Pittsburgh Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
Nationwide, there were 5,190 fatal workplace injuries and 2,607,900 nonfatal injuries in 2021. Findings from the 2021 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries showed that a worker died every 101 minutes from a work-related injury in 2021.
That same year, fatal work injuries totaled 162 in the state of Pennsylvania, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which was an increase from the previous year (148).
The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act requires employers to provide employees with insurance coverage meant to cover medical expenses and a portion of lost wages after a workplace injury or occupational disease. The process of filling out all the paperwork to secure a fair settlement, unfortunately, can be complicated and overwhelming, especially if you’re trying to recover from your injury at the same time.
The Pittsburgh workplace injury lawyers at Chaffin Luhana have decades of experience dealing with worker injury cases and can help make sure you get the compensation you deserve. Give our experienced Pittsburgh workers’ compensation attorneys a call today to schedule a complimentary consultation at 888-480-1123.
When to Hire a Pittsburgh Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
Our worker’s compensation injury lawyers always give free consultations. If you run into any problems at all, it never hurts to consult a workers’ compensation attorney to help fight for the benefits you deserve. There are no upfront fees or costs and there is only a fee if your attorney gets you a recovery.
The Employer Denies Your Claim
If your employer denies that the injury occurred on the job or is otherwise work-related, you may need an attorney to help you. Sometimes employers will deny your injury exists or they’ll argue that it’s not as serious as you say it is. They may say that you already had the injury you’re claiming you got at work—that the injury was pre-existing.
Employers may say all this and more to escape liability for your injury. If you receive a Notice of Compensation Denial or have been informed verbally that your claim will be denied, call a Pittsburgh workers’ compensation attorney right away.
The Insurance Company Denies Your Claim
If the insurance company denies your claim, or if they offer you an unfair settlement, a Pittsburgh workers’ compensation attorney can step in to help negotiate with the company for a better offer.
Your Employer Has Threatened to Fire You
If your employer has filed a suspension, modification, or termination petition against you, contact your lawyer. This could signal an effort by your employer to deny liability for your injury. Plus, it is illegal to take any sort of retaliatory action against you for filing a workers’ injury claim. If your employer harasses you or takes other subtle retaliatory actions like increasing your workload without increasing your pay, check with your attorney to protect yourself.
You Receive an IME
An IME is an Independent Medical Examination. If you receive a request for this, contact your lawyer. This requires you to go to an IME exam, but often the physician is not truly independent. He or she may work for the insurance company and be looking out for the company’s interests instead of yours. You cannot refuse to attend the IME, but you can contact a Pittsburgh workers’ compensation lawyer to watch out for your rights.
The Company is Taking Too Long
After you report your injury, the Bureau of Worker’s Compensation requires the insurance company to decide on approval or denial within 21 days. If your claim is approved, you should start receiving benefits shortly after. If they want to investigate it further, the employer may issue a Notice of Temporary Compensation Payable, which allows another 90 days.
Workers’ Compensation Isn’t Enough
There are limits to what your workers’ compensation insurance will pay for your injuries. If you were severely injured, those limits may not be enough to cover your ongoing medical expenses. If you receive a settlement offer from the insurance company and it won’t cover all your losses, that’s when you call your attorney.
Choosing the Right Pittsburgh Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
If you need to hire a workers’ compensation lawyer, you want to get the best one you can find. Having an experienced attorney on your side can mean the difference between getting the compensation you deserve or not.
Look for someone who has a lot of experience in workers’ compensation law. You want someone who knows what they’re doing in this arena and who will know how to approach your particular case. Search for things like years of practice, articles and blog posts on workers’ comp law, and testimonials from former clients.
Call our experienced workers’ compensation and ask questions.
- Will I need to pay upfront for legal representation? (Firms with strong resources will offer a contingency agreement instead, so you pay only if you win compensation.)
- How many cases like mine have you handled?
- Who will be representing me? (You may have one or more attorneys working on your case—it’s important to know who.)
- What if I was at fault for the injury? (This shouldn’t matter in a workers’ compensation case.)
