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Archive for the ‘Workplace Injuries’ Category

Construction Site Accident Compensation in Pennsylvania

Construction sites have one of the biggest risks for injury out of workplaces. Between the high heights and heavy machinery, the workers on site put themselves in danger consistently throughout their day. Without proper training, injury is nearly inevitable. Even with the right training and precautions, injuries still happen, making construction sites one of the top workplaces for Workers’ Compensation and negligence claims.

When accidents do occur, Pennsylvania law is on the side of the worker and supports their recovery. Construction site accident claims are handled like any work injury in the state.

What is a Work Injury?

A work injury is simply any medical condition, illness or injury that comes as a result of employment. The law that governs work injuries in Pennsylvania purposely excludes specific examples of injuries to ensure conditions caused by employment are covered. This helps to include occupational diseases and pre-existing conditions that are made worse through employment.

Do Employees Have to Report Injuries?

The first thing an employee should do after becoming injured on the job is to report it to management. However, this is not always possible. Under Workers’ Compensation law, the employee must give notice of injury within 21 days of the injury or, at the very latest, 120 days. It is a good rule of thumb to report all injuries, even if they seem minor at the time. A small head injury on a construction site could be discovered to have caused a concussion, for example, and lead to time away from work to recover.

How Long Until Payments Begin?

Under the Workers’ Compensation Act, payment should either be agreed upon by the company or its insurance company after 21 days or deny the claim. Additionally, loss of wages cannot be paid until there is medical proof from a doctor or other medical professional to confirm injuries. The medical proof should also indicate whether the worker can return to their employment or if there are restrictions on the work that can be performed.

Can I Go to My Own Doctor?

Most workers would prefer to go to their own doctor, but under Section 306(f.1)(1)(i) of the Pennsylvania Workman’s Comp Act, workers filing for Worker’s Compensation must be treated by a company doctor for 90 days after the first visit if the employer provides six designated health providers to choose from. It is also important to know after those 90 days, the injured worker can go to their own doctor for treatment. To use a company doctor, the company must also provide written notification of the employee’s rights and duties and must obtain written acknowledgment from the employee that the rights and duties were provided. If the employer does not provide all the necessary information and get the written acknowledgment, the employee can go to any doctor of their choosing.

If you have been injured while working at a construction site in Pennsylvania, contact us today. Our team has the knowledge and skill to help with workman’s comp claims in the state and will put our experience to work for you.

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.

Over 75 percent of Farm Injuries Go Unreported

There are some occupations that are more injury prone than others. Construction work, maritime occupations, and mining are among the work environments that are known to be dangerous, and which are most likely to see injuries to employees and workers’ comp claims. One area that tends to fly under the radar in terms of dangers is agricultural work. To illustrate this, according to data collected in 2011 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics there were only 32,100 injuries to farm workers – a number that is remarkably low considering how many farms there are in the United States.

At first glance, it would seem that farms must institute a remarkably high number of safety measures to protect their workers. But a closer analysis of the results reveals that the number of injuries gathered only come from farms that employee more than eleven employees. The statistics also do not include the temporary or contract workers who are injured or those injuries suffered by relatives of the farms’ owners. When you add in those employees and those work settings the number suddenly jumps to over 143,000 injuries per year.

Unfortunately, despite the high number of injuries that actually impact arm workers in the state of Pennsylvania, many injured workers are not able to file for workers comp benefits because of the nuances and limitations of the state’s workers’ compensation laws and protections. To learn whether you are eligible to file for compensation, contact the attorneys at the Lancaster law firm of Vanasse Law today.

Though the state requires most employers to carry Workers’ Compensation insurance, the requirements for farm employers are extremely limited. The only circumstance under which an employer must provide workers’ compensation is when there is at least one worker who is paid wages of $1,200 or more, or when there is at least one employee who works 30 or more days in a calendar year. This allows farmers to keep their per employee compensation low or to only hire temporary help in order to avoid having to pay for expensive workers’ compensation insurance. Additionally, workers who are undocumented are not entitled to receive replacement wages, even from those employers who provide workers’ compensation benefits.  This can make it difficult for an injured employee to get the compensation or reimbursement that they need to help pay for lost wages or medical expenses.

