Workplace Injuries are on the Rise.

A recent report from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics showed that there’s a long way to go when it comes to workplace safety. From 2015 to 2016, there was a seven percent increase in fatal injuries and, for the first time in nearly a decade, workplace fatalities surpassed 5,000. As reported by the Insurance Journal, this is the third consecutive annual increase in workplace fatalities and the largest increase since 2008.

Here’s how the statistics panned out. Of the 5,190 deaths reported in 2016, transportation incidents were the leading cause of death, followed by workplace violence. There were increases in fatalities from exposure to harmful substances or environments (22 percent) and in deaths related to overdoses (at least 25 percent). There was also an increase in the number of overdoses.

Fatal injuries were up in various industries, too, including leisure and hospitality which, with an increase of 32 percent, reached an all-time high. The logging industry also recorded an industry high at 135.9 deaths per 100,000 workers. Protective service occupations, such as law enforcement, experienced a 32 percent increase in fatalities.

“America’s workers deserve better,” noted Loren Sweatt, deputy assistant secretary for the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA). She noted that the government will use a combination of enforcement, compliance assistance, education, and training and outreach to help combat these increases.

If you or a loved one was injured in a work accident in Pennsylvania, or if a loved one was killed, there are actions you can take. Even though workers injured on the job often turn to workers’ compensation, if that injury resulted from a defective product or someone’s negligence, you may also be able to recover lost wages or medical expenses through a personal injury lawsuit.

Contact us to learn more: send us a message online or call 215-751-0100.

Injured PA Workers May Receive More Benefits

A recent ruling by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court changed how injured workers are evaluated, opening the way for extended workers’ compensation benefits. “The court’s decision eliminated the practice of using the American Medical Association guidelines to place a cap on benefits paid out to severely injured workers,” reported the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Until now, workers’ compensation law allowed companies to revisit injuries two years later and evaluate them as a percentage based on the AMA guidelines. If an injury fell below the 50 percent threshold, companies could reduce or cap the payments.

It’s important to note that a work injury doesn’t always fall solely within the realm of workers’ compensation benefits: if the injury happened because of a defective product/equipment or someone’s negligence, you could receive damage awards for medical costs, missed work or pain and suffering.

At Shaffer & Gaier, consultations are always free. Contact us online or call 215-751-0100, and we’ll discuss the details of your case.

Faking Workplace Injuries – Why it’s a Bad Idea

Workplace Injury Attorneys in Pennsylvania and New Jersey

When the physical or mental demands of a job become more than we can bear, it’s not uncommon to daydream about winning the lottery or finding a “dream” job” that will magically make our lives better. Unfortunately, frustration with work or unhappiness in one’s personal life leads some people to fake a workplace accident in the hopes of getting rich quick and quitting work. Some may think it’s unlikely they’ll get caught or, if they do, it’s a minor offense. In reality, faking a workplace injury constitutes insurance fraud.

Faked Job Injuries and Insurance Fraud

Recently, Attorney General John J. Hoffman of the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor announced the indictment of a 31-year old Perth Amboy man on charges of insurance fraud. According to the indictment, the Middlesex County man faked an accident at his workplace in order to receive over $500,000 in medical benefits to cover injuries he sustained prior to his employment.

Vinny Curbelo, the man under indictment, also received more than $55,000 in temporary disability benefits over the course of a two-year period following his faked accident. Mr. Curbelo worked at an auto body shop and is alleged to have stolen roughly $17,000 from the bank accounts of the body shop as well. The defendant faked his accident by pretending he fell at work, filing claims for his injuries under his employer’s worker’s compensation insurance.

Worker’s Comp Fraud – A Criminal Matter

Mr. Curbelo is charged with second-degree healthcare fraud, second-degree theft by deception, second-degree attempted theft by deception, second-degree insurance fraud, second-degree computer criminal activity, and third-degree theft by unlawful taking. What is important to remember here is that faking a workplace accident can lead to multiple charges and, depending on whether a computer was used, funds wire or transferred, or Social Security benefits received, potential federal charges as well.

Insurers have a Number of Investigative Resources

Getting away with insurance fraud after a faked workplace accident isn’t as easy as it may seem at first. Insurers use investigative resources that check up on employees that allege they’ve been injured. They check an employee’s use of social media for any evidence their injuries are not as serious as they claim, observe employees in public places to determine if they’re faking an injury, and may periodically request a medical exam to verify an injury claim.

Contact Philadelphia Workplace Injury Attorneys Shaffer & Gaier

If you’ve been injured in a workplace accident or have questions about whether or not you have legitimate grounds to file a worker’s compensation claim, contact workplace injury attorneys Shaffer & Gaier today. We offer a free initial consultation. To set up an appointment, call our Philadelphia office at 215-751-0100 or our Haddonfield, New Jersey office at 856-429-0970.

Who Is Responsible After a Construction Site Accident?

It might seem obvious after a construction site accident – file a workers’ compensation claim and that’s it.  However, a workers’ compensation claim may not fully protect your legal right to full and fair compensation after a construction site accident.