- How do you communicate with your clients? (Your lawyer needs to communicate well and promptly with you.)
During these meetings, pay attention to how you feel. You want to choose a firm that you feel confident can get the results you want. You’re also looking for a professional staff supporting the attorneys.
If you are talking with a law firm and see any red flags like the following, pass that law firm by:
- They don’t answer your phone calls or respond to your emails.
- The lawyer talks over your head—he or she doesn’t help you understand your rights.
- The lawyer doesn’t seem to know what they’re talking about when discussing workers’ compensation law.
Why Choose Our Pittsburgh Workers’ Compensation Lawyers
Chaffin Luhana is a plaintiffs-only law firm. For over 13 years, we’ve focused solely on representing injured victims. During that time, our hard-working team has recovered over $1 billion for our clients.
In addition to experience handling the worker’s compensation portion of claims, our attorneys are skilled at handling workplace accident cases against other responsible parties. Worker’s compensation benefits cover medical expenses and lost wages. Those benefits do not cover pain and suffering. Our attorneys will look at every possible avenue of recovery including claims against other at-fault individuals or companies or claims against manufacturers of a product that cuased an injury.
Our Experience and Expertise
At Chaffin Luhana, we have an entire team of law professionals working for you. That includes highly experienced workers’ compensation lawyers, an on-staff social worker, medical records specialists and nurse paralegals, court-appointed leaders in the National Plaintiffs’ Bar, and more.
Our founders—Eric Chaffin and Roopal Luhana—have both achieved multimillion-dollar recoveries for our clients. Both have held leadership positions in large, multi-district litigation and have litigated several significant nationwide class actions.
With our combined expertise, we have achieved extraordinary results for our clients in workers’ compensation litigation. Several of our lawyers, including both of our founders, have also been repeatedly named to the esteemed “Super Lawyers” list. This is a prestigious listing of outstanding attorneys selected each year by the Super Lawyers research staff. Through a multi-phase rating process, they select those attorneys best able to assist consumers.
Testimonials and Success Stories
Below is a small sampling of the testimonials we have received from our clients:
$4 Million Recovery
“I was very pleased with the representation that I received for my case. I had a positive experience with this firm and I would recommend your firm to my family and friends.”
– Judy R. Product Liability Injury Client
Over $1.5 Million Recovery
“As a client of this firm, I would highly recommend this firm for the experience, consideration, and quality they as a group showed.”
– Anonymous, Consumer Client
Seven Figure Recovery
“Dear Eric: To a dear friend with a heart of gold. You bring much-needed ethics and dignity to the law profession. You have made a profound impact on my life.”
– Anonymous, Client
Automobile Accident Victim
“I didn’t know what to expect since I never needed an attorney before. You took care of everything and were there for me.”
– Vicky B., Personal Injury Client
Types of Workers’ Compensation Claims We Handle
The Chaffin Luhana law firm is committed to protecting the legal rights of individuals throughout Pittsburgh and the state of Pennsylvania. The process for recovering monetary damages may vary depending on the type of accident you experienced. Our experienced Pittsburgh lawyers will help you determine how best to proceed with your case.
Although there are a wide variety of injuries and illnesses that may occur because of your work, below are some of the most common:
Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs)
A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a complex injury that occurs from a sudden trauma that causes damage to the brain. Typically, the head hits an object or the object pierces the skull. In the workplace, TBIs may occur from falls or struck-by incidents. A concussion is one type of TBI.
Symptoms of a TBI include loss of consciousness for a short time, lightheadedness, dizziness, blurred vision, change in sleep patterns, trouble with memory, and sleep disturbances. Symptoms of a more severe TBI include headaches that won’t go away, vomiting or nausea, seizures, loss of coordination, and weakness or numbness in the extremities.
In a 2019 study on workplace-related TBIs, researchers found that about 80 percent of them were preventable. Nearly 25 percent of workers reported that they didn’t receive job training, and nearly 50 percent said they didn’t receive safety training. Less than half were supervised.
Spinal Cord Injuries
A spinal cord injury (SCI) occurs when the tight bundle of cells and nerves in the spine is injured or damaged. This bundle sends and receives signals from the brain to and from the rest of the body. The spinal cord itself extends from the lower part of the brain down through the lower back.
