How an attorney can facilitate your workers’ compensation claim

Injured workers located in the Monroe County area turn to an attorney for help with a workers’ comp claim. Many reasons exist for choosing such an approach, each one…

Injured workers located in the Monroe County area turn to an attorney for help with a workers’ comp claim. Many reasons exist for choosing such an approach, each one unique to the injured person. Those dealing with workers’ compensation for the first time often do not know if they need an attorney when moving forward with a claim. This blog post can answer some questions injured Pennsylvania workers might have about workers’ comp while explaining how an attorney can help.

In an ideal situation, filing a claim is simple. Many employers keep incident reports and workers’ compensation claim forms on hand for employees and some employers even help claimants complete the required paperwork. However, not all situations are ideal, meaning employees might face hardships while attempting to make a claim.

Here are a few reasons an injured worker might seek help from an attorney:

— Fear of claim denial– Severity of injury– Fear of being fired– Concerns over potential employer retaliation— Demotion or reduced pay after injury– Feeling threatened in some way– Difficulty working with workers’ compensation insurance carrier

When injured as a Pennsylvania worker, you have a right to receive benefits through workers’ comp. Neither your employer nor an insurance carrier can legally deny you these benefits. This is where an attorney can offer the most assistance. Working inside of the legal system, an attorney can review your claim and take over all interactions with the insurance provider. The final goal? Nothing less than making sure you receive all of the medical benefits and income loss funds you are due.

We invite you to take a closer look at our workers’ compensation web page to decide if you need assistance from a Pennsylvania-based attorney.

Skin dangers in the Moneroe County workplace

Some Lehigh Valley workers may worry about damage caused by breathing in toxic substances while on the job. Hazardous chemicals and other poisonous materials have several ways to enter…

Some Lehigh Valley workers may worry about damage caused by breathing in toxic substances while on the job. Hazardous chemicals and other poisonous materials have several ways to enter the body, including through an employee’s skin. Estimates state over 13 million U.S. workers are exposed to dangerous chemicals that cause occupational skin diseases or systemic harm.

You don’t have to be working in a laboratory to contract a skin disease or condition caused by toxic exposure. Cosmetologists, farmhands, food service employees and construction workers are among the victims of workplace exposure to hazardous chemicals.

Skin can be injured, irritated and infected due to direct exposure. Victims also can suffer systemic toxicity after substances like pesticides penetrate the skin and spread through the body.

Occupational skin diseases are common, particularly contact dermatitis or eczema, which is categorized as irritant or allergic contact dermatitis. In both cases, the skin becomes inflamed and responds with symptoms of swelling, redness, itching and pain. Blisters and flaky skin also may appear.

Contact dermatitis is responsible for up to 95 percent of all occupational skin diseases. Skin symptoms are triggered by direct exposure to a toxic substance in irritant dermatitis, the most prevalent form, or flare up due to an allergic reaction after repeated exposure to a harmful substance. Four out of every five work-related dermatitis cases are diagnosed as irritant contact dermatitis.

Determining whether dermatitis is due to direct irritation or an immunological response often requires a patch test. Damage also is assessed by factoring in how long a victim was exposed to a chemical or other toxin, the concentration of the substance, the skin’s health before exposure and the environment at the time of the accident.

MHK Attorneys can help injured and ill Pennsylvania workers file claims for workers’ compensation benefits. In some cases, legal action may be advisable to recover damages from negligent third parties.

2013 Pennsylvania occupational injuries

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 178 people lost their lives due to occupational injuries in 2013. Seventy-six of those fatalities were due to transportation incidents. Another 31…

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 178 people lost their lives due to occupational injuries in 2013. Seventy-six of those fatalities were due to transportation incidents. Another 31 fatalities were due to contact with equipment and objects.

The number of fatalities due to transportation incidents is actually expected to rise for 2013 when other documentation is received. Even so, the two causes listed above account for 57 percent of Pennsylvania workplace accidents. Fall, slips or trips accounted for another 25 deaths.

Transportation incidents represent a real danger to workers in our state. Accidents in motor vehicles caused 45 deaths, which was one-fourth of all fatalities on-the-job. However, the percentage of transportation incidents in Pennsylvania was slightly lower than the national percentage.

The warehousing and transportation industry sector had 35 fatalities, which was four higher than the previous year. While it might be commonly thought that the construction industry was responsible for the highest fatality count, it was actually semi-truck and heavy truck drivers.

Finally, 92 percent of the fatalities were men, which was just shy of the national percentage of 93. Of the 14 women who were killed, five were due to violence and injuries from animals or persons.

