Posts

Can You Collect Workers’ Comp if You Contract COVID-19 as a Hospital Worker?

People seek treatment at hospitals when they are in need of medical care for an injury, illness, or other serious condition. As an employee, you have the right to expect that a hospital is a safe work environment. But, what about in the middle of a global pandemic?

In the best of times, hospitals can be breeding grounds for germs and infections. The Centers for Disease Control reports that roughly 1 in 648,000 people in the U.S. develop infections in hospitals annually, leading to about 75,000 deaths.

But what if you work for a hospital and contract the virus? If you have contracted COVID-19 at a hospital, you may be able to collect workers’ comp, and our experienced Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorneys will be happy to review your case.

COVID-19 in Hospitals

The coronavirus was declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Jan. 30 and named “COVID-19” on Feb. 11. Not everyone trusts this information, but it’s there for those who do.

According to the CDC, there are higher rates of hospitalization with COVID-19 among older adults. Unfortunately, the CDC also reports that the virus can be transmitted to others while a person is presymptomatic or asymptomatic, meaning they’ve been exposed to COVID-19 but don’t feel sick.

Lawsuits by Hospital Employees Who Contract COVID-19

If you are a hospital employee that has tested positive for COVID-19, you likely won’t have a personal injury claim. But, you do have the right to claim benefits under workers’ compensation. Even so, you may face an uphill battle collecting the benefits you need and deserve.

Some employers might allege that you were just as likely to contract the virus in your ordinary activities as you were at work. This will be a tough argument for many to win if recommended safety protocols weren’t followed, or healthcare staff didn’t have access to the right kind of PPE to keep them and others free from harm.

Workplace injuries are not uncommon in a healthcare setting, but COVID-19 has made going to work each day particularly hazardous. If you’ve been infected with this virus, our knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorneys would be happy to explain your rights under the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act.

Speak with an Experienced Pittsburgh Injury Lawyer

If you or someone you love has contracted COVID-19 in a hospital, you may have the right to pursue legal action against the facility. While some patients recover quickly from this virus, there is still much we don’t know about it, and it can be deadly for many who are infected.

At Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, we have been protecting the rights of the injured and their loved ones for over two decades. Whether you contracted this virus as a patient or an employee, our seasoned accident attorneys can protect your rights and help you get the compensation you deserve.

Contact our office today at 412-391-9860, toll-free at 866-466-5789, or message us online to schedule a free case evaluation. Our office is following social distancing guidelines but remains available to provide the high level of service our clients expect.

COVID-19 – Related Changes in Trucking Regulations Could Result in More Truck Accidents

The coronavirus has caused numerous businesses to close, but in industries that are considered “essential”, demand has skyrocketed. This is particularly true with groceries (toilet paper and hand sanitizer in particular), medical supplies, the raw materials needed to manufacture these supplies, and many others. The need to transport essential goods throughout the country has also placed a major demand on the nation’s truck drivers.

With the increased need for goods and materials, truckers are under immense pressure to deliver their loads on time. The federal government has responded by temporarily easing many of the long-standing trucking regulations that are designed to make the industry safer.

Here are some of the recent changes that have happened:

Hours of Service Regulations Lifted for Some Truckers

Since the 1930s, Hours of Service regulations have been in place to protect American truck drivers from driving too long without a break. In an unprecedented move that has never been done in the 80+ years since these regulations were enacted, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) eliminated many of these protections for truckers that transport essential goods.

Normally, truckers are only allowed to drive for 11 hours within a 14-hour period before they must take 10 hours off duty. They are also prohibited from working more than 70 hours in an eight-day period. Now, truckers that bring essential goods and supplies can exceed 11 hours of consecutive driving and they can exceed 70 hours of work over eight days, although they are still required to take 10 hours off after delivering their loads.

Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance International Road Check Postponed

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) normally conducts a 3-day blitz inspection of commercial trucks in the US and Canada each year. Tens of thousands of vehicles are usually checked to uncover safety problems with the vehicles and issues with drivers. This year, the CVSA postponed their international road check, which was scheduled for May 5-7, until further notice.

Truck Driver Trainees Can Operate without a CDL

In an effort to prevent a shortage of truckers and keep the supply chains moving, the government is allowing new truck drivers to operate a vehicle without a commercial driver’s license (CDL). There are a couple requirements that must be met, however. The driver in training must have already passed their CDL driving test, and there must also be a CDL-holding driver in the truck with them. This still puts a lot of new and inexperienced truck drivers on the roadways during this time.

