Author Archive

Modernized Goggles Revolutionize Workplace Eye Protection

A male worker using equipment in a warehouse wears safety googles and other PPE to avoid injury.

Advancements in technology have made goggles a popular choice for workplace eye protection for many employees, according to a recent Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) article about eye protection and work-related eye injuries.

“Today’s modernized safety goggles provide a tighter, sealed fit and are ideal for workers who may find themselves in environments that produce flying debris and projectiles that could potentially be harmful to the users’ eyes,” the OHS article states.

These advancements in goggle technology are critical. That’s because work-related eye injuries can result in partial or permanent vision loss. Our workers’ compensation lawyers at the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl in Massachusetts and Rhode Island know because we have helped many injured workers obtain the benefits they rightfully deserve after sustaining a work-related eye injury.

Improved safety goggles provide ‘additional protection’

In recent years, employees who need eyewear protection for their jobs have chosen to wear safety goggles instead of safety glasses, according to the OHS article.

“While safety goggles are certainly not a new concept, recent innovations aim to make them more comfortable to wear, which is fueling category growth as more workers shift to the additional protection that goggles provide,” OHS reports.

The article adds, “Beyond the framework of meeting and even exceeding applicable safety standards, we are seeing new goggle designs in the market that focus on improved fit, comfort, and customization features to cater to a diverse range of users.”

Work-related eye injuries—by the numbers

Protective goggles serve an important purpose. They help protect people from sustaining work-related eye injuries and vision loss. Unfortunately, on-the-job eye injuries still occur at an alarming rate. According to the most recent workplace injury statistics compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 18,510 workers sustained eye injuries in 2020 nationwide. That’s roughly 1.7 injuries for every 10,000 full-time workers.

Common causes of work-related eye injuries

According to the BLS and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the most common causes of work-related eye injuries are:

  • Coming into contact with objects or equipment – 11,980 work-related eye injuries in 2020, according to the BLS.
  • Exposure to harmful substances – 4,830 work-related eye injuries in 2020.
  • Objects scraping or scratching an eye – According to the CDC, small particles such as dust, cement chips, and wood slivers often cause work-related eye injuries.
  • Penetrating objects – Nails, staples, and wood slivers can penetrate an eye and cause a severe injury, according to the CDC.
  • Chemical burns – Industrial chemicals and cleaning products often cause eye injuries and vision loss, according to the CDC.

Employers must provide eye protection

If employees work in an environment where eye injuries are possible, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to provide eye protection to all employees. These rules are defined in OSHA Standard 1926.102, which focuses on personal protective equipment for face and eye protection.

Unfortunately, not every employer follows these rules. That’s why violations of OSHA Standard 1926.102 recently made the top 10 list of OSHA workplace safety violations for fiscal year 2023, which ended Sept. 30. Specifically, OSHA issued 2,074 violations for failing to provide employees with protective face and eye equipment, making this the 9th most common OSHA violation in fiscal year 2023.

Work-related eye injuries can be serious

You might think you don’t need an attorney to help you recover compensation if you sustained an eye injury at work. All you have to do is apply for workers’ compensation benefits, and your employer’s insurance company will take care of everything else, right?

Don’t be so sure. Workers’ compensation claims involving eye injuries or vision loss are often disputed or denied. That’s why if you suffered an eye injury or vision loss at work, you should contact the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl for help.

Our legal team is dedicated to helping injured workers get the support they deserve after a work-related injury or illness. We have years of experience handling complicated workers’ compensation claims in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

Find out what we can do for you. Contact us and schedule a free case evaluation with our legal team so we can review your case, explain your options, and help you find your way forward after a work-related eye injury.

OSHA’s Top 10 Workplace Safety Violations Involve Fall Protection, Ladders & Hazardous Materials

Rhode Island workers' compensation lawyer blog

Some of the top 10 most common workplace safety violations involve companies failing to provide fall protection, safety training for employees using hazardous chemicals, and safe ladders for employees to use, according to a recent National Safety Council (NSC) report.

Notably, many of these Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) workplace safety violations are the same violations employers are cited for year after year, according to the NSC report.

