I had a fall at work. Should I file for workers comp?

I had a fall at work. Should I file for workers comp?

When it comes to falls, the Bureau of Workers Compensation (BWC) has requirements that have to be met in order for the accident to qualify for coverage. Just being on the clock or at your employer’s location is not enough.

Trip and Fall Injury

Trip and fall injuries can happen no matter what type of occupation you have and are especially common. When you trip, the body typically falls forward. You tend to use your hands and knees to brace your fall. Therefore, a trip and fall tends to cause injuries in the hands, knees, face, or wrists. This is different from a slip and fall. (Read more about the differences here.)

Even if your accident and the resulting injury doesn’t seem serious, it’s still a good idea to get it examined by a doctor and to report the incident to your supervisor. Failure to do so may jeopardize ability to get Workers’ Compensation benefits for this injury in the future.

Trip and fall accidents may require medical attention and time away from work. If this has happened to you, consider filing for Workers’ Compensation to help pay for your medical treatment and related expenses.

Common Causes of Trip and Fall Injuries

Many types of soft tissue, bone, and nerve damage from trip and fall injuries can take weeks or even years to present themselves and you’ll need to have the medical evidence and paperwork to back you up in a Workers’ Compensation claim.

The most common causes include:

  • Tripping on wires or debris
  • Tripping on uneven concrete or pavement
  • Falling or tripping due to damaged work equipment or unkempt property
  • Falling from height (fall from scaffolding or other work equipment)

Trip and fall injuries in the workplace can have serious consequences. If you’ve experienced a trip and fall injury on the job and are having trouble paying for medical bills or making up for last wages, pursuing a Workers’ Compensation claim may help you stay financially afloat.

In a time that’s probably already confusing and stressful, it’s important that you follow these steps:

  • report the incident to your supervisor
  • see a doctor as soon as possible for treatment of injuries
  • write down your account of the event that led up to the accident and what occurred afterward
  • make a list of possible witnesses

Getting Your Workers Comp Claim Approved

You have to know the reason you fell. Simply reporting that you fell at work won’t be enough to get you workers’ compensation benefits. You also have to have suffered a fall that was somehow related to your job. If you fell because you were texting and walked off a curb…chances are that’s not going to be covered. If you fell because there was equipment being improperly stored and lose cables caused you to trip and fall, well, that’s a valid case.

If your fall at work was because an altercation with a co-worker turned physical, you likely will not be covered because workers compensation does not cover injuries stemming from personal disagreements. If you fell because you were drunk or high at work, you will not be eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits because you were doing something that was not within the scope of your job. (Read more about drug use and workers comp claims here.)

If I was traveling for work and fell, can I get workers comp?

Let’s say you’re on your way back to the office after a business meeting but then make a small detour to stop by the grocery store and get injured in the process, you’re not eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Once you veer off the path and embark on an errand that is not related to your job, workers’ compensation will not cover your injuries because this was no longer related to your job duties.

The difference between your claim being approved or denied often lies in the details. If you are still unsure if your injuries will be covered, call attorney Thomas Marchese. Workers Comp is all we do. The discussion is confidential and without obligation. Let’s get started.

LESSON LEARNED: If you are injured at work; don’t wait to file.

LESSON LEARNED: If you are injured at work; don’t wait to file.

Former Minnesota Vikings defensive lineman, Alapati “Al” Noga, 53, is not eligible for workers’ compensation benefits according to the state’s top court, following repeated head trauma that he claims caused a dementia diagnosis.

The Minnesota Supreme Court filed an opinion on July 24th reversing a Workers’ Comp Court of Appeals ruling that Noga was entitled to permanent and total disability benefits. Noga joined the Minnesota Vikings as a defensive lineman in 88 and played 73 games between then and 1992, then went on to play for the Washington Redskins and Indianapolis Colts.

The court found that Noga didn’t satisfy the statute of limitations to file a claim and, as a result, was denied. It further noted that at the time he played with the Vikings, scientists hadn’t yet discovered the connection between head injuries and long-term neurological disorders.

State law says that the timeframe to determine or recover benefits for injured employees is 3 years following the employer making a written report of the injury to the commissioner of the Department of Labor, but is not to exceed six years from the date the injury occurred.

Noga filed a workers’ compensation claim back in 2001 in Minnesota for his orthopedic injuries related to his time playing with the Vikings. He was reviewed by a doctor in 2003 who wrote months later that Noga’s orthopedic issues and neurological issues, which included blackouts and headaches, may be attributed to his injuries acquired while playing football.

Noga’s claim was eventually settled and he received benefits for the orthopedic issues. Because he knew about his neurological symptoms in 2004 and because the Vikings were made aware of them as well, the 6 year timeframe to file a claim started, a compensation judge determined, and both Noga and the Vikings agreed to that fact.