The Dangers of Truck Accidents During COVID-19

The government lifting regulations on the trucking industry may have been done with good intentions (i.e., to keep our supply chain going), but it has created a more dangerous situation for motorists. Even during normal times, truckers are under great pressure from trucking companies that impose unrealistic deadlines. But at least these drivers had Hours of Service regulations in place to protect them. With these regulations temporarily lifted for some drivers, there is very little to stop companies from forcing their employees to work for far longer than it is safe to do.

When a truck driver is on the road for too long, there is an increased risk of getting tired or sleepy behind the wheel. To help cope with the situation, some drivers turn to alcohol or other substances to take the edge off. But this only makes the situation worse, because we all know that chemical impairment generally results in the reduced ability to focus and poorer driving decisions.

Another potential problem that is caused by the rush to deliver goods and supplies is speeding and aggressive/reckless driving. Knowing that the government wants truckers to do anything they can to keep our supply chain moving, drivers are more likely to feel justified in exceeding the speed limit and cutting whatever other corners they can. Although this behavior may not be explicitly encouraged, the implication is that it is acceptable because of the extraordinary situation we are dealing with.

All of these factors have heightened the risk of trucking accidents – this is one of the countless unintended consequences of our response to COVID-19. And sadly, these accidents often result in severe and catastrophic injuries and fatalities. We hope that as our country emerges from this pandemic, the trucking industry regulations that have been loosened will be put back into place. If this does not happen, the roadways will be less safe going forward.

Injured in a Commercial Truck Accident? Contact Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman for Assistance

If you or someone close to you suffered injury in a trucking accident was caused by another party, you deserve to be fully compensated. Truck accident cases are typically very complicated, however, and there are numerous potential contributing factors and several parties that could be responsible. For this reason, it is very important to work with an attorney who has extensive experience with these types of cases.

At Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, we have successfully represented countless individuals who have been injured in truck accidents, and we are not intimidated by large trucking companies and their vast resources. For a free consultation with one of our attorneys, message us online or call us today at 412-391-9860 or toll-free at 866-466-5789. We look forward to serving you!

 

 

Can I Receive Workers’ Compensation Benefits if I Test Positive for COVID-19?

The coronavirus has impacted every area of society. More than 1.5 million Americans have tested positive to COVID-19. Even though many of those tests have been shown to be false information, many citizens have died from the virus, and many others have become ill.

One area where a lot of people have questions with COVID-19 is regarding workers’ compensation claims. For those whose work requires them to interact with other employees and/or the public, there is a risk of exposure to the coronavirus during the course of their job. And since the virus is highly infectious and we do not have a vaccine or proven treatment for it yet, testing positive would mean having to miss work for at least a few weeks, but more likely longer as it can take months in some cases to recover.

Many individuals who test positive for the coronavirus wonder if they are eligible to collect workers’ compensation benefits for the time they are required to miss from work. The best short answer we can give to that question is “maybe”.

If the coronavirus is caused by work exposure, it should be considered a workplace injury, and for some workers (such as those who work in healthcare), it could even be considered an occupational disease. That said, a worker who contracted the illness might have difficulty getting approved for benefits, because an employer may claim that they did not contract the virus at work.

This is an emerging area of workers’ compensation law, and as such, not everyone is on the same page with regards to how the law applies to COVID-19 cases. An employee is supposed to receive workers’ comp benefits if they suffer an illness or injury that arises out of their employment or occurs during the course of their employment. But how does an employee show that their exposure to the coronavirus happened at work?

Without a national contact tracing infrastructure in place, proving that an employee contracted COVID-19 from their job can be a major challenge, and approvals and denials are likely to vary widely depending on the circumstances of each case. For workers in some industries, such as first responders and other healthcare workers, there is likely to be more of a presumption that the illness is work-related. The same would probably hold true in workplaces where there are major outbreaks, such as nursing homes/assisted living centers and meat packing plants.

Some states have stepped in to provide additional guidance on COVID-19 related workers’ comp claims. For example, the governor of California recently enacted an executive order mandating that workers’ compensation “presumptively applies” when an employee worked at an employer’s place of business within 14 days of testing positive or being diagnosed with the coronavirus. An employer can dispute the presumption, but the burden of proof would be on the employer to show that the illness was not work-related.

