November 21, 2018

How to Get Your Life Back on Track After a Work-Related Injury

Work Injury Lawyers PA

Work-related injuries and illnesses severely damage the lives of workers and their families. Despite regulations that require safety trainings, protective gear, and special certifications, 12,300 workers receive a job-related injury every single day. That’s one injury every seven seconds. So, in the time it takes you to read this page, twenty workers have sustained an injury while at work and are wondering what to do next. If you’ve sustained a work-related injury, you are not alone. People in all types of jobs are at risk of injuring themselves in the workplace, and often don’t know what to do when it happens.

Pennsylvania law requires that employers maintain a safe working environment for their employees and provide pertinent workplace safety trainings. Despite ongoing initiatives by federal agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), workplace injuries in Pennsylvania have increased slightly—from 166,114 incidents annually to 174,216—during the past three years. For individuals involved in workplace accidents, one is too many. Lasting effects from work-related injuries can continue to affect families well into the future; financial and emotional issues may linger long after the physical injury heals. In addition to financial difficulties, injuries often create an emotional strain on workers and their families. Lost wages increase stress at home, put unnecessary strain on personal relationships, and can lead to severe depression.

From Start to Finish

Although victims of workplace injuries and illnesses are not required to have legal representation to file a personal injury claim, having an attorney on your side can prove extremely beneficial. Pennsylvania’s personal injury and workers’ compensation laws are complex and ever-changing. Working with an experienced lawyer ensures that you won’t miss important dates or deadlines. Let your attorney focus on the legal complexities while you focus on recovering from your injury.

At the Levin Law Firm, our experienced attorneys aggressively defend the rights of injured workers. Our nationally recognized attorneys are ready to assist you and your family during this difficult time. If you have been denied workers’ compensation benefits, think you’re receiving less than you deserve, or have questions about how to file a claim, we can help. We understand how to deal with the unexpected, so you don’t have to.

Your Employer Has Legal Responsibilities if You Are Injured on the Job

Pennsylvania law requires employers to post a list of the names and phone numbers of at least six physicians whom they have selected to treat workplace injuries. Employers are also required to inform employees, in writing, that in the event of an accident, they must use one of these designated medical professionals for all treatment within 90 days from the date of any accident. After the initial 90-day treatment period, employees have the option of choosing their own doctor. If an injured employee does opt to use a personal physician, the employee must notify the employer at least five days prior to any appointment.

Employers are also required to post the name, address, and contact telephone number of their workers’ compensation insurance carrier.

Employers are required by law to provide their employees with a safe place of employment, including safety training that complies with the company’s injury and illness prevention programs.

The Scope of Workplace Injuries

Numerous environmental conditions can result in work-related injuries and workers’ compensation claims. Hearing loss, respiratory problems, weather-related injuries, and allergic reactions can all result from prolonged exposure to unsafe conditions. Environmental conditions that may lead to workplace injuries include:

  • Sight and visibility limitations
  • Ambient temperature fluctuations
  • Sound pollution
  • Air pollution, including the presence of toxic fumes or vapors
  • Water pollution
  • Poor housekeeping
  • Overcrowded work area
  • Use of personal protective equipment that restricts human senses

Working with heavy machinery, at heights, and with electricity often results in work-related injuries, including:

  • Sprains
  • Strains
  • Muscle tears
  • Burns
  • Falls resulting in fractures

Additionally, human factors, such as acts of violence or motor vehicle accidents caused by negligence, may result in work-related injuries. While some physical injuries are self-limiting and short-lived, some are complex and even fatal. For example, concussions, traumatic brain injuries, amputations, and mesothelioma have life-changing implications for victims and families

The Effects of Your Injury Can Extend to Your Family

A work-related injury can impact a victim’s entire family. Beyond the financial implications of lost productivity, and the possible permanent loss of gainful employment, the emotional—and sometimes even physical—repercussions on spouses and children can be devastating. A study conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health revealed that family members of severely injured workers filed significantly more personal healthcare claims for fractures, sprains, joint dislocations, and other muscle and bone or “musculoskeletal” disorders than family members of non-severely injured workers, likely because those injured required physically demanding help after their injuries.

Workers’ Compensation Claims May Be Complicated

Some workers’ compensation claims are straightforward. When a workplace injury clearly stemmed from a specific on-the-job accident, employers and their workers’ compensation insurance carriers rarely deny claims.

