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The Fast Food Industry and Workers’ Compensation

  • Dave Brown, Esquire
  • 03/02/2020

We sometimes love getting our fast food fix by eating McDonald’s Big Macs, Wendy’s Chili, and Chick-Fil-A’s Chicken Sandwiches, but let’s not forget the people working at these restaurants who are preparing and serving the food. From time to time, these hard workers injure themselves on the job, and if they do, they are protected by Pennsylvania’s Workers’ Compensation laws.

If you’re a fast-food restaurant worker — whether it’s at McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Chick-Fil-A, Burger King, KFC, Taco Bell, or any other fast-food restaurant, and you injure yourself at work, here’s what you should do:

— Let your supervisor know right away that you have injured yourself. Whether you’re a server who throws out your back bending over to pick up an order or a cook who strains your neck picking up a heavy box of food, tell your supervisor about your injury immediately. You may be asked to complete an incident report in which you describe exactly what happened.

— Your restaurant should post for its employees a list of designated medical providers (called panel providers) for workers to see in case of an injury. If there is, you should make an appointment with one of these providers as soon as possible. If you don’t see a list, ask your supervisor. If there is no list — and many employers are irresponsible and don’t have a list of panel providers — you can treat with the doctors of your choice. If you feel that your injury is serious enough, proceed to the nearest emergency room. The medical staff at the ER will examine you, have you undergo any necessary diagnostic tests (such as x-rays or CTscans), prescribe medications, and give you a note stating whether you can work. They may also refer you to a specialist, such as an orthopedic surgeon. You should provide to your employer any note you receive, whether it’s from an emergency room, occupational doctor, specialist, or your primary care physician.

The big issue if you injure yourself is whether you are able to perform your job. If you’re waiting on customers at the restaurant for six to eight hours per shift, you injure your knee and can only be on your feet for two hours in a day, you’re not going to be able to do your job. If that’s the case, you’re entitled to Workers’ Compensation benefits to compensate you for your lost wages. These benefits are critically important to you and your family if your injury prevents you from working.

Here’s where we come into the picture. So often in these cases, the insurance company denies a person’s Workers’ Comp claim for no good reason. Imagine that you have been working in the fast food business for years and enjoy your job, you injure yourself and cannot work, but your employer and it’s insurance company turn their backs on you and don’t pay you the benefits that you deserve.  It sounds harsh, but it happens all the time.

We’re here to help. If you work at a fast food restaurant and injure yourself, call the lawyers at Pearson Koutcher Law for a free consultation at your home or our office. We are experts in Workers’ Compensation law and will discuss your case and advise you as to your best course of action. If necessary, we will file a petition for benefits on your behalf.