Paula Robinson's Blog for Workers Compensation & Disability

Specific Loss

In the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act, there are general provisions that allow the payment of compensation for amputations or permanent loss of use of body parts, some loss of hearing and loss of eyesight, and certain disfiguring scarring. These provisions are referred to as specific loss. It is possible that if you have a work injury causing any of these conditions, even if you did not miss any time from work, that you may be entitled to specific loss benefits.

In order to have some uniformity, the Act sets forth the categories of disfigurement and specific loss. Scarring or disfigurement must be above the clavicle to be considered. With scarring claims, they are viewed by the attorney representing the injured worker, the attorney representing the employer/workers’ compensation carrier, and the assigned workers’ compensation judge. The injured worker testifies as to how the injury took place, and the parties literally measure and describe the scarring on the record, with a court reporter making a record of the hearing. If the parties cannot come to an agreement on the dollar amount to settle the scarring claim, the workers’ compensation judge will make a decision as to the number of weeks at the compensation rate to arrive at a lump sum amount to be paid to the injured worker and will issue a written Order and Decision on the matter.

There are numerous complicating issues that can occur with specific loss cases such as statute of limitations, healing periods, injuries separate and apart. It is best to consult an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to determine what your case involves and what benefits you may be entitled to and not even realize it.

In addition to regular benefits, workers’ compensation attorney Paula Robinson can help you receive benefits for loss of your vision, partial or total blindness, benefits for loss of hearing, partial or total deafness, benefits for disfigurement, including dental and facial breaks and deformities, benefits for any scarring above the collar line, of the neck, face, and head, benefits for total and partial amputations to arms, fingers, legs and toes.  These injuries may or may not be in conjunction with another work injury, and even if you can continue working, you may be entitled to specific, hearing or vision loss benefits.  At Robinson Law, we have helped workers obtain specific loss benefits for missing teeth, eye injuries, scarring, and partial and total loss of fingers, toes, and limbs.

Pennsylvania Workers Affected by COVID-19

If you have tested positive for COVID-19 after being exposed at work, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. This type of illness may be considered an injury or an occupational disease. Occupational diseases are identified in the PA Workers’ Compensation Act. Contracting COVID-19 at your place of work would most likely be considered an injury but could also be an occupational disease depending on the type of work performed.

If you suspect that you may have been infected at work, you should immediately report it to your supervisor/employer. You can file your claim in one of the following two ways: 

  • Notify your PA employer to file a workers’ comp claim for “disease-as-injury”. In this case, you will be required to prove through medical evidence that your COVID-19 exposure occurred at your workplace. 
  • Notify your PA employer to file a workers’ comp claim for “occupational disease”. In this case, you will be required to prove that the frequency of occurrence of COVID-19 is higher in your industry or occupation when compared to the general population.
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Hotel/Motel/Retail

HOTEL/MOTEL

In the hotel/motel industry, there are hundreds of different types of jobs that need to be filled for hotels and motels to run smoothly and be profitable. These job categories include, but are not limited to, development and construction, administration, managers, corporate, sales & marketing, food and beverage service, guest services, human resources, housekeeping, meetings/events, catering, accounting/finance, security, recreation/entertainment, technology/IT departments, gaming/casino operations, etc. Think about the thousands of individuals that actually work in these job categories.

Some of the jobs listed above are very physical in nature.  Scrubbing and cleaning while bent in awkward positions can place you at risk for neck, shoulder and arm injuries.  Also, making beds and lifting mattresses can lead to back injuries.  Even with jobs in office-type settings, accidents can and do occur. In fast-paced kitchens, injuries can come in the form of slips and falls, burns, cuts, different types of sprains and strains, or even broken bones. Robinson Law knows the mechanics of these injuries and can help you get the benefits you deserve.

RETAIL

Retail trade encompasses a wide variety of different businesses, such as grocery stores, car dealers, furniture stores, malls, garden and hardware stores. The level of physical activity in these trades can vary greatly.  Whether it is backbreaking hard labor or standing around doing mundane tasks, all jobs can result in different types of injuries. 

Almost always, retail trades require goods to be unpackaged using sharp cutting tools and could result in cuts or even serious lacerations.  After they are unpackaged, the goods need to be shelved or displayed. This requires employees to move and bend their body in many different directions, leading to possible musculoskeletal injuries. Constant standing around as a security guard or sales associate can result in back, foot, and leg pain or cramping.

These are just a few examples of injuries that can be sustained while working in retail. If you find that you have been injured on the job and your injuries have stopped you from working, contact Robinson Law for a free initial consultation.

Virtual Service

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Work Injuries & Risks During a Pandemic

While the devastating health and economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic are in the spotlight, many people are unaware of the increased risk of injuries for workers during this time. Workers are operating not only at an increased risk of coronavirus exposure but are also more vulnerable to workplace accidents and injuries in these challenging circumstances.

