Getting hurt at work is always a possibility, but of course, it’s far more likely at some jobs than others. Unfortunately, warehouse workers are at a high risk of sustaining an injury on the job. With so much equipment and heavy machinery in use at a single location, the odds of an accident inevitably rise. And advances in technology are not necessarily making things safer; in fact, Amazon warehouses in particular boast higher injury rates than most other warehouses of their kind. In 2020, Amazon warehouses in Pennsylvania reported 7.2 serious incidents for every 200,000 hours worked (a length of time that equates to 100 employees working full time for a year). This is nearly double the rate of other companies in the same state.
With all the dangers present in a warehouse, it’s crucial that employees understand their rights to workers compensation. This is especially true for residents of Hazelton, Pennsylvania, as this area alone is home to an Amazon Fulfillment Center, a UPS warehouse, a Frito-Lay warehouse and, and many more.
If you or a loved one has experienced a workplace injury or occupational illness at a warehouse job, do not hesitate to contact a Hazleton workers compensation lawyer at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys. Our experienced and dedicated attorneys are highly-skilled and ready to protect your rights. Reach out now for a free initial consultation.
What is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation, often referred to as “workers’ comp”, is a federal program within the U.S. Department labor. It is a state-mandated insurance program that offers payment to those who have been hurt or experienced an occupational disease while at work. It’s an extremely common way for workers who have been injured on the job to cover medical expenses and make up for lost wages.
Workers’ compensation can be paid out by private insurance companies, the State workers’ Insurance Fund, or self-insured employers, and most Pennsylvania workers’ are guaranteed coverage by the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act. This compensation available through the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs covers four main areas:
- Wage replacement benefits
- Medical treatment
- Vocational rehabilitation
- Other benefits
Common Warehouse Job Injuries and Accidents
One of the most common forms of injury for warehouse workers is injury that involves a forklift. In fact, OSHA reports that forklifts cause about 85 fatal accidents each year, and more than 34,000 accidents that result in serious injury. What’s more, there are nearly 900,000 operational forklifts in the US, which means that there’s approximately a 1 in 10 chance that each operating forklift will cause or be part of an accident this year.
Another common accident for a warehouse employee is being struck by an object or being caught between two objects. For instance, a pallet collapse could cause a concussion, or a worker could get a finger or hand stuck between two pieces of equipment, causing major damage.
The necessity of physical labor in a warehouse job can also lead to harm, such as a back-related injury from carrying heavy materials. In fact, many Amazon employees have cited this particular issue as a major problem in their warehouses. They report being pushed to the point of exhaustion, pain, and injury by their superiors, even when it’s clear they are unfit to continue.
Philadelphia resident Wilberte Moise told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that she was told to lift an 80 pound package while working in the King of Prussia Amazon facility. When she expressed reluctance, her manager insisted; as soon as Moise attempted the task, she took a hard fall that resulted in a torn lateral meniscus in her left knee. The injury still bothers her to this day.
Additional warehouse injuries can involve:
- Slips and falls
- Exposure to toxic chemicals or hazardous materials
- Repetitive motion injuries
- Loading dock accidents
Benefits Offered By Workers’ Compensation
One of the primary purposes of workers’ compensation is to provide coverage for medical needs that occur as a result of the accident or injury. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, these medical benefits can include the following:
- Services rendered by healthcare providers.
- Reasonable surgical and medical services needed.
- Hospital treatment, services, and supplies. Workers’ compensation provides for semi-private rooms, or for private accommodations if there are no semi-private rooms available. Costs for hospital treatment, services, and supplies may not exceed the prevailing charges by the hospital for similar treatment, services, and supplies provided to other patients.
- Prescription medicines and supplies.
- Orthopedic appliances and supplies.
Along with these medical benefits, workers’ compensation makes up for lost wages at a rate based on your pre-accident salary. If you or a loved one is employed in a warehouse and has experienced any kind of an injury, be sure to contact a Hazelton workers’ compensation lawyer at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys as soon as possible. We’re ready to begin the journey of fighting for both your financial compensation and your legal rights.
Filing for Workers’ Compensation
If you are a warehouse employee and experienced an injury while working, you are most likely entitled to workers’ compensation. The very first step in seeking workers’ compensation (after, of course, seeking medical care for your injury) is to alert your boss that you have been hurt. It’s crucial to do so as soon as possible, because waiting to report your injury can hinder or delay your ability to receive workers’ comp benefits.
If you report the injury to your supervisor within 21 days of the incident, your workers’ compensation benefits should begin from the date of the accident. After 21 days, the benefits begin from the date of the report. After 120 days, you may lose your rights to these benefits altogether.
Once your employer is aware of your injury, it is their obligation to file a First Report of Injury with the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation within three days (or 48 hours if the accident resulted in a death) in order to begin your benefits process. Your employer will also notify their insurer or insurance company, and it’s then up to the insurance company to examine the accident and injury and determine whether the claim is valid.