However, most workers’ compensation claims are complex, especially those that deal with a repetitive stress injury, a work-related illness, or any other injury that may be difficult to directly link to specific environmental conditions. Insurance carriers and the attorneys that represent them are not on your side; their singular focus is to ensure that each claim settles for the least amount of compensation possible.

The more complex a workers’ compensation claim, the more difficult it can be to handle alone. Complex claims may involve sending written demand letters, negotiating with insurance companies and their attorneys, and arguing your case in court. Deadlines must be met, and certain steps must be taken. Hiring an attorney who has experience representing individuals in contested workers’ compensation claims can help you understand the process and ensure that you receive maximum compensation given your circumstances.

How Your Attorney Will Help

Retaining an experienced attorney to assist you with your workers’ compensation claim can have numerous benefits. Your attorney may:

  • Act as your liaison with the workers’ compensation insurance carrier.
  • Gather medical evidence.
  • Arrange and recommend medical treatment.
  • Depose medical experts.
  • Represent you in any workers’ compensation hearings.
  • Negotiate a fair settlement.

At the Levin Law Firm, our experienced workers’ compensation attorneys understand the process and what evidence you must present to maximize recovery. Hiring an attorney will provide you and your family with a significant advantage. While we cannot guarantee a favorable result in your case, we can promise to defend your rights every step of the way. We will work hard to determine the full extent of your injuries, your past and future medical expenses, and what claims you may be eligible to file.

Third Party Claims and Other Potential Benefits

Depending on the specifics of your case, you may be entitled to pursue a third-party personal injury claim against someone, other than your employer, whose negligence contributed to your injury. For example, other individuals involved in your accident, such as drivers of vehicles in auto accidents or the manufacturers of faulty equipment, may have some responsibility. Third party personal injury claims present an opportunity to pursue additional compensation, as these claims may include pain and suffering.

There are numerous instances in which you may be able to file a third party claim, including:

  • If you were injured by a defective product.
  • If you were injured by a toxic substance.
  • If your employer’s intentional conduct caused your injury.
  • If your employer does not carry workers’ compensation insurance.
  • If a third party caused your injury

Your Rights and Responsibilities as an Injured Worker

Pennsylvania’s workers’ compensation laws are intended to protect all workers. Individuals who sustain an injury while at work, or who become ill due to unhealthy workplace conditions, may be eligible to seek:

  • Medical care paid for by the employer
  • Temporary or permanent disability benefits
  • Supplemental job displacement benefit
  • Death benefits payable to qualified family members

Injured workers should notify their employers as soon as possible following an accident or discovery of a job-related illness. State law requires victims to notify their supervisors within 21 days from the date of the accident or discovery. Under certain conditions, there may be a 120-day time limit to report.

If you suffer a workplace injury or illness, keep detailed records following your accident. Having specific documentation to support your claim will maximize your chance of successfully defending against any insurance company disputes or denials. You should attempt to gather the following:

  • Accident reports
  • Claim forms
  • Doctors’ reports
  • Contact information for potential witnesses
  • Correspondence with your employer or the insurance company
  • Acceptance or denial letter from the insurance company
  • Forms filed with the state workers’ compensation agency

Although workers’ compensation claims do not include pain and suffering, you should still maintain a pain journal to document the severity of your injuries and how they impact your ability to function. Pain journals are particularly helpful when an insurance company disputes the seriousness of an individual’s injuries, or if a third party claim is involved.

Common Defenses Raised by Employers

Workers’ compensation claims result in considerable costs for employers and their insurance carriers. In an effort to mitigate liability, your employer may claim that you did not sustain your injury within your scope of employment. However, if your injury occurred on company property, during a business trip, in a corporate vehicle, or while running an errand at the request of your employer, your injuries are most likely work-related.

An employer attempting to deny liability may also claim that:

  • You were operating as an independent contractor.
  • Your injury is the result of a preexisting condition.
  • You engaged in willful misconduct.
  • You were working while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Never Say Never

In some instances, you may be able to reopen a previously closed workers’ compensation claim, including when:

  • Your injury exacerbates over time.
  • Your light duty alternate job no longer exists.
  • New evidence is found to justify your claim.
  • New evidence shows your award was inadequate or unjust.
  • Fraud is discovered.

Appealing a Denial

Don’t be deterred if your employer denies your claim. Many employees with legitimate workers’ compensation claims receive denial notices. Insurance adjusters may deny a claim because it lacks sufficient medical information to prove a workplace injury, or if the adjuster determines that the claimed injury is more severe than the actual injury. However, a denial is often subjective, and can be disputed with a second medical opinion. An experienced attorney will review your application and determine what additional supporting information it needs. If you believe your claim was denied in error, you have an absolute right to appeal. Reasons for denial may include:

  • You did not report your injury in time.
  • You did not file your claim in time.
  • Your employer disputes the claim.
  • Your injury is not compensable.
  • There is insufficient evidence that your injury is work-related.

An appeal can be time-consuming and complex. If you want to appeal a denial, you should consult an experienced attorney who understands what evidence you need to support an appeal.

When You Are Ready to Return to Work

Under Pennsylvania law, your employer must notify you within seven days if it intends to suspend your disability benefits upon your return to work. Thus, you have a limited amount of time to decide whether you want to return to:

  • Regular work – Your old job
  • Modified work – Your old job, with some changes that allow you to work
  • Alternative work – A new job with the same employer

If you think that you might need special workplace accommodations when you do return to work, you should consult an attorney about how to make such a request. Individuals injured in an accident may need:

  • Job restructuring
  • An ergonomic evaluation of the workstation to adjust for physical limitations
  • New equipment and necessary training
  • A part-time work schedule

Do Not Accept Too Little

It’s difficult to predict the value of a Pennsylvania workers’ compensation claim. Some variables in making that determination include your long-term prognosis, need for future treatments, and level of compensation at the time of the accident. Consider whether you have a single, specific injury that is expected to resolve with treatment, or one that has the potential for cumulative problems requiring long-term treatment.

Contact The Levin Law Firm

Workers’ compensation claims are complex and require the assistance of an experienced attorney. At the Levin Law Firm, our legal team regularly represents individuals in workers’ compensation cases. Our attorneys are tenacious, determined, and dedicated to the aggressive pursuit of justice for all victims of workplace injuries in Pennsylvania. We understand the state’s workers’ compensation system. Call us today at (215) 825-5183, or contact us online, to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.

March 17, 2016

I have been asked to do an Independent Medical Exam – what should I expect?

Independent Medical Exam

 

 

If you have filed a workers’ compensation claim, chances are you may be asked to attend an independent medical examination (IME).  These examinations are often requested when there is a dispute about what benefits you are entitled to.  Below are a few simple guidelines to help you prepare for your IME.

What Is an Independent Medical Examination?

An independent medical examination (IME) is a medical examination conducted by a medical provider who may provide an expert opinion on your medical condition, your treatment, or the level of any disability that you currently have. Following the exam, the doctor will issue a report answering questions about your condition, which may include one or more of the following:

  • Has your condition been correctly diagnosed?
  • Did a workplace accident or exposure actually cause your condition?
  • What is the extent of your impairment?
  • Do you need additional treatment or testing for your condition?
  • Do you need work restrictions? And if so, what restrictions are appropriate
  • When will you be able to return to work?

Before the Exam

  • Arrive early. If you miss your appointment time, you may face consequences, such as having your benefits suspended. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get to your appointment.
  • Be familiar with your medical history. The examiner will likely have all of your medical records related to your condition, including records of previous injuries to the same body part. The examiner will ask you about all of these things, so take a moment to review your medical history. Do not try to conceal any previous injuries or downplay them. However, you should point out how your injury or condition is different than it has been in the past.
  • Review how the accident happened. The examiner will ask you in detail about how the injury happened. Keep your answers brief, and make sure that they are consistent with what you have reported in the past.
  • Review your current symptoms. It is important to let the examiner know whether you are still experiencing pain, limitations, or other symptoms. Are you experiencing headaches or pain? Are you having difficulty with your everyday activities, such as walking, grooming, or sleeping? You will be asked in detail about your current symptoms and limitations, so make sure to include everything, no matter how minor it seems at the time.

During The Exam

  • Don’t exaggerate your symptoms. If you are caught exaggerating your symptoms, you will lose credibility and may have difficulty recovering the benefits that you’re entitled to.  Remember that examiners often have tests or other methods to help them determine how honest you’re being in reporting your pain, range of motion, or other symptoms. They also have years of experience examining injured people to determine if they are accurately reporting their pain.

