Throughout time, women have been known to perform a multitude of physically demanding jobs such as factory or warehouse work and sometimes suffer from a work injury. Women whose jobs are more of a light-duty nature still get injured, such as in a motor vehicle accident while traveling for their job, or in a slip-and-fall at their workplace. Although women have been unfairly discriminated against at work over the years in regards to issues such as leadership roles and pay, the playing field in the workers’ compensation forum has been fair. Ladies, here are a few odds and ends that you should be aware of if you are unlucky enough to suffer a work injury.
Many women are valuable members of the health care work force – doctors, nurses, CNAs, home health aides to name a few – working in a variety of settings, ranging from hospitals and nursing homes to medical offices and patients’ homes. Often, these workers are required to roll patients over, transfer them in and out of wheelchairs or on and off commodes. This strenuous work can lead to injuries, notably to the neck or back.
Janitorial and cleaning companies also employ a lot of women who perform cleaning and housekeeping duties at office buildings, hotels, stores, and other businesses. This work is physically demanding as it involves constant standing and walking, pulling of heavy trash, sweeping and mopping, and bending and kneeling to clean bathrooms. Injuries are common in this industry.
There is no shortage of women employed in sales jobs, selling a variety of products which include pharmaceuticals and office supplies. Typically, these jobs require sales reps. to travel, usually in their own car or one supplied by their company, to hospitals, doctors’ offices, and other businesses to make sales. Under Pennsylvania workers’ compensation law, they are characterized as traveling employees, and injuries sustained by these workers in motor vehicle accidents are considered work-related and covered by workers’ comp. We must point out this is contrary to the situation in which an employee works at one set location – an office, warehouse, or store for example – and travels to and from that location each day. If somebody is injured commuting to and from their regular worksite, barring unusual circumstances, these injuries are not covered by workers’ comp.
Other women in the work force hold jobs in which their primary duty is driving. A prime example is a bus driver – many women drive a school bus for a school district or private transportation company; for Philadelphia based public transport company SEPTA; or for a private bus company. If you drive for a living and are involved in an accident, you are protected by workers’ comp., unless there are extraordinary circumstances, such as you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs when you had your accident.
There are myriads of other industries and positions in which women work and sometimes sustain injuries. They suffer concussions from getting struck in the head by a heavy object, shoulder injuries from carrying boxes in a warehouse, and carpal tunnel injuries from repeatedly working with their hands and wrists on an assembly line or a computer. These are just a few examples.
Regardless of your position or the nature of injury that you sustain, the basic rules are the same. If you injure yourself in the course of your employment and are rendered unable to do your job, you are entitled to money for your lost wages and payment of your medical bills. You can also be entitled to additional money if, God forbid, you lose the use of a body part for all intents and purposes or suffer permanent disfigurement to your neck, face, or head.
Keep in mind that if you injure yourself, whether it is minor or major, let your supervisor know STAT – even if he’s a jerk. The notification requirements under workers’ compensation law are strict and failing to report your injury promptly could prevent your claim from being accepted. It is likely that your employer will ask you to treat for your injuries with an occupational doctor on their panel of workers’ compensation providers. Workers’ comp. law requires an injured worker to treat with providers on the employer’s panel for the first 90 days as long as the employer dots its i’s concerning documentation.
Whether you are treating with the employer’s panel providers, your family doctor, specialists that you have been referred to, or other providers, it is important that you receive regular treatment for your work injuries. First and foremost, you need proper medical treatment for your injuries so that you can get better. But you also need treatment if you do not want your claim denied. If you are missing doctors’ appointments, non-compliant with physical therapy, and not filling prescriptions for medication, the insurance company – and possibly the Workers’ Compensation Judge deciding your claim – may conclude that your injuries are minor and that you have recovered.
Please also be on the lookout for mail that your employer or insurance company sends you. Based on a doctor’s evaluation, you may be asked to return to your regular job or a light-duty position. If you do not respond to the job offer letter, your benefits could be stopped, or a petition could be filed against you to cut off your benefits. You may also be asked to complete and return forms within 30 days which ask questions about your injuries, whether you are receiving other sources of income such as unemployment or short-term disability benefits, and if you have earned any wages since you injured yourself.
Our final and most important piece of advice: If you suffer an injury at work, promptly call Pearson Koutcher Law. We are on your side; the insurance company is not. Our firm specializes in workers’ compensation law – it’s all we do. Every lawyer in our firm – about half are men, half are women – has practiced workers’ comp. for more than 20 years. We will evaluate your claim in detail – at no cost or obligation to you – and take any necessary legal action on your behalf, such as filing a petition for benefits.