The digital era has changed our lives in countless ways. In what would have been considered sci-fi fantasy just a few years ago, telehealth is now emerging as a way to provide healthcare services to those in the workers' compensation system.
It was not long ago when a $10 million workers compensation claim would have been shocking. Now $40 million for a claim is nothing more than noteworthy. According to a new study by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI), there were 10 of these so-called "mega claims" of $10 million or higher in 2016, which is the most since 2001.
Different businesses have different workplace rules involving horseplay. This can depend on the tone set by ownership or management, perhaps it is tied to the type of work involved, or maybe the employees created their routine. Regardless of the origin, there still may be expectations -- an impromptu dance party in a hospital operating theater will be frowned upon, but it may be an accepted everyday occurrence at a popular restaurant.
New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has quickly become one of the most talked about figures on Capitol Hill. Advocates like her aggressively liberal point of view and believe that her savvy use of social media is an effective way to reach young voters and energize the base. Detractors, some of whom are long-serving Democrats, think that the 29-year-old politician is pushy and does not understand how things work inside the Beltway.
The federal government shutdown that began at midnight on December 22 is only a partial one, but it will directly and indirectly affect many of the services the government provides. The good news is that Pennsylvania state workers' compensation claims will not generally be affected. Those whose Federal workers' compensation claims are approved will continue to receive their benefits, but those whose applications need to be processed will likely have a long wait.
An injured worker receiving workers' compensation will sometimes return to work for light duty if there is a role he or she can perform. Generally speaking, the injured worker must get approval from a doctor before going back to work, assuming the light duty role fits within his or her medical restrictions. If the doctor approves the return to work, the worker will have to show up or risk having workers' compensation benefits suspended or modified.
Workers who suffer injuries while they are working should be able to turn to workers' compensation for benefits. This is a special insurance that employers are required by law to purchase to protect themselves from having to pay out-of-pocket when a worker is hurt at work. The benefit to workers is that the insurance will cover their medical bills related to the incident. The workers' comp insurance will also provide income benefits for missed wages if the wage loss is related to the work injury.
There are several key differences between personal injury suits and workers' compensation claims. The main distinction is that a party must be at fault if there is to be personal injury claim, such as a driver who causes a vehicle accident or a faulty product. A workers' compensation claim, on the other hand, is not fault based but it must happen in the course of doing work. Since there does not have to be anyone at fault, the injured person does not have to prove that an employer or co-worker was negligent to receive benefits.
No matter what job they are doing, workers face a host of hazards when they are performing their job duties. Employers ideally should take steps to identify hazardous conditions and determine how to minimize them. When employers fail to minimize the hazards, workers can suffer. But, unfortunately, employees can be injured even when employers do everything they can to minimize potential risks.
Sometimes, workers are skeptical of letting their employer know about an accident that caused an injury. There are many reasons for this but many are concerned with what the employer might do after the report is made. Just to be clear: Employers can't retaliate against employees just because of an injury or accident report and subsequent workers' compensation claim.