Archive for December, 2018

Massachusetts Truck Drivers and Musculoskeletal Pain: Attorneys Discuss

Massachusetts workers' compensation attorneyTruck drivers in Massachusetts have a tough job that can take a toll on their well-being. They spend up to 11 hours on the road per workday, and other duties can also cause physical wear and tear.  

One of the most common long-term injuries truckers sustain is musculoskeletal pain. If left untreated, this condition can worsen and even result in permanent complications. At The Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl, P.C., we have seen how this type of injury can affect truck drivers. 

What is musculoskeletal pain?

Musculoskeletal pain is a long-term condition that can develop from poor posture, repetitive strain or long periods of immobility. Over time, muscles can shorten and problems with spinal alignment can develop. 

This type of disorder, which affects an estimated 54 percent of the adult workforce each year. can cause chronic low back pain, anxiety, sleep disorders, and depression. The back pain associated with musculoskeletal disorders alone is the second most common factor in missed work days for workers under 45 years of age. It also makes up about 25 percent of all workers’ compensation claims nationwide. 

How musculoskeletal pain affects truck drivers

survey conducted by researchers at The University of Waterloo in Canada questioned 107 male truck drivers at two Ontario truck stops. Approximately 61 of those drivers (57 percent) reported experiencing persistent pain within the 30 days prior to the survey. 

The most common factors leading to these problems included:  

  • Long periods of sitting 
  • Whole body vibration 
  • Working in awkward postures 
  • Repetitive physical movements and lifting 
  • Level of fitness 
  • Overall job satisfaction 

Some trucking companies have taken measures to mitigate the likelihood of drivers experiencing musculoskeletal pain. These measures include:  

  • Installing vibration-free seats in vehicles 
  • Modifying tasks 
  • Encouraging exercise and healthy diets 

Medical treatment and recovery

The treatment for musculoskeletal pain may require: 

  • Anti-pain and anti-inflammatory prescription drugs 
  • Physical therapy 
  • Chiropractic care 
  • Massage 
  • Osteopathic care 
  • Acupuncture  
  • Stretching and exercise 

Making a full recovery so you can perform your job to the best of your ability may take months. If you’re concerned about the cost of medical treatment and lost wages, it’s important to discuss this matter with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney at the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl. We know how to negotiate with your employer’s insurance company for a fair settlement.  

Your injury doesn’t have to be caused by a single incident. We also handle claims involving repetitive stress. If you have sustained a job-related musculoskeletal disorder, contact our law firm to learn how we can help. We put your needs first.  

A Massachusetts Attorney Explains Job-Related Rotator Cuff Injuries

Massachusetts workers' compensation attorneyYour rotator cuff is comprised of several muscles and tendons that keep your arm secured in the shoulder socket.

Like most injuries caused by repetitive stress, rotator cuff tears are common in occupations that require repeated arm motion. This can include construction workers, painters, carpenters, machine operators, welders and warehouse workers.

Identifying a rotator cuff injury

In most cases, rotator cuff injuries happen over a long period of time, and often from normal wear and tear.

WebMD identifies two types of rotator cuff tears:

  • Partial tear: The tendon on top of your shoulder becomes frayed or damaged.
  • Complete tear: The tendon on top of your shoulder is torn all the way through or is pulled off the bone.

Workers who sustain rotator cuff injuries may experience:

  • Difficulty raising the arm affected by the tear
  • Poor range of motion
  • Pain or discomfort when moving the affected arm in certain ways
  • Discomfort when sleeping
  • Shoulder weakness
  • Difficulty with lifting
  • A clicking or popping sensation when moving affected arm

Seeking treatment for a rotator cuff injury

When treating a rotator cuff injury, your doctor may examine the affected shoulder and conduct an MRI, X-ray or ultrasound.

The recovery process may require:

  • Physical therapy and exercises to strengthen your shoulder
  • Painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Surgery (in severe cases)

On average, a rotator cuff takes six months to heal. However, it could take longer, depending on the severity of the tear.

Recovering from a torn rotator cuff not only takes time but also can be costly. Not only will your medical bills accumulate, but you will be required to take a significant amount of time off from work. If your rotator cuff injury was job-related, it’s crucial that you understand your rights.

Don’t let your boss downplay your injury. Even if there isn’t a lot of pain, a torn rotator cuff is serious. You need time off from work to recover. You are also eligible for workers’ compensation benefits that will cover your wages and medical expenses while you’re unable to work.

An experienced workers’ compensation attorney at the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl can help guide you through the process. We can also negotiate with the insurance companies responsible for issuing workers’ compensation benefits.

We’re experienced at handling repetitive stress injuries just like yours and proudly serve Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Contact us today to schedule a free, confidential case evaluation.

How the Gig Economy is Threatening Workers’ Compensation

Massachusetts workers' compensationWhat is the gig economy? Unlike the conventional workforce – which is composed of rigid schedules and protective mandates – the gig economy is far more flexible for workers and employers. However, this flexibility has many law firms concerned about the future of the workers’ compensation system.

The gig economy includes independent contractor positions, which are attractive to many of today’s young workers. You may have seen job ads that read, “Want to work for yourself?” While that may sound appealing, independent contractors aren’t considered employees. This means in the event of a job-related injury, gig economy workers aren’t eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.

In a podcast interview hosted by Judson Pierce (an attorney at Pierce, Pierce & Napolitano in Salem, MA), attorney Ryan Benharris discusses the growing popularity of the gig economy and how Millennials are entering the workforce in vast numbers.

In a presentation titled How Millennials are Changing the Face of Workers’ Compensation: The Consequences of the Gig Economy and the Young Working Class, which was presented at the Workers’ Injury and Law Advocacy Group annual convention in Las Vegas, attorney Benharris explained how employers are taking advantage of loopholes to avoid paying workers’ compensation.

“The average gig economy employees don’t even know if they’re covered under workers’ compensation policy,” Benharris said, adding, “Workers’ compensation at its core is a social justice program. And we’re supposed to be out there protecting injured workers, protecting the rights of injured workers. And for these gig economy companies to have come up with something that they think is a golden loophole to get away from protecting their workers, that’s really wrong.”

If you were injured on the job, contact The Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl to learn about the implications of workers’ compensation and who is covered.

Listen to the interview below: