Many Pennsylvanians may not realize that the American Medical Association's Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment are used to determine their workers' compensation benefits. Since these guidelines are updated and changed from time to time, a person who suffers a work-related injury or illness that makes him or her eligible for disability benefits needs to make sure that his or her benefits are being paid in accordance with the correct version of the AMA guidelines. While it might seem like the most current ones would be applicable, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania just ruled differently.
Traumatic brain injuries are notoriously difficult to deal with because the human brain is still shrouded in a great deal of mystery. Neurologists and other kinds of scientists are always studying the brain in the hopes of helping those with these kinds of injuries lead more rounded lives. Another reason for such in-depth study is determining the causes of brain injuries as well as what factors mean a greater risk, both for the Pennsylvania workforce and other residents of the state.
When Pennsylvania workers are injured on their jobs, there are more problems to worry about many times than just the medical issues. Financial issues can also be a problem, especially if the worker is out of work for a significant period of time. That's where workers' compensation comes in, though.
If you have ever been injured on the job or become sick because of the work you do, you know that workers' compensation laws are not always clear and concise. They are full of pitfalls that can make it difficult, if not impossible, to claim your injury or illness. One of those injuries could very well be a crush injury.
If you're injured on the job in Pennsylvania, you may want to pick out your doctor rather than taking one that the company or insurance company directs you to. Are you allowed to choose your personal doctor or is this choice made for you by those who are footing the bill though workers' compensation?
Sometimes it seems as if almost every company in almost every industry has to be constantly policed if they are to treat their employees lawfully, particularly when it comes to safety. If it does, it could be because we work with injured people a lot, so we don't get to see all the good companies who are doing their best.
Sometimes, employers and workers' compensation insurers don't agree with an employee's claim. They may believe an injury didn't actually take place at work, or that an illness wasn't caused by a workplace hazard. They may try to blame the sick or injured employee. They may even deny the worker was actually an employee and claim he or she is a contractor. Or, they may simply dispute the amount of benefits the worker deserves.
Sometimes, a workplace injury or illness is so serious that it causes a permanent disability. If it meets the Social Security Administration's definition of disability, the injured person may well qualify for benefits through Social Security disability, usually through Social Security Disability Insurance. Yet injuries and illnesses caused by workplace activities are covered by the Pennsylvania workers' compensation system, too.
Generally, in Pennsylvania, the Workers' Compensation Act does not allow for mental injuries stemming from the workplace. In other words, the legislature has been very hesitant to allow injured workers in Pennsylvania to claim a psychological injury related to work unless very specific factors are met. This makes sense that because it appears that the legislature did not want the common employee to be able to bring a claim for mental stress related to a "mean boss", or a very stressful job. If that were the case, the courts would be flooded with thousands of disgruntled employees who simply hate either their job or their immediate supervisor. Thus, the law requires a heightened standard for mental injuries stemming from mental stimuli at work. In other words, we are talking about injuries that are psychological in nature, and caused by some type of psychological stimulus. That heightened standard, which must be proved by an employee claiming this type of so-called mental-mental injury, is an "abnormal working condition."
As we've discussed before on this blog, the Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation Act was passed in an effort to create a system that could give fair results when a worker was injured on the job, but which didn't require workers to sue their bosses.