Though the lack of availability of workers’ compensation presents a roadblock for temporary workers or those who work on a limited basis and who are injured, that does not mean that it is not possible to file a claim. The best route for an injured farm worker in Pennsylvania is often to file a third-party personal injury claim against others who may have contributed to or displayed negligence that led to the injury. At Vanasse Law, we work hard to ensure that injured farm workers are provided with the information and representation that they need to get the justice they deserve. Call us or contact us online today to learn more about your rights to compensation.

What are the Most Common Injuries Healthcare Workers Contend With?

Vanasse Healthcare Worker Workers Comp Lawyer Lancaster

People who work in the healthcare industry often do so because they are passionate about helping others. Whether they are doctors and nurses who have invested years in getting advanced education or aides who are providing much-needed care for elderly and infirm residents of long-term care facilities, these hardworking professionals work long hours providing much needed services that are often underappreciated. Few people give thought to the many hazards faced by healthcare workers. From the same type of slip and fall accidents that can happen to employees in all occupational settings to exposure to contagious diseases, healthcare workers often risk their own health in the service of others. At Vanasse Law, we are experienced workman’s compensation attorneys who can help workers get the compensation they deserve when they are hurt on the job. Here are the most common injuries that healthcare workers have to contend with.

Millions of people work in the healthcare field in the United States, and different positions carry their own unique risks. For those who work in the diagnostic imaging profession, there are concerns about exposure to radiation. For those who draw blood there are concerns about needle sticks and contamination with bodily fluids. But these are the injuries that happen most frequently:

  • Repetitive stress injuries and musculoskeletal injuries that are a result of doing the same activity over and over again or that require overexertion and strain. In most cases, the healthcare employees that suffer these types of injuries are orderlies, attendants, and nursing aids who may be responsible for lifting and transferring patients.
  • Needle sticks that are a result of routine blood draws or injections, as well as those in which patients are combative. Needle sticks can also occur when needles are improperly disposed of or when they fall.
  • Violence is a common occupational hazard for those who work in healthcare settings. Patients, their family members and friends can all become combative or aggressive in times of stress or grief. Additionally, the patient population can include violent criminals who are on criminal hold pending recuperation, patients who have taken illicit drugs that make their behavior unpredictable, and patients with psychiatric disorders who are similarly difficult to manage. Medical facilities are also frequent targets for robberies by those seeking drugs.
  • Slip and fall accidents happen everywhere, and medical facilities are no exception. Many of these accidents are a result of floors not being cleaned or dried promptly after a spill, or floors being slippery from heavy applications of cleaning products.

The injuries that are most frequently seen in healthcare employees include sprains and strains, slipped discs, bloodborne infectious diseases, infections, and broken bones.

If you are an employee working in a healthcare environment, you are highly vulnerable to on-the-job injuries, and if you suffer one of these injuries you are eligible for workers compensation. You may also be eligible to file a third party claim if negligence on the part of somebody outside of your employer contributed to your injury. At Vanasse Law, we help injured workers get the compensation that they deserve. Contact us today to learn more.

Early Warning Signs of a Heart Attack While Working

Heart attacks have long been associated with physical exertion, especially in a person who is not physically fit. They have also been connected to fear, anger and stress. As a result, the idea of a person having a heart attack on the job is not at all surprising. Whether an employee works in a labor intensive job, a job that subjects them to extreme heat conditions, or simply a career that causes a lot of anxiety and stress, the only people who generally argue that a job can’t cause stress would be a company trying to deny a workers’ compensation claim. Fortunately, the workers’ compensation board and the Commonwealth Court have ruled in favor of these claims in the state of Pennsylvania.  As long as the employee can establish that they suffered a heart attack and that it arose in the course of employment and was related to their job, all they need is an unequivocal medical opinion that links the injury to the environment. Though there is some comfort in knowing that an experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help you get the compensation that you deserve in case you do suffer an attack, it is far better to avoid the situation entirely. By keep yourself in good physical condition and learning the early warning signs of a heart attack while working, you can go a long way to protect yourself.

If you believe that you are at risk of having a heart attack on the job, there are a number of typical symptoms of heart attack that you should be familiar with. These include:

  • Chest pain – this is the most commonly-recognized symptom of a heart attack. The sensation has been described as a squeezing in the chest that can be constant or can come and go. It generally lasts for a period of more than a few minutes.
  • Upper body pain – an ache that spreads to the shoulders, upper arms, neck, back, teeth and jaw.
  • Stomach pain – generally described as feeling like heartburn, but sometimes like nausea.
  • Difficulty breathing – many people having a heart attack have a hard time catching their breath. This is exacerbated by the pain they feel in their chest.
  • Lightheadedness – dizziness and vertigo are frequently experienced before a heart attack. This is often related to a shortage of oxygen to the brain.
  • Sweating – many people will break into a cold sweat immediately prior to having a heart attack.
  • Anxiety – people who experience a heart attack often report a sense of extreme stress that is very similar to the sensation of having a panic attack.

It is important to remember that everybody experiences heart attacks differently, and that women’s symptoms often differ from those experienced by men. If you fear that you are having a heart attack on the job, seek medical attention immediately. If you do have a heart attack on the job and your employer or their insurance company denies your workers’ compensation claim, contact the attorneys at Vanasse Law for knowledgeable legal representation.

 

Back Injuries for Health Care Workers Are On the Rise as Obesity Epidemic Shows No Signs of Abating

Back Injury - Lancaster Workers Comp - Vanasse Law

If you were asked what profession reports the most work-related back and musculoskeletal injuries, what would your guess be? Construction worker? Warehouse worker? You would probably be surprised to hear that according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nursing assistants sustain more of these life-changing injuries than any other group of workers.  They are followed by warehouse workers, truckers, stock clerks and registered nurses. The statistics are stunning in the sheer numbers: as a group, orderlies and nursing assistants each suffer these injuries at a rate three times higher than construction workers. Much of this has to do with the fact that they are lifting and moving patients on a constant basis, and an increasing number of patients are obese.

Research into what is causing these injuries reveals that there are a number of contributing factors, including laying blame at the feet of the hospitals and nursing schools where these workers are taught how to move patients. It is essential that proper body mechanics are used. But according to William Marras, director of the Ohio State University’s Spine Research Institute, there is no safe way for an employee – or even a group of employees – to lift an obese patient manually. “The magnitude of these forces that are on your spine are so large that the best body mechanics in the world are not going to keep you from getting a back problem,” he said.

In light of the fact that there is little hope that anything will change in terms of the patient population and their weight, the answer lies in facilities providing their staff with the tools that they need to keep them safe. Motorized hoists that are similar to those used in factories are being introduced in health systems around the country, and hospitals are conducting intensive training sessions designed specifically to prevent injury.

Those facilities that are not equipping themselves properly are risking their employees’ suffering back and spinal injuries that jeopardize their long-term health. According to assistant secretary of Labor David Michaels, “It means that workers who are relatively young have to stop working early, in many cases.”

Many workers in traditional industrial settings are specifically prohibited from lifting anything heavier than 35 pounds on the job, but health care workers are typically lifting patients weighing multiples of that dozens of times per day.  The result is often a career-ending injury that leaves the employee with little recourse beyond filing for workers’ compensation insurance.  Workers’ compensation provides those who have been hurt on the job with reimbursement of their medical expenses, time lost due to their injury, and long-term disability if it is needed. If you are a healthcare worker who has suffered a back or spine injury as a result of lifting heavy patients, contact the workers’ compensation attorneys at Vanasse Law to learn more about your rights.

Common Injuries for Food Service Workers

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Food service workers are found in a wide variety of occupational settings, including restaurants and hotels, coffee shops and bars, hospitals, schools and other institutions where food is either prepared, sold, served or some combination of the three. The job titles can include waiters and waitresses, bus boys, bartenders, cooks, dishwashers and even hosts or hostesses. Each of these jobs has its own responsibilities and place in the food service system and each requires its own level of training and education, yet all are vulnerable to very similar risk for injury. The food service environment exposes its employees to wet floors, high heat, sharp objects and other dangers that they need to be vigilant about, and that their employers need to take action to protect them against. If you are a food service worker you should take the time to inform yourself about the most common injuries for food service workers, as well as the remedies that are available to you if you have been injured. The work injury attorneys at the Lancaster law firm of Vanasse Law can help you get the compensation you deserve.

