss the facts of your case, including the extent of your injuries. Experienced attorneys know how to take this information and dissect it in order to ensure that you have taken every possible consideration into account. Additionally, an attorney will review any proposed settlements made by the employer and make the proper recommendations before you agree and/or sign any documents.

For cases such involving workers’ compensation claims, your attorney selection is crucial. In the same way you choose doctors based on their specialties, you should be looking for a workplace accident lawyer who has extensive experience in handling such cases, along with a proven record of success. While it may be true that your cousin Joe may be an excellent estate planning attorney, he may not be the best choice when it comes to dealing with workplace injury cases if he doesn’t have a sufficient amount of experience in handling them.

Error 9: Lying to Your Attorney is a Huge No-No

Failing to disclose all of the facts of your case to your attorney could be the difference between victory and defeat. Just as we mentioned above about speaking with your doctor, it is important that you tell your Lancaster workplace accident attorney everything that may be relevant to the case, including current medical issues, prior injuries, any doctor’s care currently in place, previous legal and/or financial issues, employment history, prior and/or current drug or alcohol use, or anything else that my be used by the employer to discredit your claim. Remember this: your attorney is on YOUR side and is prepared to fight to the end for you; however, he can’t defend you properly if he is unaware of certain things.

Error 10: Providing the Insurance Company With a Signed Medical Authorization and/or Recorded Statements

First and foremost, it is important to note that you are not required to provide the insurance company with any recorded statements or signed medical authorizations. Why is this important to know? Think of it like a criminal case where “anything you say can and will be used against you.” Many people do not realize that such statements are not required. The adjuster may say it’s part of standard procedure or they may go as far as to say they can’t proceed with the claim until you’ve signed certain documents. But understand — there is no rule or law that says you must make a recorded statement or sign anything. They may have this rule, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re bound by their rules. If you’ve already provided a recorded statement, no need in panicking. Just call a Lancaster workplace accident attorney at our office so we can discuss your situation and come up with an appropriate resolution.

Work with a Lancaster Workplace Accident Attorney at Vanasse Law LLC Today

If you are an injured worker who is currently seeking workers’ compensation for your injuries, we hope that our series on mistakes to avoid during this process has proven to be helpful. If you have more questions and would like to discuss the specifics of your case, contact our Lancaster workplace accident attorney as soon as possible.

Mistakes to Avoid When Pursuing a Workers’ Comp Case: Part III

So far in our series, we have provided crucial information to injured workers regarding four errors that could demolish their workers’ compensation claim. In Part III of this series, our Lancaster workplace accident attorney will look at failing to go back to work when approved by the doctor, doing job duties that go beyond the doctor’s recommendations and getting caught doing so, and believing that the workers’ comp adjuster’s average weekly wage calculation is accurate.

Error 5: Failing to Go Back to Work When the Doctor Says You Can Do So Safely

Depending on the extent of your injuries, your doctor may determine that you can return to work in a lower capacity than you were working prior to the incident. This is sometimes a source of contention between workers and employers, as the worker may feel that the suggested job is “beneath them.” However, our Lancaster workplace accident attorney suggests that you return as recommended, as the employer may use your failure to return to a lower position against you to claim that you’re really not interested in getting back to work.

If you truly do not think that you can return to work to perform the duties they’ve suggested, be sure to talk about it with your physician. If he or she still believes that you can do what you’ve being asked to do, then you should go back to work as requested and make note of all pain, discomfort and any other symptoms that may arise at that time in order to follow up with your doctor later so changes to your plan can be made as needed.

Error 6: Doing Things That Go Beyond the Doctor’s Restrictions and Getting Caught on Tape Doing So

It never fails — people always think they can do more than they actually can after an injury. The world we live in lends itself to getting things done quickly and doing it yourself to ensure it happens in the timeframe expected. Still, even if you feel like you’re up to carrying your own groceries into the house or picking up that package that was dropped off by the mail carrier, wait for someone to help you, if necessary. It is not worth risking your health and ultimate recovery.

What many injured workers fail to realize is that they are often being watched by overzealous insurance adjusters who send private investigators out for the very specific purpose of catching and discrediting injured workers doing acts that extend far beyond the recommendations of the doctor. So if you’re alone and tempted to take that long walk down to the mailbox to get a package, don’t do it. Ask for help and don’t let video footage ruin your workers’ comp claim.

