Are non-physical injuries covered by workers’ compensation?

Have you heard the expression, “I’m taking a mental health day?” Even if not officially sanctioned by one’s employer, such sick days may go a long way toward protecting the…

Have you heard the expression, “I’m taking a mental health day?” Even if not officially sanctioned by one’s employer, such sick days may go a long way toward protecting the longevity of one’s career.

Yet what happens when work-related emotional distress or anxiety becomes clinical? Can a worker get workers’ compensation benefits for such non-physical conditions?

As a law firm that focuses on workers’ compensation, we know that accidents in the workplace do occasionally happen. Most Pennsylvania employers are required to carry insurance to cover this scenario, and benefits are supposed to be provided without regard to whom might have been at fault for the accident.

Unfortunately, disputes can arise over the diagnosis and treatment of work injuries. This risk may be greatest for conditions that have non-clinical counterparts, such as emotional distress and anxiety. For example, an employer may dispute causation, asserting that such mental or emotional injuries are caused by factors in a worker’s personal life, rather than job-induced. An employer’s insurance policy may also dispute a proposed treatment plan, viewing  counseling or other therapies as unnecessary.

Typically, a worker should report any workplace accident immediately to his or her supervisor. Doing so may help document the details of the incident. Yet a diagnosis for a non-physical injury might not manifest immediately. We encourage our clients to consult with an attorney if they think they might have a compensable mental or emotional work injury, rather than waiting for the condition to become so severe that work becomes impossible.  Check out our firm’s website to learn more about workers’ compensation law in Pennsylvania.

Source: FindLaw, “Can I Get Workers’ Comp for Anxiety and Emotional Distress?” Ephrat Livni, March 21, 2016

Repetitive stress injuries can cause great pain

When most people think about a workplace accident, the first thing that comes to mind is a slip and fall, something falling from a distance, or an equipment malfunction….

When most people think about a workplace accident, the first thing that comes to mind is a slip and fall, something falling from a distance, or an equipment malfunction. While these can all lead to injuries, there are other risks to keep in mind.

Repetitive stress injuries do not happen suddenly. Instead, this is a type of injury that occurs over time. One day after the next, thanks to the same action, muscles and tendons begin to wear down. At some point, the person is faced with an injury that can be debilitating.

Here are some of the most common types of repetitive stress injuries: carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, back injuries, knee injuries, and shoulder injuries.

The worst part of repetitive stress injuries is that you may not realize you are doing something that harms your body. You think that everything is okay, but over time a particular body part, such as your wrists, begins to bother you. Soon enough, you are unable to function as you once did.

Do you find yourself unable to work as the result of a repetitive stress injury? If so, it is important to realize that you have legal rights. The only problem is that it can be difficult to demonstrate that the injury occurred over time, as the result of your employment.

If you find yourself in this position, contact us for assistance. We know how to help people who are suffering from repetitive stress injuries. You can read our website and blog to learn more. From there, contact us online or via phone to discuss your particular case.

Railroad injuries are still common

There used to be a time many years ago when the railroad industry was booming. While things have changed over the years, there are still many people who work…

There used to be a time many years ago when the railroad industry was booming. While things have changed over the years, there are still many people who work in this field.

As a railroad worker in Pennsylvania, you understand that you face many risks of injury on a regular basis. This does not mean you will be injured in the future, but you realize that this could happen at some point.

Due to the dangerous nature of the work, it is imperative to be on your toes at all times. Along with this, make sure you follow all safety protocols. This could be the difference between remaining safe and suffering a serious injury.

Fortunately, the federal government passed the Federal Employers Liability Act in 1908 in an attempt to improve safety within this industry. Even so, this doesn’t mean that accidents never happen. While railroad companies are required to enforce a variety of safety regulations, there is no way to completely eliminate the risk of injury.

In the event that a company does not live up to the regulations set forth by FELA, an injured employee has the right to file a claim to receive compensation for lost wages, medical treatments, and pain and suffering.

Railroad injuries may not be as common today as they were in the past, but this is only because the industry has fallen off a bit. Those who work in this field still realize that they could be injured at any time. If this happens, the person should notify one’s employer and then receive immediate medical treatment.

Source: FindLaw, “Railroad Injuries,” accessed March 07, 2016

Carpal tunnel syndrome can develop over time

Some people are able to use their hands, day in and day out, and never experience any pain or discomfort. There are also people who begin to experience issues…

Some people are able to use their hands, day in and day out, and never experience any pain or discomfort. There are also people who begin to experience issues over time. One of the most common concerns is carpal tunnel syndrome.