Workers’ compensation pays death benefits to workers who are killed while working on the job. This includes those who are killed in traffic accidents while driving on the clock. If such a claim is denied, an attorney experienced in workers’ compensation appeals can help. Losing a loved one in an occupational accident is difficult; however, it should not be difficult to receive his or her death benefits.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Workplace Fatalities in Pennsylvania – 2013,” accessed June 18, 2015

Pennsylvania drunk driving accident facts

Drunk driving accidents occur all over the United States and unfortunately Pennsylvania is no exception. While lawmakers continue to work on improving the laws for driving under the influence,…

Drunk driving accidents occur all over the United States and unfortunately Pennsylvania is no exception. While lawmakers continue to work on improving the laws for driving under the influence, it offers no consolation to those who have experienced DUI accidents first hand. To help raise awareness about alcohol-related accidents in the state of Pennsylvania, here are some fast facts about driving while intoxicated.

Five-year trends: From 2009 through 2013, alcohol-related car crashes in Pennsylvania have decreased; however, the figures (listed below) are still staggering.

— 2009 – 12,712– 2010 – 12,426– 2011 – 11,805– 2012 – 11,956– 2013 – 11,041

Victims of alcohol-related fatalities: To highlight how serious driving under the influence remains, take a look at these alcohol-related crash fatality statistics from 2013.

— 252 drinking drivers perished in car accidents– 45 passengers riding with drinking drivers died in alcohol-related car crashes– 17 non-drinking pedestrians perished due to drinking drivers

In the section below, you will find more fast facts about driving under the influence in Pennsylvania.

— 46 percent of alcohol-related crash fatalities occur over the weekend in 2013– In 2013, 32 percent of holiday car accident fatalities involved the use of alcohol– Most of the DUI car accidents in 2013 involved drinking drivers age 21 to 30 years of age– 44 percent of drivers who died due to car accidents in 2013 were drinking at the time of the crash

While there seems to be no easy solution to eliminate alcohol-related car accidents, victims can aid the cause by seeking recompense through the legal system. Perhaps if more drivers are taken to task for their actions behind the wheel, it will result in an even more dramatic decrease of DUI accidents.

If you have suffered bodily injuries or property damage due an intoxicated driver, exercise your rights to seek compensation by speaking with a Pennsylvania-based personal injury attorney as soon as possible.

Source: Pennsylvania DUI Association, “Crash Facts,” accessed June 15, 2015

Study: Lack of sleep could be a major cause of workplace accidents

National Public Radio recently gave three examples of where sleep deprivation is thought to be the cause of a serious accident: the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown, the Exxon Valdez tanker spill,…

National Public Radio recently gave three examples of where sleep deprivation is thought to be the cause of a serious accident: the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown, the Exxon Valdez tanker spill, and Civil War general Stonewall Jackson’s ill-starred 1862 campaigns.

Not all accidents bring such devastating results, of course, but we all want to reduce workplace injuries. Besides carefully following OSHA guidelines, though, what can we do?

The answer may be as simple as ensuring we all get enough sleep.

How much could sleep deprivation affect our decision-making abilities?

The effects of sleep deprivation are surprisingly acute, if a recent study is any gauge. In the study, which was published in the journal “Sleep,” the sleep-deprived volunteers did shockingly badly on a decision-making test. How badly? They got the answer wrong every time — even given 40 attempts.

The study, performed at Washington State University, involved a well-rested group of volunteers and a group that agreed not to sleep for two days and nights. They were asked to perform simple tests. In one, the subjects were asked to click a mouse when particular numbers appeared on the screen, but not to click when others appeared. Later, the researchers switched which numbers should elicit clicks from the test subjects.

No one was surprised when the well-rested group performed better on the initial test, but the sleep-deprived group didn’t do that poorly. The problem arose when the rule was switched. At that point, no one in the sleep-deprived group was able to click correctly at all, even after 40 tries.

“It wasn’t just that sleep-deprived people were slower to recover,” said a psychologist who led the study. “Their ability to take in new information and adjust was completely devastated.”

He explains that people don’t perceive lack of sleep to be as serious as it is because it doesn’t affect every aspect of brain function. For example, the well-rested group only did slightly better on tests that measured short-term memory.

Lack of sleep will come and bite you when you need to make quick decisions based on new information, he said. The best way to avoid an accident is to avoid making high-stakes decisions if you’re short on sleep — or at least take extra time to consider all factors. Just as important, be aware that your ability to second-guess yourself is depleted, so stop and think things over.

