What Injuries Qualify for Workers’ Compensation?
If you’ve been hurt on the job, or you have a pre-existing medical condition that has been aggravated by your job duties, you may qualify to receive workers’ compensation benefits. Pennsylvania’s Workers’ Compensation Act assures that nearly every worker in our Commonwealth is covered even if your employer does not have workers’ compensation (WC) insurance. There are a variety of benefits available for hurt workers, and almost any type of injury will qualify, as we discussed in an earlier post here on the blog.
Today we’re focusing specifically on some of the most common injuries that qualify Pennsylvania workers for WC benefits, including several that may entitle you to a specific loss award in addition to payment for lost wages and medical care benefits that may be available. If you’ve experienced concussions, knee injuries that have required surgery, back and neck injuries, or any type of scarring on your head, face, or neck (including scars from surgery) as a result of workplace injuries here in the Greensburg, PA area and have not received the benefits you may deserve, we would love to speak with you here at Westmoreland Injury Lawyers. Read on for more and then get in touch with us for a free case review.
Have you been treated for a concussion sustained in a fall or other accident at work? This traumatic brain injury is unfortunately common, and because it can still sometimes occur even with the use of protective headgear like hard hats, employers need to take steps to increase safety in potentially hazardous work areas. Of course, you may suffer a concussion from an accidental fall down a flight of stairs in your office or from slipping on a wet floor in a bathroom.
You may also sustain a concussion in a car accident, and if you were on the job driving a company vehicle like a delivery truck, or driving your own personal vehicle on a work-related errand, you can likely make a workers’ compensation claim and receive benefits. Even if you are the at-fault party in a work-related vehicle accident, workers’ compensation may offer you some financial assistance for treatment of your injuries. And if someone else was at fault, you may have a third party claim against the person who caused the accident in addition to a workers’ comp claim.
If a knee injury on the job requires you to have knee surgery, you absolutely need to file a WC claim. Knee injuries are particularly common in physical labor jobs that require significant time spent lifting heavy objects and tools or simply being on your feet for many hours each day. But what if your knee surgery was prompted by a pre-existing knee problem that’s been aggravated by certain aspects of your job? Perhaps you injured your knee many years ago and it was permanently damaged, or maybe you have a genetic knee problem that requires surgical correction. It’s not uncommon. And, it’s also certainly possible that your everyday work demands have made you knee problems worse.
If you’re suffering from ongoing knee pain and you believe your job is a significant source of your problem, you should seriously consider filing a claim. In cases involving chronic pain, we find that many individuals need assistance navigating the workers’ compensation process because pain is sometimes difficult to prove. We urge you to get in touch with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney like us here at Westmoreland Injury Lawyers if you’re unsure of the process and your rights as an injured worker. And remember, as with all workers’ compensation claims, prompt reporting is key. If knee pain has become unbearable, it’s important to let your employer know that you are having an issue right away.
Back and Neck Injuries
As with knee pain and possible surgery, back and neck pain and injuries that may or may not result in surgery are common in the world of workers’ compensation claims. And while these types of musculoskeletal injuries plague manual laborers most often due to physically demanding work, they are also surprisingly common among office workers, as well.
As many of us are all too familiar with today, the modern office grind involves much sitting and desk work at computers, and that can cause neck and back injuries from strain or aggravate pre-existing conditions. If you do a lot of computer work and your workstation is not ergonomically optimized, you may be on the path to a back or neck injury. Talk to your employer about the importance of ergonomics in your office and how adjusting workstations for better comfort may reduce workers’ compensation claims. And if you’re already experiencing problems, let your employer know as soon as possible.
Head, Face, and Neck Scars
Unlike the injuries we’ve discussed so far, permanent scarring on your head, face, or neck that has been caused by a workplace injury is categorized differently and should provide you with what is known as a “specific loss” award. These specific loss benefits, which also apply to a relatively short list of other injuries, assure that you receive the maximum benefits allowed, but also have preset limits as to how long you can receive benefits. These limits are periodically reviewed and can change, but in 2018, “disfigurement benefits” that cover severe head, face, and neck scarring will pay you for a maximum period of 275 weeks. If you do sustain a serious injury that leads directly to scarring on your head, face, or neck, or requires you to have a surgery that causes scarring of the same, you would be eligible to receive these benefits whether you are able to work or not following a period of healing.
Obviously, there are many ways in which you can be injured on the job, and it’s important to reiterate that promptly reporting your injuries to your employer, including general pain in your knees, back, neck, arms, or hands that could signal a repetitive use injury or strain, is essential. Pennsylvania places filing limitations on initial claims, which state that unless the injured worker gives notice to their employer within 21 days of their injury (or the employer had knowledge of the injury), no benefits are payable before the date notice is given. And notice must be given within 120 days of injury for any compensation to be allowed.
As we’ve already discussed, the workers’ compensation process can quickly become complicated as many parties are involved in every claim – you, your employer, the workers’ compensation insurance company, doctors and other healthcare professionals, and often the state, as well. You need a tough advocate on your side, and that’s what our Greensburg, PA-area attorneys here at Westmoreland Injury Lawyers dedicate their careers to providing. If you’ve made a WC claim for any of the injuries we talked about today, or any work-related injury at all and have questions or concerns about your rights, get in touch with us today.