Torcomp bringing jobs to Chambersburg

TorComp, a Brazilian company, will be breaking ground on a new facility in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.  The new facility is expected to bring 73 new manufacturing jobs to Chambersburg.  The facility will be built in the Cumberland Valley Business Park at Letterkenny.

The new facility makes sense for TorComp to come to Chambersburg.  They are a major supplied for Volvo Construction Equipment.  Volvo’s North American Corporate headquarter and major manufacturing facility is base din Shippensburg, Pennsylvania.

The initial announcement came from State Senator Richard Alloway.   Alloway said,

“I led a delegation to Brazil and Chile last spring to increase Pennsylvania’s international presence and bring new job-creating projects back to the commonwealth,” Corbett said. “Today’s announcement will result in Torcomp bringing its first manufacturing facility to Pennsylvania, as well as 73 new jobs.”

Workers Compensation Judge Changes in Central Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Depart of Labor & Industry and the Workers Compensation Office of Adjudication has announced new Workers Compensation Judge appointments and changes in locations for some judges, some of which involve workers compensation practice in Central Pennsylvania.  Mooney & Associates represents injured workers are the following hearing locations:  Chambersburg, Harrisburg, Gettysburg, York, and Lancaster.  Some of the changes announced by the Department effect these hearing locations.

Here are those changes:

Harrisburg welcomes a new Judge.  We welcome Honorable Jeffrey Russell to the bench in Harrisburg.  Attorney Russell has been practicing law and workers compensation law with O’Malley & Magley out of Pittsburgh.  Judge Russell will take his seat in Harrisburg as of May 5. 2014.   He will replace Judge David Weyl.

Harrisburg will lose the Honorable Judge David Weyl.  Judge Weyl will be transferring to the Lancaster hearing office  Judge Weyl replaces Judge Michael Hetrick in Lancaster.  Judge Hetrick is transferring to Reading.

Chambersburg will welcome Judge Thomas Kutz.  Judge Kutz had been assigned for a number of years to the Pottsville hearing location.  He will be transferring to Chambersburg and is already being assigned cases in that hearing locations.  Ae we practice often in Chambersburg, we welcome Judge Kutz.   Judge Kutz will replace Judge Pamela Briston from Pittsburgh.  Judge Briston has been sharing Chambersburg cases with Judge Robert Vonada of Altoona.  However, Judge Briston will again be exclusively assigned to Pittsburgh after she wraps up her current case load.

Finally, I congratulate a former colleague, Judge Nate Pogirski, who has been appointed as a new workers compensation judge in Pottsville.

Camp Hill Walmart hiring 200

A new Walmart opening in Camp Hill, PA is hiring 200 employees.  If interested, you can apply at the temporary location for hiring located at Hartzdale Drive, Suite 110. Applications will be accepted from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

The store will be hiring both full and part time positions.

For more information, click the Walmart link here.

 

PA Uninsured Fund Held to Same Standard by Commonwealth Court

To give some background information, the Pennsylvania Uninsured Guaranty Fund was enacted into law to protect employees injured at work and the employer is uninsured.  It is a separate fund set up under the Pennsylvania Treasury.  Essentially, when an Employer is uninsured, the UEGF steps in and acts as the Employer’s insurance carrier, although,. the Fund and the Employer often have quite different interests.  Often times, I see these type of cases where there is a dispute whether an injured workers is an actually employee or a sub-contractor.

To some extent, the Pennsylvania Uninsured Guaranty Fund is held to different standards under the Pennsylvania Workers Compensation Act.   Some of thise differences are provided for in the Act.  For one, the Fund is not subject to penalties for violating the Act, unlike insurance carriers.  The Fund is not at risk for unreasonable contest fees, unlike a private insurance carrier.   These type of differences have led the Fund to believe at times that it is superior in litigation.

