Sunday, June 18, 2017

How Does My Disability Level Affect My Workers’ Compensation Payment?

Accidents can happen at any time. This is no different at the workplace. A warehouse worker may injure his spine while loading a heavy bag onto a container, a construction worker may get hit by a falling hammer and suffer head trauma and a secretary may slip and fall as she climbs up a flight of stairs. When workplace injuries occur, the injured victim can make a workers’ compensation claim to cover the medical expenses and lost wages accruing from the time of injury.

Sometimes, workplace injuries lead to permanent injuries such as when an elevator technician gets his arm amputated after a hydraulic malfunction causes an elevator to jolt downwards, crush his limb.
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Monday, September 26, 2016

Hearing Loss at Work: More Common Than You Think

What is the most common work-related injury?

Last month, we wrote about the connection between occupational hearing loss and heart damage. This is a compelling issue, especially in light of a report released earlier this year by the

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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Occupational Hearing Loss Can Also Lead to Heart Damage

Are there other health hazards associated with occupational hearing loss?

We have long been aware that exposure to loud noise, whether at the workplace or elsewhere, can lead to serious hearing loss. Occupational hearing loss results from damage to the inner ear as a result of noise or vibrations experienced by workers in certain occupations. Examples of jobs that regularly expose their workers to excessive noise are those involving: construction, farming, factory work, airline ground maintenance, and any jobs where employees are exposed to loud music, machinery, crowds or loud voices. Interestingly, teachers and nursery school workers are number 10 on the list of employees exposed to the most noise.

It is troubling enough to know that your hearing is being constantly assaulted at the workplace, but recent research demonstrates that exposure to long-term loud noise is also associated with coronary heart disease.

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Monday, March 28, 2016

Injured Nursing Home Workers at Risk of Losing Jobs

Are nursing home workers more likely to be fired after an injury?

A recent study revealed that nursing home workers who are injured are more likely to lose their jobs within six months. In fact, injured workers are two times more likely to lose than jobs than those reporting no injuries. Moreover, workers who have suffered multiple injuries are twice as likely to quit their jobs in the next 6 months than non-injured workers.

New Work Environments

Generally, individuals are more prone to being injured within the first few months in a new work environment. In workplaces where there has been job turnover, as in the case with injured nursing home workers, the chances for another injury to occur increase. Federal and state regulations are designed to protect workers from being fired after being injured and provide workers' comp benefits. However, it appears that these laws are not being followed.

The study focused on 30 nursing homes across New England and found that:

  • 30 percent of workers had been injured at work and about a quarter were no longer employed at that job after 18 months
  • Injured workers were 30 percent more likely to no longer be in their jobs within six months of the injury, whether voluntarily or involuntarily
  • Individuals who were injured more than once were more likely to choose to leave their jobs than people with no injuries, while people injured only once were more likely to be fired

Reasons Why Injured Workers are Fired

While the study lacked data to explain why workers are being fired, some employers may believe that injured workers will no longer be able to perform their duties or are more likely to be injured again. In cases where employers have not put in place protections to reduce the occurrence of injuries, some nursing home workers may be more inclined to leave their jobs.

However, it is a fundamental right of all employees to work in a safe environment. Workers also have a right to be covered by workers' compensation insurance, receive medical treatment and to file a workers' comp claim without fear of reprisal or harassment from an employer. If you have been injured at work in Pennsylvania, you should consult with an attorney who has expertise in workers' compensation filings and proceedings.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Pennsylvania Appellate Court Considers Complex Case Involving Workers’ Compensation & Unemployment Benefits

Can I accept unemployment benefits while out-of-work on disability? 

In a recent case decided by the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, a work injury victim had her unemployment benefits reinstated despite claims by her employer that she could have returned to work and committed alleged “willful misconduct” by refusing to accept a promotion after the injury. The following case presents a complex procedural issue that – while perhaps unusual for the appellate court to unravel – represents a fact pattern that workers’ compensation clients could easily experience in the aftermath of an injury. 

Details of Paolucci v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review

In 2010, Ms. Paolucci was employed at WalMart and endured a concussion while on the job. After properly and timely submitting her claim to her employer’s workers’ compensation carrier, she received compensation benefits. After some time, the carrier required the employee to undergo an Independent Medical Evaluation, which concluded that she was fit to return to work. Her personal treating physicians, however, disagreed with this finding and Ms. Paolucci did not return to her position – despite being offered an alternative position within the company. 

Shortly thereafter, Ms. Paolucci filed for unemployment compensation in addition to her workers’ compensation benefits. She was awarded unemployment benefits, and the employer immediately appealed the decision. On appeal, the employer cited that she should not be eligible for benefits as she left her job due to “willful misconduct” and is therefore precluded. Specifically, the employer asserted that the worker could have returned to work (based on the IME results), and held the following: 

The claimant never made the employer aware that she could return to work. Further, the claimant did not respond to the employer’s offer of work. Finally, the claimant’s attorney told the employer to no longer contact the claimant.

On a second appeal, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania reversed the decision, and found the results of the IME to be irrelevant given the fact the treating physician asserted that Ms. Paolucci could not return to work. Further, the court found no evidence that the “employee violated a policy, work rule or reasonable expectation of employer.”

If you are facing a difficult workers’ compensation issue, do not hesitate to contact Louis P. Lombardi & Associates today at (610)239-7600.  We serve the areas of  Montgomery and Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

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