Paula Robinson's Blog for Workers Compensation & Disability | - Part 3

Can I File a Claim Petition on My Own

workers' compensation claim petition

If you suffer a work injury, give your notice to your employer, and your claim is denied, the next step is to file a Claim Petition that will get assigned to a Workers’ Compensation Judge, who will  take evidence from you and the employer, and ultimately decide the case, if it does not settle beforehand.

So, what is a Claim Petition?  It is a Petition filed by the Claimant i.e., the injured worker setting forth the details of the injury, including whether Notice was given to the employer, and how, the wage information, and dates that disability is alleged. The burden is on the Claimant to prove disability. In years past, the way to file the Claim Petition was to get the proper form from the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, PA Dept. of Labor & Industry, have it typed up or hand printed by the Claimant him or herself, or hire a workers’ compensation lawyer to prepare and mail the same.

As with everything else, technology has taken over, and the Dept. of Labor and Industry has within the last few years launched an on-line tool for tracking and monitoring your case and filing Petitions, among other things, that is accessed and maintained on your behalf by your workers’ compensation lawyer, as well as your employer’s workers’ compensation carrier and Workers’ Compensation Judges.  This new on-line tool is referred to as WCAIS or Workers’ Compensation Automated Integrated System.  At this point in time, when an injured worker receives a Denial of their Claim in the mail, the Denial will give instructions to contact the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation in Harrisburg if the injured worker wants to pursue a workers’ compensation claim.  The phone number for the Helpline at the Bureau is 1 (800) 482-2383.

Once you ask for the Claim Petition, they will either email or mail you a packet, and you can fill the Claim Petition out yourself.  Please note that as time goes by, it seems to be the intention of the Bureau to go paperless.  While you can file a Claim Petition yourself, without a lawyer, the situation gets a bit rough without representation.  Read More

Digging Safety in PA – Resident & Professionals

digging safety tips in pa

April celebrates National Safe Digging Month which is aimed at educating residents about the importance of safe digging on their property to avoid utility lines that may prevent outages, personal injury or even death.

All US residents and businesses are urged to call 8-1-1 before they dig. This phone number will connect them to the proper state resources to properly mark lines, pipes and more so you can safely dig. The Common Ground Alliance Initiative created a website dedicated to education and the importance of safe digging. This website has resources for residents, farmers
and contractors. They have also created a very educational video, shared below.

Read More

Your Commute To and From Work, Is It Covered Under Workers’ Compensation?

workers' comp coverage for daily commute

The law in Pennsylvania, commonly referred to as “the coming and going rule”, holds that traveling to and from work is not in the course of employment. Mansfield Bros. Painting v. WCAB (German), 72 A.3d 842 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2013).  There are, however, exceptions to this broad ruling. Those exceptions are:

  • The worker has no fixed place of work.
  • The worker is on a special assignment for the employer.
  • The employment contract specifically included transportation to and from work.
  • Unique circumstances in that the worker was furthering the business of the employer.

(Source): Peterson v. WCAB (PRN Nursing Agency), 597 A.2d 1116 (Pa. 1991); Peer v. WCAB (B&W Constr.), 503 A.2d 1096 (Pa. Cmwlth 1986).

Read More

Ethics of Claiming Income & Working Legally

If you follow our blog you may have seen the blog about bartenders and jobs that rely on tips for income. No only is it illegal to not report your tip earning, but you also run the risk of insufficient wage loss benefits in the event you have a work injury. Let us explain why it is so important.

In the state of Pennsylvania if you are employed by a person or company you are required by law to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Here is a quote from the first page of a downloadable PDF from the Department of Labor & Industry in Pennsylvania:

“ Workers’ Compensation (WC) is mandatory, employer-financed, no-fault insurance which ensures that employees disabled due to a work-related injury or disease will be compensated for lost wages and provides necessary medical treatment to return them to the workforce.

The workers’ compensation system provides an “exclusive remedy” to employers and employees and is designed to simultaneously achieve the goals of safer workplaces, prompt compensation and treatment of those it protects and reduced litigation costs to all parties.”

[If you are unsure if you are required to carry insurance or be insured click here to review the website.]

Read More

When It Pays to Complain

workers comp claim with tip income

Workers’ Compensation case law helps lawyers help their clients, and the case of Gahring v. WCAB (R & R Builders and Stoudt’s Brewing Company), 128 A.3d 375 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2015) is a perfect example.  In this case, the injured worker (Claimant) first worked for R and R Builders where he suffered a low back injury resulting in disc herniations at two levels of his spine.  He settled his case with R and R Builders and their workers’ compensation carrier.  Some eight years later he went to work for Stoudt’s Brewing Company as a line cook, and the next year began to experience increased back pain, which then led to surgery the year after that.  The Claimant argued that the second employer was responsible for his back pain because he had to work increased hours, and most importantly gave sufficient notice of a repetitive traumatic injury to his low back because he complained over time to his supervisor, putting them on notice that this new work as a line cook was aggravating his prior work injury.

