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Archive for the ‘Workplace Accidents’ Category

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.

Who is Held Accountable if You’re Injured by Livestock While at Work?

Vanasse Livestock Injury Workers Comp Lawyer PA

People tend to romanticize the idea of working with animals. We hold veterinarians and animal shelter workers in high regard, and visualize pastoral images of lambs, calves and chickens when we think of farm work. The reality of the situation is far different. A report conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that in the five-year period between 1992 and 1997, animals were either partially or entirely responsible for 375 fatal on the job injuries, accounting for one percent of all of the fatalities during that period. During the same period of time there were 75,000 animal-related injuries that were not fatal. These types of injuries result in significant harm, with employees having to seek medical attention and take time from work in order to recuperate.  If a worker is injured on the job and their employer is required to carry workers’ compensation insurance, then those injuries would be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. If the injury was the result of negligence on the part of a third party, then the employee may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against those responsible. The Lancaster law firm of Vanasse Law has extensive experience in helping injured workers get the justice they deserve. We can help you get the compensation you deserve.

When livestock are present as part of the work environment, their actions are generally included in the owner’s legal responsibilities. Though farm animals such as sheep, goats, pigs, horses and cows may be considered domesticated, they are still capable of causing serious injuries to those who are around them, including those who are working with them.  Injuries and accidents can include:

  • Animal bites
  • Animals trampling on an employee
  • Animals charging at employees
  • Animals knocking over or crushing an employee
  • Animals goring an employee with their horns
  • Diseases being transmitted to employees from animals

Those who own the animals are responsible for taking actions to protect their employees from their animals. These actions may include providing proper training, providing appropriate fencing and equipment to provide a barrier between employees and the animals, establishing safety protocols for what to do when animals escape or get out of control, and making sure that first aid supplies are available to provide immediate care to anybody who has been injured.

Under workers’ compensation rules, an employer cannot be held personally responsible for injuries sustained by their employee for animal attacks on the job, but the owners of the animal can be, and so can third parties who may have contributed, or to whom the animals belonged. Employees do, however, have the right to file for workers’ compensation benefits to provide compensation for medical care and lost wages. For information about how to access these benefits or for representation, contact the Pennsylvania law firm of Vanasse Law.

Good Maintenance Practices Can Prevent Slip and Fall Accidents at Work

Terri December Week 5 - IMG - Slip and Fall

Having a job and going to work each day are closely tied in to an individual’s sense of self-worth. That’s why people work so hard to get the training and education that they need for their desired occupation and why they strive to do well, accomplishing goals and making their employers happy. When a dedicated employee is hurt on the job and unable to perform their work responsibilities, it does more than impact the company’s productivity – it also can lead to depression and a fear that somebody else will take their place. Slip and fall accidents are among the most common types of employee injuries, and they can lead to long-term disabilities. Good maintenance practices can prevent slip and fall accidents at work, keeping employees happy and healthy. The attorneys at the Lancaster law firm of Vanasse Law are proud to provide employers and employees alike some tips on how to minimize accidents from happening.

Most slip and fall accidents are a result of unstable floors, or flooring where the employee loses traction or trips over something. Examples include:

  • Uneven walking surfaces
  • Loose flooring, carpeting or mats that slip
  • Floors that are slippery due to being wet, greasy, or freshly waxed
  • Missing floor tiles or bricks
  • Lack of handrails on stairways
  • Uneven stairways
  • Clutter or debris on the floor
  • Loose electrical cords, cables or wires in the walkway
  • Open file cabinet drawers or desk drawers
  • Damaged ladder steps
  • Weather hazards such as ice, snow or rain
  • Wet leaves or pine needles

Employers that want to minimize employee slip and fall accidents at work should pay attention to basic housekeeping, planning ahead for weather-related hazards and assigning responsibility for clean-up. This means that employees may be given the task of cleaning up after the weather, themselves, or others in order to prevent an injury from happening.  Responsible employers will implement a program that automatically ensures that walking surfaces are frequently inspected for water, ice, debris or other hazards. The program should include the installation of safety-minded devices such as “wet floor” signs, moisture-absorbent mats with beveled edges, and anti-skid adhesive tape.

