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Scranton Workers' Comp And SSD Law Blog

Spotlighting the dangers of repetitive stress injuries

When Pennsylvania workers think of workplace injuries that are eligible for compensation, they may think of dramatic and catastrophic injuries like electrocution, brain damage, fire damage, or more. However, some of the most common injuries are also the easiest to get and can be sustained by almost anyone in the working force. These are repetitive stress injuries.

FindLaw takes a look at what causes a repetitive stress injury (RSI) and how the trauma can impact a worker's everyday life. These disorders are considered "chronic neuromusculoskeletal disorders", meaning they can affect the nerves, muscles, and skeletal system of a sufferer. These injuries typically occur in the hands, arms, neck, and back.

Social Security benefits for cancer

Were one to ask people in Scranton what they believe would be the typical person to receive Social Security Disability Benefits, the most typical answer might be one who has suffered a severe injury. Illness, on the other hand, might not be viewed as a common cause of disability because many believe it to be possible to remain working while dealing with sickness. Yet illnesses and disorders have been recognized as being one of the primary causes of people seeking disability benefits. Indeed, the National Institute of Mental Health lists cancer as being the third most common cause of disability in the U.S. 

The Social Security Administration does indeed include cancer among its list of disabling conditions. However, certain criteria must first be met before one can qualify for disability benefits due to this disease. As is the case with all disabling conditions, one must prove that cancer (and the effects of its treatment) have prevented them from being able to work for at least 12 months (or are predicted to keep them from working for that same period of time). For cancer patients, if the length of time healthcare professionals believe the condition may be disabling is not specified, the SSA may continue to offer benefits up the three years from the date of remission. 

Bar sued after off-duty employee dies in accident

Most in Scranton might view workplace injury cases as fairly simple matters to resolve: one is injured at work, they report the incident to the employers, and workers' compensation benefits kick in. That might sound well in theory, yet in actual practice workplace injury cases can be much more complicated. Questions surrounding the circumstances of an accident will often be posed that attempt to reveal who truly is at fault, for workers' compensation providers do not want to have to pay for something they consider to not be true workplace injuries. If any issue regarding the nature of an accident arises, employers and their insurers may look to deflect responsibility to pay for it. 

Such is the claim being made by the family of a Minnesota man who died due to an injury suffered at the bar he worked for. He was assisting his coworkers in forcibly removing two overly intoxicated patrons when he fell and hit his head on concrete, suffering a severe brain injury. However, one detail of the accident has been by his employer as a reason why it is not liable for his injury expenses: he was not technically on the clock when the accident occurred. 

Some differences between workers’ comp and personal injury claims

During the winter season, many Pennsylvanians will find themselves filing injury claims for one reason or another. It could be slipping on ice, terrible driving conditions or a crash from someone suffering from seasonal exhaustion.

However, there is more than one way to file an injury claim. Most of these are filed as “personal injury” or “workers’ compensation.” Even though both of these claims involve recovering from a terrible injury, they are drastically different in terms of what the victim can receive and what they can file the claim for in the first place. Since you have a higher chance to injure yourself during or outside of work hours during the colder months, you should know the primary differences between the two claims.

Defining musculoskeletal injuries

Many in Scranton may view the definition of disabled as being open to interpretation. For example, what you believe to be debilitating, others may view as being manageable. For this reason, many of those who come to us here at Steppacher Law questioning whether or not they may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits are surprised to learn that the Social Security Administration has very strict criteria for determining whether or not you truly are disabled. Understanding these criteria may certainly influence your actions and decisions in managing your condition going forward. 

The SSA has a detailed list of conditions it maintains to determine disability. This list covers many different types of both illnesses and injuries. Among the more common types of disabling conditions is musculoskeletal injuries. If you are suffering from the effects of such an injury, then the SSA states that in order to qualify for disability benefits, your injury must impair your ability to ambulate effectively on a sustained basis or inhibit you from performing fine and gross movements for a period of at least 12 months. This does necessarily mean you have to have been suffering these impairments for a year in order to qualify; confirmation from a medical professional forecasting such difficulties for at least a year may be sufficient. 

Workplace injury? Here is what you do next

Sustaining an injury at work can happen all too easily. One day you are moving a heavy object and you throw out your back, you drop something on your foot or you cut yourself. Workplace injuries happen, but what are you supposed to do when they occur? This post will dive into the steps to take immediately after injury

 

The Fatal Four

Much of the thrill that comes from working in the construction industry is derived from using complex machinery and equipment to create foundations for massive structures. Like many of those that have come to see us here at Steppacher Law, you likely are willing to accept those risks in order to do what you love. Yet you realizing those are there is different than resigning yourself to the idea that nothing can be done about them. On the contrary, your employer is expected to do all that is necessary to protect you from any known dangers. 

In the construction business, those dangers are well-known. In fact, the details regarding on-the-job construction accidents have been so readily abundant that not only had the industry been listed amongst the most dangerous, but the common dangers that you and your coworkers face have also been identified. Four in particular stand out from among the rest. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has dubbed these "the Fatal Four" due to the fact that they accounted for 63.7 percent of all construction fatalities in 2016. They are: 

  • Falls from heights
  • Being struck by falling objects
  • Electrocution accidents
  • Being caught in or between materials and equipment

Losing a loved one in a work-related traffic crash

There are various job-related risks that workers face in many fields, but some are especially dangerous. For example, those who work with dangerous machinery or regularly find themselves on the road may have a particularly high chance of becoming hurt or losing their life in an accident. Those who drive large trucks, delivery trucks and taxis face the risk of passing away in a traffic crash on a daily basis. Sadly, these accidents take place too frequently and can sometimes prove fatal.

If you have recently lost someone you love due to a job-related traffic accident, the emotional pain you are experiencing may be unbearable. You may be devastated by the accident as well as the knowledge that is was entirely preventable. For example, some other driver’s careless behavior may have caused the crash, such as ignoring the speed limit or driving drunk. Not only can the emotional side of this loss be very difficult, but you may also be going through financial problems. From funeral costs to losing your family’s primary source of income, the financial side of fatal crashes can be extremely challenging.

How is disability determined?

If you’re pursuing benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA), you probably have questions about how your claim is determined. There are a number of factors that go into the SSA’s decision-making process and having a greater understanding of these factors will only improve your chances of success. In this case, SSA offers the following information to ensure applicants are fully aware of the process.

Work criteria

A cancer diagnosis may qualify you for SSD

A cancer diagnosis can be devastating for Pennsylvania families. If you have cancer, you may decide for Social Security disability benefits to help with expenses. At Steppacher Law Offices LLC, we help clients navigate the complex disability claims process.

The Cancer Support Community reports that your eligibility for SSD depends on the form and stage of cancer. While some individuals qualify for benefits with a cancer diagnosis, the Social Security Administration may require proof provided in the form of physicians' notes or biopsy reports. The SSA uses a medical guide called the Blue Book, available online, to determine eligibility. Hard to treat or aggressive forms of cancer may automatically qualify you for disability benefits, such as the following:

  • Pancreatic and liver
  • Brain
  • Esophageal
  • Thyroid
  • Inflammatory breast
  • Any small-cell form

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Steppacher Law

224 Adams Avenue
Courthouse Square
Scranton, PA 18503

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