Read More

Cashing Out as a Bartender – It Pays

workers comp benefits to claim income legally

“It’s five o’clock somewhere!” a popular expression among adults after a long day or heading into a weekend. In America, globally for that matter, it is not uncommon for people to gather at local watering holes, aka a bar or pub, for happy hours, a quick drink and other social activities. To help business, many establishments have added themed nights like trivia night, dart tournaments, discount specials and more.

It is also known that good bartenders can make really good money in tips, especially on a busy night. This is where things can get tricky in the “tipping” industry. There are many jobs that pay minimum wage or even less and the rest of the income is tip based, therefore in order to make a decent living, one would rely heavily on tips. Keep in mind it is required by law that one claims all tips whether cash or via credit cards when you ‘clock out’ at the end of the day or night. Read More

Pennsylvania Requires Employers to Obtain Workers Compensation

To most Americans, quality of life is very important. We strive for this image of work and life balance that we must attain. While there is no magic answer to that balance, peace of mind can be a big relief when it comes to workplace safety.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania requires employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance. This is for the protection of the employer and employee should the employee be hurt while on the job. Workers’’ compensation benefits provide Pennsylvania workers coverage for both medical benefits and wage loss due to a work injury.

In Pennsylvania, all employers of one or more employees are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. A small price to pay for peace of mind should something happen on the job – medical and wage loss benefits. If you are an employee in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, speak to your employer as to who their workers’ compensation carrier is – it is required.

Reporting Obligations of the Injured Worker

So, you are hurt on the job in Pennsylvania.  Do you have any obligations to the workers’ compensation carrier who is paying your wage loss and medical benefits?  The answer is “yes”.  The carrier for your employer is entitled to know your status on several different issues, which we will cover, because they are paying you money and want to monitor your case.  The PA Workers’ Compensation Act makes the rules about the obligation to report receipt of certain benefits or changes in status, and has easy to complete forms to do so.

Once the forms are sent to you, the injured worker, you have thirty (30) days to complete, sign, date and send them back to the workers’ compensation carrier.  If you do not send them back within the thirty (30) days, you could face serious consequences, including suspension of your wage loss benefits or worse yet, proceedings under the fraud provisions of the PA Workers’ Compensation Act. Simply put provisions are rules within the law.

Typically, there are three (3) forms, referred to as LIBC (Labor and Industry Bureau of Compensation) forms that are sent as a packet by the workers’ compensation adjustor. These are the Employee Report of Wages (Other Than Workers’ Compensation Benefits Received); Employee Verification of Employment, Self-Employment, or Change in Physical Condition; and the Verification of Employment/Self Employment.  

They want to find out if you are receiving any other wages or have another source of income, because if so, then the workers’ compensation carrier is entitled to a credit equal to what other income you received.  Also, if you are doing something to earn wages, other than your workers’ compensation benefits, that might mean that you really are not disabled any longer, and the carrier might take steps to try and stop your receipt of benefits.  When you receive workers’ compensation wage loss benefits, always remember that you cannot receive wages from any employment, as this is fraudulent and could also lead to serious consequences, such as having to pay the money back to the workers’ compensation carrier and prosecution.

The benefit of being represented in a workers’ compensation case is that your attorney can help you in filling out the forms and getting them sent back timely to keep you in compliance and receiving your deserved benefits. 

OSHA’s Top 10 List for Violation in 2016

Graphic Products put out an OSHA list of top 10 work place violations to the public, for that list click the link below.  As a workers’ compensation attorney, I am not surprised to see these particular injuries listed.  If I had my pick, my top three, based on my 29+ years of experience would be Fall Protection, Powered Industrial Trucks, and Machine Guarding.

Pennsylvania’s Version of the 10 Most Deadliest Jobs

A recent article put out by Forbes listed the 10 most deadliest jobs in America.  All of the jobs are also performed in Pennsylvania.  These include landscaping, lawn service and grounds keeping; electrical power line workers; agricultural workers; truck drivers, including drivers and sale workers; metal and steel workers; trash collectors; roofers; aircraft pilots; fishing workers; and logging workers.

Out of these jobs in PA, transportation, including truck drivers, drivers, and sale workers, had the highest reported amount of injuries in 2015, with 12,318.  The lowest of these is the fishing workers, with only 6 reported injuries in 2015.  Also, worth noting is the category of “manufacturing”, including all subcategories reported 22,291 injuries according to the 2015 Annual Report by PA Workers’ Compensation and Workplace Safety Report.

To see the article with video, click this link.