Paula Robinson's Blog for Workers Compensation & Disability

5 High Risk Injury Jobs in PA

Injuries at the workplace can range from minor to severe, and the risks can vary depending on the nature of the job.

Workplace injuries can be serious, affecting the victim’s quality of life as well as reducing their ability to earn wages for a period of time, or even permanently in some cases.

Here is a description of five high risk injury jobs in Pennsylvania:

Construction

Numerous potential hazards are present at various construction sites across Pennsylvania. Even after observing all the safety precautions, construction workers continue to be at a high risk of jobsite accidents and serious injuries.

Figures published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show that 4 out of 100 construction workers suffer every year from workplace injuries. This high injury rate reflects the high-risk job environment in the construction industry in PA.

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At What Point Is It Necessary To Hire A Workers’ Compensation Lawyer?

when to hire a workers comp lawyer

The timing of hiring a workers’ compensation lawyer can happen at any time….in most cases sooner is better.  After your work injury has occurred and you give timely “Notice” to your employer of the same, many different scenarios can take place.  Your work injury could be accepted, denied, or accepted temporarily and/or for medical only.

When Do I hire a Workers’ Compensation Attorney?

If your work injury is denied, a Claim Petition must be filed in order for you to attempt to obtain workers’ compensation benefits, both wage loss and medical.  In order to proceed and having the best chance of succeeding with the Claim Petition, a seasoned workers’ compensation lawyer should be retained. In the process of litigation on a Claim Petition, the same will be assigned to a workers’ compensation judge, who will hear evidence including your live testimony in court.  Also, in most cases, medical testimony from your doctor and the doctor hired on behalf of the workers’ compensation carrier/your employer must be taken via a deposition, for which the doctors charge money, with their fee being thousands of dollars. There are time deadlines and rules of engagement that must be followed, which a seasoned PA Workers’ Compensation Attorney knows.  Also, in the process, the parties will be given an opportunity to participate in a “Mandatory Mediation” which is a way to potentially settle your case.  It is critical to know how to create a demand that will be taken seriously and result in a settlement with the largest amount of money. Here again is where hiring an experienced PA Workers’ Compensation Lawyer is to your advantage.

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PTSD and Workers’ Compensation in PA

PTSD in the workplace

Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD is a mental health condition that may occur at any point of time after you have witnessed or experienced a significantly traumatic event. PTSD in the workplace is more common than one might think, especially if a work injury has occurred.

When such an event occurs at the workplace in Pennsylvania, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation for your PTSD condition.

If you believe you are suffering from PTSD, you should promptly seek medical advice. Any delay in treatment could worsen your condition and put your workers’ comp claim in PA at risk.

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Negotiating a PA Workers’ Compensation Settlement

negotiate a workers' compensation settlement

Once you begin receiving your workers’ compensation wage loss and medical benefits, it will only be a matter of time until your employer and their workers’ compensation carrier will take steps to try and stop your compensation benefits or try to settle your claim for a lump sum amount of money. You will likely need to negotiate a PA Workers’ Compensation. settlement.  It is not a matter of if, it is a matter of when.

As time goes by, your employer and their workers’ compensation carrier will send you to undergo independent medical examinations and based on the reports from those examinations will attempt to modify, suspend, or terminate your wage loss and medical benefits.  It is important to understand that if they are not successful the first time around with the litigation before a workers’ compensation judge, they will keep trying until they are successful or want you to settle your case altogether.  Rather than risk losing benefits, many PA injured workers opt to settle their case.

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If I Am Injured at Work, Can I Choose My Own Doctor in Pennsylvania?

work injury doctor

One of the misconceptions many workers have is that the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation system requires a worker to undergo treatment for workplace injuries from a company specified doctor only. However, this is not the whole truth.

Can you stick with your preferred physician/medical-center?

The quick answer is ‘yes’. However, your employer may require you to subscribe to a “Panel Acknowledgement” at the time of hiring, which can be re-iterated immediately after your injury. With this, the employer may provide a list of at least 6 qualified physician names.

If these conditions are fulfilled, you will be required to seek treatment from a doctor from this list for the first 90 days post your injury. Once this time limit is over, you are free to choose your own doctor for additional treatment.

If the employer has not fulfilled the above-described conditions, you can choose your own doctor in Pennsylvania right after your injury.

Regardless of injury, your employer may also mandate the need for a physical exam by a specified physician, once or twice a year.

