Articles Posted in Workers’ Compensation

It is very possible that you may not know exactly what a judge means when he or she refers to an “error of law” in a legal ruling. Frankly, for most folks, there’s no reason why you should. What you should know, however, is that there are many details that can make or break your case, or make or break your opportunity to get a new hearing of your claim. That is true in many areas, including workers’ compensation. To make sure you get the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve, be sure you have a skilled Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorney on your side.work injury

As an example of how the process can work, look at the recent case of K.H.B. While K.H.B. was working at her job as a director of operations, she suffered a spinal injury. That injury required lumbar spinal fusion surgery. K.H.B. began receiving workers’ compensation benefits, but, in 2014, the employer sought to cut off those benefits. The employer succeeded, and K.H.B. returned to work.

In March 2015, the employee hurt her back again. She promptly filed a request to reinstate her benefits. This time, the judge rejected her claim. The judge concluded that K.H.B. had not sufficiently proved that she suffered a new work injury. The employee appealed but was not successful at first. She eventually took her case all the way to the Commonwealth Court, where she was able to obtain a new hearing.

workers compWhen you receive a decision from the workers’ compensation judge in your benefits case that is unfavorable, it is important to know how to proceed. The law may provide you with certain avenues to continue your efforts to obtain benefits, including appealing the decision made by the workers’ compensation judge. Prompt action is necessary if you decide to appeal, however. The statute of limitations only allows you a limited time period in which to file your appeal. If you file after the deadline, you may lose regardless of the strength of your arguments. A skilled Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorney can handle your case and ensure that all of your filings are submitted in a timely fashion.

An example of just how serious even small degrees of tardiness can be is the recent case of V.S. V.S. worked in the concrete business, removing molds from concrete pieces after those pieces were cast. In December 2015, the worker allegedly hurt her back while on the job. Four weeks after her injury, she filed a claim seeking workers’ compensation benefits. At the woman’s benefits hearing, a doctor testified that the woman did not suffer a workplace injury and could continue working without any restrictions. The worker’s doctor, however, asserted that an injury had taken place and that the woman needed certain restrictions.

The workers’ compensation judge assigned to the woman’s case concluded that the worker hadn’t suffered a traumatic work injury, but merely sustained a back strain/sprain based on “the repetitive physical activities in her work” and had fully recovered within less than five months.

Reciprocating SawIf you have suffered an injury at work that has left you disabled (and unable to work), even if that disability is only temporary, it is undeniably a stressful time for you. You may reasonably be concerned about continuing your career and continuing to earn an income. An award of workers’ compensation benefits may be an important aid. You workers’ compensation case, then, is obviously very important to you, so make certain you have an experienced Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorney on your side.

There are many things that go into a successful workers’ compensation claim hearing, and with which your worker’s compensation attorney can help. Take the case of Steen. Steen was a skilled craftsman who performed carpentry, flooring, and plumbing work for his employer. One day, while using a sawzall with a six-inch blade to cut floor joists, the blade pinched, jumped, and hit the worker’s right knee. Although Steen originally addressed the wound with a first aid kit, he later began experiencing great pain and eventually ended up in the hospital, where he underwent surgery on the knee.

The craftsman filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. In many workers’ compensation cases, much of the evidence that the judge will have with which to decide your claim will come from doctors – both yours and those retained by the employer. Achieving a successful result can often depend on getting medical evidence that is sufficient…and sufficiently persuasive.

police carWhen you suffer an injury at work, it is stressful and unsettling. You may be concerned about your future income if your injury has left you unable to work. It is important to understand that there are options out there. Your workplace injury may entitle you to receive workers’ compensation benefits. Some people may be entitled to select “Heart and Lung Act” benefits instead of workers’ compensation. Still others may be allowed by the law both to obtain Heart and Lung benefits and also an award of damages from a civil lawsuit. Each different avenue for getting the financial recovery you need will depend on the specific facts of your case. Make sure you know what all of your options are by talking to an experienced Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorney.

One example of how this works was the case of E.T. E.T. was a police officer for the City of Philadelphia. While on duty one day in May 2009, she suffered serious injuries in a vehicle accident. The employee accepted what’s known as “Heart and Lung Act” benefits in lieu of workers’ compensation benefits. The employer paid her almost $15,800 in Heart and Lung salary continuance benefits and an additional $8,300 in medical benefits.

Along the way, E.T. decided to sue the people responsible for the auto accident that injured her. The case went to arbitration and the arbitrator awarded E.T. $71,000 in damages. After E.T. won her arbitration, her employer went back to the workers’ compensation judge and asked for reimbursement.

HipWhen you seek to receive workers’ compensation benefits, there are several key hurdles in your case. There is your original claim and an award of benefits. After that, you face another important hurdle if your employer makes a request to cut off your benefits. At all of these steps, it is very important to make certain you have a knowledgeable Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorney on your side to ensure that you get all of the benefits that you deserve.

Marguerite was an employee who succeeded in obtaining benefits and overcoming an employer’s request to cut off those benefits after approximately 12 months. Marguerite worked at a county jail in western Pennsylvania. During a scuffle, an inmate and two co-workers fell onto Marguerite, injuring her right knee. The fall left the employee with torn cartilage in her right knee. That tear eventually required surgery, which took place eight months after the accident.

According to Marguerite, the right knee injury wasn’t her only harm. The fall also caused injuries to her right hip, right side, low back, and left knee. She allegedly complained of hip and groin pain right after the accident. Additional medical treatment eventually revealed torn cartilage in the employee’s hip. Marguerite’s doctor diagnosed the hip cartilage as being a result of (or a condition aggravated by) the workplace accident.

baggage handlerIn many workers’ compensation cases, both sides may have medical experts, and these opposing doctors’ testimony may be the key to succeeding or not. Having a doctor whose testimony is believable and persuasive is essential. Whether it is accumulating and presenting expert witness testimony or some other variety of important evidence, a knowledgeable Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorney can help you make the compelling presentation you need for a successful result.