However, Noga had argued that because the Vikings and its Doctors treated his headaches with pain relievers at the time he was playing for the team, they waived the statute of limitations because they acknowledged then that he had a health issue stemming from the injuries. The Vikings argued against this assessment, and the court inevitably sided with the team.

The attorneys representing Noga said while they respected the court’s decision but were disappointed by it.

Noga testified that he’d tried to keep some of the head injuries to himself when he was playing because staff would respond to his concerns saying, “You’re always hurting.” He said he was later told by team doctors to play through the pain.

At the time, the NFL didn’t have a protocol in place for dealing with head injuries or possible concussions.

In the years since then, Noga has experienced several other conditions including gout, continued orthopedic issues, chronic pain, drug abuse, sleep apnea, depression, and neurological issues. He was even declared legally blind in 2009. In 2011, a doctor diagnosed Noga with dementia but said she couldn’t rule head injuries as the primary cause.

Noga’s lawyers later stated “The workers’ compensation system was adopted to provide compensation and care for injured workers, under today’s decision, many professional athletes in this situation will not receive that compensation and care. “

In Ohio, the amount of time injured workers have to file a workers comp claim is one year from the date of the injury or death. For workers’ comp claims involving occupational disease, you have 2 years to file a claim.

If you or someone you know has been injured at work, discuss it with workers comp Attorney Tom Marchese. The call is free.

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Hurt at work? The importance of reporting every bruise.

Hurt at work? The importance of reporting every bruise.

When someone is injured on the job, all too often, the focus is on the most severe parts of the body hurt, while the minor aches and pains from other parts of the body are ignored. However, in a workers’ comp claim, it’s extremely important to report every ache, bruise, or swollen body part no matter how minor it may seem. Here’s why…

The human body is interconnected. When you fall, you might land on your knee, but your hands could have eased the impact, which can cause shoulder and arm pain down the line.

Or, if you injure your back, the nerve pain and/ or damage can cause problems in your legs. It might be a day or two before you feel any symptoms in those other areas, but these areas can get worse over time and require additional medical treatment.

It’s important in a workers’ compensation claim to document every part of the body that was affected by the accident no matter how small it might seem. It’s more difficult to try and convince an insurance company that another body part was also injured in the same accident if it wasn’t documented within a few days of the accident.

What’s In The Injury Report Matters

This rule is important to remember when filling out your workers’ compensation claim form, accident report at work, and any forms you’re given at the medical office you visit after the accident. All too often, I read emergency room reports where an injured body part is left out.

Hospitals are busy places and not everything is documented with 100% accuracy, but employers may use this to discredit your injuries. So, make sure to tell the medical professional you are dealing with every ache and pain you’re feeling.

 

Contact Us With Questions

If you have any questions about a new pain or problem that developed after your injury it’s always best to contact an attorney. We have years of experience and know the right questions to ask to ensure that you receive the full coverage, you are entitled to for your injuries. Call Tom Marchese today.

I was hurt at work and tested positive for pot, What now?

I was hurt at work and tested positive for pot, What now?

Medical marijuana is a hot topic throughout the nation right now. While there has been great strides in the legalization of marijuana for the treatment of medical diagnosis, there has also been much debate about its use during activities such as driving, working and testing in professional sports. Naturally one of the debates involves workers compensation. 

Is testing positive for pot enough to disqualify an injured employee from receiving workers’ comp benefits?

James Hahn, 32, worked at the County Juvenile Detention Center when he suffered an injury to his right shoulder and neck while subduing an unruly, combative teen. After realizing the injury was worse than he initially thought, he reported it to his employer in a timely manner, four days later to be exact.

He was then given a post-accident drug screen on the same day he reported the injury. He also had a second screening the following day. Both drug tests were positive for marijuana. Hahn never disputed the test results. He had a prescription given to him by his doctor to treat his anxiety and insomnia. He assumed this wouldn’t be an issue when it came time to collect benefits.

The BWC found there was no evidence presented to show Hahn was high on the day he was injured, nor was there any evidence to show the marijuana in his system was the “major cause” of his injury. But the BWC denied his workers’ comp benefits anyway.

Medical Marijuana Law and Workers Compensation.

In 2016, the Ohio General Assembly set up the framework to legalize medical marijuana in Ohio, effective Sept. 8, 2018. It was approved for certain medical conditions, including chronic pain, PTSD, and traumatic brain injuries. At this time, the only legal forms of medical marijuana will be edibles, oils, patches, plant material and tinctures and vaporization. 

The impact of the new law on the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) and its programs is limited although it expressly states that an employee whose injury was the result of being intoxicated or under the influence of marijuana is not eligible for workers’ compensation.

