Paula Robinson's Blog for Workers Compensation & Disability

Can Doctor Restrictions Affect your Workers’ Compensation Case?

Doctor Restrictions

If you are receiving workers’ compensation benefits, your own treating doctor or a doctor hired by the workers’ compensation carrier may ask you to undergo a Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCEs) to determine what, if any, category of work that you are capable of performing. The goal of the workers’ compensation carrier is to eventually get you back to work, or at least stop your receipt of workers’ compensation wage loss and/or medical benefits.

According to Wikipedia, “A functional capacity evaluation is a set of tests, practices and observations that are combined to determine the ability of the evaluated person to function in a variety of circumstances, most often employment, in an objective manner. Physicians change diagnoses based on FCEs.”

FCEs can be performed in one or two days, with the total evaluation taking anywhere from 4-6 hours. Typically, physical and/or occupational therapists conduct the evaluations. The evaluation will not only measure what you physically are capable of, but also measures how valid your effort was. The more valid your effort, the more accurate the evaluation will be, and will also go a long way as to your credibility with the workers’ compensation carrier and workers’ compensation judge, if any presiding over your case.

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How To Receive Work Injury Compensation In Pennsylvania

Work Injury Compensation

Workers’ compensation refers to a form of insurance that provides compensation for lost wages as well as medical benefits for any employee who sustains injuries in the course of his or her duties, in exchange for mandatory relinquishment of his or her right to sue the employer for negligence or tort.

Work injury compensation in Pennsylvania

Work injury compensation attorneys in Pennsylvania have a wide knowledge, as well as experience when it comes to litigating workers’ compensation cases. Most of them specialize in representing all types of injured workers, including those who become disabled. They work hard to ensure that injured workers receive optimum compensation as a result of injuries sustained in the course of their employment.

Tips on how to obtain workers’ compensation benefits for a work injury in Pennsylvania

Get legal help as soon as possible

It is advisable to seek legal representation as soon as possible after you sustain an injury in the course of your employment. This is necessary in order to facilitate the process of evidence collection. It also helps build a case that is based on presented evidence before a Workers’ Compensation Judge in Pennsylvania. You need to be aware that all employers in Pennsylvania are legally obliged to provide workers’ compensation insurance. In addition, the workers’ compensation insurance provides medical as well as wage loss coverage for work related injuries and illness for workers.

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PA Worker’s’ Comp Continues Uninterrupted Amid Pandemic

Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Litigation and Practice has Continued Non-Stop During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Since mid-March 2020 when most everything went into “lock-down” in Pennsylvania, one practice did not, and that was the practice of PA Workers’ Compensation. Through the efforts of the Workers’ Compensation Office of Adjudication, a division of the Bureau of Labor & Industry and Governor Wolf’s office, the practice did not miss a beat. All Workers’ Compensation Judges throughout the Commonwealth continued to have hearings in which all involved parties could participate via some form of video or telephone.

The video formats typically used by the judges are Skype for Business or Webex. When a matter is ripe to have a hearing before a judge, the judge’s staff (all working remotely) will send out to both the injured worker’s and the employer’s attorneys a calendar invitation which can be accepted or a different date and time proposed, if the parties have a conflict in their schedule. Once the date and time are accepted by both parties, the hearing is set and a hearing notice will be issued in WCAIS, the automated system in place for PA judges, attorneys, and workers’ compensation insurance companies.

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How Do I Know if my Workers’ Comp Claim was Reported by my Employer?

Employer File Workers' Comp

Filing a workers’ compensation claim is a time-bound process in Pennsylvania. If you fail to file the claim in a timely manner, your benefits could be delayed, or you might lose your right to seek benefits altogether. 

In some cases, the claim process might be delayed due to the negligence or deliberate inaction of your employer. What can you do in such cases? Let us take a look. 

How Does Workers’ Compensation Claim Process Work in Pennsylvania? 

Under Pennsylvania law, you are required to inform your employer about your injury or illness within a span of 120 days from the date of your injury or the day on which you were diagnosed with the illness. 

Once reported to your Employer’s workers’ compensation carrier, the assigned adjustor has twenty-one (21) days to either accept or deny your claim. 