Error 7: Believing the Accuracy of the Worker’s Compensation Adjuster’s Calculation of Your Average Weekly Wage

Contrary to popular belief, workers’ compensation adjusters may not properly calculate your average weekly wages. If you believe yours has been incorrectly determined, speak to our Lancaster workplace accident attorney for immediate assistance. The adjuster may have failed to include important numbers, such as overtime hours, vacation pay and other incentives you may receive when making his determination, and we can review all of your pay information to ensure an accurate accounting is made for the 52 weeks prior to the injury.

Our Lancaster Workplace Accident Attorney Can Help You Avoid Costly Mistakes on Your Workers’ Comp Claim

Nothing can be more important than your overall health and safety. If you have been hurt while on the job, contact our Lancaster workplace accident attorney for help with your claim. We want to ensure you get the proper financial help you need during your recovery.

Mistakes to Avoid When Pursuing a Workers’ Comp Case: Part II

In Part One of this series, we discussed the importance of acting right away after an on-the-job accident occurs, as well as telling your doctor the full extent of your injuries without creating false symptoms or injuries. In Part Two of our series, our Lancaster workplace accident attorney will discuss mistakes related to doctor selection and failure to heed the doctor’s advice.

Error 3: Using the Employer’s Doctor and Failing to Choose Your Own Physician

Unfortunately, many hurt workers may not even realize that they do not have to use an employer-provided doctor. While using the company’s doctor may seem like a convenience or requirement, it is not mandatory, and more often than not, a workplace accident lawyer will advise against using the employer’s doctor.

The law provides employees with the ability to select and visit any doctor of their own choosing, along with any other healthcare providers that may be recommended by the primary care physician. Additionally, you should be aware that you, as the injured worker, are entitled to obtain second opinions, including the tests and/or services recommended by those physicians offering such opinions.

Error 4: Failing to Abide by the Doctor’s Treatment Plan or Follow His Recommendations, Advice and Orders

If you want to ensure the downfall of your workers’ comp case, simply do not do what your doctor tells you to do. We cannot stress enough the importance of following your physician’s orders, recommendations and treatment plan. If the doctor wants you to return for follow-up exams and tests, or he needs you to attend physical therapy, make sure you go to these appointments. All too often, people think that certain treatments and recommendations are “optional” as opposed to required. And more often than not, injured individuals incorrectly think that when they start feeling better, they no longer need treatment. This simply is not realistic, and you are leaving a wide opening for the insurance company to claim that your injuries are not as severe as you claimed because of your failure to follow treatment recommendations.

Our Lancaster workplace accident attorney knows all too well that symptoms will lessen during the treatment process; however, if you stop receiving treatment or following the doctor’s guidelines, those symptoms can return, and in some instances, they can come back worse than they were originally. That said, you are reminded to tell your doctor every little detail you can think of about your injuries and the feelings you’re experiencing, despite how minor they may seem. You are also encouraged to discuss any injuries that were present before the accident. Even if you had pre-existing injuries, you may still be entitled to compensation for those stemming from the incident at issue.

Dealing With a Worker’s Comp Case? Our Lancaster Workplace Accident Attorney Can Help

You don’t have to attempt to handle your workers’ compensation case on your own. Any Lancaster workplace accident attorney at our firm can help you with your case and discuss how the process works under the law. Contact our office for immediate assistance.

Mistakes to Avoid When Pursuing a Workers’ Comp Case: Part I

If you have been hurt on the job, you are undoubtedly suffering from not only physical pain, but also emotional pain as you begin to face the harsh reality that you may be out of work for weeks, months or even longer. Each Lancaster workplace accident attorney at our firm understands this and we are prepared to assist you as much as possible with your claim to ensure you get the just compensation you deserve.

In this four-part series, we will discuss a number of mistakes you need to avoid while dealing with your workers’ comp case — errors that could ultimately damage your case beyond repair.

Error 1: Failing to Act Right Away When an Accident Occurs

If you’ve sustained an injury while performing your job duties, you may have experienced a level of embarrassment, as well as disorientation. At the time, you may not be thinking clearly even if your physical injuries aren’t immediately evident. Still, there are a number of steps that need to be taken at the time of the accident in order to preserve your claim.