Additional steps can include careful inspection of all work areas for hazards such as poor lighting, stairwells that are poorly lit or have uneven stairs or loose or absent handrails. Safety training that teaches employees to close cabinet drawers and to report broken fixtures and other potential risk factors immediately can also reduce the number of slip and fall injuries. Finally, where appropriate, the mandating of appropriate footwear can cut down on slip and fall injuries dramatically.

When an employee is hurt in a slip and fall accident at work, everybody suffers. The worker suffers pain and the emotional trauma of being away from the job that provides them with their sense of self-worth and the employer loses the skills and talent that the employee provides. It is always best to avoid injuries rather than to regret them later. If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident at work, contact the workers’ compensation attorneys at Vanasse Law today.

Mistakes to Avoid After a Workplace Injury

terri-november-week-1-img-work-injury

Most employees are covered by workers’ compensation, a no-fault insurance that provides benefits that cover medical expenses and lost wages in exchange for the injured worker not filing a lawsuit against their employer. Though this benefit was originally designed to make the process easier on both the worker and the employee, over the years it has become a situation that can be fraught with animosity as employers or their insurers deny coverage and argue against the extent of the damages that have been suffered. If you have been injured on the job and you are eligible for workers’ compensation, there are certain steps you need to follow, deadlines you need to meet, and mistakes you need to avoid to strengthen your chances of getting the benefits you deserve. The attorneys at the Lancaster law firm of Vanasse Law are dedicated legal advocates who are committed to making sure you get the benefits that you deserve. Contact us as soon as possible after a workplace injury takes place in order to preserve your rights.

There are a number of mistakes that can lead to an injured worker not getting the benefits that they deserve for their workplace injury. These include:

  • Not reporting their injury to their supervisor or workplace. Pennsylvania law requires that you notify your employer of your injury within 21 days after it occurs, or at the latest within 120 days.
  • Attempting to make your injuries worse then they actually are. There is no need to embellish your symptoms or damages, and doing so can jeopardize your case.
  • Not using the company’s doctor if the employer has created a list of at least six physicians and has provided you with written notification of that list, and you have acknowledged that you’ve received it.
  • Failing to obey the doctor’s orders, whether going back to work when they say that you are able to or working beyond what the restrictions that they impose.
  • Failing to report other income that you received while you are out of work. This can impact the benefits you receive.
  • Failing to respond to notifications that you receive from the Workers’ Compensation Board
  • Posting photos of yourself on social media, enjoying yourself or involved in strenuous activities. If you are claiming that your injury has had a negative impact on your life, you do not want to publicize anything that would contradict your testimony.
  • Signing any kind of release with your company or insurance company without consulting with an attorney.

Though there is no requirement that you use an attorney when you file a workers’ compensation claim, having a qualified and knowledgeable lawyer acting on your behalf is one of the best things you can do to ensure that you get the benefits that you deserve. A lawyer will make sure that you are in compliance with all of the workers’ compensation laws’ requirements, that all of your documents are in order, and that you avoid the mistakes that can jeopardize your ability to get your compensation. The lawyers at Vanasse Law are here and ready to help.

Common Injuries that Occur at the Office

office injury

It is sometimes difficult to envision an injury occurring in an office environment. After all, when you picture an office you think of cubicles, office chairs and copier machines — all things that rarely represent a risk. Still, there are a surprisingly high number of workers’ compensation claims submitted for injuries that occur in these settings. People can slip and fall, they can be victims of office furniture tumbling over or drawers carelessly left opened. Chairs can break, individuals can hurt themselves trying to lift heavy objects, and sitting at a desk and typing on a computer for hours at a time can lead to repetitive stress injury. If you have suffered an injury or illness that occurred at the office, then you are entitled to workers’ compensation, a benefit provided specifically for those who have been hurt at work. Workers’ compensation is supposed to be a no-fault process that allows the injured employee to receive compensation without assigning blame. Unfortunately, it can still be a difficult process, as employers and their insurance companies often deny claims. If you have been injured on the job and need assistance getting the benefits you deserve, Vanasse Law can help.

