Worker killed at Manitowoc in Shady Grove, PA

A crane accident at the Manitowoc plant in Shady Grove, PA has killed a workers and injured several others.   The accident occurred today at around 830 AM.

“There’s definitely a serious accident with a fatality involved. That’s all I can tell you at this time,” Warner said around 9:30 this morning.

The Franklin County Coroner and Pennsylvania State Police were called to the scene on the Manitowoc property that fronts Route 16 in Shady Grove, between Greencastle and Waynesboro.

Manitowoc manufactures crane in Shady Grove, Pennsylvania, formerly known as Grove Manufacturing.  In 2016, Manitowoc announced it would be closing its manufacturing operations in Manitowoc, eliminating 528 positions. Work from the facility moved to operations in Shady Grove, Pennsylvania. The Shady Grove operation employees between 800 and 900 employees.

Death on the job have been rising in recent years.  In 2013, OSHA reported 3,635 deaths on the job.  That rose to 3,728 in 2014, then to 3,751 in 2015, and 4,098 in 2016.

In Pennsylvania,  widows and children of injured workers are entitled to workers compensation death benefits.  It can be a complicated issue and the litigation that could result from the death of an injured worker can be quite complex.   At Mooney & Associates, we have a full workers compensation litigation practice.  We operate 16 offices throughout Central Pennsylvania.  Injured workers are entitled to a FREE consultation with us and can call 717-200-HELP or 1-877-632-4656.

ADA Employment Discrimination Filing Deadlines

How long do I have to file a complaint of employment discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?  The answer is — it depends on where you file?  Let me explain.

When you have been discriminated against at your place of employment due to a disability, you may have an action through the ADA.  Firs thing to know is that you can file your complaints at the Federal level with the EEOC, or the state level with the PA Human Relations Commission (PHRC), or you can elect dual filing, while you file with one.  Whether you file with one or the other, it depends on several factors and you should speak with an attorney beforehand.

There are two things you need to know right away when choosing which agency, state or federal, to make your complaint.  First, if your employer has less than 15 employees, then the EEOC is not a choice.  You must file with the PRHC.  EEOC only takes complaints under Title VII against employers who have 15 or more employees.  On the other hand, PHRC accepts complaints against employers that have 4 or more employees.

Second, the time limitation to bring a complaint are different between the EEOC and the PHRC.   With the PHRC, a claim must be filed within 180 days of the alleged act of discrimination, such as a termination, denial of employment, denial of promotion, etc . . .  In order to file a claim with the EEOC, the claim must be filed within 300 days of the alleged act of discrimination.

Now, if you miss the PHRC deadline, does that mean you are barred from bringing any complaint?  Not necessarily.  If you failed to bring a claim within 180 days, but before 300 days, you will lose your right to pursue a claim for discrimination in state court under state law, but you can proceed with the claim through the federal courts under federal law.

If you feel that you have been discriminated against at work due to a disability, contact Mooney & Associates right away.  We have 16 offices throughout Central Pennsylvania to meet at your convenience.  Call today at 717-200-HELP or 1-877-632-4656.

2018 Pennsylvania Average Weekly Wage rates released

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry has released it’s 2018 average weekly wage rates.  Your average weekly wage determines your corresponding compensation rate, the rate your would be paid each week if you were out of work for your work injury.  I recently published an article on our official Blog at Mooney & Associates.  You can see the blog post here for the new rates.

Ensuring your average weekly wage rate is calculated properly is critical to your case.  Here is why.