Though the general public may think that food service is a relatively safe job, the truth is that one out of every twenty on-the-job injuries and illnesses take place in eating and drinking establishments.  To get an idea of the types of dangers that these environments present, here are the top four restaurant injuries according to a survey conducted by Cintas Corporation:

  • Burns – Restaurant operations require that high heat is used. From fryers and stove tops to the risk of having hot liquids spilled, the risk is high. No wonder that one third of all work-related burns take place in restaurants. Though minor burns can be treated on site and will heal quickly, more serious injuries can result in scarring for life and life-threatening injuries.
  • Lacerations and punctures – Employees need to take great care when handling broken dishes and glasses, knives and slicers and other sharp implements.
  • Eye injuries – Whether a food service employee is working with hot grease or with caustic cleaning chemicals, the risk of a splash or spatter injury impacting vision is high.
  • Sprains and strains – Food service workers lift heavy items and have to reach for items that are placed too high or in inconvenient locations. These injuries can be severe, and can lead to long-term damage to muscles and ligaments.

In addition to these injuries, food service workers are at risk for slip and fall accidents caused by wet floors or debris or food that is not quickly removed. They can fall from higher levels, down stairs, or have items that are stored on high fall on them and cause head injuries. Each of these risks is very real, and if they happen to you then you need to know your rights regarding workers’ compensation as well as filing personal injury lawsuits against responsible third parties. Contact Vanasse Law today to learn more about how we can help.

 

Reporting Unsafe Work Conditions

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Workers’ compensation is there to provide for employees who are injured on the job. But what happens when you see an unsafe situation in your work environment and want to take action before or you any of your coworkers get hurt? Many times an employee will become aware of a work hazard and be uncertain as to what steps they should take, especially if they fear repercussions from their boss. The truth is that every employee is entitled to a workplace that is free of safety conditions that could jeopardize their health, and they have a right to report problems to their employer and/or the proper authorities. They even have the right to refuse to work if they feel that they are in immediate jeopardy. Here is some helpful information on reporting unsafe work conditions. If you are uncertain about your rights or feel that you are being punished for taking action, contact the Lancaster law firm of Vanasse Law for assistance.

The federal agency that is responsible for ensuring that work environments in the United States are safe is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Their mission is to make sure that employers provide a work environment that is safe and that won’t cause injury, illness or death. There are many safety standards that the agency has established to accomplish this goal, and their rules extend to the actions that employees can take on their own behalf. If you believe that conditions in your workplace present an immediate danger, you have the right to report the problem directly to OSHA. This applies to situations where you think that somebody is going to imminently be killed or suffer serious injury and your boss will not take action to address the problem. If you do not have time to report the problem to OSHA and you have no other reasonable options, you have the right not to go to work under the existing conditions, and not face repercussions.  Where the danger that is present is not imminent, the expectation is that the employee first addresses the situation with their employer in writing. Only after the employer fails to take action should the situation be escalated to OSHA or the state occupational safety agency.

It is important for you to realize that in taking action to notify your employer or OSHA about a significant safety issue, you are protected against retaliation, including being fired or demoted, a pay cut, or any other form of negative action. If you feel that you have been a victim of retaliation, you can seek reinstatement of your previous pay level or job, and also receive compensation for any wages that you have lost in the interim.

The primary interest of your employer is to make money, but they need to do so in a way that ensures that all of those that work for them are safe and healthy. If you are having a problem in the workplace or have already suffered an injury, contact the workers’ compensation attorneys at Vanasse Law today for immediate, knowledgeable legal representation.