If the insurance company accepts your claim, you will receive a Notice of Compensation Payable, and will begin to receive workers’ compensation benefits immediately. In some cases, you will be issued a Notice of Temporary Compensation Payable, which means the insurance company has not yet reached a decision about your claim, but is willing to offer you some benefits in the meantime.
If the insurance company lets you know that your claim has been denied, you have three years from the date of the injury to file a workers’ compensation claim. Fighting back against a denied claim can be a complex and exhausting process, and you are much more likely to succeed with the help of an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer. Contact a Hazleton workers’ compensation lawyer today to begin the process of fighting for your rightful benefits.
Frequently Asked Questions in Hazleton Warehouse Workers Comp Cases
Should I File a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
Many warehouse employees are fearful of filing a workers’ comp claim after sustaining an injury or occupational illness. You may be concerned that doing so will damage your professional reputation, or that you will anger your employer and they will resist paying your benefits. But it is absolutely your legal right to file a workers’ compensation claim if you have been injured while working, and you should feel no shame in doing so.
The workers’ compensation system exists for exactly this purpose: to provide financial support via coverage of medical expenses and lost wages to employees who were injured on the job. The Munley workers’ compensation attorneys can guide you through the process from step one and help you overcome any legal challenges that may arise.
What Can I Do If My Workers’ Compensation Claim Was Denied?
If your claim is denied, there’s no need to panic. There are many reasons for a claim to be denied, and in almost all cases, this decision can be petitioned and appealed. Doing so can be a somewhat arduous process, so it’s best to approach it with the assistance of an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer.
Your claim may be denied because your employer claims there is insufficient evidence to prove that the accident and injury were work related. Perhaps the injury was not reported in time, or the claim was filed late. In any case, you may appeal. In fact, many insurance providers rely upon the notion that most people won’t want to take the time or effort required to appeal a decision.
Under Pennsylvania law, you and your lawyer have three years from the date of the injury to file a Claim Petition if your claim is denied. This petition is then assigned to a judge, and a hearing is scheduled. Ultimately, the judge will circulate a decision, and if you and your attorney would like to appeal this decision as well, you have 20 days from the time of the judge’s decision to do so. In this case, you would then file an appeal with the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board.
All of this can sound overwhelming, but it’s extremely possible with the aid of a Hazelton workers’ compensation lawyer. We are experts in workers’ comp litigation and are prepared to navigate this entire process with you.
How Much Compensation Will I Receive?
In regards to compensation for lost wages, workers comp will provide you with weekly payment. This amount does have a weekly cap, which changes each year; for 2022, this weekly maximum is $1,205 in the state of Pennsylvania. Your specific weekly rate will depend on your pre-injury salary. If you were making between $903.76 and $1807.50 a week before the accident, your weekly pay via workers comp will be 66 ⅔% (or approximately two-thirds) of your regular salary. If you made between $669.44 And $903.75 a week, your weekly pay via workers’ comp will be 602.50. And lastly, if you were making $669.43 or less per week, workers’ compensation will provide you with a weekly wage that is %90 of your pre-injury salary.
Why Do I Need a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer?
Some workers’ compensation cases are fairly simple and straightforward, and can be resolved without the assistance of an attorney. Unfortunately, these kinds of cases tend to be few and far between. There are many steps along the way at which a workers’ compensation lawyer can be helpful or even essential as you fight for compensation. The following are just a few examples of situations in which you will need a workers’ compensation attorney:
- Your employer refuses to report your accident, or drags their feet in doing so. A lawyer can step in to ensure that the process continues moving along. Your employer may be attempting to cover up some other transgressions.
- Your claim is denied, and you need to begin the petition and appeals process.
- Your treating doctor tells you to return to work before you feel ready. In workers’ compensation cases, you will most likely initially be treated and reviewed by a doctor that the insurance company provides. Because they work alongside the insurance provider, they may be inclined to rush you back to work when you know you are not fully healed.
- Your permanent disability status is contested. The amount of benefits you receive, and for how long, is impacted by whether you fall into the category of “partial disability status” or “total disability status”. The insurance provider may try to rule you as “partial” in order to avoid paying you more. If you need to contest this categorization, you’ll need a workers’ compensation lawyer.
How Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys Can Help
We here at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys are so deeply sorry that you or a loved one has experienced an injury in your workplace, but we can assure you there is hope. Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys is here to help you find a way through by providing excellent legal support and services.
The lawyers at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys are experts in all things workers’ comp and personal injury; our team consists of ten excellent, highly experienced lawyers and dozens of excellent legal support staff. Each of our lawyers has over a decade of experience, as well as hands-on trial and courtroom experience. We do not get paid unless we win your case, and we will be by your side as you fight to make things right.
If you are in the process of seeking workers’ compensation, or if you have questions about your rights to these benefits, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys. Visit our website for additional information and more frequently asked questions regarding workplace injuries and workers’ compensation.