Google cars follow all traffic laws to a ‘T’. Is that a problem?

Let’s be frank: It’s not only other people who break traffic laws. When there are no cops around, we all decide which traffic laws really have to be followed. When…

Let’s be frank: It’s not only other people who break traffic laws. When there are no cops around, we all decide which traffic laws really have to be followed. When it comes to other people … well. We have pet peeves about slow-crossing pedestrians, motorcyclists who split lanes on the expressway, drivers who try to stop bikers from splitting lanes — there are a million of them.

Yet even supposing every single driver was committed to following every traffic law all the time, we’d never be able to remember all the various state and local traffic laws. We’re not robots, right?

Plus, sometimes it’s irritating when other drivers do follow every law. When we encounter a seemingly over-cautious driver, we’ve been known to mutter things like, “pick up the pace, grandma.” We believe in some unwritten “rules of the road,” don’t we?

Traffic law, rules of the road and Google’s self-driving vehicles

Google cars drive like your grandma,” an anonymous reviewer noted recently. The writer did not wish to identify himself, except to say he was a motorcyclist and car nut from Google’s home town of Mountain View, California. He also said he doesn’t work for any company making autonomous vehicles.

While Google’s self-driving vehicles aren’t widely available, models are apparently being road-tested in the area. The motorcyclist could only review them from the point of view of someone sharing the road, but he was pretty impressed with them generally. He gave them “5 stars” and a “Would Buy” rating.

At the same time, he pointed out that driving near a Google car might be a frustrating experience for some drivers. Google cars know all the traffic laws, but they don’t know the unwritten rules of the road:

  • At intersections where visibility is limited, Google vehicles slowly inch forward and take numerous pauses before making turns.
  • When pedestrians are crossing, Google cars wait until they’re completely across the street — and sometimes longer — before making a turn.
  • If another driver cuts a Google vehicle off, the autopilot immediately slows down and leaves a generous (excessive?) gap that other drivers may perceive as an opening.

So, if you’re in a Google car on autopilot, you’re going to be a very cautious, law-abiding, irritating “driver.” Is that safer, or will it cause confusion or road rage? It looks like time will tell.

Toxic chemical exposure can be deadly, but safety can be managed

Most of us don’t know exactly what hazards might be lurking in the workplace, especially if we don’t work in an industrial setting. It’s true that manufacturing jobs can be…

Most of us don’t know exactly what hazards might be lurking in the workplace, especially if we don’t work in an industrial setting. It’s true that manufacturing jobs can be dangerous, as they often involve exposure to chemicals, high-powered machinery, gases, oily floors and extreme noise and heat. If you’ve read the New York Times recently, however, you may know that hazardous chemicals like toluene and formaldehyde are present in dangerous levels in a wide variety of industries, including nail salons.

Whether you work in a salon, restaurant, hospital, construction site or factory, you could be exposed to toxic chemicals in your workplace. OSHA requires your employer to assess the risk and take all reasonable steps to keep you safe.

The Times revealed that wasn’t happening in many NYC nail salons, but another industry with a toluene-based process is doing a much better job. According to a recent profile in Occupational Health & Safety magazine, the flexible polyurethane foam industry has been successfully protecting their workers at every step in the manufacturing and waste-disposal processes. In fact, although exposure to toluene diisocyanate is known to cause asthma, workers in the flexible polyurethane foam industry have a lower rate of asthma than the general population.

Flexible polyurethane foam, or FPF, comes in a variety of forms and is even more ubiquitous in American society than glamorous fingernails. It’s the foam we use in furniture, mattresses, carpet pads, filters, packing foam, absorbent pads — even shoulder pads in sweaters. Think of any non-organic padded material and it’s almost certainly FPF. In the U.S. alone, we produce more than 1.6 billion pounds of FPF every year.

Once it’s in the marketplace, FPF is not thought to be dangerous because it has been cured. However, the curing process requires toluene diisocyanate which, as we’ve mentioned before, could put workers at risk of occupational asthma. If you get sick, you probably won’t be able to work around toluene diisocyanate anymore — or other chemicals.

The PFF industry’s success in limiting worker exposure was the result of a careful focus on safe handling, use and storage of the chemical, as well as ongoing training programs and medical monitoring of sensitive employees. Sharing knowledge and best practices across the industry was also crucial to the industry-wide effort.

The industry hopes to inspire others to protect their workers better from chemical exposure. Let’s hope they do.