This is not an ailment that sets in after one day of use or due to sudden trauma. Instead, carpal tunnel syndrome develops over time.

If you engage in repetitive activities with your fingers, hands, and/or wrists, there is a chance you could develop carpal tunnel syndrome at some point in the future. From numbness to pain to overall discomfort, there is nothing good about this health concern. In fact, it can become so serious that surgery may be the only option for relieving the symptoms.

Some of the activities most commonly associated with carpal tunnel syndrome include:

— Sewing

— Assembly work

— Typing

— Butchering meat

If your work involves repetitive hand motion and you have begun to experience the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, don’t hide this from your employer or medical team. Instead, be sure to receive treatment as soon as possible.

In some cases, you may be able to receive compensation after the diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome. Our lawyers know just how problematic this ailment can be. We also know what it takes to help workers receive the compensation they deserve while they recover from treatment, such as surgery. Feel free to reach out to us for more information on your legal rights. You may find yourself in position to file a workers’ compensation claim.

Job-related injuries result in $597,000 award

A man who had worked for 38 years for CSX Transportation Inc retired in 2013 because of knee and shoulder injuries. He filed a lawsuit against CSX, Consolidated Rail…

A man who had worked for 38 years for CSX Transportation Inc retired in 2013 because of knee and shoulder injuries. He filed a lawsuit against CSX, Consolidated Rail and American Premier. The lawsuit claimed that the Federal Employer Liability Act had been violated by the defendants.

The plaintiff called up orthopedic surgery experts to testify, as well as experts in ergonomics and economics. The defendants alleged that the man’s injuries were because of a thyroid condition and his age. In addition, the defendants said that the man’s claims were not valid because he ran 5K races, both while he was employed and afterwards.

Because the orthopedic surgery expert said that the man needed knee surgery and he waited over a year to have it done so he could qualify for vacation pay, the jury found that the former railroad car inspector was .5 percent responsible for his past and future lost earnings and past lost wages. He said that he deals with pain on a daily basis.

American Premier was found 9.5 percent liable, Consolidated Rail, 40 percent, and CSX was found 50 percent liable for the man’s injuries. They are appealing the verdict.

If you have suffered injuries as a result of working for the railroad, you may have a civil action under the Federal Employers Liability Act against the railroad. It was enacted in 1908 to protect injured railroad workers. The railroad must be found to be partially legally negligent for the worker’s injuries. A Pennsylvania attorney who is experienced in employment law can provide you with more information.

Source: The Pennsylvania Record, “Former railroad worker wins $600K for job-related injuries,” Vimbai Chikomo, Jan. 28, 2016

How workers can keep themselves safe from forklift accidents

Ask any employee who earns their living in the warehousing, manufacturing or retail sector about the essential tools of their trade, and there’s a very good chance that they will…

Ask any employee who earns their living in the warehousing, manufacturing or retail sector about the essential tools of their trade, and there’s a very good chance that they will list things like pallet jacks, back belts, utility knives and, of course, forklifts.

Indeed, it would be virtually impossible for any operation of appreciable size within one of these sectors to fill orders and manage inventory without these ubiquitous forked and four-wheeled machines. Despite this utility, however, it’s important to understand that forklifts present a very real risk of work injuries.

If you don’t believe it, consider that statistics show that the nation sees an average of 35,000 serious injuries and 62,000 non-serious injuries involving forklifts every year.

While this is disconcerting, the good news is that experts have identified a few easy steps that employees can take to help ensure that they remain safe around forklifts.

  • Observe safe driving practices: Take care to drive slowly, reducing speed even further when negotiating turns. Furthermore, ensure that loads are transported only if stable and never exceed the recommended weight limit. Finally, ensure that headphones and other potentially distracting electronics are not used while operating the forklift, and utilize backup cameras.
  • Maintain safe distances and ideal operating conditions: Ensure that forklifts are only driven in areas where there is little foot traffic, low volume levels, good lighting and no obstructions. In addition, workers on foot must remember to give the forklift operator a wide berth and never make physical contact with a moving load.
  • Maintenance and training: Demand that employers conduct the necessary maintenance to ensure the forklift stays in safe operating condition and provide training at least twice a year to ensure all employees remain current on best practices.

Those who do suffer forklift-related injuries while on the job should understand that they do have rights and they do have options, including workers’ compensation benefits. To learn more, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional.

