Philadelphia, like many cities, is bustling with businesses, industries, and service sectors that employ thousands of individuals. While every job comes with its inherent risks, certain hazards could lead to injuries. When such misfortunes occur, most employees in Pennsylvania believe their only remedy is through workers' compensation. However, at times, workplace injuries might open doors to more comprehensive claims. At the reputable law firm van der Veen, Hartshorn, and Levin, we've often observed and guided clients through these nuanced scenarios. This blog post seeks to clarify the circumstances under which an injury could lead to more than just a workers' compensation claim.
Types of Workplace Injuries
Philadelphia is a major city with a diverse economy spanning various sectors like healthcare, education, manufacturing, construction, and services. Consequently, workplace injuries can range from minor cuts or strains to severe injuries or illnesses. Here's a closer look at some of the most common types of workplace injuries in Philadelphia:
Philadelphia's older infrastructure and varying weather conditions can contribute to slip and fall accidents. Whether it's a slippery floor, uneven surfaces, or poorly maintained pathways, these incidents can lead to injuries like fractures, bruises, or even traumatic brain injuries.
2. Machinery and Equipment Injuries
Factories, warehouses, and construction sites are commonplace in the city. Accidents involving heavy machinery, tools, or equipment can lead to crushed limbs, cuts, or more severe injuries.
3. Repetitive Stress Injuries
With a significant portion of the population working in offices, repetitive stress injuries are common. These are conditions developed over time due to repeated motions, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, resulting from continuous typing or mouse use.
4. Vehicle-Related Injuries
Philadelphia's streets see a lot of traffic, both vehicular and pedestrian. Delivery drivers, taxi drivers, and others whose jobs involve driving can suffer injuries from vehicle collisions. Similarly, workers struck by a moving vehicle can sustain serious injuries.
Lifting, pulling, or carrying heavy objects can lead to overexertion injuries. These are common in sectors like retail, construction, and warehousing.
6. Occupational Diseases
Workers exposed to harmful chemicals, toxins, or environments can develop diseases over time. This includes conditions like mesothelioma from asbestos exposure or respiratory issues due to inhaling harmful substances.
7. Falls from Height
In jobs that require working from ladders, roofs, or scaffolds (common in construction or maintenance work), there's a risk of falling from height, which can result in severe injuries or fatalities.
8. Cuts and Lacerations
Improper training, lack of protective gear, or mishandling tools can lead to cuts and lacerations, common in manufacturing, culinary, or construction sectors.
9. Workplace Violence
Incidents of altercations, whether verbal or physical, between employees or with outsiders can lead to injuries. These are prevalent across various sectors, including healthcare, retail, and services.
10. Struck by Object
Falling objects, especially in construction or warehouse environments, can pose a significant risk. Workers can suffer head injuries, fractures, or bruises if struck by an object.
Understanding the various types of workplace injuries in Philadelphia is essential for both employees and employers. It helps in promoting safer work practices, adopting preventive measures, and ensuring that injured workers receive the right care and compensation.
When to Consider a Personal Injury Claim
While workers’ compensation serves as a safety net, providing benefits to those injured on the job, it doesn't cover all damages, especially non-economic ones like pain and suffering. Here's when you might consider a personal injury claim:
1. Third-party Liability: If your injury was caused by someone other than your employer or a co-worker, like a contractor or a faulty product manufacturer, you might have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit.
2. Employer's Intentional Misconduct: In rare cases, if the employer intentionally causes harm, you could pursue a personal injury claim.
3. Denied or Inadequate Workers’ Comp: If your compensation claim is denied or the benefits provided are not sufficient, seeking the counsel of a personal injury attorney can help.
4. Absence of Workers’ Compensation: Not all employers in Pennsylvania offer workers' compensation. If you're injured and your employer doesn't have this provision, a personal injury claim might be your best bet.
Steps to Take for Both Scenarios
Workers' compensation is designed to protect employees who sustain injuries while on the job. If you're injured at work in Philadelphia or elsewhere in Pennsylvania, it's essential to follow specific steps to ensure you properly file for and obtain the workers' compensation benefits to which you may be entitled. Here are the recommended steps:
1. Seek Immediate Medical Attention
Your health is paramount. If you're injured, see a medical professional immediately. It's essential for your well-being and provides a medical record that can be crucial for your compensation case.
2. Report the Injury to Your Employer
As soon as possible after the incident, inform your supervisor or human resources department about the injury. In Pennsylvania, you typically have 120 days to report a workplace injury, but it's best to do so promptly to avoid potential complications.
3. Document Everything:
- Take note of how the injury occurred.
- Gather names and contact information of witnesses.
- Take photographs of the injury and the accident scene, if possible.
- Keep a diary or log detailing your recovery process, medical visits, and any workdays missed.
4. Obtain a Copy of the Accident Report
Your employer should complete an accident or incident report. Ensure you get a copy for your records.
5. Seek Medical Treatment from an Approved Provider
For the first 90 days after reporting your injury, you typically need to see a healthcare provider from your employer's list of designated providers (if they have one). After that period, you can choose your own doctor.
6. File a Workers' Compensation Claim
If your employer doesn't voluntarily start providing benefits after you report your injury, you may need to formally file a claim. This process involves submitting a "Claim Petition" to the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.
7. Seek Legal Counsel
Workers' compensation laws can be intricate. If you face any challenges, such as a denied claim, it's advisable to consult with an attorney specializing in workers' compensation. They can guide you through the appeals process, if necessary.
8. Attend Any Required Medical Examinations
Your employer or their insurance company might request that you undergo a medical examination with a physician of their choice. You must comply with this request.
9. Participate in Mediation or Hearings (if necessary)
If there's a dispute about your claim, you might be required to participate in mediation or attend hearings before a workers' compensation judge.
10. Continuously Update Your Records
Always keep records of ongoing medical treatments, expenses, and any changes in your health condition related to the injury.
11. Notify Your Employer of Any Changes
If your medical condition improves and you can return to work (even with restrictions), inform your employer immediately. Similarly, notify them if your condition worsens.
12. Follow All Deadlines and Requirements
The workers’ compensation process has various deadlines, from reporting injuries to filing claims or appeals. Always stay informed and adhere to these deadlines.
Remember, while workers’ compensation operates on a no-fault system (meaning you're typically eligible for benefits regardless of who caused the injury), it's essential to be proactive and informed throughout the process to ensure you receive the benefits you deserve.
Contact an Experienced Workplace Injuries Lawyer at van der Veen, Hartshorn and Levin for a Free Consultation About Your Case Today
Workplace injuries are unfortunate and often overwhelming. Understanding the avenues for compensation and justice can be confusing. While workers' compensation is a fantastic provision, certain situations demand a broader legal perspective.
If you or someone you know has faced workplace injuries in Philadelphia or throughout Pennsylvania, remember that the law firm of van der Veen, Hartshorn, and Levin is here to help. With our experience and expertise, we'll ensure you’re on the right path to getting the compensation and justice you deserve.
Call us today for a free consultation, and let’s ensure that your rights as a worker are upheld and honored.