Specifically:

  • An employer is not required to accommodate an employee’s use of medical marijuana;
  • The law does NOT prohibit an employer from refusing to hire, fire, or taking an adverse employment action because of a person’s use of medical marijuana;
  • The law specifies that marijuana is covered under “rebuttable presumption.” This means that an employee whose injury was the result of being intoxicated or under the influence of marijuana is not eligible for workers’ compensation regardless of whether the marijuana use is recommended by a physician;

While the law does not specifically address reimbursement for medical marijuana recommended for injured workers, Ohio law already has rules and statutes in place that limit what medications are reimbursable by BWC to those that are approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration. Marijuana has not been approved by the FDA and remains a Schedule I illegal drug under federal law, therefore does not qualify for a reimbursement.

Open workers comp claim? What you post on social media could cost you.

Open workers comp claim? What you post on social media could cost you.

Social media connects more and more people every single day. The growth of social networks like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and SnapChat is creating an environment where people are comfortable sharing every aspect of their day to day lives.

In this modern era, social media in the workplace is common, as employees often check their accounts frequently throughout the day. However, it’s important to exercise restraint regarding what you post, especially if you have an open workers’ compensation claim.

How what you post can affect your workers comp claim.

To better understand the effect it can have, we first need to understand what workers’ compensation is. Workers comp is essentially an insurance that a company carries which pays an employee’s wages if they get injured on the job. When an employee is injured, they can make a claim against that insurance. The payment is intended to help the employee offset any lost wages while they’re unable to work.

Each state has its own set of regulations that govern how the process works, however, there are a few mistakes to avoid after getting injured on the job regardless of where you live. Having an open workers’ compensation claim doesn’t prohibit you from posting on social media, but you should be cautious about what you post.

It’s important to keep in mind that the insurance company paying your claim, as well as its lawyers, are always on the lookout for workers’ compensation fraud, where an employee lies about how an injury occurred or the severity of the injury to collect a check without working.

As long as your claim is legitimate, you probably don’t have anything to worry about. However, those who submit claims and then engage in physical activities that demonstrate that their claim is questionable are the ones at risk.

These are the people who do something like:

  • Claiming a back injury that prevents them from lifting heavy objects, then posting photos of themselves skiing on vacation.
  • Claiming an injured hand that prevents them from performing work duties, then posting photos of themselves doing things like throwing a baseball or digging holes in their garden.
  • Claiming an injured foot then posting that they just finished running a 5K race.

It may sound silly but you’d be surprised how frequently it happens. An open workers’ comp claim doesn’t mean you can’t play sports, just think about what message you are sending if you’re posting about it.

Even when your claim is completely valid, it’s still wise to watch what you’re posting on social media. Misunderstandings can occur very easily and it would be a major inconvenience to need to look for personal injury lawyers simply because you made an ill-advised social media post.

Sometimes, it’s just better to NOT post on social media at all.

There are several things to avoid posting once you’ve submitted a claim. One type of post that can cause the most significant issues is anything related to physical activity.

For example, if you’re receiving workers’ compensation and are under doctor’s orders to minimize physical exertion, you definitely don’t want to post any pictures, videos or comments about hitting the gym or playing sports. The insurance company could see that and deny your claim or even charge you with fraud, claiming that you clearly exaggerated your injuries or that you weren’t making an effort to get better.

Posting photos or videos of yourself going on vacation is also a bad idea.

While it’s not necessarily prohibited for you to go on vacation during your claim, it can arouse suspicion. You also shouldn’t post about any work you’re doing even if that work isn’t physically demanding. The insurance company will argue that if you’re healthy enough to work elsewhere, you’re healthy enough to work anywhere.

When you suffer an injury, it’s normal to want to post about your recovery on social media to keep your friends and family in the loop. While this is fine, keep in mind that you don’t want to give the workers’ compensation authorities one story, and then provide a different story through your social media accounts. If there’s contradicting information, then you won’t be seen as trustworthy anymore.

Be smart, not paranoid.

You don’t need to be paranoid, but you should always think before you post and consider how your posts could be interpreted by your employer or the insurance company that’s paying your claim.

Social media posts cause misunderstandings all the time, but in situations like this, a misunderstanding could be extremely costly for you and could even harm your reputation. Being cautious about what you post while you have an active claim is well worth it.

Final Thoughts.

Being aware of your audience is always important when posting on your social networks. By submitting a workers’ compensation claim, you add the insurance companies and their attorneys to your audience.

Even if you protect your posts with permissions, it’s still possible for your network to share your status updates, photos, and videos. Even another employee could screen capture your photo and send it to your boss.

To avoid any misinterpretations, just be cautious about what you post on social media during your claim period.