The Commonwealth Court recently reigned in the Fund and it’s superior attitude in Pennsylvania Uninsured Employers Guaranty Fund v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Dudkiewicz), No. 1540 C.D. 2013.  The legal issue in the case revolved around a Petition for Joinder filed by the Fund.  The rules require a Petition for Joinder be filed within 20 days from the first hearing in which evidence is provided that another party may be liable.  Petition for Joinder happens in most cases with the Fund, a tool used to bring other party(s) into the case for liability purposes.  Obviously, the Fund will want to assign liability to another party, mainly the uninsured employer(s).   Specifically, in this case, the hearing for claimant testimony, in which the claimant testified as to his employers, was held on February 9, 2010.  However, the Fund did not filed a Petition for Joinder until May 27, 2010.  That is obviously well beyond the statutory 20 day limitation.  Subsequently, the Workers Compensation Judge dismissed the Petition for Joinder for failing to adhere tot he 20 day time limit.

The Fund argued as follows:

UEGF emphasizes that it is not an insurer . . . And while UEGF urges this Court to be mindful that “it is not the entity in control of the [relevant] evidence” in this case, (UEGF brief at 27), at issue is UEGF’s obligation to seek such evidence, not produce it.

The Court responded:

Although the Act states that UEGF is not an insurer and exempts the fund from being subject to penalties, unreasonable contest fees, and certain reporting requirements, it expressly provides that the “fund shall have all of the same rights, duties, responsibilities and obligations as an insurer.” 77 P.S. §2702(e) (emphasis added). Moreover, although not an insurer, UEGF was a party to these proceedings, 34 Pa. Code § 131.5, not a bystander.  UEGF also refers to its . . . “unique role and obligations”; however, we must conclude that it is the obligation of UEGF, not this Court, to conserve UEGF’s resources. We reject the suggestion that where UEGF fails to pursue its rights in a 13timely manner, the property remedy is for this Court to disregard the policies underlying joinder practice and the twenty-day limit set forth in §131.36(d).

The opinion by the Court is a step in the right direction to hold the Fund accountable, just like all private insurance carriers.  The Workers Compensation Act is a ‘remedial’ act in nature.  The fact an employer is uninsured when a person gets hurt while working is not the fault of the injured party.   The Fund should not be permitted to use special status to get around the remedial purposes of the Workers Compensation Act.

If you have been hurt on the job, and your employer failed to carry Workers Compensation insurance coverage, do not think you are out of luck.  You can still get workers compensation benefits you are entitled to.  Call Mooney & Associates today at 1-877-632-4656, for a FREE consultation to protect your Pennsylvania workers compensation rights.

Carlisle Gingerbread Man server seriously injured

Often when you think of workers compensation, you think of lifting injuries, in which an injured worker hurts his/her back, neck, or shoulder when lifting a heavy item.  Or you think of slip and falls at work, whether it be on ice and snow or on oil or some type of moisture on the ground.  Of you hear about forklift accidents.  Or you hear about nursing assistants in nursing homes getting injured when trying to lift a patients or save a patients from falling.  Yes, those are typical injuries we see often.

Once in awhile, you hear about a work injury in the news that is unfortunate  and serious.  Such is the case over the weekend at the Gingerbread Man in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.   A restaurant server suffered sever injuries to her face after being assaulted by a customer of the G-Man.  These type of injuries are so uncalled for and unfortunate.  Please link over tot he article.  If you know or have seen this person, please contact Carlisle police right away.

Repetitive Work Injuries are real and compensable

handinjurySome of my clients heard from friends that they can’t get workers compensation benefits for their injury, because there was no specific event.  What we mean by a specific event is an injury that occurs when something specific happens at work  — you slip and fall at work, you lift something and experience immediate pain, you get

hit by a forklift, you are assaulted by a patient.  Those are specific injuries.

However, there are also repetitive injuries.  These type of injuries occur because you may do a highly repetitive job and now experience pain, numbness and tingling, or burning in your shoulder, arm, hands, and even your neck.  Nothing specific happened to you.  You’ve just increasing symptoms because of your job.  Repetitive injuries are real.  Particularly in Central Pennsylvania in Franklin, Fulton, Adams, and York counties.  We have numerous warehouses up and down the I-81 corridor.  Often, these type of warehouse jobs lead to repetitive lifting, order assembling, and other highly repetitive activities.  They can result in symptoms like carpal tunnel syndrome in your wrist and hands in which you experience numbness and tingling, like needles, tendonitis in your shoulder, numbness and tingling in your elbow.  These are very real injuries and they may very well be work-related injuries.

