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Workplace Injuries

Friday, April 21, 2017

Can I sue my employer if I slipped and fell at work?


Workers in Pennsylvania who slip and fall at work can suffer severe injuries including fractures, muscle sprains, head concussions, spinal injuries or even broken bones. These injuries can put them out of work for a while causing them to lose out on their wages.

Generally, when you are injured because of the negligence of someone, you have a cause of action against that person. You can claim full compensation for the injuries you sustained.  But does that person include your employer? Can you sue your employer for a workplace injury? The short answer is no but there are third parties you can sue and claim from.
Read more . . .


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

5 Steps To Take To Protect Your Rights When You Injure Yourself At Work

Getting up and going to work for someone else is a reality for most people in America. Our employers help us put food on the table and clothes on our backs. Unfortunately, these employers can also cause us injury. When that happens, you need to be able to protect your rights when it comes to building a workers’ compensation case.

If you are ever injured while working, taking the following steps can help you recover the compensation that you are entitled to when it comes to work-place injuries.



Read more . . .


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Maximizing Compensation for On-the-Job Auto Accident Injuries


Q: If I have a truck accident while working, what damages can I collect?

We’ve all been there. You’re traveling along the interstate, sharing the road with the big rigs, and suddenly there’s a sea of red lights ahead. Traffic is at a standstill due to another accident causing a miles long backup. It seems the bigger the vehicles involved, the longer the delays-- especially when there are tractor trailers turned over with their inventories sprawled along the roadway.

If you’re injured in a


Read more . . .


Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Perils of Office Work


What are the common injuries associated with office work?

Some workplaces in Pennsylvania are known to be risky for workers such as coal mines, construction sites, manufacturing plants, refineries and factories. Many workers in these industries suffer injuries from falls, falling objects, equipment failures, explosions and exposure to hazardous substances. When it comes to office work, however, many people think the greatest risk is aggravation from coworkers and superiors. But work related injuries also frequently occur in offices. That's the bad news.


Read more . . .


Friday, March 11, 2016

The Danger of Weed in the Workplace

Can I file a workers' comp claim if I get stoned at work and have an accident?

According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, the use of marijuana is having an impact in the workplace. As the number of pot smokers rises, more employees and job applicants are testing positive in drug-screening tests. If you fail a test as part of a pre-employment requirement, you will not be hired. If you are required to take a drug test at work and the results are positive, you could be disciplined or even fired. Ultimately, weed in the workplace is a safety issue.

The Dangers of Marijuana at Work

The primary reason for prohibiting use of marijuana in the workplace is because smoking grass on the job has been linked to job accidents and injuries stemming from the short-term effects of being high such as impaired body movement, difficulty thinking, memory problems and altered senses. In short, there is a link between illicit drug use and workplace accidents. While smoking pot mat be reasonably safe in a controlled environment, the fact that workplace safety may be jeopardized my individuals being stoned at work raises concerns.

This is especially an issue in work situations that involve the use of machinery or driving vehicles.
The impact of marijuana use on transportation safety is a clear and present danger. Some studies demonstrate the drug impairs attentiveness, motor coordination, and reaction time, and affects an individual's perception of time and speed. Moreover, pot smoking impacts driving performance and increases the risk of collisions, some of which can be deadly. Marijuana use may also trigger problems with attendance and worker productivity, which is becoming a greater issue as weed becomes more socially acceptable stemming from the liberalization of marijuana laws. That being said, marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I drug with a high potential for abuse.

Workplace Substance Abuse Policies

In light of the increased use of marijuana, it is crucial for employers to establish a strong workplace substance abuse policy. While smoking weed has been legalized in some states, employers may still ban the drug at work. Moreover, federal laws require certain industries and contractors to prohibit illegal drug use. Employers not covered by these federal laws still need to provide employees with a safe workplace. Of course, employees have a responsibility as well.

While workers who have an accident or are injured at work are entitled to compensation, if the injury was the result of drug or alcohol use, your claim will be denied, and you face the possibility of being disciplined or losing your job. If you were injured at work in Pennsylvania through no fault of your own, however, you should consult with an attorney who has expertise in workers' compensation law.


Thursday, January 28, 2016

Workers' Compensation Board Blames Negligence for Worker's 40-foot Fall

What benefits are available to a worker who is paralyzed following a work-related accident?

Paralysis is one of the most severe workplace injuries an employee can endure, and is likewise compensated as such. In most cases, a paralyzed worker will be unable to ever return to the jobsite, a condition referred to as the “permanent loss of function.” In the event a workplace injury causes the permanent loss of a body part or extremity – either due to paralysis or dismemberment – the worker will likely receive total disability payments, equaling two-thirds of the worker’s average weekly wage at the time of the incident. If, after 104 consecutive weeks of benefits, the worker is still unable to return to the job, he or she will need to obtain a medical evaluation which must reflect a “profound” disabling condition.