It is absolutely critical that your wages are calculated correctly. A small error in calculating your average weekly wage can have a significant financial impact in your case. For instance, let’s assume an individual gets hurt at work in 2018 and his wages are calculated to be $500.00 per week (AWW). That would provide a weekly disability compensation rate of 90% of $500.00 per week, which would make the compensation rate to be $450.00 per week. If your employer accepted your work injury, that is what you would receive per week while out of work. Now, say that you settle your claim for two years of disability. That would provide you a settlement of $46,800.00. Now, let’s assume that your AWW was calculated incorrectly, the insurance carrier had wrong wage information or forgot bonuses. Let’s assume then your AWW should have been $550.00 per week, instead of $500.00 per week. At $550.00 per week, your weekly disability rate would be $495.00 per week, instead of $450.00 per week. A two year settlement at $495.00 per week would be $51.480.00. When you settle your case, that is a $4,680.00 mistake. A correct calculation would be an additional $4680.00 in your pocket. Think about that. That is only a $40.00 per week mistake. That is why ensuring your AWW is calculated correctly is absolutely critical to you.

This is just another example of why treading through a workers compensation case on your own is a dangerous venture.  Getting expert advice will ensure your wage are calculated correctly, that you do not sign forms from the insurance carrier that you should not sign, that you get the medical treatment you need, and that you get the benefits the Act provides and that you deserve.  Insurance companies have their defense counsel reviewing your case, shouldn’t you be protected on your end?  Call Mooney & Associates today at 717-200-HELP or toll free at 1-877-632-4656 for a FREE CONSULTATION.

Our Top 5 Social Security Disability Posts for 2017

As we sit at the doorstep to 2018, I want to provide you the top five posts from my blog this year in Social Security Disability (SSD). These posts I chose due to traffic and due to the information we provide to clients seeking SSD benefits.  If you missed them, well, link to them here.  Our firm represents disability clients throughout all of Pennsylvania and Maryland.

That being said, here are the Top 5 Social Security Disability posts for this year.

  1. After multiple denials, you can win Social Security Benefits

You know, the younger an applicant is the harder it is to get granted social security disability benefits.  It is not that the younger person does not need the disability benefits as much as an older person.  It is just the rules of the game.  This year brought us a heartbreaking vases of an individual that clearly could not function in any employment, was under the age of 35, was homeless living along a creek, and was denied 8 previous times with multiple attorneys.  I took the case and you can further read about by clicking the story link.

2. Social Security Disability Hearings Tips

We wrote this article because many clients we represent are quite apprehensive about their appeal hearing.  They do not know what to expect and what to expect from the ALJ that will hear the case.  We offer a few tips for the hearing day in this article.

3. Why is a Vocational Expert at my Social Security Disability Hearing?

Another thing that disability clients seem to be apprehensive about is the fact that they read that a vocation specialists will be at their hearing.  They are unsure of what their role is at the hearing and why they must be there.  Here we provide a little insight into their role at the hearing.

4. Why is a Vocational Expert at my Social Security Disability Hearing?

See the above.  Client are apprehensive when being notified by SSA that they must attend a Consultative Exam.  If you are familiar with Personal Injury or Workers Compensation, it is similar to an Independent Medical Examination.  Read about it at the link above.

5. Mooney Is A Full Service Social Security Disability Practice

Mooney & associates became a full Social Security Disability practice this year.  What does that mean?  Previously, we would inform clients of the three ways they could file their application for benefits, then if denied, come back to us and we would represent them in the appeal hearing.  NOW, we do not inform then on the three ways to apply, because we can DO THE APPLICATION for them now!  Read more.

We look forward to bringing you more engaging and informative Social Security Disability content in 2018.

Our Top 5 Pennsylvania Workers Comp Posts for 2017

As we sit at the doorstep to 2018, I want to provide you the top five posts from my blog this year in Workers Compensation.  These posts I chose due to traffic and due to the information we provide to injured workers across Pennsylvania.  If you missed them, well, link to them here.