Black Friday can lead to workplace injury

When you are on-the-job, your expectation is that you will be safe. Even general contractors have safety guidelines that include keeping their workers safe when working at heights. Believe…

When you are on-the-job, your expectation is that you will be safe. Even general contractors have safety guidelines that include keeping their workers safe when working at heights. Believe it or not, Black Friday workplace injuries are not unheard of. And with the time of year coming up when people get out at pre-dawn hours to get great deals, you need to be aware that there is a chance you could be injured while working.

The fact that so much money is made on this day, motivates retailers to offer discounts on items that people often want for the holidays. Stores have enormous crowds of people who are pushing toward the door the minute it opens and this alone can cause injury to the employees who are working that day.

Years ago, a 34-year-old man was trampled on Black Friday by a large crowd of people who wanted in first. This is so sad, because it can be avoided. Now, stores are staying open on Thanksgiving and are offering their Black Friday deals online to avoid the mad rush on the day after Thanksgiving.

It must be said that, sometimes, even when you are using all your safety skills and are being careful at work, you end up injured and hurting. What are your next steps? Whom do you turn to in this hour of need? After you have been examined and treated by a medical professional you may want to talk to an attorney who will patiently listen to your story and will be able to guide you through your options.

Being hurt on the job can cause you to miss work and that causes you to miss paying your bills. And what about the medical bills that came out of your injury? All these can be addressed by contacting a legal professional who understands the law thoroughly.

Source: Industrial Safety and Hygiene News, “How to keep retail workers safe during Black Friday,” accessed Nov. 20, 2015

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

How to avoid some common workplace injuries

Some workplace accidents in Pennsylvania are freak accidents, things that could never have been anticipated or avoided, but many of them are rather predictable. By taking the right steps,…

Some workplace accidents in Pennsylvania are freak accidents, things that could never have been anticipated or avoided, but many of them are rather predictable. By taking the right steps, employers and employees can keep these things from happening.

For instance, a lot of back and spine injuries happen when employees are lifting heavy objects. To prevent this, employers can use carts and winches to assist with lifting when needed, and they can teach employees about technique and form — lifting with their legs, not their backs — so that they’re not hurt even when they have to lift on their own.

Another good way to avoid injuries is by risk mapping. This is done by taking a fresh look at the machines, facilities and equipment that are in use. Employers can look for potential dangers and examine workplace processes, and then they can take steps to eliminate very specific risks.

However, it’s important to remember that employees play a part in the accidents, as well. Employers need to make sure employees are not distracted, either by trying to do multiple jobs at once or by talking on a cellphone while working. Employees should also not be forced into shifts that are too long so that they are over-tired, which can cause them to make mistakes when they feel fatigued that they never would have made with a more sensible schedule that left them feeling fresh and alert.

Even when doing the above, workplace injuries cannot always be avoided. Those who have been hurt on the job must know what rights they have to seek out workers’ compensation.

Source: INC, “9 Avoidable Workplace Health and Safety Hazards,” Josh Spiro, accessed Aug. 14, 2015

Tips for protecting your eyes at work

The eyes might be the windows to the world, but they are also necessary when working in most any type of construction and similar work. Protecting one’s eyes should…

The eyes might be the windows to the world, but they are also necessary when working in most any type of construction and similar work. Protecting one’s eyes should be of utmost importance.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that 2,000 U.S. workers suffer an eye injury while working each day. Approximately one-third of these injured workers require care at an emergency room and over 100 will miss a day of work of more. Most of these injuries are caused by an abrasion of the eye caused by substances like wood chips, metal shavings, cement chips and dust. Some of the injuries result in permanent loss of sight because of the penetration of the eyeball. Blunt force trauma can also cause broken eye sockets or damage to the eyeball.

Infectious diseases can also be transmitted through exposure in the eye. The mucus membranes of the eye can allow the transmission of such disease through splashes of blood or other means. Chemical burns to the eyes can easily occur from splashes of cleaning products or industrial chemicals. Welders and those around them can suffer thermal burns to the eyes.

In order to avoid such injuries to the eyes, employers should ensure employees are equipped with the proper eye protection. Such personal protective eyewear includes:

— Goggles

— Safety glasses

— Face shields

— Full face respirators

This protection must fit the employee or be adjustable to a correct fit. It should allow an employee to have sufficient peripheral vision and be comfortable.

If your eyes are injured while you are working, you should be covered by workers’ compensation. If your claim for medical expenses and/or wage loss is denied, an attorney can help you appeal such a decision.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Eye Safety,” accessed July 17, 2015