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The Law Office of James R. Flandreau
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The Law Office of James R. Flandreau's posts

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Workers' comp granted to airport worker amputee
Take a look at this article about how the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania recently granted workers' compensation to an airport ramp worker who lost her leg when the luggage cart she was driving tipped over. The woman was driving the cart to meet her mother, who was delivering some personal items that the claimant had forgotten. Although she had permission to use the cart, her employer tried to argue that her accident occurred outside of her employment duties.

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Court rules in favor of robbed liquor store manager in PA 
Take a look at this article about how a former liquor store manager, who was robbed in 2008, will finally receive workers’ compensation benefits. Because of the robbery, the man was not able to return to work and developed a post-traumatic stress disorder. Although he was originally denied benefits because these situations are considered “normal working conditions,” the Pennsylvania Supreme Court granted him retroactive benefits.

Settling a workers' compensation case becomes much more difficult when the injured worker is on Medicare.  Don't forget that if you qualify for Social Security disability benefits, after two years, you will begin to receive Medicare.  You must let your workers' compensation lawyer know if you've applied for or have been approved for Social Security Disability benefits.

If you have a workers' compensation case or a personal injury case, remember that anything you post on the web could be used against you.  It is not unusual for the defense to run searches to see what you have posted - whether its comments, photos or the like.  They may also be able to require that you provide access to your social media accounts.  Postings and social media should be treated like email - think carefully before you hit the button to post it.

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I will periodically be sharing thoughts and tips regarding Pennsylvania workers' compensation and Social Security disability.

Periodically, we meet with people who have been paid in part or in full under table.  Working under the table and failing to declare the income is a bad idea for a number of reasons. 

First, it is illegal, and carries criminal penalties. 

Second, because you are not paying taxes, you are not accumulating Social Security credits, and Social Security disability benefits will not be available to you unless you have sufficient and relatively recent on-the-books employment. 

Third, someone who is working under the table may not get the workers' compensation benefits to which they are entitled if they are injured.  In fact, if the employer is cheating in this regard, it may not even have workers' compensation insurance.  Second, even if there is workers' compensation insurance, it is hard to prove the injured worker's correct weekly earnings unless tax returns have been filed by the employee that declare the income.

While it may seem that you can put more money in your pocket by working under the table, the real question is whether it is worth the risks.

One thing that often comes up with a new workers' compensation client is the question of pain and suffering.

Pennsylvania workers' compensation does not recognize pain and suffering.  Rather, Pennsylvania is a wage loss state.  In other words, you get paid a certain amount based on lost earnings.  How much you get paid depends on how you were paid before you got hurt - and I won't bore you with all of the intricacies of how it is calculated.  As a rule of thumb (and with a lot of exceptions), if you are making more than minimum wage, it is 2/3 of what you made before you got hurt.

Thus, no matter how badly you are hurt, you are not going to recover for pain and suffering.  Watch for future info on medical benefits, specific loss and disfigurement.

Pennsylvania workers' compensation law provides for what are called specific loss benefits.  These are paid to an injured worker who has lost the use of a body part for all practical intents and purposes.  One thing we always do in these cases is look to see if the accident also caused some other injury that is keeping the client out of work.  In those cases, the client is entitled to both disability benefits and specific loss benefits, which increases the value of their case and helps protect them financially.

In many cases, we find that even though injured workers are being paid workers' compensation, the amount they are being paid is wrong.  Sometimes, this is because the insurance company didn't know about a second job, or didn't include bonuses.  In other cases, it is because the law was not correctly applied - which is not surprising since the rules that govern the calculation of what is called the "average weekly wage" (the injured employee's preinjury earnings) are very complicated.
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