Unfortunately for me, often times I am meeting a new client, it is because they are in pain and have suffered a significant injury on the job.  I can certainly say, I spend all efforts necessary to protect my client’s rights and benefits under the PA Workers Compensation Act, and fight hard to get my clients a fair and reasonable settlement.  Besides the legal aspect of the cases, I have met a lot of good people in 2017 that work hard, very hard.  They do not want to be out of work.  They do not want to be in pain.  They do not necessarily want a settlement and have to resign their job.  They are not taking advantage of medicine or the ‘system’.  They simply want to get better and get back to work.  Unfortunately, many times, they are not able to go back to the job they were hurt at due to limitations.   So that is my rant to end 2017 — before judging an injured worker, think about it.  I’m not real certain you would want to walk in their shoes.

That being said, here are our Top Five Pennsylvania Workers Compensation posts of 2017

1. Pennsylvania Supreme Court strikes down IRE provisions in Workers Compensation Act

In 2017. the Pennsylvania Supreme Court handed down a landmark decision in the Pennsylvania Workers Compensation world.  The Court struck down the Impairment Rating Provisions of the Act, which served as an avenue to limit an injured workers benefits.  Read the article and protect your rights.

2.  In Pennsylvania, Preexisting conditions are not a bar for workers compensation benefits

This article dives in pre-existing conditions.  Often times, an injured worker may have a previous injury at the same location, arthritis, etc… They are also told by employers across Pennsylvania that they can’t file a claim because the condition is pre-existing.  WRONG!  Read the article and protect your rights.

3.  Injury Description is important in Workers Compensation

Your work injury, even if accepted, is usually just accepted as either a strain/sprain or a contusion.  The description of injury can lead to medical treatment being denied.  Many workers compensation cases in Pennsylvania are litigated over this very thing, injury description.  Why?  Because medical treatment is expensive.  Read the article and protect your rights.

4. Understaffing at Pennsylvania Nursing Homes cause work injuries

It’s a common thread in many nursing home injuries that I see in Pennsylvania.  Injuries could have been avoided by more staffing, better automation, and better safety protocols.  Instead, the injured workers, like Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA), are the ones that pay the heavy price in cost cutting maneuvers.  Read the article and protect your rights.

5. Concussions aren’t just in sports, but in the workplace too

They don’t just happen in football.  They happen all too often in the workplace.  Not all recover from concussions at the same rate.  Read the article and protect your rights.

 

In Pennsylvania, Preexisting conditions are not a bar for workers compensation benefits

In Pennsylvania, if you have a pre-existing condition and get hurt at work, you may still be eligible for workers compensation benefits.  Often, injured workers are advised by their employer that they can’t file for workers compensation benefits because they had a pre-existing condition.  That is wrong.  Period.

It is long standing law in Pennsylvania that an aggravation or exacerbation of a pre-existing condition can be a compensable work injury.