An SCI can cause paralysis, loss of bowel or bladder control, changes in sexual function, pain and suffering, difficulty breathing, and more. In a 2018 study on workplace spinal injuries, researchers found that falls led to 50 percent of the injuries, predominantly falls from buildings/structures, ladders, or between levels. Falls occurred most commonly in the construction industry (78 percent).
Severe Crushing Injuries
If a worker’s body or part of the body is caught between two large pieces of machinery, that worker may suffer a workplace-crushing injury. Getting hit by a forklift or other big vehicle can also result in crush injuries, such as a crushed arm or leg.
These injuries can lead to permanent loss of use of a limb, amputations, or even death. In a 2017 study, researchers noted that a crushing injury “is one of the most severe and traumatic injuries an employee can sustain in the workplace.” They added that the injury not only has a direct effect on the individual’s immediate health but also potentially on their future employment and long-term earnings.
According to a recent review by the Travelers Insurance Company of more than 1.2 million workers’ compensation claims from 2016 to 2020, the most common injuries that occurred were strains and sprains, followed by fractures (13 percent). The most common cause of these injuries was overexertion, followed by slips, trips, and falls, being struck by an object, and motor vehicle accidents.
Sometimes the bone breaks in just one place, but other times it may break in multiple locations, or it may shatter. Most of these injuries can be treated, but they can keep workers away from their jobs for an extended period.
Paraplegia and Quadriplegia
Some injuries at work can result in the worker becoming paralyzed. Paraplegia occurs when the worker is paralyzed from the waist down. Quadriplegia refers to paralysis of the entire body from the neck down.
TBIs and SCIs are the most common causes of paralysis. If a worker suffers from paralysis after an injury, it’s considered a catastrophic injury as it may permanently and significantly affect the worker’s life and working ability. Employees will face physical challenges along with heavy financial burdens.
If you or a loved one suffered from this type of workplace injury, it’s wise to contact a Pittsburgh workers’ compensation attorney right away.
Back and Neck Injuries
Common types of back and neck injuries include:
- herniated discs
- nerve damage
- spinal cord injuries
All of these can lead to a loss of movement or difficulty moving, tingling and numbness, balance problems, and more. They may affect an employee’s ability to return to work.
Internal Bleeding and Organ Damage
Some workplace accidents—particularly struck-by and crushing accidents—can cause internal organ damage and bleeding. A trauma or collision may damage blood vessels inside the body, leading to hemorrhaging and potentially causing serious complications.
Types of workplace incidents that may lead to this type of injury include:
- caught between machinery or large objects
- struck by heavy equipment
- motor vehicle accidents (cars, trucks, forklifts)
- violent assaults
Burns can easily occur in workplaces where employees spend time around open flames, hot objects, or out in the hot sun. Working with chemicals or around electrical currents is also risky.
Burn injuries range in severity from first-degree, in which there is minimal damage to the surface level of the skin, to fourth-degree, in which all skin layers are affected and there is potential damage to the muscle, tendons, and bone.
The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) states there were 126 electrical fatalities in 2020 in the U.S. The mining industry had the highest rate of fatal electrical injuries, followed by the construction industry.
These injuries may be caused by direct exposure to electricity, such as touching a live wire, or via indirect exposure, such as coming into contact with something unintentionally conducting electricity. Sometimes faulty equipment is to blame, but more often, the cause is inadequate training or supervision.
Illnesses from Exposure to Substances
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) states that chemical hazards and toxic substances “pose a wide range of health hazards,” including carcinogenicity. In a 2020 study, researchers noted that while improvements have been made, occupational exposure to chemical and biological agents “is still causing excessive disease in workforces worldwide.”
Employers are responsible for reducing workers’ exposure to toxins. They must provide employees with respiratory protection and other safety equipment where needed.
Cuts and Lacerations
The majority of cuts and laceration injuries at the workplace occur to the hands and fingers. These injuries can range from minor abrasions to serious and even life-threatening puncture wounds, deep lacerations, or amputation injuries.