For instance, if your coworkers witnessed the injury, they most likely will be able to advise the employer of what happened just prior to the accident. Their versions will probably vary, as is normal when individuals witness an event from different vantage points. That said, your version of what took place before, during and after the incident will be critical to your case. Accordingly, our Lancaster workplace accident attorney encourages accident victims to write everything down while the incident is still fresh in their mind. Ensure that your notes are as thorough as possible, paying particular attention to what was said by whom and when. No detail is insignificant, so the more complete your notes are, the better.

It is also important to maintain copies of all documents related to the injury, especially from a financial standpoint.  Such costs can include travel to and from doctor’s appointments, lost wages and various after-care services. Be sure to obtain and keep copies of all medical records, including MRI and CT scan results, lab reports and other related documents every time you go to an appointment. Doing so from the beginning will help you and your attorney save a ton of time, expense and stress in the long run.

Error 2: Neglecting to Let Your Doctor Know the Full Details of Your On-the-Job Injury and Faking Symptoms and/or Injuries

You must let your physician know everything about your injuries that occurred from not only this accident, as well as injuries that existed previously on the same part of the body (which we commonly refer to as pre-existing conditions). So, if your doctor asks how you are doing, do not simply say, “I’m doing okay.” Go into in-depth detail, as the doctor actually needs to know how you are feeling physically. Tell him or her about every symptom you have, including those that have changed or continue to evolve as time passes.

While you are explaining your ailments to the doctor, it is also crucial for you to advise him or her if you’re feeling better than you were initially too. Our Lancaster workplace accident attorney knows that one sure way to damage your workers’ comp claim is to make up injuries that do not exist or to overblow the extent of your injuries. Doctors are professionals who have been trained to spot certain signs and symptoms related to various injuries — so if you’re faking it, they will likely know this sooner rather than later. When doctors think a person is faking injuries, it will be noted in the medical records and that notation may ultimately bring your case to an abrupt end or severely devalue it.

Let Our Lancaster Workplace Accident Attorney Help You Avoid These Errors

You should be justly compensated for any injuries you sustain while performing your job duties. Don’t mess up your claim by making reckless mistakes that could’ve easily been avoided. Contact our Lancaster workplace accident attorney today to discuss the particulars of your situation.

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.

 

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.

 

Forced Resignation after Injury Grounds for Legal Action

Despite the laws protecting workers following an injury on the job, there are dishonest employers that have forced the resignation of their employees. Forced resignation is treated the same as a termination and leaves already injured employees with a wrongful termination claim on their hands.

Employers try to force out injured workers for a few reasons. One of the biggest reasons is to avoid having to provide the correct accommodations, while others may be trying to avoid a Workers’ Compensation claim. Oftentimes, they try to make the worker decide to leave on their own with hostile work environments, but some even ask the employee to resign outright.

 

Constructive Discharge

Constructive discharge is a legal concept created by the National Relations Board in the 1930s to stop employers from discouraging employees from joining labor unions by making them resign from their positions. Today, the same efforts are used to force injured employees to resign, even if they are not part of a union.

This is done by creating intolerable working conditions or a hostile work environment, or by telling the employee they must resign.

What Constitutes as Intolerable Working Conditions?

Intolerable working conditions go beyond an unsupportive manager or being unhappy at work. Instead, someone claiming such working conditions must prove they were forced to leave by these conditions, and that they came because of their injury. To achieve this, it must be proven that the conditions were objectively intolerable, as opposed to working conditions the employee didn’t like.

In this case, objectively intolerable simply means the average worker in the same job and field would have found the conditions bad enough to feel they had to quit. This is the most difficult part of a legal case when it comes to forced resignations. Some actions an employee can prove include harassment, demotions, or humiliation, along with severely cut hours.

Proving Working Conditions

Typically, there must be tangible action to build a case. There also needs to be proof that there was efficient time and opportunity for the working conditions to be fixed before resignation. It is important for employees who feel they are under poor working conditions to keep track of the conditions, such as having copies of reports or making notes during meetings regarding the conditions.

If you feel you were forced to resign, or feel you can’t continue working under the present conditions, contact our Pennsylvania Workers Compensation lawyers at Vanasse Law today. We will work to protect your rights and hold your employer accountable for their actions.