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Lehigh County Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Truck drivers' hours of service are limited for good reason

Multiple studies in recent years have shown that drowsy driving is a major cause of auto accidents. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has estimated that at least 100,000 crashes each year result directly from driver fatigue.

While all drivers should avoid drowsy driving, the risk of a serious accident may be significantly higher when a truck or bus driver is sleepy while behind the wheel. That is why the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, or FMCSA, regulates truck and bus drivers' hours of service and requires those drivers to log their hours.

Can a workers' comp claim be resolved through mediation?

If you've ever been hurt at work, you may have already begun the process of filing a workers' compensation claim. If your accident or illness is obviously the result of a workplace incident, you may not have any problems obtaining the medical care and other benefits you expect. If your claim was denied, however, you may have little option but to argue your case before the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry's Office of Adjudication.

The prospect of going to court probably makes you nervous. Having an attorney with you can help with the discomfort and make your case go more smoothly, but a lot of people prefer alternative dispute resolution methods over the adversarial process you see in court. Is it possible to handle the matter in a less confrontational way?

Americans are tired of auto recalls -- and we're ignoring them

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, people only get their cars fixed after a safety recall about two-thirds of the time. Can you believe that? You've been notified of a potential safety issue with your car, and you're told there will be no charge for fixing it. All you have to do is bring it to a dealership. Easy, right?

Apparently, it's not that easy. In fact, it's a huge problem. Recalls aren't issued for every little thing; a recall is only issued for defects that pose a serious threat to health or safety. In other words, if your vehicle is on the recall list, it's over something pretty big.

Can I get both workers' comp and Social Security disability?

If you've been hurt or made ill by something at work, you apply for workers' compensation, right? Right. If you've suffered a disabling injury or medical condition that will keep you from working for a year or longer, you apply for Social Security Disability Insurance, right? Right.

What if both are true? 

Are temporary and part-time workers covered by workers' comp?

Yes. The Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation Act requires virtually every employer to provide workers' comp insurance for every employee. That includes seasonal and part-time workers, as well as employees hired directly for a temporary assignment. Temp workers hired through staffing agencies are covered through the staffing agency, although the staffing agency and the client company are both responsible for the workers' safety.

For most people, the most important issue in determining whether you're covered by workers' comp is whether you were legally considered to be in an employer-employee relationship when the incident occurred. If you were an employee and you were injured or developed an illness in Pennsylvania that was caused by your ordinary job duties, you're covered unless there are unusual issues.

Are repetitive stress injuries like carpal tunnel truly serious?

For whatever reason, a lot of people don't take repetitive stress injuries seriously. Maybe it's because they're harder to conceptualize than sudden, traumatizing injuries. Maybe people assume the slow degeneration of your bones, muscles and tendons is just a fact of life.

Workers' compensation insurers routinely fight repetitive stress claims, even when they're fully backed up by medical evidence. That doesn't mean repetitive stress injuries don't qualify for workers' comp -- they do. Sometimes it seems like insurers just deny them on principle.

Close bars later to keep millennials from moving? At what cost?

Among the many reasons people are drawn to our state, Pennsylvania is home to some of the world's finest colleges and universities. According to at least one state lawmaker, however, the area's history, architecture, culture, and business opportunities aren't enough to convince the graduates of those fine colleges to settle down here. To do that, he argues, we need better nightlife.

If highly-educated millennials are moving away, that's not good news, of course. Young college graduates form a crucial part of the economy and one of the most likely to produce new businesses, innovations and jobs. Would improving the nightlife opportunities in selected areas -- specifically, allowing bars to stay open later -- persuade these future leaders to stay? If so, is it worth it?

Telecommunications workers risk fatal tower falls, other hazards

Having a cellphone or smartphone is pretty much a necessity for many people -- and a coveted item for many others. Unfortunately, all that convenience may be coming at a price you didn't expect. Over the last two years, OSHA reports that 25 workers have died at communication tower sites and many more have been injured. Those injury and fatality rates jumped suddenly over previous years, so OSHA has a special project in place aimed at reducing the risk to those who build, repair and maintain cellphone towers and equipment.

What are the risks of working on or around cellphone towers?

Hazardous noise: a top workplace health issue for decades

When you think of the term "workplace injury," what comes to mind is probably along the lines of a construction worker being struck by a mishandled object; a machine operator flipping the wrong switch; or a warehouse worker straining her back when a heavy box shifts. You might even picture someone suffering from a repetitive stress injury like carpal tunnel syndrome.

Preventable hearing loss is among the most common job-related injuries, and yet few people ever think they may be at risk. Did you know that an estimated 30 million people are exposed to hazardous levels of noise on the job? It's true and, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, thousands of people suffer permanent, significant loss of hearing every year -- for example, over 21,000 in 2009 alone. That's why OSHA and the BLS have considered hearing loss from work-related noise levels as one of the top occupational health issues in the U.S. for more than 25 years.

A lawyer can level the playing field after your truck accident

You've been hit by a truck. It came out of nowhere and did a lot of damage. Now, seriously injured, you're dealing with the stress, anxiety, pain and fear of major medical treatment -- just when you also can't work. You're worried about how you'll possibly pay for everything. The trucker's insurance adjuster wants to talk. What on earth should you do?

There are at least five things you need to know:

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