There are several common injuries that occur at the office. Some are a result of the nature of office work, as employees that spend most of their time inside and seated can often suffer from back and neck pains, pain in the hands and wrists, and even vision strain from staring at a computer for hours on end. Others are simply the same injuries that can happen in any setting. Here are the office injuries that we most frequently see and represent:

  • Slip and fall injuries. People slip and fall frequently, and these accidents can lead to severe disabilities. Falls often happen as a result of tripping over an open drawer, carelessly placed electrical cords, faulty or loose carpeting, or debris or items left in walkways. People can fall out of their chairs and chairs can break, and many times and employees will use a chair as a way to reach an item that is up high and fall as a result. Wet floors are a frequent cause of falls, and so is inadequate lighting.
  • Being injured while lifting. It is not only heavy objects that can cause lifting injuries. If done improperly, any kind of bending and lifting can result in a strained back or neck.
  • Walking into stationary objects or being struck by falling or flying objects. When we bump into a file cabinet or desk, get fingers stuck in cabinets or are struck by objects falling from on high or falling over, there is a risk of injury.
  • Repetitive stress injuries. These are a result of workstations that are not ergonomically appropriate to the work that is being done and your body type.

No matter what the cause of your injury, if you have been hurt or sickened at the office then you may be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, as well as any time that you need to take away from the office for recovery. If you need assistance in preparing a claim, gathering documentation or appealing a denial, call the attorneys at Vanasse Law today. We know how to fight for your rights.

Injured in an On-the-Job Car Accident? How a Lancaster Workers’ Compensation Attorney Can Help

When you think of on-the-job injuries, most people don’t think of being hurt in a car accident. But the truth is that motor vehicle crashes are one of the most common causes of deaths and injuries in the workforce. Employees who have been injured in car accidents while on the job have a legal right to workers’ compensation benefits, but these claims are often denied by employers or their insurance companies. It is important that you understand your rights and that you have experienced, dedicated legal representation. The Lancaster workers’ compensation attorneys from Vanasse Law, LLC are here to help.

One of the most essential questions that comes up when an employee files a claim for workers’ compensation benefits following a car accident is whether they were actually “on the job” at the time that the accident occurs. Though accidents that occur while on your daily commute generally do not fall into this category, there are a number of circumstances that do, including:

  • If you are making a delivery for your employer
  • If you are running an errand for your employer
  • If you are transporting another employee on behalf of your employer
  • If you are a company driver and are on duty

These are clear cut examples of on-the-job driving. Others include employees who do not have a fixed office and are required to drive for work, or employees who are being paid by their employer for travel time. Even an accident that occurs on the way to or from the job may be viewed as a work-related accident if an employee has been asked to do something for their employer while on the way. In all of these cases, an accident is likely to qualify as having happened on the job, and entitled the worker to workers’ compensation benefits.

Motor vehicle accidents that occur while on the job often result in both workers’ compensation claims and personal injury claims.  As an employee who is covered by workers’ compensation insurance, you have the right to file a claim for your medical expenses, as well as compensation for wages that you lose as a result of your injuries. Workers’ compensation may provide you with either temporary or permanent disability compensation depending upon the extent of your injury, and may also provide rehabilitation expenses. You may also be able to file a personal injury claim for damages that you have suffered against any party that was involved in your accident and who displayed negligence.

At the Lancaster County law firm of Vanasse Law, LLC, we understand that your employer has a responsibility to you whenever you are driving on their behalf, or injured in a motor vehicle accident while on the job. We can help determine what benefits you are entitled to and represent you in a workers’ compensation claim, as well as investigating whether or not negligence played a role in your accident and pursuing justice on that front. Contact our office today to learn more about how we can help.

Farm Worker Injury Compensation: Understanding Workers Compensation for Lancaster, PA Farm Workers

Pennsylvania is one of America’s most prominent farming states. The state boasts over 63,000 farms and ranks fourth in the country for dairy production, apple production and grape production, and first for mushrooms. Though farming may evoke an image of a bucolic and peaceful setting, the truth is that it is a very dangerous profession, and agricultural employees are at high risk for work-related injuries. Despite the dangers inherent in the industry, workers’ compensation laws throughout the country do not necessarily apply to those who work on farms, and for those who suffer farm work injuries in Pennsylvania those protections might be in place, but only under limited circumstances. Understanding workers compensation for Lancaster, PA farm workers is complex, but the attorneys at Vanasse Law are dedicated to ensuring that those who are injured on the job get the justice they deserve. If you’ve suffered a farm work injury, call us today and let us tell you how we can help.