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Temporary Total Disability vs. Permanent Partial Disability

Temporary Total Disability vs. Permanent Partial Disability

If you have been injured in the Commonwealth of PA, chances are that you are receiving benefits. Below is an explanation of the difference between Temporary Total Disability vs Permanent Partial Disability.

Workers’ Compensation benefits in Pennsylvania are in two parts:  wage loss and medical benefits.  The wage loss is to pay you at a “Compensation Rate” instead of your regular wage earnings.  The compensation rate is calculated off of your past earnings with that employer, based on your gross earnings, called your “Average Weekly Wage”.

Medical Only Benefits

If you suffered a work injury and require some medical treatment, but are capable of still working your pre-injury job, then you will probably receive “Medical Only” benefits.  These can come in the form of “Temporary Medical Only” benefits or “Medical Only” benefits that will continue until a Judge orders them to be stopped or you settle your case.  If you receive a Notice of Temporary Compensation Payable, medical only, then these benefits will stop after a period of ninety (90) days from the date of the Notice.

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Avoiding Truck Driver Work Injuries

Work Injuries for Truck Drivers

As one would imagine, the more time spent on the road, the higher the odds of being involved in a traffic accident. The trucking industry is an important one in our country and truck drivers play a key role in it. But there are certain hazards that come with this job that can put the health and safety of drivers at risk.

Collisions and other issues with the job of a truck driver can leave drivers with a host of different injuries and issues that may have long-lasting and even lifetime effects. Some of these may include:

Common Physical Injuries as a Truck Driver:

  • Broken bones – These can take weeks or even months to fully heal, and in some situations may require surgery.
  • Back injuries – Injuries to the back can lead to long-term chronic pain or even paralysis.
  • Concussions – These can have serious consequences and can lead to cognitive issues, vision problems, light and noise sensitivity, dizziness, and memory loss, to name a few.
  • Shoulder injuries – These can include rotator cuff tears, either from an accident or from loading and unloading the truck.
  • Strains and sprains – These are the most common issues resulting from loading and unloading the truck.
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When Should I Seek Help from a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer?

Workers’ compensation for injuries or illnesses that occur at work is often best obtained when you have competent legal representation.

You should contact a Pennsylvania workers’ compensation lawyer if:

  • You have been injured while doing your job
  • You have suffered a work-related sickness
  • You believe you have been treated unfairly in terms of compensation

Some workers mistakenly assume that they can easily handle a legal situation like this on their own.

While you can represent yourself case before a Workers’ Compensation Judge, having a workers’ compensation lawyer on your side significantly increases your chances of actually getting the compensation you truly deserve. In fact, the PA workers’ compensation lawyer doesn’t receive any payment unless they have been successful in obtaining or retaining workers’ compensation wage loss benefits, or settled your case.

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How Legal Marijuana Will Affect Workers’ Comp Cases in PA

Legal Marijuana Will Affect Workers' Comp Cases in PA

Pennsylvania legalized the use of marijuana for medical reasons in 2016. However, the rules related to legal marijuana and workers’ comp benefits are still not very clear.

Treatment Categories are Open to Interpretation

PA’s Medical Marijuana Act specifies the medical conditions for which marijuana can be used as a treatment. These include some types of spinal cord injuries, neuropathies, PTSD, and chronic pain conditions where traditional therapy does not work.

Where things get complicated is that several of these diagnosis categories are subject to interpretation. Without professional medical knowledge or skilled legal representation, injured workers in PA could be denied their rightful medical treatment.

Many workers in Pennsylvania are facing this situation where they require medical marijuana treatment for their workplace injury, but they do not have any legal advice about their rights and which treatments could be covered under workers’ compensation.

Injured workers in PA should be able to make informed choices about legally obtaining medical cannabis and receive their rightful workers’ comp claim.

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When is a Forced Resignation OK in PA?

forced resignation

When is a Forced Resignation Ok in PA?

It is against the law for employers to force injured workers out of their jobs because they suffered a work injury and are pursuing workers’ compensation benefits.  In Pennsylvania, workers’ compensation provides both wage loss benefits and medical expenses to injured workers.  There is no fault with workers’ compensation benefits, and the benefits are provided to help injured workers who need to be out of work to recuperate, if possible.

Some employers may try to force out or terminate an injured worker all for what amounts to “monetary” reasons.  These could include replacing the worker and not waiting for them to recover, avoid paying workers’ compensation benefits, not accommodating medical based restrictions, and also avoid paying unemployment benefits.  See, if an employee voluntarily resigns, they are not eligible for unemployment benefits and furthermore, cannot pursue any wrongful termination lawsuit against their former employer.

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