Can I receive workers’ comp and disability payments concurrently?

Each year, workers’ compensation programs are responsible for nearly $60 billion in medical benefits and cash for injured and ill workers. The biggest disability insurance program in the country,…

Each year, workers’ compensation programs are responsible for nearly $60 billion in medical benefits and cash for injured and ill workers. The biggest disability insurance program in the country, though, is Social Security Disability Insurance. Ninety-five billion dollars was paid out in 2008 to workers considered disabled.

Injured or ill workers who meet SSDI requirements may collect payments alongside state workers’ compensation benefits. In addition, some may also qualify for Medicare benefits. Self-insurance or workers’ compensation insurance is required by law for more than 90 percent of people employed in all states except Texas. These employees are covered from the very first day of employment.

Benefits of workers’ compensation include medical care expense payments, cash payments for lost wages and permanent disability payments. The payments for lost wages are generally 66 percent of the employee’s wages. Those payments begin after a waiting period has passed, which is between three and seven days, depending on the state the employee works in.

A significant proportion of SSDI payments are due to illness and injuries that occurred because of a person’s work. However, SSDI is only available to workers who have met the requirements for work history, type of disability and how long the disability is expected to last.

Because the process for applying for SSDI can be fairly daunting, it’s best to have an advocate who will fight for benefits if the claim is denied. The same holds true for workers’ compensation benefits. An experienced Pennsylvania attorney can be a great benefit in terms of providing guidance and assistance with denied claims.

Source: U.S. Social Security Administration, “Workplace Injuries and the Take-Up of Social Security Disability Benefits,” accessed Sep. 22, 2015

Slips, trips and falls among the Pennsylvania workforce

Of all the workplace accidents that can occur in Pennsylvania’s industries, slips, trips and falls sound the most inconsequential. It is true that many of these accidents merely result…

Of all the workplace accidents that can occur in Pennsylvania’s industries, slips, trips and falls sound the most inconsequential. It is true that many of these accidents merely result in scrapes and bruises; however, many others can cause consequences that are far more serious. In truth, slips, trips and falls actually represent the majority of reported workplace accidents, many of them resulting in death.

While some accidents are simply accidents, others in the slip, trip and fall category could have been prevented by employer action. When business owners or supervisors take the initiative to assess and evaluate the workplace for conditions that might lead to an accident, it benefits the employer and the employees alike. Some of the ways these kinds of accidents can be reduced or eliminated include:

— Keep worksites clean and free of hazards

— Monitor weather conditions outdoors and take steps to remove ice, water or snow

— Make wet floor signs available to use indoors in case of a spill

— Make the cleanup process a part of an employee’s regular work duties

— Keep aisles, walkways, stairways and other work areas free of obstacles

— Perform inspections periodically to minimize hazards

— Maintain good lighting in all work areas

With the simple techniques listed above, employers can reduce workplace accidents and give their workforce the confidence to be more productive. For Pennsylvania employees who have already been injured due to workplace hazards, workers’ compensation is there to help make ends meet during your recovery. It is important for all Pennsylvania workers to understand that filing a workers’ comp is your right under the state’s labor laws.

To learn more about workers’ compensation, please visit our web page dedicated to workplace accidents and legal solutions.

Police not blaming alcohol for State College pedestrian death

One concern Brodheadsville parents have about their children, no matter how old kids are, is road safety. Parents start out by warning children about playing too close to a…

One concern Brodheadsville parents have about their children, no matter how old kids are, is road safety. Parents start out by warning children about playing too close to a road or crossing a street and later progress to advice about driving. Parents understand what young children and some adults don’t – terrible car accidents happen.

A Penn State University engineering student was killed recently while crossing a State College street. The 23-year-old Wexford native was the third person to die at the same intersection since last summer. The car accident victim was rushed to a local medical facility and flown to a Danville hospital, where he died.

Police investigators said the student was struck while crossing the street late at night. The 27-year-old driver, a State College resident, apparently slammed on his brakes at the moment of impact. There was no indication the driver or pedestrian was under the influence, although standard-procedure toxicology tests were performed. A fault determination will be made after the investigation is completed.

A jogger was the first of three victims fatally injured at the intersection since July 2014. An 18-year-old student, a Penn State freshman, was killed by a pickup truck. The female pedestrian had been crossing against a traffic signal in an area without a crosswalk.

The second death in June involved a victim on a scooter, a 39-year-old man hit by a left-turning car. Authorities faulted the scooter operator for failing to stop at a red signal. Police patrols were stepped up in the area a month after the second fatality, even as local officials and residents began debating how to make traffic safety improvements at the intersection.

Civil courts determine what parties are liable for accident-related personal injuries and deaths. A Pennsylvania plaintiff may receive compensation when blame is shared, as long as the defendant’s percentage of fault is greater than the victim’s.

Source: Centre Daily TImes, “Penn State student killed in North Atherton Street pedestrian crash,” Shawn Annarelli, Sep. 08, 2015

New rule proposed for mobile mining machines

The Mine Safety and Health Administration has proposed a new rule with the hope that it will prevent 70 mining injuries and 15 fatalities over the next decade. In…

The Mine Safety and Health Administration has proposed a new rule with the hope that it will prevent 70 mining injuries and 15 fatalities over the next decade. In addition, MSHA believes that the implementation of the rule would bring unquantified savings to the operators of mines because there would be fewer mining accidents that would delay production.

