Paula Robinson's Blog for Workers Compensation & Disability

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 the trick is doing what you can to avoid a truck driver work injuries truck driver work injuries.

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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Giving Notice To Your Employer About Your Work Injury

notifying your employer of your work injury

GIVING YOUR EMPLOYER NOTICE OF YOUR WORK INJURY

All types of work can involve potential work injuries, even desk work.  It can be a small injury or a life-altering event.  If you or someone you know has suffered a work-related injury or occupational illness, it has to be reported to the employer.  This means that the work injury has to be reported to a boss, foreman, supervisor, owner of the company, i.e., someone who is in charge and not simply a co-worker.  To help yourself get the financial and medical benefits necessary for your work injury, do not doubt yourself – report your injury.  If you fail to report your work injury, this can and will be used against you.

How and When to Give to your Employer Notice

When you are injured at work in Pennsylvania, give notice to your employer quickly, no matter how small you think your injury is.  It is always good to document the incident, and even take photos of the work place injury scene, so that the facts can be easily recalled at a later date.  You can give notice by oral, text, or written form.

The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act provides that you must give notice to your employer within 21 days from the work injury date.  If no notice is given within 120 days from the date of the injury, then all rights to benefits can be lost.  Help yourself by giving notice as soon as you can.

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Nurses in Pennsylvania Are at a High Risk of Workplace Injuries

nursing work injuries

Nurses in Pennsylvania Are at a High Risk of Workplace Injuries

Nurses working in Pennsylvania’s hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare facilities have a tough job to do. They provide a high level of care to the elderly and sick which can sometimes be detrimental to their own physical well-being.

They also have to see the most graphic and disturbing images. They also have to smell things that are atrocious. They also have to sometimes clean up messes that even some janitors in other settings would say is obscene.

To be a nurse is fraught with stress.

High Injury Rates for PA Healthcare Workers

Nurses as well as other healthcare employees are subject to higher rates of injury that various other worker groups in the US. In fact, in the case of nursing assistants, the rate of workplace injuries is three times that of other workers.

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Construction Workers in Pennsylvania Operate in Hazardous Conditions With a Risk of Severe Injuries

construction work injuries

Construction Workers in Pennsylvania Operate in Hazardous Conditions with a Risk of Severe Injuries

Although Pennsylvania ranks sixth in population, it has the third highest rate of workplace injuries.

Construction workers in PA have a high risk of severe injuries, since their job is highly hazardous. Figures published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics reveal that in 2015, the state reported 35 fatalities due to construction accidents.

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Supersedeas Can Effect your Workers’ Comp Benefits

workers compensation petition

WHAT IS SUPERSEDEAS AND HOW CAN THIS AFFECT YOUR PA WORKERS’ COMPENSATION BENEFITS?

You unfortunately had a work injury, but the good news is that your injury has been accepted by the workers’ compensation carrier, and you are receiving wage loss benefits, as well as medical benefits for your work injury.  Before we get to the issue of Supersedeas, at some point, you will receive a notice to attend a one-time examination, referred to as an Independent Medical Examination (IME), which you are required to attend by the workers’ compensation carrier.  Typically, you will be asked to attend these examinations once every six (6) months, as long as you are receiving wage loss benefits for your work injury; it is not a matter of if…..it is a matter of when.

After you have attended the IME with a physician of the workers’ compensation carrier’s choice, you should receive a copy of the IME report, and depending on what that physician said about your medical condition in regards to your work injury and your capability to return to some type of work, a Petition can be filed against you to try and stop your wage loss and/or medical benefits in some fashion.  These Petitions could include a Petition to Modify, Suspend, or Terminate your benefits.

Types of Workers’ Compensation Petitions

MODIFICATION PETITION

Let’s take a minute to understand what each of these Petitions are.  The Modification Petition will usually indicate that you are capable of some type of lighter work.  If this is the case, your employer will be contacted by the workers’ compensation carrier to see if there is work available in that capacity for you to return to and if the answer is “no”, the workers’ compensation carrier can hire a vocational expert to do an Earning Power Assessment/Labor Market Survey to find work generally available in your area that you would be capable of that would pay you wages less than you were earning at your job before your injury.  If the wages at the new available positions would be less than you earned pre-injury, this is referred to as a “modification” of benefits. If a workers’ compensation judge believed that you were capable of working these jobs, then your wage loss benefits could be modified, meaning you would receive less each week in your benefits.

