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In The News: PA Workers Comp Update 6/20/17

 HOW LONG CAN I GET WORKERS’ COMPENSATION BENEFITS IN PA.? 

AN UPDATE

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION: PENNSYLVANIA SUPREME COURT ISSUES LANDMARK DECISION IN            PROTZ V. WCAB (DERRY AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT)

On June 20, 2017, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court declared that Section 306(a.2) of the Pa. Workers’ Compensation Act (the Act) was unconstitutional. Previously, since passage of revisions to the Act in 1996, an employer could have an injured worker evaluated by an independent medical examiner to determine his or her percentage of impairment directly resulting from a work injury. This was known as an Impairment Rating Evaluation (IRE). The injured worker must have received 104 weeks of total disability benefits prior to the IRE being requested. Once requested and scheduled, the IRE medical examiner was asked to utilize the American Medical Association (AMA) Guidelines for Impairment 4th Edition. If the IRE rating was equal to or greater than 50 percent, then an injured worker was presumed to be totally disabled. An injured worker was considered partially disabled if he or she had a total impairment rating of less-than 50 percent and the injured worker’s benefits were resultantly limited to the statutory 500-week partial disability time period. The AMA guidelines almost always found an injured worker less-than 50 percent disabled.

Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation and Repetitive Strain Injuries

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As time goes by, you may begin noticing that performing your job is becoming more and more difficult.  You can’t complete certain tasks as quickly as you used to. You’re continually stopping because the pain is too much. 
 
Some may be quick to write these off as symptoms of getting older. However, age may not be the only culprit. You could be suffering from a repetitive strain injury (RSI). And if your RSI is work-related, you may be entitled to Pennsylvania workers’ compensation benefits.
 
An RSI occurs when someone repetitively performs a task that damages one or more parts of the body. Some examples include working with vibrating equipment, sitting in uncomfortable positions, bending over, heavy lifting, and typing. 
 
Some of the most common conditions related to RSI include tendinitis, hearing loss, carpal tunnel syndrome, shoulder/rotator cuff injuries, chronic neck, back, and joint pain; herniated discs, and aggravated pre-existing conditions. Symptoms include hurting joints, sore muscles, stiffness, cramps, tingling, and numbness.
 
If you are experiencing ANY of these signs, it is important that you get in touch with a medical professional immediately. Early detection can often prevent the injury from becoming life-altering. However, if allowed to progress, an RSI can lead to permanent damage. 
 
Luckily, following a few basic safety procedures can generally prevent an RSI. These include : 
Changing tools or grips
Stretching regularly and taking breaks
Wearing proper safety equipment
Utilizing proper ergonomics
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle
Using proper lifting technique
 
If you are suffering from a work-related RSI, your employer is required by Pennsylvania law to cover the cost of your medical bills, as well as the money you lose by not working during recovery. If your employer has denied you this right, contact a Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorney as soon possible.  
 
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