Causes of cuts and lacerations may include:
- Poor lighting
- Machinery that’s missing its safety guards
- Working too fast
- Failing to wear protective equipment
Repetitive Motion Injuries (RMIs)
Workers who have to perform the same types of movements over and over again may suffer from repetitive strain injuries or repetitive motion injuries (RMIs). These are caused by a buildup of damage to the muscles, tendons, and nerves. They may occur more often than they need to if the worker lacks appropriate ergonomic equipment or is required to perform movements that repeatedly strain certain parts of the body.
RMIs may not seem serious at first. But once they take hold, they can affect an injured worker’s life for many years, resulting in chronic pain and sometimes, additional injuries as the worker tries to cope by repeating other movements instead. Treatments often require extended time off, physical therapy, medications, injections, and even surgery. The injuries may eventually prevent the worker from being able to do their job.
Common RMIs include tendon-related disorders and peripheral nerve entrapment disorders (like carpal tunnel syndrome).
Strains from Overexertion
Overexertion is a frequent cause of workplace injuries—even more frequent than RMIs. It occurs when an employee uses excessive physical effort to do a job, such as lifting, pulling, pushing, turning, wielding, holding, carrying, or throwing in a way that overtaxes their muscles and joints.
Overexertion injuries may include
- tendon tears
- joint dislocations
- inflamed connective tissues
- back pain
Fatigue can play a large role in creating these types of injuries. Workers may also overexert when performing jobs in which they were not properly trained.
Amputations are some of the most serious and debilitating work injuries. They occur most often when workers operate unguarded or inadequately safeguarded machinery, including the following:
- power presses
- roll bending machines
- food slicers
- drill presses
In 2018, work-related amputations resulted in 6,200 cases with days away from work, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). That year, over half (58 percent) of the cases involved some type of machinery.
Employers are responsible for identifying, managing, and controlling amputation hazards commonly found in the workplace.
Vision and Hearing Damage
Many workers are faced with occupational noise hazards every day. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that hearing loss is among the most common work-related illnesses. They add that almost all work-related hearing loss is permanent, and can have a profound effect on the quality of life. Hearing loss can also impact future safety at home and on the job.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) states that workplace injuries are also a leading cause of eye trauma, vision loss, disability, and blindness. More than 2,000 U.S. workers receive medical treatment every day because of work-related eye injuries. More than 800,000 eye injuries occur annually. Like hearing loss, vision loss can affect a person’s ability to perform his or her job or carry out everyday activities.
The BLS states that a worker died every 111 minutes from a work-related injury in 2020. The consequences are severe not only for the worker but for his or her family. In one recent study, researchers acknowledged this, finding that survivors suffer from serious health, social, and financial consequences, including prolonged grief and unresolved loss, physical health problems, family disruption, and behavioral effects on children.
Top Professions with Work Injuries in Pittsburgh
The BLS states that in the Pittsburgh area, falls, slips, and trips resulted in most of the workplace fatalities in 2018. Violence and other injuries by persons or animals, transportation incidents, and exposure to harmful substances or environments were also high on the list.
Though nationally, transportation occupations typically cause more workplace fatalities, construction was more deadly in Pittsburgh. In 2018, the private construction industry sector had the highest number of fatalities in the Pittsburgh area.
Those at risk included roofers and construction trade workers.
Transportation and material moving are often at the top of the list for workplace injuries and deaths. This was the case for the entire state of Pennsylvania in 2019. That year, transportation incidents resulted in 62 fatal work injuries, up from 53 from the year before.
Workers in these occupations, nationally, experienced over 184,000 injuries and illnesses in 2018 that resulted in days away from work. In 2020, transportation incidents remained the most frequent type of fatal event with 1,778 fatal injuries, accounting for 37.3 percent of all work-related fatalities.
In the Pittsburgh area, transportation workers include:
- freight, stock, and material movers
- heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers
Both of these groups were in the top five occupations at risk for injuries and fatalities, just behind healthcare workers (see below).