After the Exam

Take a moment to write down what you remember about how long it lasted, what the doctor asked you, what tests the doctor performed, and so on.  Most importantly, contact your attorney.

At The Levin Firm, we understand that representing workers’ compensation claimants requires particular types of skills and knowledge, as well as ability to understand your rights as an employee. We understand these issues, and work with our clients, their friends and family, as well as their doctors, psychologists, long-term care planners, and others – to ensure that our clients receive not only the finest legal representation, but also the finest support and medical care.

Workers’ compensation claims are complex, and require attorneys who understand how to navigate the system, and who are willing to explain the status of your case to you every step of the way. At The Levin Firm, we investigate every claim so that we may aggressively and zealously represent our clients and obtain the best possible results.

When you need a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania or New Jersey personal injury attorney to represent you, a family member or friend who has been injured at work, contact The Levin Firm at (215) 825-5183We represent every client zealously in order to obtain the best results possible in each case.

Sources:

1.      https://www.levininjuryfirm.com/philadelphia/workplace-injuries/workers-compensation/

2.      http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/free-books/employee-rights-book/chapter12-3.html

3.      http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/how-handle-your-workers-compensation-independent-medical-examination.html

4.      http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/workers-compensation

5.      http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/getting-fair-amount-from-your-workers-comp-settlement.html

March 9, 2016

Is My Injury Work Related?

PA Work Injury

When you file a worker’s compensation claim, you will have to show that your injury or illness is work-related. Generally, if you were doing something for the benefit of your employer, and you were injured or became ill as a result, then your injury or illness is work-related and you can receive worker’s compensation benefits as long as the other eligibility requirements have been met.

Below are some common situations involving the “work related” requirement:

  1. Lunch Breaks: 

    Usually, injuries or illnesses that happen while an employee is taking a lunch break are not covered under workers’ compensation. However, if you were also picking up lunch for your boss, then there is a possibility that the injury might be covered.  In another example, if you sprained your ankle in a cafeteria on the company’s premises, then your injury might be covered by workers’ compensation.

  2. Company Events: 

    Injuries sustained at company events or parties are usually covered by workers’ compensation.

  3. Travel:

    If you are injured on your commute to or from work, your injury probably is NOT covered by workers’ compensation. However, if you are traveling for work your injuries will probably be covered.  In another example, if you are a traveling salesperson, then injuries you sustain while driving to meet with a customer will likely be covered.

  4. Misconduct: 

    If you were injured while breaking a workplace safety rule, your injury may still be covered by workers’ compensation, depending on the level of your misconduct. This is part of the workers’ compensation bargain: Employees do not have the right to sue their employer for work-related injuries, but those injuries are usually covered by workers’ compensation, regardless of fault.

  5. Hearing Loss: 

    People who work in noisy environments often suffer hearing loss over time.  And unless there is some other reason for the impairment, this injury is usually covered by workers’ compensation.

  6. Mental Conditions:

    Mental conditions that are job-related are covered by workers’ compensation. However, that it can be hard to prove that the mental condition actually exists and that it was caused by workplace events. This is a situation in which a consultation with a lawyer can help you decide how to proceed. Conditions caused by a stressful workplace environment can also be compensable.

  7. Diseases and Illnesses: 

    If you have a disease or illness that was caused by your job, then you are likely entitled to worker’s compensation.

At The Levin Firm, we understand that representing workers’ compensation claimants requires particular types of skills and knowledge, as well as ability to understand your rights as an employee. We understand these issues, and work with our clients, their friends and family, as well as their doctors, psychologists, long-term care planners, and others – to ensure that our clients receive not only the finest legal representation, but also the finest support and medical care.

Workers’ compensation claims are complex, and require attorneys who understand how to navigate the system, and who are willing to explain the status of your case to you every step of the way. At The Levin Firm, we investigate every claim so that we may aggressively and zealously represent our clients and obtain the best possible results.

When you need a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania or New Jersey personal injury attorney to represent you, a family member or friend who has been injured at work, contact The Levin Firm at (215) 825-5183We represent every client zealously in order to obtain the best results possible in each case.