If you can say YES to the following three items, then you may have a work-related repetitive injury:  1) you were an employee at the time of symptoms, 2) symptoms occurred while in the course and scope of your employment, and 3) your doctor agrees that it was caused by your work activities.  It is important that if you believe you are suffering from a repetitive type injury, you must tell your employer.  Ultimately, you should tell them once you begin experiencing symptoms.  After you tell your employer, then seek medical treatment.  Finally, call Mooney & Associates right away.

One thing to remember with these type of injuries is they are usually denied by your employer and it’s insurance carrier.  They dislike repetitive injuries, despite the fact they are compensable injuries and very real.  They use several excuses, such as, you just don’t want to work,  your job is not repetitive enough, you have not been here long enough, you had that condition before you started working here, and so on and so on…  They may even send you to an IME doctor, who will more than likely say your injury is not work-related.  (You can read more about IME’s here)

Don’t get discouraged.  Don’t give up.  Call Mooney & Associates today to protect your workers compensation rights and get you the benefits you deserve.   These workers compensation cases are no different than any other work injury cases, in terms of proceedings.  However, there is specific proof needed to prove your case.  We stand ready to represent you.  Call 1-877-32-4656 for a FREE consultation or email me at mab@mooney4law.com.  I can meet you at one of our 12 convenient locations:  Chambersburg, Shippensburg, Carlisle, Mercersburg, Harrisburg, Duncannon, Halifax, York, Stewardstown, Hanover, New Oxford, and Gettysburg.

Social Security Disability and Workers Compensation — Be aware!

Recently I had a client that settled her workers’ compensation claim for a lump sum amount of money.   The Attorney that she used for her workers’ compensation settlement, which WAS NOT Mooney & Associates, failed to draft the agreement with specific social security disability offset language.  Subsequently, she received an award of social security disability benefits.  However, she soon found out her monthly benefits would be greatly reduced for a period of two years.  This can have devastating effect on an individual’s financial situation.

It is not infrequent that an individual who is seriously injured at work or at an older age where the injury has caused the injured worker to be unable to perform the type of the labor they always have, that they may become eligible for social security disability benefits.  Social Security is entitled to an offset for workers’ compensation benefits received.

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If your Attorney is not careful in how the language is drafted, such as the above example, it can have a major, substantial impact on your monthly disability benefits.  The offset requirement was adopted via a Federal Circuit Court of Appeals decision from 1989, Sciarotta v. Bowen , 837 F.2d 135 (3d Cir.1989).  It is based on the part of the social security law that you can only receive up to 80% of your average current earnings when receiving both social security disability and workers compensation benefits.  It is important to note that offset is not applicable to SSI benefits, only SSD benefits.  For an explanation on the difference of the two programs, view our article here.      

The most common way of reducing the potential offset is by reducing the lump sum award by all excludable expenses (attorney fees and future medical expenses provided) then amortizing the net lump sum award over the claimant’s life expectancy.  What is the effect if that language is not included in a workers’ compensation settlement agreement?  It can greatly reduce your social security disability payments, and for some, eliminate any payment for a period of years while the offset is paid in full.  That’s devastating and financially crippling!  It is also completely unnecessary!

At Mooney & Associates, we are vigilant in assuring that your workers’ compensation settlement is handled professionally and competently.  We provide offset social security language in every settlement agreement to protect our clients.

If you are an injured workers and have concerns, and you live in the Adams County, Cumberland County, Franklin County, Fulton County, Dauphin County, Lancaster County, or York County, call Mooney & Associates today.  Our consultations are FREE and we promise dedicated representation.    We will meet you in one of our twelve office convenient for you.  For office locations, visit us on the web at http://mooney4law.com.  For more information on Workers Compensation or Social Security Disability, link over to our website.