As more and more businesses begin to reopen, contracting the coronavirus at work might be a concern for many returning workers. Proper workplace safety measures will be all the more important to prevent outbreaks in newly opened facilities and establishments. These may include daily employee temperature checks, wearing masks and gloves, regular use of sanitizer, frequently disinfecting surfaces, 6-foot or more distances between workstations, the use of plexiglass to separate employees from customers, and other appropriate measures.

What Should I Do if I Contracted COVID-19 and I Believe it is Work-Related?

If you have been exposed to COVID-19 on the job or have been diagnosed with the condition, you should report your illness to your manager/supervisor. From there, the employer is required to report the illness to their insurance company.

In the meantime, follow your doctor’s orders, and speak with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer. Even during normal times, many workers’ comp claims are wrongly denied; and with coronavirus-related claims, there is even more uncertainty about whether or not your claim will be approved. By working with a skilled and knowledgeable attorney from the start, you have a much better chance of getting your benefits approved without having to go through denials, appeals, and all the red tape that is associated with that process.

Contact Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman for Help with Workers Compensation Claims

If you need any type of assistance with workers’ comp claims, Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman is here for you. We are taking all the precautions and following all of the appropriate safety protocols as our state and nation continues to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak, but we remain fully operational and ready to serve your needs.

For a free consultation with one of our attorneys, message us online or call our office today at 412-391-9860 or toll-free at 866-466-5789. We look forward to serving you!

 

 

How Pittsburgh Residents and Businesses are Helping Each Other during the Coronavirus Outbreak

Here are some of the ways the Pittsburgh community is pulling together during the COVID-19 crisis:

Donating and Volunteering to Food Shelves

Pittsburgh’s local food shelves have been hit especially hard by the coronavirus. With so many people losing their jobs because of the virus, the need for donations is greater than it has been in a long time. At the same time, a lot of the regular volunteers are not able to come in because they are elderly or in other high-risk categories and need to avoid public contact for a while.

To answer this need, many who have the financial capacity have stepped up to donate to the food shelves. Others who are healthy and suddenly find themselves with a lot of time on their hands have stepped up to volunteer. In the aftermath of COVID-19, the need at the local food shelves is likely to remain high for the foreseeable future.

Donating Blood Safely

A Lot of people who normally donate blood are not doing so because they are afraid due to the media coverage of the coronavirus. However, the Red Cross has taken many steps to ensure a safe environment for those who donate. They take the temperature of prospective donors before they come through the door, and they keep donors at least a 6-foot distance from each other. All Red Cross personnel wear gloves, and all of the services are sanitized between donations. As more people become aware of the need for blood and the measures the Red Cross is taking to ensure everyone’s safety, citizens are answering the call, and many who have never donated before are doing so for the first time.

Supporting Front-Line Workers

While many of us are staying “safe at home”, there are a lot of essential workers who are on the front lines treating those who are working through this virus to keep all of us supplied with our essential goods. These include healthcare workers, truck drivers, and those who work in grocery stores. To show support for those who are putting themselves on the line to keep our society going, some are sending them food, gifts, and appreciation cards. Others who have the skills are making homemade masks that frontline workers can use to minimize their viral exposure. Any gesture of support or encouragement for those who are hard at work every day goes a long way, even if it is just a simple “thank you“.

Supporting those Who are Shut-In

COVID-19 is mostly hard on the elderly and others who are immune-compromised and concerned about leaving their homes. To help those who are shut in, many of their neighbors are calling to check up on them and make sure they have everything they need. There have also been stories of Uber drivers who deliver groceries to shut-ins between trips. The isolation and loneliness can be very hard on many people, and sometimes just a phone call to provide virtual companionship is very much appreciated.

Supporting Local Businesses that are Impacted by the Shutdown

With restaurants having closed or limited their offerings, local consumers are doing what they can to support them and help them stay afloat. If a restaurant is still open for pickup or delivery, those in the community are patronizing it as much as possible. If they are closed for the time-being, they are buying gift cards to be used later so the restaurant can get some immediate revenue.

We are Here when You Need Us

At Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, we are doing our best to help our community get through this difficult time. Like everyone else, we are doing most of our tasks remotely, and we are taking all the precautions and following all of the social distancing guidelines. In addition, we are doing what we can to support those in need within the Pittsburgh community.

We also want you to know that we are here for you if you need legal help. Though we are essentially running a virtual practice these days, we are still well-equipped with the technology and resources to successfully represent our clients like we always have. It is true that the wheels of justice are turning more slowly right now, but we are confident that once everything returns to normal, the courts will be functioning at full capacity.