Allentown workers’ compensation and common work injuries
Each year workers in Pennsylvania report between 150,000 and 200,000 workplace injuries and illnesses, with more than 3,000 occurring in Allentown and surrounding Lehigh County. Injured employees face medical treatment bills and lost wages because of their injuries. Fortunately, employers in Pennsylvania and throughout the United States must carry workers’ compensation insurance to provide benefits for injured workers.
Like injuries outside the workplace, some work injuries are more severe than others. Generally, if you suffer an injury that interferes with your ability to do your job, you need to file a worker’s compensation claim. Sometimes employers can put an injured employee on “light duty” and give them different responsibilities they can physically handle. Other times, employees need to have weeks or months away from work to heal from a severe injury.
Pennsylvania’s Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) collects data on workers’ compensation claims, including the type of workplace injury or illness employees report. Below we cover some of the most common work injuries in major industries that lead to workers’ comp claims in Allentown and throughout Pennsylvania.
If you suffered a work injury in Allentown or anywhere in the Lehigh Valley, the workers’ comp attorneys at Munley Law are here to help you secure your maximum benefits. Get a free, no-obligation consultation today.
Allentown work injuries: Sprains and strains
According to the Pennsylvania DLI, sprains and strains are the most common work injury among all industries in Pennsylvania. Both are soft tissue injuries. Sprains refer to damage that occurs to tendons or ligaments, and strains refer to muscle damage. Sprains and strains can be minor and do not always require medical attention. Sometimes an ice pack and a little rest help injured employers recover quickly. However, severe sprains and strains are painful and often require some downtime to heal.
Two of the biggest issues with sprains and strains include the potential for doing further damage and the increased likelihood of suffering similar injuries in the future. Employees who try to cope with a serious sprain or strain without seeking medical attention because they do not want to file a workers’ compensation claim risk causing further injury to the affected area. A sprain or strain occurs when the soft tissue is stretched or pulled beyond its normal range. Continued use without proper mobilization or time to heal can lead to a painful tear in the soft tissue, which often requires surgery.
Contusions and crush injuries in the Lehigh Valley
The second most popular type of work injuries that lead to workers’ compensation claims in Allentown and throughout Pennsylvania are contusions and crush injuries. A contusion is a bruise. Bruises occur when someone experiences a direct blow or impact from another object or person; the impact damages the blood vessels right below the surface of the skin. The types of bruises that lead to a workers’ compensation claim are massive. A bruise can occur in any kind of work environment but more likely happen when heavy equipment is around, such as manufacturing and production, agriculture, and construction. Heavy machinery can cause large and painful bruises if it hits a worker. Falls are another common cause of serious bruise injuries. For example, a construction worker who falls from scaffolding will likely experience severe contusions from landing on the ground below.
Crush injuries also occur around heavy machinery. They often happen when a worker gets caught or trapped in between something, such as in between a piece of machinery and a wall or the ground, or in between two pieces of machinery. Crush injuries can be minor, but those that lead to a workers’ compensation claim are typically severe and sometimes life-threatening. Crush injuries come with secondary issues, including:
- Nerve damage
- Muscle, ligament, tendon, and other tissue damage
Allentown workers’ comp for serious cuts, lacerations, and puncture wounds
The Pennsylvania DLI reports that cuts, lacerations, and puncture wounds are the third most common work injuries across the state. Cuts refer to what people commonly think of when they injure themselves with a knife or other object that breaks the skin in a straight line. Lacerations are similar to cuts, but they are jagged; the skin rips or tears. Puncture wounds occur when a sharp object breaks through one or more layers of skin. These types of injuries can occur in any setting, but those who work in manufacturing, agriculture, construction, and other trades are most likely to suffer a cut, laceration, or puncture wound.
Cuts, lacerations, and puncture wounds are not always serious and do not always lead to a workers’ compensation claim. However, when they are large or occur in critical locations on the body, they impair one’s ability to perform work-related tasks. The most severe of these injuries create other issues. For example, a deep cut or laceration might cause nerve damage, especially when muscle, fat, or bone is exposed. Those who suffer a severe wound also risk tetanus and other dangerous infections, some of which are life-threatening.
When a dermabond or steristrips cannot repair a cut, laceration, or puncture wound, doctors often use staples or sew stitches in the wound for it to heal. These types of injuries typically leave scars. In the most severe cases, an employee might need surgery to repair the wound and potentially some sort of cosmetic surgery to reduce scarring. The exact treatment depends on the specifics of the injury.
Workers’ comp benefits for fractures and broken bones
You might think that broken bones and fractures are the most common type of work injury in Allentown, but fractures are down the list. Regardless, broken bones that occur in the workplace almost always lead to a workers’ compensation claim. Doctors have to immobilize a break, no matter how small it is. This requires a splint, at the very least, but most who suffer fractures must wear a cast for a minimum of six weeks. Severe breaks, especially when multiple fractures or crushed bones are involved, typically require reconstructive surgery. These surgeries might require doctors to insert screws, plates, pins, or a range of other hardware to rebuild and stabilize the site of the injury as it heals. In most situations, injured workers must undergo a second procedure to remove any hardware.