Animal Attacks on the Job and Workers’ Compensation

animal attacks on the job

When people think about workers’ compensation and the types of injuries or illnesses that precede filing a claim, they generally think of slip and fall accidents, automobile or heavy equipment accidents, or exposure to toxic or dangerous materials. But employees working in all types of industries are susceptible to an almost unlimited number of injury types, and a surprising number of workers’ compensation claims are filed as a result of animal attacks on the job as well as insect bites. These injuries can be very serious: in the United States there are roughly 800,000 dog bite injuries that require medical attention, and dozens of these have resulted in death. Workers who receive these types of injuries are in the unusual position of being able to file a workers’ compensation claim as well as to file a claim against the owner of the animal in question, or the property owner where the animal or insect injury occurred. If you have been hurt in this way, the experienced Lancaster law firm of Vanasse Law can help.

Animal attacks and insect bites can lead to injuries and illnesses of all types. Not only can the wounds themselves be serious and disfiguring, but they can also lead to additional complications such as infections or viruses. Workers who are bitten or scratched by a cat may come down with cat scratch fever, and bites of all types can become infected. Rabies and Rocky Mountain spotted fever is also a fear. Employees are also at risk of insect bites: being bitten by a tick can cause Lyme disease, being bitten by a mosquito can cause Zika or West Nile virus, and many insects such as bees, hornets and ants inject a toxic venom that can cause serious pain and illness in humans.

Injuries and illnesses such as those described above can happen to all types of workers. Those most at risk include:

  • Veterinary professionals – these workers come into direct contact with animals, as well as with the insects that may be afflicting them.
  • Home health care personnel – these workers often enter the homes of patients who own animals that may attack. They also can be exposed to insects in those homes
  • Delivery people – Like home health care personnel, these employees are often required to come into contact with animals in a customer’s home. They are also exposed to insects such as bees, hornets, and mosquitos.
  • Construction and maintenance workers – These workers frequently encounter insect nests and wild animals such as rats, squirrels, birds, raccoons and opossums.
  • Teachers – Classroom pets can quickly turn on teachers who are handling animals for the children they are educating. Classrooms can also be homes to stinging and biting insects, and teachers can also be stung when outside on playgrounds or on field trips.

If you suffer an animal attack injury or illness on the job, remember that your expenses can be covered by workers’ compensation. Call Vanasse Law today to learn more and get assistance in filing your claim.

Can I Treat My Workers’ Compensation Injuries Using My Own Doctor?

work place injuriesWhen you suffer any kind of injury, your natural response is to seek attention from your physician. After all, that is the professional who knows your health history, and with whom you have established a relationship over the years. But if the injury that you have suffered is a workplace injury and you plan on filing a workers’ compensation claim, then there are certain rules that you need to be aware of and to follow. Having an experienced workers’ compensation attorney acting as your advocate can help you avoid making mistakes that could keep you from getting the compensation that you need. The workers’ compensation attorneys from the Lancaster law firm of Vanasse Law are here to keep you on the right track so you can get the reimbursement that you deserve.

Pennsylvania’s workers’ compensation laws define a work injury as an injury, disease or condition caused by a person’s job, and in order to get compensation for that injury, a worker needs to inform their employer about the condition within 21 days of it having occurred, or within 120 days at the absolute latest. The sooner you report an injury the better, even if you don’t think that you’ll need medical treatment. If you do need treatment, your company is allowed to insist that you are treated by a doctor from their company approved list for the first visit and for 90 days thereafter: once those 90 days are up, you can see whatever physician you choose. It is also important to note that not every company has this requirement in place. You only need to go to a company doctor if your company has provided you with a written list that consists of at least six designated health care providers and you have signed a document indicating that you have received the list and are aware of those requirements. If the company hasn’t provided this type of list, then you are free to select whatever physician you would like.

Workers’ compensation offers a number of benefits, including compensation for medical expenses and for wages lost as a result of the injury. The amount that you can receive in lost wages is based on the amount of money that you were making before the injury, and there are maximum amounts that can be paid, but most workers receive about 2/3s of their wage. Bills from doctors and medical facilities are paid based on a fee schedule, and bill the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company directly. The employee should not have to pay any fees.

Workers’ compensation is a valuable benefit for employees, but getting the benefits that you deserve can, unfortunately, be a difficult process. The attorneys at Vanasse Law will fight for your rights and make sure that everything is being done the right way. Call us today to set up an appointment to discuss your case.