An aggravation of a pre-existing degenerative condition constitutes a compensable work injury. SKF USA, Inc. v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board (Smalls), 728 A.2d 385, 387 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1999).
To establish a compensable aggravation“the medical evidence [must] establish that the injury materially contributed to the disability rather than the disability resulted from the natural progress [ion] of a pre-existing condition.” Miller v. Workmen’s Compensation Appeal Board (Pocono Hospital) , 539 A.2d 18, 20-21 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1988) (citing Halaski v. Hilton Hotel, 409 A.2d 367 (Pa. 1979)). Whether an incident has materially contributed to the disabling injury “is a question of fact to be determined by the WCJ.” SKF, 728
A.2d at 388.
As you can see, it is well established law.  The litigation involving pre-existing conditions is quite complex.  It goes beyond just proving aggravation, but also that the aggravation is ongoing.  It will take significant lay and medical testimony.  It is critical to have a proven and experienced workers compensation attorney that understands medical evidence.  At Mooney & Associates  we have the experience and the results to prove it.
Usually when we are talking about pre-existing conditions, we frequently see conditions involving the back, knee, and shoulder.  Let me use some of my cases as examples.
Pre-existing Knee Arthritis
I had a case of an injured worker that involved  pre-existing arthritis in her knee.  She is a senior citizen.  She worked full-time for a national retailer.  Four years prior to the work injury, she had treated for knee arthritis pain, including a few injections, but had not treated in the three preceding years.  After she slipped and fell at work, she could not put weight on her knee and was unable to work.  She underwent conservative treatment regiments, such as inflammatory and pain medications, work restrictions, bracing, physical therapy, and additional injections, but all failed to relieve her symptoms.  Her doctor recommended a total knee replacement, due to the extensive arthritis in her knee.  We were unable to settle the case because of the recommendation for and need for a total knee replacement.   We went to decision and won on the merits.  The WCJ granted the claim petition and had to pay my client’s wages while out of work as well as the expenses of a total knee replacement.  She is still currently being paid wage loss benefits.
Pre-existing shoulder
Have a client that worked for the same employer for over 25 years.  He slipped and fell at work and injured his right shoulder.  After an MRI was completed, the insurance carrier denied benefits due to pre-existing right shoulder rotator cuff tears.  The tears were pre-existing, we conceded that.  It was clear by looking at the MRI that the tears were chronic, not acute.  Additionally, during medical testimony, the treating orthopedic surgeon also testified that the tears were degenerative and pre-existing.  However, the doctor also testified that his chronic tears were not symptomatic, and but for the fall, he would have remained non-symptomatic.  Prior to the fall, he never experienced any shoulder pain.  This is not all that uncommon. This gentleman never treated for shoulder pain.   Never even missed a day of work.  He had no idea or no way of knowing he had pre-existing tears.  We eventually won the litigation, the claim petition was granted, and the insurance carrier had to pay wage loss benefits, and still are today, and pay for a total shoulder replacement.  A simple rotator cuff repair could not be performed because of the extensiveness of the tears.
Pre-existing Back
I had a client that had a prior work injury from a different employer that included a low back fusion surgery in 2007.  He recovered from that surgery and had not sought low back treatment since 2008 except for an updated MRI in 2011.   My client injured his low back with a new employer in 2014,  while working at a road construction site.  Given his prior low back surgery, the insurance carrier denied his claim. I positioned his claim well through an extensive medical record review, treating back surgeon’s deposition testimony, and our clients’ testimony on his recovery from his prior injury.   Right after briefs were drafted, but before the decision was issued, we were able to secure a nice lump sum settlement for our client, plus payment and reimbursement of all outstanding medical bills related to his new low back injury.
These are just a few of many examples of cases in which I have either gone to decision or settled claims involving pre-existing conditions.  They are complex.  They involve critical medical testimony.  That’s why it is vital that if you are injured at work and believe you aggravated a pre-existing condition, that you seek an experienced and proven workers compensation attorney to handle your claim.  Don’t let your employer tell you that you can’t get benefits because you had a prior condition.   We have been in the trenches, have won these  types of cases, and settled many others like these.  We certainly aren’t hesitant to go to decision either.
Call Mooney & Associates today for a FREE consultation regarding your work injury.  We have 15 offices throughout Central Pennsylvania.  I will meet with you at the offices nearest to you.  Call today at 717-200-HELP or 1-877-632-4656.  You can also email me at mab@mooney4law.com.

Injury Description is important in Workers Compensation

Pennsylvania Workers CompOne of the more important, and often overlooked, aspects of a workers compensation claim in Pennsylvania is the description of injury.  More times than not, if you get hurt at work and your employer accepts your work injury, the description of your injury provided is nothing more than a ‘strain/sprain’ or ‘contusion’, whether it be to your neck, back, shoulder, etc. . .  Often times, it is simply not accurate.

So why is that the description provided on the PA Department of Labor & Industry forms that you get?  Could be a few reasons.  First, many insurance carries only accept sprain/strains and contusions.  Second, your actual injury may have just happened and the actual medical diagnosis is unclear.  Third, it may actually be accurate.