SUSPENSION PETITION

With a Suspension Petition, the same scenario can play out as mentioned above, but if wages would be paid equal to your pre-injury pay, then your wage loss benefits would be “suspended” meaning that you could no longer receive any wage loss benefits, if a workers’ compensation judge believed that you were capable of working those positions.

TERMINATION PETITION

If the IME doctor believes that you are fully recovered from your work injury, then the workers’ compensation carrier will have their lawyer file a Termination Petition against you trying to stop all of your benefits, wage loss and medical.  With a Termination Petition, they don’t have to find any jobs for you to return to, just prove to a workers’ compensation judge that you are capable of doing any type of work, including your pre-injury job. If the assigned judge believes this, then your benefits will totally be terminated.

After a Petition is Filed

After one of these Petitions is filed, it will be assigned to a workers’ compensation judge and scheduled for a first hearing.  At this first hearing, the lawyer for your employer and the workers’ compensation carrier will present evidence of the IME report, a Notice of Ability to Return to Work (which is a Bureau form), and any other evidence they have to help prove their case.  This initial evidence is called “Supersedeas Evidence”, which can be hearsay evidence, not needing someone to testify about it, typically the IME doctor. A request for supersedeas is made by the employer/workers’ compensation carrier lawyer to the judge asking that your wage loss benefits be totally stopped during the litigation process.  Depending on the evidence provided, a judge could choose to grant or deny this request. If the supersedeas request is granted, then your wage loss benefits will come to an end. Please note that the supersedeas decision is not subject to appeal.

If the assigned judge denies the supersedeas request, then you will keep receiving your workers’ compensation checks until such time as you either settle your case, or a judge orders that your benefits be stopped.  If you receive a favorable supersedeas decision but end up losing the case in chief, ie, your benefits are modified, suspended, or terminated, the workers’ compensation carrier can apply for supersedeas fund reimbursement from the PA Bureau of Workers’ Compensation to get back the monies paid to you from the time that they filed the Petition against you.  You, as the injured worker do not have to be concerned about giving any monies back, as the Supersedeas Fund is there to reimburse the carrier.

If you or a loved one are in any phases of the above scenarios, please contact Robinson Law LLC for guidance and representation.

What is a Workers’ Compensation Statement of Wages?

Workers' Compensation

Understanding Workers’ Compensation Statement of Wages

A Workers’ Compensation Statement of Wages is a document prepared by the Workers’ Compensation Carrier based on your past earnings, the type of employment (seasonal or non-seasonal), and length of employment. Because of these variables, there are various ways to calculate your wage earnings.

The Statement of Wages (SOW) lists the gross income (this is the amount your earn before taxes are deducted from your pay) that you were receiving before your work injury and also lists the workers’ compensation rate that you will receive from the insurance carrier.  

It is important to have a lawyer review your Statement Of Wages to make sure that the workers’ compensation carrier made proper calculations for your earnings.

Thank you for taking the time to learn more about workers’ compensation through our Workers’ Comp Wednesdays with Kara Curry on 99.9 The Hawk.  If you or a loved one has a question regarding your work injury or claim I invite you to contact me via phone (215) 530-7166, email or the form to the right.  As a certified workers’ compensation attorney, I am happy to offer free consultations.  – Paula Robinson, Esq.

What is a Modification of Workers’ Compensation Benefits?

Workers' Compensation

Understanding a Modification of Workers’ Comp Benefits

A Modification of Workers’ Compensation Benefits is when the Workers’ Compensation Carrier will modify or adjust your wage loss benefits based on your ability to return to work based on an offer of return to work, usually in a light or sedentary capacity, as a result of an IME report or your own Dr. indicating your ability to work.

Usually when you return to light work, you may be earning less that your previous position. This is when the workers’ compensation carrier will adjust or modify your wage loss benefits according to your new pay. This is referred to as Temporary Partial Disability benefits (TPD).

This can get complicated and is also a good time to contact a Workers’ Compensation Attorney if you have not already done so to ensure you a receiving the proper pay.

Thank you for taking the time to learn more about workers’ compensation through our Workers’ Comp Wednesdays with Kara Curry on 99.9 The Hawk.  If you or a loved one has a question regarding your work injury or claim I invite you to contact me via phone (215) 530-7166, email or the form to the right.  As a certified workers’ compensation attorney, I am happy to offer free consultations.  – Paula Robinson, Esq.