Generally speaking, an injured worker is prohibited from filing any type of private lawsuit in addition to filing a workers’ compensation claim.  However, construction site accidents are one category of accident where that prohibition does not always hold true.

If an individual or a company other than the company that employs the injured worker was fully or partly responsible for causing the accident, then the injured worker may be able to file a private lawsuit against that person.  This legal concept is known as third-party liability.

Examples of construction site accidents in which the injured worker may have the right to file a third-party liability claim include:

  • Another subcontractor on the site fails to install proper safety and warning signs, leading to a serious trip and fall accident
  • Another subcontractor hires a worker without sufficient experience, and that worker injures another by performing sub-par work
  • A worker is seriously injured in a fall due to defective fall prevention safety equipment
  • One worker is assaulted by another worker who was hired without a basic background check, which would have revealed multiple felony convictions for violence at the workplace
  • A construction site worker is injured by a forklift driven by an operator without minimum training

If you are being asked to work on a construction site with known safety hazards, you may want to consider filing a safety complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

If, however, you have already been injured on a construction site, then it is highly advisable to seek advice from experienced personal injury lawyers.

Contact Shaffer & Gaier

To set up a free initial consultation with knowledgeable personal injury attorneys after a construction site accident, contact our office online, call our Philadelphia office location at 215-751-0100, or call our New Jersey office at 856-429-0970.

Injured in a Car Accident While Working? It’s More Complicated Than You Think

On-the-job car accidents present unique legal issues.  What comes to mind as important actions to take following a car accident that happened while you were working?

  • Go to the doctor?  Absolutely.
  • Get receipts for your health care insurance company?  Yes.
  • Notify your private car insurance company?  Yes.

But did you consider the following:

  • Inform your employer you were hurt
  • File a workers’ compensation claim
  • Consult a personal injury attorney

Depending on the circumstances of the accident, you may need to file additional claims in order to achieve all the compensation you are entitled to.  You may have rights that are not covered by either your car insurance policy or workers’ compensation.  A knowledgeable personal injury attorney can explain all the benefits you may be entitled to and help you file necessary claims.

If the car accident was caused in whole or in part by an individual or company unassociated with your own employer, then workers’ compensation may not fully cover your lost wages and medical costs.  Your personal injury attorney can advocate on your behalf and file a private lawsuit, if necessary, to obtain additional compensation from the third party who was involved in the accident.

Another reason to retain a personal injury attorney in the event of a workplace car accident is that multiple insurance companies are likely to become involved after the accident.  You may need to file claims with more than one insurance company, and you may receive a demand for reimbursement from one insurance company – you could even be served with a lawsuit yourself, demanding reimbursement or charging you with causing the car accident.

Contact Shaffer & Gaier

To set up a free initial consultation with knowledgeable personal injury attorneys regarding a workplace car accident, contact our office online or call our Philadelphia office location at 215-751-0100, or our New Jersey office at 856-429-0970.

Workers’ Compensation Claims – Ten Common Mistakes

After a workplace injury, a workers’ compensation claim can provide much-needed financial assistance. Avoid these common mistakes, however, to maximize the likelihood of success with your workers’ compensation claim. This blog post lists five common mistakes. Stay tuned for a second article listing five more common workers’ compensation claim mistakes.

  1. DO tell your doctor you got hurt at work.
    You may think your doctor doesn’t need to know, or that it complicated things unnecessarily. Your doctor needs to know so that he or she is prepared when the workers’ compensation insurance company calls.
  2. DO report your injury even if you think your health insurance will cover all your expenses.
    Health insurance definitely does not cover lost wages, which is one of the major categories of expenses covered by workers’ compensation insurance. Workers’ compensation is better than health insurance coverage for workplace injuries for other reasons, too, including lack of a deductible and coverage of expenses that most health care policies do not pay.
  3. DO report even if you didn’t miss work.
    Workers’ compensation pays more than missed wages. A properly filed and qualifying claim will also pay other costs like medical care, travel costs to receive care or fill prescriptions. Furthermore, a seemingly minor injury can worsen with time, and you could miss out on critically important benefits if you don’t report the original injury.
  4. DO report even if you think the incident was your fault.
    First of all, you might be wrong. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney reviewing your claim and the incident may determine that responsibility lies elsewhere. Also, the very purpose of the workers’ compensation system is to allow employees to get financial compensation for on-the-job injuries without having to prove fault, except in cases where the employee’s extreme negligence or purposeful misconduct caused the incident.
  5. DO report even if the workplace injury “just” worsened an existing condition.
    Workers’ compensation may cover injuries that make an existing injury or medical condition worse. These are legally and medically complex cases and it is wise to seek guidance from a knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible after the incident.

What are the next five most common workers’ compensation claim mistakes? Stay tuned.

Contact Shaffer & Gaier

To set up a free initial consultation regarding a workers’ compensation claim, contact our office online or call our foreclosure hotline at 855-289-1660. Or, call our Philadelphia office location at 215-751-0100 or our New Jersey office at 856-429-0970.

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