More than likely, the first two reasons are applicable.  Many insurance carriers do not accept anything outside those generalized descriptions.  There is a reason for that.  By accepting only generalized descriptions of injury like a strain/sprain, it provides the insurance carrier leeway in denying future medical treatment.  For example, if you have an accepted left shoulder strain, but you recently had a left shoulder MRI that indicated a rotator cuff tear, the insurance carrier may deny surgery.  They will deny surgery based on the fact that they only ever accepted a left shoulder strain/sprain, not a rotator cuff tear.    Another frequent example is a head injury.  Often times, the accepted injury for a head injury is a ‘head contusion’.  That provides leeway for the insurance carrier to deny treatment for concussion and post concussion syndrome.  They often do as well.    Continue reading

Amazon employee killed in accident at Amazon Warehouse in Carlisle

An Amazon Warehouse employee was killed in a work accident recently.

The is the second death at the Middletown/Carlisle facility since 2014.  If you recall, an employee was killed in 2014 in a pallet jack accident.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating a death at an area Amazon facility.

Devan Michael Shoemaker, 28, of Millerstown, died Tuesday of multiple traumatic injuries at the Amazon warehouse on Allen Road in South Middleton Township.

Cumberland County Coroner Charles Hall confirmed Shoemaker died after the 5:15 p.m. accident in which he was run over while helping the driver of a truck tractor hook up a trailer.

Amazon had already been warned and fined by OSHA in 2016 at it’s New Jersey facility for failure to address workplace safety concerns.  I’ve written in this issue time and time again.  Big conglomerates like Amazon consistently skirt safety issues for lower operating costs, while the employees are the ones to suffer, often from devastating work injuries, and in this case, even death.

I have represented many injured workers at Amazon in Carlisle.  With Central Pennsylvania’s warehouse growth in full swing, more and more warehouse type injuries are occurring.  Check out my previous article on common warehouse injuries.

If you work at one of the many warehouse or distribution center in Central Pennsylvania and have sustained a work injury, don’t hesitate to call Mooney & Associates to protect your right and benefits you may be entitled to under the Workers Compensation Act.  Places of employment like this often try and intimidate injured employees, downplay injuries, deny injuries, terminate employment when injured, or have injured workers sign forms quickly.   Get represented!  Call Mooney & Associates for a FREE CONSULTATION AT 717-200-HELP or 1-877-632-4656.

In Pennsylvania, do I have to work light duty when hurt at work?

Under Pennsylvania law, do I have to return to light duty when I am hurt on the job.  Why would an injured worker ask that?  Well, it isn’t that these clients are lazy, not at all.  Many times, an injured worker simply wants appropriate time to recover and heal from the work injury.

Legal ramifications for turning down light duty

Turning down available light duty is not a wise decision and can put workers compensation benefits at risk.  In Pennsylvania, your employer has the right to offer you modified duty employment.  Many employers in Central Pennsylvania do offer light-duty work assignments or alternate work programs. The critical thing to remember is that both the employer and the injured employee must act in good faith in offering and responding to an offer of light-duty work.  Failure to do so can result in a suspension or reduction in you wage loss benefits. Continue reading

Pennsylvania Workers Compensation and travel expenses to doctor

Either way you look at it, a work injury can be financially disturbing for many.  Many injured workers have their injury denied, meaning they are receiving no income while they litigate their claim.  Others have an accepted claim, but for medical benefits only, which again means, no wage loss benefits while the claim is being litigated.  Others may be receiving benefits, but at a reduced rate from their regular, average weekly wages.  Often, it causes financial hardship.

Regardless, work injuries often times require significant medical treatment.  That means trips back and forth to the doctors, to pain management, to physical therapy, and to the pharmacy.  Unfortunately, there is a misperception out there that an injured worker is entitled to reimbursement of travel expenses back and forth for their treatment.    The injury isn’t my fault, why should I have to pay for my own gas to and from treatment.  Great argument.  And I agree wholeheartedly.  However, in Pennsylvania, it is not a reality.  Continue reading