Increased Risks due to High Work Pressure 

The fear of the pandemic has led Americans to stockpile essential commodities and order just about anything they can through e-commerce websites such as Amazon. To fulfill this surge in demand, manufacturers of various products are willing to pay overtime to their workers. 

This is particularly true for the manufacturers of critical medical devices such as ventilators, surgical masks, hand sanitizers, and pharmaceutical products. Manufacturers, packagers, and suppliers of essential commodities such as food products and groceries are also impacted.        

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Workers’ Compensation as It Relates to COVID-19 in Pennsylvania

As of March 20, 2020, the Workers Compensation Insurance Organizations (WCIO) approved new codes, referred to as “Nature” and “Cause” codes to help in the reporting of workers’ compensation claims related to COVID-19 claims.  The Cause is Pandemic and the Nature is COVID-19.

As of March 24, 2020, Pennsylvania’s Workers’ Compensation system has been updated to accept these codes for reporting COVID-19 claims effective as of December 2019 or later. The International Association of Industrial Accidents, Boards, and Commissions (IAIABC) recommends that Workers’ Compensation Insurance Companies modify their reporting and collections systems to recognize these codes by April 1, 2020.

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Brain Injury in The Workplace

Brain Injury Workplace

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month in the US. As many as 137 Americans die every day because of traumatic brain injuries (TBI), and many more suffer lifelong disability. 

Accidents at the workplace are a leading cause of brain injury. Falls from heights and struck-by object accidents together comprise more than half of all TBI-related injuries, according to the Brain Injury Awareness Association (BIAA).

Common Causes of Brain Injuries at the Workplace

Construction Site Accidents

Figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) suggest that preventable falls from heights at construction sites result in a large number of occupational traumatic brain injuries. 

Apart from falling from heights, construction workers are exposed to additional brain injury risks, such as getting struck on the head by heavy construction equipment, falling objects or metal beams, or getting hit by a moving construction vehicle.

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Trucking

The trucking industry is thriving, with more than 3.5 million people working as drivers in the United States according to www.census.gov. Every time we buy something from a store or online, chances are the product was “trucked” in from its origin. Automobiles, equipment, and fuel in many forms are just a few more examples of goods that are transported by tractor trailer.

We all know what the trucking industry is, but many people are unfamiliar with the term intermodal. According to www.businessdictionary.com, the definition of intermodal is the movement of containerized (unitized) cargo over air, land, or sea through the use of different transport modes (aircraft, truck, rail, boats, ships, barges, etc.) capable of handling containers.

In addition to the typically expected motor vehicle accidents, there are some less thought of injuries that can also occur in the trucking industry. These include bodily reaction injuries that can occur when you dislocate body parts, overstress joints, or pull muscles while trying to prevent yourself from falling after tripping or slipping. Other injuries can occur while trying to carry objects up or down stairs, or lifting at an awkward angle, throwing yourself off balance. Concussions are also a commonly overlooked injury in the trucking industry. 

Another type of serious injury is being physically pinned between equipment or objects, such as the floor, a wall, supporting pole, crates, moving machinery, loading docks, or appliances. Falls from high areas on the truck cabs or trailers can also occur. Truckers are required to clean off their windows and the tops of their trailers of debris, snow, and ice. This must be done manually which requires climbing up on the truck themselves or using some type of ladder. This is dangerous – especially if the footing is slippery. 

Although motor vehicle accidents are the most obvious danger factor for truck drivers, there are a number of other injuries that they can incur while on the job. At Robinson Law, we have represented claimants with these types of injuries and understand the dynamics, including prolonged treatment programs sometimes necessary for these types of injuries. 

PA Workers’ Comp Numbers in 2018

*Information based on the data found in the PA Workers’ Compensation Annual Report.

Impact of Stress on Job Safety

Impact of Stress

Even though February is traditionally the month for lovers, it is also the American Heart Month. Studies show that work-related stress affects the heart health of as many as 83% of employees in the US, taking the lives of nearly 120,000 workers each year. 

How Workplace Stress Affects the Employees

The first thing workers need to realize is that constant stress – whether from heavy workload or traffic-choked daily commute – can have real physical impact on the body. Stress has been linked to a wide range of health issues, including appetite problems, poor sleep, mood swings, and of course, heart diseases.

Medical researchers at the University of Rochester, NY, have said that long-term stress leads to high levels of cortisol, which causes the person to experience enhanced levels of blood sugar, cholesterol, and hypertension. All these factors result in a poor heart condition which can trigger a variety of issues, including increased risk of stroke. 

Chronic stress also causes inflammation which is a well-known instigator of heart disease. 

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