A recent example of a worker with persuasive medical expert evidence, who used that evidence to win his case, was Michael, a ramp agent/baggage handler for a major airline. Michael had held this job for 35 years when he was hurt in 2014. Originally, the handler simply listed the new injury he suffered in 2014 in his workers’ compensation claim. The law, however, gives you the opportunity to amend your claim in certain situations, and Michael took advantage of this, amending his claim to assert that the 2014 injury was an aggravation of a pre-existing injury, namely his avascular necrosis and early degenerative joint disease of the right hip.

One of the vital things that you have to prove in any workers’ compensation claim is that the injury you suffered was work-related. To support this assertion, it often helps to have medical expert evidence. Michael used his treating physician, who testified that the pre-existing avascular necrosis contributed to the fracture of the thigh bone that the handler suffered in 2014.

Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation BenefitsWhen you are injured and successfully pursue a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, that may not be the “end of the line” for your case. Your employer may choose to make attempts to have your benefits cut off. In order to do that, though, the employer must persuade the judge that a change has occurred in your medical condition and that this change means that you are able to return to work. Whether you are pursuing your claim for benefits or opposing an attempt to terminate your benefits, it helps to have experienced Pennsylvania workers’ compensation counsel fighting to protect your rights and benefits.

The case of Adrian serves as an example of what an employer has to do to get a termination of a worker’s benefits. Adrian was hurt while on the job in Philadelphia. She suffered cervical, dorsal, and lumbar strains due to a vehicle accident that occurred while she was on the job. Adrian filed a claim in 2012, and the workers’ compensation judge awarded her benefits.

Some time later, the employer filed an action seeking the termination of Adrian’s benefits, but the judge refused to end the benefits. In 2014, the employer filed another request to end Adrian’s benefits. This time, after the worker underwent an independent medical exam, the judge concluded that the woman had fully recovered from her accident-induced back injury and was capable of returning to her pre-injury job.

workers comp caseWhen you pursue a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, your employer will likely oppose your claim aggressively. This may include challenging your testimony as well as the testimony of your medical experts. You should prepare to be ready for the vigorous opposition you will face. A knowledgeable Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorney can help you strengthen your case and present a persuasive claim.

In your workers’ compensation case, your medical expert may be one of the keys to your success. In the case of Donna, a patient care technician at a hospital in western Pennsylvania, she sustained an injury while she was helping an obese patient to the bathroom. The patient, while attempting to stand to travel to the bathroom, fell. That caused both women to collapse, with Donna hitting a nearby wall. Initially, the injury was thought to be limited to the technician’s left shoulder, where she had suffered a strain.

Donna, however, actually experienced pain in her whole back and left shoulder. Just a week after starting physical therapy, she began noticing problems in her lower back. The technician’s doctor performed x-rays and eventually diagnosed her with nerve inflammation, muscle strain, and a disc protrusion in her lower back.

x-raySometimes, when you’re hurt at work, it can be pretty obvious that your injury was work-related and that you potentially have a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. Other times, however, the facts surrounding your injury may not be so clear. Regardless of the details of your injury, if you’ve been hurt at work, you should reach out to an experienced Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorney to discuss your case and make sure you are fully protecting your rights.

Nicole’s workplace injury case was actually two, one of which was somewhat unique. The transit authority cashier was visiting the restroom when she noticed a cockroach on her shirt. Not unlike many of us, Nicole freaked out, panicking, thrashing, and twisting to try to get away from the bug. The next morning, with the adrenaline long gone, the employee noticed a throbbing in her leg and a large lump on her left knee.

The cashier also had another problem:  she had begun experiencing pain and numbness in her right arm. Beginning in the fall of 2013, Nicole began seeing a doctor about both her knee and her wrist issues. Regarding the woman’s knee, the doctor diagnosed her as having suffered a work-related sprain/strain and an aggravation of a pre-existing degenerative knee condition. The doctor also diagnosed the woman with a wrist sprain/strain and carpal tunnel syndrome.

airportIn employees’ workers’ compensation cases, there are certain commonplace and frequently used arguments that employers will deploy in an effort to succeed and avoid paying benefits. One of these is that the employee’s injury did not take place in the “course and scope of her employment.” That legal language means that the worker wasn’t actually “on the job,” or doing any action that benefited the employer, when the accident happened. There are various ways allowed by the law to still recover an award of benefits even if you were not “on the clock” when your accident occurred. For advice about these and other workplace injury issues, talk to an experienced Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorney about your case.

One employee who faced this “course and scope of her employment” argument in her case, and overcame it, was Betty, a Philadelphia-based flight attendant working for a major airline. One January night, after completing her shift traveling to Miami and back, the flight attendant caught a shuttle bus to the employee parking lot. As Betty tried to put her suitcase on the luggage rack, her right foot hit water and slipped out from under her. That caused her left knee to buckle. She then fell backward, crushing her left foot underneath her.

Five months later, the flight attendant filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. The flight attendant’s employer argued that she was not acting in the “course and scope” of her employment when she was on the shuttle bus, so she was not entitled to benefits. The judge in Betty’s workers’ compensation hearing, however, ruled in favor of the flight attendant. The judge concluded that the flight attendant was injured on her employer’s premises, that her presence on the shuttle bus was required by the nature of her job, and that her injury was caused by the condition of the bus.