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Articles Tagged with Workers’ Compensation Act

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many employees have switched from working at their offices to their homes. People have been concerned about the future of their company, other workers, and their safety. For many decades, Workers’ Compensation has provided medical benefits and wage reimbursements for employees who were injured on the job. The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act extends their eligibility to people who were injured while working remotely at home.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were approximately 2.8 million non-fatal injuries and illnesses from the workplace in 2018. In fact, the National Safety Council states that an employee is injured on the job every 7 seconds. Based on the statistics, people can potentially continue to suffer injuries, despite working at home. As previously mentioned, any injury or illness that occurs as a result of work may be able to be compensated. However, it can be difficult for employees to provide sufficient evidence to confirm that they were injured on the job. It is even harder to provide credible evidence that an injury can be compensated while being away from the office.

In the case of Verizon Pennsylvania v. Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board, an employee was injured while on the job at her home. As described in the case, an employee was working from home on the second level of her house. She received a phone call from her company, and she decided to go to her home office on the first level. However, she fell going down the stairs. Once she filed a Workers’ Compensation claim, her employer denied liability and claimed she was not working at the time. Eventually, a court responded that the injury would be compensated under the Workers’ Compensation Act. On the contrary, there can be other instances in which people are unable to be compensated for their injuries. In order to receive Workers’ Compensation, a person must be an employee, and their company must have Workers’ Compensation Insurance. The qualifying person must also have an injury or illness that occurred as a result of their work. The injury must also comply with the state’s regulations for reporting a case and Workers’ Compensation claim.

An independent medical examination (IME) is a medical evaluation performed on an injured worker by a doctor at the request of the employer/insurance company.  It is done to show that a work-related injury no longer exists, that it has decreased in severity, or that the injury isn’t actually work-related.

It is probable that at some point an injured worker receiving workers compensation benefits will be asked to undergo an IME.  Under Pennsylvania Workers Compensation Laws, if you are receiving benefits for a work-related injury your employer/insurer can request you to be examined by a doctor in an attempt to limit or eliminate those benefits.  The employer/insurer is entitled to have the injured worker undergo an IME every 6 months.

If you are requested to attend an IME it is mandatory that you do so.  If you do not attend, without reasonable cause or excuse, your benefits can be denied during the period of your refusal to attend and possibly forfeit your future benefits.

A backover incident occurs when a vehicle is backing up and hits a worker who is standing, walking, or kneeling behind the vehicle.  Backover fatalities and injuries are most prevalent in the construction industry.  While many people only think of construction workers being struck by passing motorists, road workers are also at risk of being killed or seriously injured by construction vehicles.  The biggest contributing cause to backover accidents is that rearview mirrors or backup cameras on vehicles have blind spots.  With large vehicles such as dump drunks commonly found on construction sites those blind spots are significantly larger than your everyday car.

These incidents can be prevented but still happen far too often.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 326 backover fatalities from 2011 to 2015.  Dump trucks were the construction vehicle involved in the most backover accidents.  With the right training, proper equipment, and maintenance, backover injuries can be avoided.  The following are some of the common causes of backover accidents, and some tips on how they can be prevented.

How do backover accidents occur?

The winter season has arrived in Pennsylvania and the nasty weather that it brings.  Winter weather presents many hazards for workers including slippery roads/surfaces, strong winds and low temperatures.  The dangers are significantly more prevalent for those employees who work outdoors in the winter season.  However, you don’t need to work outside to suffer a winter related workplace injury.  Slip and falls can happen in numerous places including the parking lot or walkways coming into your building.

It may be tempting for workers to “work through it” or “gut it out” but lengthy exposure to wet, cold, and windy conditions, can be hazardous, even if the temperatures aren’t below freezing.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor there were 42,480 work injuries involving ice, sleet, or snow in the United States in 2014.  Pennsylvania was the 2nd highest state in terms of those injuries with 2,390 (behind only New York).

 

In a recent decision the Pennsylvania Supreme Court found that the use of American Medical Association guidelines to determine whether an injured employee is partially or totally disabled violates the Pennsylvania Constitution. The decision ends a practice that had been in place since the Workers’ Compensation Act became law over 20 years ago.

Since becoming law in 1996, the Workers’ Compensation Act allowed employers to require an injured employee receiving workers’ compensation benefits to have an “Impairment-Rating Evaluation” (IRE) by a doctor. Doctors doing IREs were required to use AMA guidelines to determine the amount the employee is impaired. Impairment ratings were from 0% to 100%, with 0% being entirely unaffected by the injury and 100% being affected to the point of being unable to work.  If the employee was found to have an impairment rating of less than 50%, their employer could request to have the employee’s disability status changed from total to partial, reducing the duration of workers’ compensation benefits to no more than 500 weeks.

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