Contract workers—also called independent contractors—are typically hired for specific projects or services on a shorter-term basis. They usually work for a company or government agency to complete a job. In 2018, contracted workers were at risk of fatal work injuries, with three deaths that year in the Pittsburgh area.
Nurses and Nursing Assistants
In 2021, there were 276,600 total injuries or illnesses resulting in days away from work in the healthcare industry. This was a decrease from the 2020 rates (which were elevated mostly because of the COVID-19 pandemic) but was still higher than the 2019 numbers (151,410).
Nurses and nursing assistants are particularly at risk for repetitive strain injuries, overexertion, falls, back injuries, exposure to harmful and contaminated substances, and assaults from patients.
Other Industries and Occupations
In 2020, according to BLS data, other industries with a significant risk of workplace injuries and fatalities in Pennsylvania included the following:
- Agricultural, forestry, fishing, and hunting
- Wholesale and retail trade
- Leisure and hospitality
Frequently Asked Questions
How Does Workers’ Compensation Work in PA?
If you are injured or become ill because of a work-related incident, you are entitled to compensation from your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance. The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act provides payment for your medical expenses. If your injury prevents you from returning to work, workers’ compensation may also pay part of your wages until you can go back.
How Do I Get Workers’ Compensation in Pennsylvania?
Report your injury to your employer as soon as possible. In Pennsylvania, you have 120 days after the injury or illness occurred to file the paperwork. It’s best to do this right away, however, to get the process rolling so you can start receiving compensation quickly. If you miss the deadline, you may lose your right to benefits.
It’s also critical to seek medical attention as soon as you can. Check with your human resources department. Within the first 90 days of your injury, you may be required to choose an employer-approved doctor for your medical appointment.
Finally, be sure to file a claim with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry. Your employer should be able to give you instructions on how to do this. If you need help with the process, don’t hesitate to contact one of our workers’ compensation lawyers.
What Benefits Am I Entitled To Through Workers’ Compensation?
When it comes to workers’ compensation, it doesn’t matter who was at fault for the injury. You may have been partially or wholly responsible, but you are still eligible for benefits.
In general, workers’ compensation provides four basic types of benefits:
- Medical care: Your employer’s insurance must pay for your medical treatments and therapies to help you recover from a work-related injury or illness. These include services rendered by health care providers, surgical and medical services, hospital treatment, prescription medicine and supplies, and orthopedic appliances and supplies.
- Temporary disability benefits: If your injury prevents you from returning to work for a while, your employer’s insurance will at least partially cover your lost wages.
- Permanent disability benefits: If you are unable to recover well enough from your injury to return to your old job, your employer’s insurance will provide payments to you on an ongoing basis. These amount to about two-thirds of your salary paid for the duration of the disability.
- Death benefits: If you die as a result of a workplace injury or disease, your employer’s insurance will provide payments to your spouse, children, or other dependents.
If your injury is particularly severe, you may also be eligible for other benefits, including Social Security disability and unemployment. Your Pittsburgh workplace injury lawyer can help you explore all avenues of compensation.
How Much Does PA Workers’ Comp Pay?
Typically, your Pennsylvania workers’ compensation will pay about two-thirds of your regular income for lost wages up to a maximum amount. The benefit usually begins once you’ve lost at least seven days of work. If you miss less than that, you may not receive benefits for lost wages.
The insurance company will also pay all your medical bills and fees for any related treatments your doctor prescribes, including therapy and medications. Other benefits such as temporary or permanent disability are calculated on an individual basis.
What Do I Do After a Workplace Injury?
If you have suffered an injury on the job or have been recently diagnosed with an occupational illness, take the following steps to recover all your damages from workers’ compensation insurance.
1. Get Medical Attention
Even if you think you suffered only a minor injury, see a doctor. Some minor injuries can become more serious with time. Plus, it’s important to your claim to have medical reports.
According to state law, you must go to a company-approved doctor for at least the first 90 days after the injury. Your employer should have a list of available physicians that you can choose from.
2. Report the Injury to Your Employer
Do this as soon as you can. You may worry about it, as you don’t want to be seen as a complainer. But if you don’t report the injury when it happens, you could hurt your ability to recover damages down the road.