The Employer’s Role in Workers’ Compensation Claim Process

Once you inform your employer about the workplace accident and the injuries you sustained, they are required to file a First Report of Injury (FROI) with the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. They are also required to file a report with the insurance company. This is an important step, as the sooner your employer files the report, the sooner the workers’ compensation carrier can decide as to either accept or deny your claim. 

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What to Tell a Workers’ Compensation Doctor?

What to tell your doctor

One of the key steps in a Pennsylvania workers’ compensation process is the independent medical evaluation (IME), which is performed by a doctor who is chosen by the workers’ compensation carrier for your employer. 

The insurance company could ask you to undergo the IME to determine: (a) whether you are eligible to receive compensation; (b) what kind of benefits you are entitled to receive; (c) how severe are your injuries; and (d) when you are likely to make a full recovery and can go back to work. 

This is why you need to be careful while discussing your injuries with a workers’ compensation doctor in Pennsylvania. The information you provide during the examination can have a significant impact on the claim process. 

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Full Disclosure is Best Policy

Full Disclosure

When you are receiving Pennsylvania workers’ compensation benefits, your employer’s workers’ compensation carrier is entitled to find out if you are working during your receipt of workers’ compensation benefits or if you are receiving certain types of benefits. Pennsylvania workers’ compensation falls under the PA Department of Labor & Industry Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.

Pennsylvania workers’ compensation is twofold, where you can receive both wage loss benefits and medical benefits. As the workers’ compensation carrier is paying wage loss benefits out on a weekly basis, they are entitled to a credit for any earnings or certain benefits received by a workers’ compensation injured worker.

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The Dangers of Shifting Job Responsibilities

Dangers Shifting Jobs

In a highly demanding and market-driven business environment, many companies want to cut their costs of operations to remain competitive. As a result, companies may try to increase output while using a reduced workforce. The workers may face the pressure of new added job responsibilities that they may not be well-versed with. Worse still, the employers may cut back on the costs of training, safety measures, and protective equipment. All of these combine to make the working conditions more hazardous for the workers.

High Risk Factors for Workplace Injuries

Constantly shifting job responsibilities (with an aim to maximize productivity) are a known risk factor for workplace injuries. Poor employee communication, inadequate training, and lack of PPE in these circumstances typically contribute to higher risk of injuries. 

Workers may be moved to a new location frequently or may have to work in multiple locations. Unfamiliarity with new places, different equipment and multiple systems increases the likelihood of injuries and illness. Operating with new co-workers each time reduces the ability of teams to communicate effectively with each other, which further increases the workplace hazards.

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Safety Concerns in Manufacturing in a “Post-Pandemic” World

Safety-Concerns-Manufacturing

The COVID-19 crisis has impacted almost every industry. From travel to hospitality to the manufacturing industry, each segment has faced massive disruption since the pandemic. With the government imposing nationwide lockdown, industries were forced to stop operations temporarily.

While restrictions are being lifted off gradually, keeping the workers safe is still a significant challenge for manufacturers. Occupational Safety and Health Organization (OSHA) and also the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) have issued guidelines about the safety of workers. Despite these efforts, the threat of Covid-19 still looms over workers.

Here are some of the key concerns related to the safety of workers in the manufacturing industry:

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Workers’ Compensation While Working From Home

With a growing number of companies boosting their digital infrastructure, work-from-home (WFH) is becoming an increasingly popular concept for businesses. However, this has given rise to an important question: what happens when a remote worker suffers an injury while working from home? Are you still eligible to receive workers’ compensation for your injury? Let us address this issue in the context of workers’ comp laws in Pennsylvania.

How to Determine if a WFH Injury is Work-Related? 

According to the workers’ compensation laws in PA, off-site injuries (which occur outside the workplace) are covered for workers’ comp as long as the injury is work-related. This can be somewhat difficult to prove when you are working remotely because, in theory, the injury could also have occurred at home or elsewhere at a time when you were not working.

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Going Back to Work Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic caused thousands of businesses in Pennsylvania to temporarily shut down or operate at reduced capacity. Many of these businesses – particularly those in the yellow and green phases – are starting to reopen gradually, as the government has lifted its stay-at-home and business closure orders in many counties. 

With businesses reopening, employers have a duty to provide a clean, safe, and hazard-free environment for their workers. Apart from following OSHA’s guidelines regarding workplace safety, they are also required to take additional steps to prevent the spread of the virus at the workplace. 

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