The rule would require scoops and coal hauling machines to have proximity detection systems in underground metal and non-metal coal mines. The proximity detection systems:

— Automatically stop a coal hauling machine or scoop to stop before it would come into contact with a miner.

— Provide visual and audible warnings when a miner comes to close to the machines.

— Have a signal that would indicate whether the system is functioning as it should.

— Keep the machine from moving, unless it is being repaired, if the system is working as it should.

— Prevent electrical system interaction.

— Must be installed and maintained by someone who is trained to do so.

The MSHA wants to hear what the public has to say about the proposal. It will hold public hearings on the matter.

Between 2010 and 2014, there have been 41 striking, crushing and pinning accidents that involved scoops or coal hauling machines. Nine miners died during that time frame.

When someone is injured or killed in a mining accident, the victim or the family of the victim has a right to collect compensation. Unfortunately, fighting the workers’ comp system can be an uphill battle. However, an attorney can make the fight easier and work to get the compensation you deserve.

Source: Mine Safety and Health Administration, “Proposed Rule on Proximity Detection Systems for Mobile Machines in Underground Mines,” accessed Sep. 11, 2015

Diesel exhaust and particulate matter is hazardous to workers

Today’s industrial workforce relies heavily upon equipment and machinery to complete important tasks. Many of these machines and conveyances use diesel engines, which often release toxic fumes into the…

Today’s industrial workforce relies heavily upon equipment and machinery to complete important tasks. Many of these machines and conveyances use diesel engines, which often release toxic fumes into the air through their exhaust systems. If not controlled, these fumes can be hazardous to the health of workers as well as other people in the vicinity.

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration has a lot to say about diesel exhaust and diesel particulate matter or DPM. OSHA describes these substances as soot particles containing ash, carbon, sulfates, silicates and metallic abrasion particles. Pennsylvania workers at particular risk of exposure to diesel matter include equipment operators, miners, oil and gas workers, vehicle maintenance workers and many others.

Some of the health hazards short-term exposure to DPMs and diesel exhaust can pose include mild conditions such as eye irritation, dizziness as well as irritation to the throat and nose. OSHA indicates that some of these more mild conditions can either disable or distract workers, increasing the risk to their health.

Diesel matter can also create more severe health conditions including lung cancer, respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease and cardiopulmonary disease. In fact, the risks are so great that the International Agency for Cancer research officially listed diesel exhaust and diesel particulate matter as known human carcinogens in June of 2012.

Exposure to diesel exhaust and particulate matter can be controlled or minimized with routine maintenance on diesel engines. Other preventative measures include using exhaust filters, using fuel additives, choosing cleaner burning engines and upgrading ventilation systems.

The takeaway here is that if employers or contractors take responsibility for the work environment they provide, it will likely result in minimal toxic exposure to dangerous diesel by-products. Those already suffering illness from exposure should consult with a local attorney to pursue workers’ compensation and other possible benefits.

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, “Diesel Exhaust/Diesel Particulate Matter,” accessed Sep. 08, 2015

Parent of teen who caused fatal car crash sentenced

An unlicensed teen, vacationing in the Poconos last year, lost control of a Chevrolet Suburban and crashed. The Pennsylvania car accident claimed the lives of three 15-year-old boys from…

An unlicensed teen, vacationing in the Poconos last year, lost control of a Chevrolet Suburban and crashed. The Pennsylvania car accident claimed the lives of three 15-year-old boys from Bucks County and injured three other teens, including the 15-year-old driver. The owner of the vehicle, the driver’s father, told investigators his daughter did not have permission to take the vehicle.

Authorities later learned the father, now 54, lied to avoid responsibility for letting his daughter get behind the wheel. A judge recently held the father accountable for his actions by sentencing the defendant to a prison term of 6 ½ to 16 years. The man also must pay $73,000 in restitution for what a Wayne County judge said was the out-of-state defendant’s “irresponsible” and “selfish” behavior.

The defendant struck a deal with prosecutors, exchanging a guilty plea for reduced charges. The father was sentenced for three counts each of reckless endangerment and involuntary manslaughter.

The rollover crash occurred as the group of teens was returning from a Lake Wallenpaupack-area restaurant. The inexperienced driver lost control of the vehicle while speeding in a turn.

The daughter was charged with vehicular homicide in juvenile court. The teen, now 16, was ordered to pay restitution, perform 300 hours of community service and write an essay about the effects of the fatal crash. The girl also was placed on probation indefinitely.

The teen’s parents had been divorced since the girl was a toddler. Her father, known as “the fun parent,” made no effort to show up at his daughter’s court appearances. The girl has not communicated with her father since the accident.

Civil claims may be filed against parties responsible for a car accident victim’s injury or death. Defendants may include a driver, a vehicle owner and any other parties guilty of negligent or reckless behavior. Damage awards cover losses suffered by victims and surviving family members.

Source: The Morning Call, “NY man sentenced to jail for letting unlicensed teen daughter drive prior to fatal Poconos crash,” Jo Ciavaglia, Calkins Media, Aug. 20, 2015