You shouldn’t fear retaliation. It is against the law for an employer to retaliate against an employee for reporting an injury and/or accident. You deserve compensation so don’t hesitate to start the process.
3. Keep Notes
Gather evidence to support your case. Take pictures of the job accident scene if you can, as well as your injuries. Keep notes of what you say when you report the injury and everything your employer does in response. If there are witnesses, get their contact information in case you may need them later on.
4. Contact Your Workplace Injury Attorney
You can file a workers’ compensation claim on your own. But consulting with a workplace injury attorney first gives you a few advantages. At Chaffin Luhana, we have years of experience handling workers’ compensation claims and can help you determine which benefits you may be entitled to. The initial consultation is free, so it costs you nothing to be well informed.
If you were hurt because of another employee’s negligence or because the employer didn’t take the proper steps to create a safe workplace, we can help. We will launch a thorough investigation into your case to uncover every detail, including examining the workplace environment and checking if the machinery was working correctly, whether the supervisors were doing their jobs, whether you had access to the appropriate safety equipment and more.
5. Follow Your Doctor’s Instructions
Keep all of your doctor’s appointments and follow your doctor’s instructions to the letter. Don’t give the insurance company any reason to believe that you are not as injured as you say you are.
What if the Insurance Company Denies My Claim?
If the insurance company denies your claim, contact a workplace injury lawyer. We can help gather all the information needed to file an appeal to get the decision overturned so that you can receive the benefits you’re entitled to.
Help—I’m Losing My Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Starting two months after you begin collecting workers’ compensation benefits, your employer has the right to require you to undergo an Independent Medical Exam (IME). During this appointment, a company doctor will examine you to determine whether you are well enough to return to work full-time or on a part-time, reduced-capacity basis. If so, your employer could file a petition to modify or stop your benefits.
You can challenge your company’s position, but the process is not a simple one. It starts with you filling out the “employee challenge” portion of the notice. Then you must gather more evidence (medical records, images, etc.), attend court hearings, and conduct depositions from your treating physicians.
Keep in mind that the insurance company has lawyers on its side. If you go up against them without your own representation, you will be at a disadvantage. Our workplace injury attorneys understand how these insurance companies work. We can help you get around the bureaucracy to resolve your case in your favor.
Should I Consider a Lump Sum Payment?
If you’ve received benefits for four months or longer, you may be eligible for a lump-sum settlement under Pennsylvania law.
This provides you with a one-time payment rather than the typical weekly payments. It cannot be more than your weekly workers’ compensation benefits multiplied by 500 weeks.
This option may be a good one for you if:
- You are tired of dealing with workers’ compensation and want to move on.
- You have stopped making progress in your recovery, and it looks like you probably won’t make any further progress.
There are potential drawbacks, however.
- Once you receive a lump-sum payment, that’s it. You can’t go back for more money.
- The insurance company is likely to offer less in a lump-sum payment than you would get if you stuck to weekly payments.
- Any future medical care you need will not be covered by your workers’ compensation benefits.
Taking a lump-sum payment is probably not a good idea for you if you expect that your injury may get worse or cause additional related conditions that will require medical treatment. It’s also best avoided if it looks like you will not be able to return to work for a long time.
Does My Employer Have to Hold My Job While on Workers’ Comp in PA?
Your employer is not required to hold your job open while you recover from work-related injuries except as provided under the Family Medical Leave Act. If you’re covered by this act, your position may be protected for up to three months.
After that period, your boss is allowed to hire someone else to do your job if necessary, or he or she may assign your tasks to someone else to be sure that they are completed.
Your employer is not, however, allowed to retaliate against you. If you have evidence that you were fired or laid off as punishment for filing a workers’ compensation claim, you may be able to sue your employer for retaliation.
Contact Us Today for Help On Your Pittsburgh Workers’ Compensation Claim
If you were injured at work and need help, or if your workers’ compensation claim was denied, contact us today for a free initial consultation. We would be happy to answer your questions and help you navigate the legal process so you can receive the compensation you deserve.
Call us today at 888-480-1123.