Even the most minor fracture can impair someone’s ability to do their job and force a worker to take some time off or a reduced schedule, leading to a workers’ compensation claim. Breaking a finger or a toe interferes with manual activities and mobility. Leg fractures require a cast and crutches, making it impossible for injured workers to do anything but desk work. Other fractures, such as broken ribs, typically require time away from work because of the pain associated with the injury. Regardless of the type or location of your fracture, if it occurred at work, it’s likely you will need to file a workers’ compensation claim to pay for your medical treatment and supplement lost wages.
Allentown workers who suffer burns on the job
The final most common work injuries in Allentown are burn injuries. Depending on the work environment, employees can suffer burns from electricity, heat, and chemicals. Medical professionals assess heat burns by degree. Even minor first-degree burns can lead to a workers’ compensation claim if they cover a large portion of the body. More severe heat burns extend through multiple layers of skin, and some even expose the bone. Burn victims who experience the most severe burns typically have to spend weeks or months in a hospital burn unit to heal. Recovery sometimes includes one or more reconstructive surgeries and skin grafts. The cosmetic aspect of burns is only one of the many complications burn victims could suffer. Sometimes severe burns lead to organ damage and cause other permanent injuries that might prevent an employee from returning to work.
Chemical burns and electrical burns are similar to the extent that they can also cause internal organ damage in addition to external physical damage to exposed areas of the body. Chemical burns are often a result of exposure to corrosive substances, including things such as:
- Ammonia, bleach, and other cleaning products
- Battery acid
- Concrete mix
Those who suffer chemical burns face loss of vision if the substance gets in their eyes. If chemicals peel the skin away from a person, skin grafts are also necessary for chemical burn victims. Electrical burns occur when someone is exposed to live electric currents, or a spark causes a fire., a common risk for those in the trades.
Other Work Injuries Lead to an Allentown Workers’ Compensation Claim
We covered the most common work injuries according to Pennsylvania’s Department of Labor and Industry. However, workers sometimes suffer more than one injury. Also, they might suffer other less common injuries, such as amputation. Toxic chemical exposure can also lead to workplace injuries. Exposure to dangerous substances can occur during one event, but they can also take place over many months or years and cause lung problems, organ damage, and terminal diseases like cancer.
We also have decades of experience handling cases involving traumatic brain injuries sustained on the job. Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) can occur after a fall, a motor vehicle accident, or after being struck with a heavy object. The Allentown workers’ compensation lawyers at Munley Law know how serious and complex these types of injuries are, and we will fight to ensure you receive the full compensation you are owed.
What Should You Do if You Suffer an Injury at Your Allentown Workplace?
Regardless of how serious you believe your injury to be, you should always notify your employer as soon as possible, making it difficult for their insurance carrier to deny a workers’ compensation claim. Other things you should do to protect yourself and give you the best chance of claim approval include:
- Take note of the circumstances of your injury if you are physically able. Were you at your employer’s office or facility, or did you injure yourself at a customer’s site or in a company vehicle? Were there any dangerous conditions that led to your injury?
- Take photos of your injuries and anything that might have contributed to the event that led to your injury.
- Seek medical attention as soon as possible. A doctor can examine you, plan a course for treatment, and give you any necessary work restrictions.
- Follow the doctor’s orders and keep all follow-up appointments. If you are not hospitalized for your workplace injury, it’s imperative that you keep all your appointments and strictly follow your doctor’s treatment plan. Workers’ comp might try to deny your claim if you don’t.
What If Your Employer Does Not Have Workers’ Compensation Insurance?
The vast majority of Allentown employers must carry workers’ compensation insurance. It protects employers from personal injury lawsuits and ensures employees get the medical treatment and financial support they need after a workplace injury, regardless of fault. Failure to carry coverage is against the law. Only the following groups have an exemption from carrying workers’ comp:
- Railroad workers
- Federal employees
- Domestic servants
- Agricultural workers who work less than 30 days or earn less than $1,200 per year
- Employers who have requested an exemption based on religious beliefs
In some cases, exempted groups have other protections that are similar but different from workers’ compensation. In other situations, employees might be able to file a lawsuit to recover damages related to a workplace injury. If your employer does not have workers’ compensation coverage, you should contact a personal injury attorney in Allentown who has experience with workplace injuries as soon as possible.
How Can an Allentown Workers’ Compensation Attorney Help?
In many situations, injured workers can file a claim, receive benefits while they heal, make a full recovery, and return to their jobs. However, this isn’t always the case. A lawyer can guide you through the claims process, but most importantly, he or she can often help injured workers receive additional compensation. Workers’ comp benefits do not cover pain and suffering and other non-economic losses associated with severe injuries, and they only pay a portion of lost wages.
Specific ways a lawyer can help after an Allentown workplace injury include:
- Helping seek compensation when an insurance company denies a workers’ comp claim.
- Identifying potential third parties who might hold some financial responsibility for injuries.
- Helping injured workers take action when an employer retaliates or threatens to retaliate after filing a workers’ compensation claim.
If you have suffered an injury in the workplace, contact an Allentown workers’ compensation lawyer for a free case review. One of our team members can evaluate your case, determine your eligibility for compensation, and guide you on the best path forward for your situation. Call Munley Law or write to us from our contact page. We are here to help you get the compensation you deserve!