“Although incredible advancements are made in safety each year, we continue to see many of the same types of violations appear on OSHA’s Top 10 list,” NSC president and CEO Lorraine Martin said. “As a safety community, we must come together to acknowledge these persistent trends and identify solutions to better protect workers.”

So, what are the top 10 most common OSHA workplace safety violations? Our workers’ compensation attorneys at the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl in Massachusetts and Rhode Island have the complete list below, as well as information about how a lawyer can help an injured worker.

Lack of fall protection tops OSHA’s list

OSHA Region 6 administrator Eric Harbin announced the top 10 OSHA workplace safety violations for fiscal year 2023, which ended Sept. 30. For the 13th consecutive year, failure to provide fall protection for workers was the top OSHA workplace safety violation.

In fiscal year 2023, there were 7,271 violations nationwide of OSHA Standard 1926.501 (Duty to have fall protection) governing “Fall Protection – General Requirements.” This OSHA requirement states that employers must provide fall protection and safety training to prevent workplace falls.

Falls from a height are some of the most common causes of work-related injuries and fatalities. On average, more than 200,000 workers are injured every year, and 800 die in work-related accidents due to falling from a height, according to an NSC study based on workplace injury statistics compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Other top OSHA violations

Along with failing to provide protection for workers from a fall, the other top 10 OSHA workplace safety violations in fiscal year 2023 were:

Injured workers should know their legal options

On-the-job injuries involving unsafe working conditions can quickly become complicated legal matters. Even if you are eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits, obtaining the benefits you deserve can be challenging. In addition, you could be eligible to receive additional compensation depending on the circumstances surrounding your work-related injury.

This is why it’s best to talk to an experienced work injury attorney who understands how to handle complex cases. Our workers’ compensation lawyers at the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl can help you every step of the way. We have years of experience successfully handling workers’ compensation claims in Rhode Island and Massachusetts and understand what it takes to get results for injured workers.

Contact us and schedule a free case evaluation with our law firm. Our legal team can review your case, explain your potential options, and get right to work on your claim so you can focus on healing.

Occupational Hearing Loss Is A Common Work Injury

Male worker with hearing protectors, indoors

Occupational hearing loss is a serious concern that often flies under the radar. It’s a condition that results from exposure to excessive noise levels and chemicals in the workplace. While hearing loss may not be as immediately visible as a broken bone or a burn, it’s a real and permanent problem that often results in workers’ compensation claims.

How many workers are at risk of job-related hearing loss?

Occupational hearing loss is one of the most prevalent work-related conditions. Hearing risks are present across all industries, affecting millions of U.S. workers each year.

The NIOSH Recommended Exposure Limit is 85 decibels (A-weighted) averaged over an eight-hour workday. However, roughly 22 million workers are exposed to noise levels well above the recommended exposure limit.

Another 30 million workers encounter ototoxic chemicals that can harm their hearing. This chemical disrupts the cochlea, a spiral-shaped structure in the inner ear that contains thousands of hair cells. These hair cells are responsible for detecting different frequencies of sound.

What are the consequences of occupational hearing loss?

Hearing loss can be life-altering, impacting individuals in several ways. This includes:

  • Communication difficulties: A direct consequence of hearing loss is communication difficulties. It becomes challenging to maintain relationships with others, both personally and professionally.
  • Health issues: Hearing loss is not an isolated problem. It’s linked to tinnitus (ringing in the ears), heart problems, cognitive decline, and poor mental health. These issues can significantly impact a worker’s quality of life.
  • Safety concerns: Workers suffering from hearing loss may also face concerns about personal safety and the safety of those around them. In a work environment, this can lead to accidents and injuries if a worker can’t hear potential hazards.

How can I prevent occupational hearing loss?

The good news is that occupational hearing loss is preventable. Employers should prioritize their employees’ hearing health by implementing comprehensive hearing conservation programs. This includes:

  • Implementing noise control measures.
  • Offering regular hearing testing.
  • Providing personal protective equipment, such as earplugs or earmuffs.
  • Training employees about the risks of workplace noise and the importance of protecting their hearing.