Though Pennsylvania does allow farm workers to collect workers’ compensation when they have suffered a farm work injury, that is only provided on a limited basis. According to the law, Pennsylvania farm employers are only required to provide workers’ compensation if they pay one agricultural worker wages of $1,200 or more, or furnish employment to one employee in agricultural labor for thirty or more days in a calendar year. Additionally, the state courts have ruled against the rights of undocumented workers to receive replacement wages when they have suffered a farm work injury, though they do provide for medical benefits.  Trying to understand whether your employer is required to provide these benefits can be a complex process, and that is why you need the help of an experienced Lancaster, PA workers’ compensation law firm.

Farm workers are at risk for a number of injuries. Accidents can occur when working with heavy machinery or you may be injured while working with power tools. Farm animals can be unpredictable and can expose you to airborne illnesses, chemicals and pesticides can lead to a variety of conditions and toxicities, and you can develop repetitive stress injuries or suffer injuries such as broken bones or back strains. In all of these cases, the medical bills will quickly become overwhelming and you may be required to miss work, or be completely disabled.

Though the exclusions and limitations established by the state with regards to providing workers’ compensation to farm workers may seem to work against your ability to get the compensation you need following your work injury, the lack of workers’ compensation does not preclude your ability to file a third-party personal injury claim that can provide you with similar benefits or compensation.  The attorneys at the workers’ compensation law firm of Vanasse Law have extensive experience in determining the best way to approach each farm work injury situation in order to maximize your ability to get the compensation that you need. Call us today to see how we can help.

Learn more about Workers’ Compensation and Vanasse Law HERE.

White Collar Workers Injuries: Common In-Office Injuries That Can Result in Workers’ Compensation

When people think about workers’ compensation and the injuries that require applying for these benefits, they generally imagine work setting such as factory floors and construction sites. The truth is that serious work-related injuries can happen in every environment, including offices where white collar workers are employed. Whether an employee is a professional in a supervisory role or a clerical staff member, it is quite common for white collar worker injuries to occur, and as a result they may be eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits. If you are an employee who has suffered a white collar worker injury and you need legal advice or representation, contact the Lancaster, PA law firm of Vanasse Law to learn more about your rights and how we can help.

There are a number of ways that an employee can be injured in an office setting. From something as simple as a slip and fall at the office to the development of a repetitive stress injury such as thoracic outlet syndrome or carpal tunnel syndrome, any accidental injury, sickness or death that is a result of something that happens in the scope of your employment may qualify you for workers’ compensation. In the state of Pennsylvania, having your claim approved means that you can receive medical benefits without limitation, as well as replacement of lost wages where appropriate.

The most common office injuries that result in workers’ compensation claims are a result of slip and fall accidents. The may be the result of unsafe conditions, unattended spills, exposed cord, loose rugs, or cluttered areas. The presence of inclement weather often contributes to the hazards that are present: slippery stairways, icy parking lots and water accumulation of floors are frequently the cause of injury. Additionally, many injuries are a result of poor workstation ergonomics that can lead to repetitive stress injuries, poor posture, and strains. Other problems that befall white collar workers include indoor air-quality problems, the negative impact of too much noise, electrical hazards, insufficient lighting or lighting that is too harsh, and acts of violence in the workplace.

If you work in an office environment and have suffered a workplace injury, it is important that you familiarize yourself with the proper procedures for reporting and responding to those injuries so that you can avail yourself of the workers’ compensation benefits to which you are entitled. Though many employees are hesitant about filing a claim, it is important to remember that workers’ compensation is a no fault system – by seeking benefits you are not blaming your employer for your injury, and you are not holding them liable.

The Lancaster, PA workers’ compensation law firm of Vanasse Law is familiar with all of the processes and procedures of filing a workers’ compensation claim, and will guide you through them in order to make sure that you are able to avail yourself of the benefits you need. Call us today to set up a convenient time for a consultation.

Learn more about Workers’ Compensation HERE.