West Chester man paralyzed by workplace negligence

In a truly horrific set of circumstances, a West Chester man was recently paralyzed from the waist down after falling 40 feet from a makeshift platform. Unbelievably, the man’s supervisor ordered another worker to lift him nearly three stories – using a rough-terrain front-loader, which ultimately toppled and caused the resulting 40-foot fall.

Following the incident, the employer was subjected to an immediate inspection by OSHA, which revealed widespread instances of negligent, dangerous workplace protocol. First, the company was cited for routinely misusing front-end loaders for unapproved uses – including, apparently, moving employees from one area to another. Further, the company was cited for failing to provide fall protection, and failing to properly train workers to recognize the instance of fall hazards. Likewise, the employer was penalized for haphazardly using unneeded equipment to weigh down scaffolding bases, a maneuver further solidifying the obvious patterns of carelessness and recklessness within the management of construction projects.

In a statement by the Philadelphia OSHA office, "[t]his tragedy could have been averted if these two companies had not been so careless about worker safety….A young man is now confined to a wheelchair because of the disregard of the employers at this site for the safety and well-being of their workers. Their actions are inexcusable and will not be tolerated.."

If you have suffered a workplace injury, a qualified attorney can help you obtain compensation.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

General Information about Workers Compensation in Pennsylvania

I was injured at work. Do I have the right to be compensated for my injuries?

The right to be compensated for workplace injuries is encapsulated in the Workers Compensation Law. Pursuant to this law, employers are required to provide compensation for injuries which occur on the job. The types of expenses covered include medical expenses, wage-loss compensation, and if the injury is fatal, death benefits.

What type of injuries are covered? Pennsylvania law requires employers to be responsible for compensating for illness, injury, or disease, except when such is intentionally caused by the employee or caused by the employee’s violation of the law. On a more morbid topic, if the injury is one that severs a body part from one’s body, the employer is required to compensate the employee for the loss of that part. Occupational diseases are generally covered if caused by, or aggravated by, employment.

It is important to note that the employer’s responsibility to compensate the employee for injuries is contingent on the employee notifying the employer that such an injury has occurred. Failure to notify one’s employer in a timely fashion can eliminate the employee’s right to benefits.

The employee has the right to choose the healthcare provider, except in instances where employers have posted an exclusive list of accepted health care providers. Employees should verify coverage before undergoing treatment to avoid out-of-pocket expenses.

If there is a dispute with the employer, cooperation is recommended. If such communication is unsuccessful, the dispute may be forwarded for a hearing before an administrative judge.

It is important to recognize that professional representation at such a hearing can be crucial to the accurate resolution of the claim. The employer and insurance carrier will surely be represented by experienced counsel, and without corresponding representation, the employee is at a disadvantage. In order to obtain highly skilled legal counsel for such a hearing, or for any and all interaction with the workers compensation system in the greater Philadelphia metropolitan area, call Louis P. Lombardi II & Associates toll free at 888-818-4343 or locally at 610-239-7600 to speak to an experienced attorney today.


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Employer Blocked From Disclaiming Worker as Employee; Worker Entitled to Compensation Benefits

What are my options if my employer is claiming I am an independent contractor? Can I still receive workers’ compensation benefits? 


One of the most pivotal issues in a workers’ compensation case is the classification of the injured worker as either an independent contractor or employee. If classified as the former, it may be more difficult to obtain workers’ compensation benefits, especially within the construction industry. However, other employees are generally presumed covered by an employer’s workers’ compensation plan provided certain criteria are met. 

Take, for instance, a recent case involving a painter and an employer who had placed an advertisement in the local newspaper seeking painting services on an upcoming construction project. In that case, the painter arrived at the jobsite with his own truck, tools, and supplies – which is an important factor in considering a worker’s status (i.e., does he supply his own equipment?). 

Shortly thereafter, the employer stated that the painter would need to sign a document prior to beginning the job, and would be paid at a rate of $100.00 per day. However, the document establishing the relationship as contractual (as opposed to employment) was never actually signed.  Thereafter, the painter sustained severe injuries on the third day of work when he fell from a roof. 

The painter made a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, to which the employer objected on the grounds that the painter was misclassified as an employee. The employer also asserted that there is no legal requirement that an independent contractor agreement must be signed prior to a contractor beginning work. The court disagreed. 

As a starting point, the court reviewed the language of the applicable workers’ compensation regulation which states “[A]n individual who performs services in the construction industry for remuneration is an independent contractor only if . . . [the individual] has a written contract to perform such services.” Taking the language at face value, the court held that at no point in the short-lived, three-day work relationship did an agreement exist between the employer and the painter. And, even if the painter eventually signed the agreement (which he has denied), this does not alter the employment relationship as it existed in the first three days prior to the injury. 

If you were recently injured on the job and would like to discuss your rights and obligations under the law, please do not hesitate to contact the Pennsylvania workers compensation attorneys at Louis P. Lombardi, II and Associates.  We serve the areas of Montgomery and Bucks County.  Call us at  (610) 239-7600. 
 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Off-duty Worker Prevails in Obtaining Workers’ Compensation Following Unsuccessful Rescue Attempt of Fellow Laborer

Can I collect workers’ compensation benefits if I am injured at work, but not technically “on the clock?” 


As the name suggests, workers’ compensation benefits are reserved for those who are injured while engaged in an employment-related activity. The concept draws a clear line between work-related injuries versus those that occur during personal pursuits – the latter of which are not covered. But how does the law treat that thin grey area in which a worker – who is not technically “on the clock” – is injured on the jobsite? As the following story details, these cases are decided based on a thorough analysis over whether the victim was acting within the “scope of employment” at the time of the injury, and not whether he was actually being compensated at the precise moment of the accident. 

Off-the-clock worker prevails following rescue attempt

In July, 2010, an Allegheny County sewage plant worker rushed to the aid of a fellow employee after the employee fatally fell into a concrete pit on the jobsite. Not realizing the futility of his efforts, the plant worker descended into the pit – along with several other workers – to try and rescue the employee, to no avail. On the way out of the pit, the worker was overcome by methane gas, and fell from the ladder injuring his left leg, knee, foot, ribs, back, head and lungs.

In the days following this fateful fall, the injured worker filed for workers’ compensation benefits, which were initially granted by the Workers’ Compensation Board. The employer and its insurance provider immediately appealed the decision to the Commonwealth Court, asserting that a rescue attempt is not an employment duty, and should therefore not be compensated under the terms of the workers’ compensation policy. More specifically, the employer alleged that the victim was not even assigned to work anywhere near the pit, and had stepped outside the scope of his employment just by being in the area. More succinctly, the employer asserted that “his compulsion to act as a Good Samaritan was not employment-related….”

Fortunately, the Court held in favor of the victim and ultimately decided that “[a]ttempts to render aid to another do not, in and of themselves, constitute an abandonment of employment.” In a victory for Pennsylvania’s workers, this holding stands for the notion that the “scope of employment” standard is heavily fact-driven and must be applied subjectively to each situation, regardless of whether the worker was on-the-clock at the time of the injury. 

If you are having difficulty with a workers’ compensation issue, please do not hesitate to contact the Montgomery and Bucks County, Pennsylvania attorneys at Louis P. Lombardi, III & Associates by calling (610)239-7600 to discuss your case today. 


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.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court Ruling Limits Subrogation of Workers’ Compensation Claims Against Negligent Third-Party

What happens if I am injured at work, but my injury was caused by the negligence of another worker? 


Workers’ compensation coverage offers a sense of security to workers across Pennsylvania. However, these claims can quickly become marred by procedural complexities and conflict with the insurance company – as in a recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court case involving an injured worker whose accident was caused by the negligent acts of a co-worker or third party entity. Prior to this case, Pennsylvania laws were somewhat unclear as to the rights and obligations of a workers’ compensation insurer when the payee was actually injured by someone else. However, the holding in Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. v. Domtar Paper Co. et al. shed some interesting legal light on the issue – much to the dismay of both insurers and employers, who came out primarily on the losing end. 

Facts & Procedure of Domtar

The Domtar case began in 2009 when an employee for a trucking company known as Schneider National fell in a parking lot leased by paper company Domtar Corporation. The employee filed a workers’ compensation claim with Schneider National, and was paid over $30,000 for his injuries. In turn, Schneider National, through its insurer Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, alleged that Domtar was negligent in its maintenance of the parking lot, resulting in injury to the employee. However, the employee did not individually pursue a claim against Domtar and refused all attempts both by Liberty Mutual and Schneider National to file a negligence lawsuit against the paper company. 

As a result, Liberty Mutual filed a claim against Domtar itself, alleging negligence resulting in injury to the employee. In response, Domtar asserted that the insurer had no right to file an independent claim for damages on behalf of the injured employee who did not pursue his own right to file an action. The trial court agreed with Domtar, and the case was appealed to Superior Court, which also agreed. 

As a last resort, Liberty Mutual filed an appeal with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which affirmed the lower courts’ rulings for several different reasons: 

• Both Liberty Mutual and Schneider National failed to get the employee’s cooperation in the matter. In other words, it is technically not their fight. 
• Liberty Mutual did not properly “perfect” the subrogation (reimbursement) claim, nor did it follow proper procedural frameworks to pursue its assertions. 

As a result of Domtar, Pennsylvania precedent stands (somewhat) clearly for the notion that an insurer may not pursue reimbursement of a compensation claim without the involvement of the actual injured party – and it better follow proper procedures when it does. 

If you are having a difficult time with your workers’ compensation claim or appeal, please contact the Montgomery and Bucks County workers compensation attorneys at Louis P. Lombardi II & Associates by calling (610)239-7600. 

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