Sources:

1.      https://www.levininjuryfirm.com/philadelphia/workplace-injuries/workers-compensation/

2.      http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/free-books/employee-rights-book/chapter12-3.html

3.      http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/workers-compensation-injury-or-illness-32964.html

4.      http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/how-handle-your-workers-compensation-independent-medical-examination.html

5.      http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/workers-compensation

6.      http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/getting-fair-amount-from-your-workers-comp-settlement.html

February 1, 2016

Why was my worker’s compensation claim was denied?

Philly workers comp

 

Often, honest employees may have their worker’s compensation claims denied.  If this happens to you, contact an experienced worker’s compensation attorney at The Levin Firm to enforce your rights.  Below are a few reasons why your worker’s compensation claim may be denied.

1.No one witnessed your injury

Even if no one else saw your injury, you should still make sure to report the injury to your co-workers and to your supervisor immediately, and you should make sure that you tell everyone the exact same thing about how your injury occurred.

2.You Didn’t Report Your Injury Immediately

In most states, there is a small window of time where you can report work related injuries, so it is critical not to wait.  If you get hurt at work, report it to a supervisor immediately and fill out an accident report.

3.Discrepancy Between Your Accident Report and Medical Records

Be consistent when you describe your accident and how you sustained your injuries.  If you tell your supervisor that the accident happened one way, but tell your doctor that the accident happened in a different way, that will hurt your case.

4.Illegal Drugs in Your System

When you seek medical attention following your accident, the different types of tests performed on you could reveal the presence of illegal drugs in your system.  Clearly, this would lead the insurer to deny your worker’s compensation claim.  However, it is very important not to miss any medical appointments you may have. If you develop a pattern of missing medical appointments, the insurer will assume that your injury is not severe and will start looking for ways to terminate your benefits. If you are injured and unable to work, it is especially critical that you go to all of your medical appointments.

5.You Filed a Claim After You Were Fired

If you filed your worker’s compensation claim after you were laid off or fired from your job, the insurer will likely assume that the claim is nothing more than a frivolous revenge claim.

6.You Did not Give The Insurance Company a Recorded Statement or Refused to Sign Medical Authorizations

This is tricky, and is one of many reasons why you should consult with an experienced worker’s compensation attorney.  Workers’ compensation insurers will often ask injured employees to give a recorded statement describing the accident and the injuries. Unfortunately, that puts the employee in a really tough position.  For example, if the employee refuses to give the statement, then the insurance adjuster can tell the employee that their failure to give the statement prevented the insurer from starting their compensation benefits.

However, you can give the insurer a limited medical authorization.  In this case, the insurer would ask you to sign an authorization allowing it to obtain copies of your medical records. This request is reasonable as long as it is limited to the medical records and bills relating to your work injury. The insurer is allowed to see those records and bills. But you should not sign any authorizations allowing the insurer to get any other medical records or bills without discussing that authorization with a workers’ compensation lawyer.

The Philadelphia worker’s compensation lawyers at The Levin Firm understand these issues, and work together with a team of investigators and support staff to investigate every claim so that we may aggressively and zealously represent our clients and obtain the best possible results.

When you need a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania or New Jersey personal injury attorney to represent you, a family member or friend whose worker’s compensation claim has been denied, contact The Levin Firm at (215) 825-5183.  We represent every client zealously in order to obtain the best results possible in each case.

Sources

1.      http://www.alllaw.com/articles/nolo/workers-compensation/why-claim-denied.html

2.      http://www.alllaw.com/articles/employment

 

Latest News

December 18, 2018

How Pennsylvania Statutes Impact Personal Injury Claims

Most Pennsylvanians don’t give much thought to how laws on the books affect their rights to recover damages for a personal injury. Then again, why would they? Other than an occasional election-season nod to tort …

November 21, 2018

How to Get Your Life Back on Track After a Work-Related Injury

Work-related injuries and illnesses severely damage the lives of workers and their families. Despite regulations that require safety trainings, protective gear, and special certifications, 12,300 workers receive a job-related injury every single day. That’s one …

September 5, 2018

Navigating Wrongful Death Claims after a Fatal Car Accident

If someone you loved has been killed in a car accident, chances are, you're confused, struggling, and unsure of how to proceed from here. You've heard about wrongful death lawsuits, and you think that you …

view more

Free Case Consultation

Fill out the form below to schedule a free initial consultation

    In an effort to prevent spam please click “I agree” below to confirm you are a human being. (Required.)
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.