Workers should also take responsibility for their own hearing health by using the provided protection and reporting any concerns to their employers.

Should I file a workers’ comp claim if I lost my hearing?

If you have experienced occupational hearing loss, it’s crucial to understand your rights. You have the right to file a workers’ compensation claim in Massachusetts or Rhode Island. The workers’ compensation system provides financial and medical support to those who have suffered job-related injuries or illnesses. This includes hearing loss caused by workplace conditions.

The experienced legal team at the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl understands the workers’ compensation process. Our attorneys can work tirelessly to ensure your claim is properly filed and you receive the benefits you deserve. We understand that hearing loss can have a profound impact on your life, and we’re here to support you every step of the way.

Don’t let occupational hearing loss go unaddressed. Contact us to schedule a free consultation. We’ll go over your potential legal options and answer any questions you have.

Traumatic Brain Injury Risks in Construction

Working in construction comes with inherent risks; among them, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are a significant concern. Every day, construction workers face potential TBI risks on the job.

Head and brain injuries are common in construction

Although head injuries are largely preventable, they remain a considerable hazard for construction workers. With National Concussion Awareness Day falling in September, we can shed light on the various forms of TBIs, ranging from minor concussions to more severe cases, and underscore the importance of awareness and safety measures within the construction industry.

In the unfortunate event of a construction-related TBI, it’s essential to understand that you have legal rights and options available to you. Seeking compensation for your injuries and ensuring that your rights are protected can be a complex process, which is why consulting an experienced construction accident lawyer is crucial.

What is a traumatic brain injury?

According to Occupational Health & Safety, a traumatic brain injury affects the brain’s normal function. TBIs can happen from a direct hit to the head, a penetrating injury, or a jolt. You may be suffering from a TBI if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sensitivity to light or sound
  • Fatigue

Traumatic brain injuries can vary in levels of severity. At the milder end of the spectrum are concussions, which typically involve temporary symptoms like confusion and headaches. More severe TBIs can result in long-term complications such as impaired motor skills, cognitive deficits, mood disorders, and, in the most serious cases, coma or permanent disability.

Fall-related TBIs

Falls are a leading cause of traumatic brain injuries among construction workers. They often happen when workers are exposed to dangerous situations, such as working at heights. Common factors that can cause a fall on a construction site include:

  • Lack of fall protection
  • Absence of safety equipment such as guardrails
  • Misuse of ladders and other equipment
  • Failure to use protective gear
  • Slippery or uneven surfaces
  • Weather conditions

TBIs resulting from construction falls frequently occur due to a direct impact on the ground or other hard surfaces. Despite using safety gear like hard hats, the force of a direct impact can still be strong enough to cause a TBI.

Struck by falling and flying objects

In the construction industry, there’s another significant TBI risk: flying and falling objects. These accidents happen when materials, tools, or debris are propelled into the air, often due to equipment malfunctions, improper handling, or weather conditions. The risk of these objects becoming airborne increases when work zones are crowded and busy work zones.

When an object hits a worker, the impact can lead to an injury because of the force and weight involved. These accidents can result in various levels of TBIs, ranging from mild concussions to skull fractures and even penetrating wounds.

Talk to a workers’ comp attorney today

Construction workers who’ve sustained traumatic brain injuries may qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. However, eligibility doesn’t always ensure you receive benefits. Navigating workers’ compensation cases can be challenging, but having the guidance of an experienced workers’ comp attorney can make all the difference.

At the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl, we have a deep understanding of workers’ compensation systems in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. We work tirelessly to demand the compensation you rightfully deserve. Contact us for a free consultation with a workers’ compensation attorney who will stand by your side when it matters most.

Preventing Struck-By Objects Accidents at Work

An accident in a warehouse. Woman running towards her colleague lying on the floor next to a forklift.

Struck-by accidents are a common cause of workplace injuries and fatalities. They occur when workers get struck-by objects and can happen in a wide range of industries and settings. They typically involve contact with tools, equipment, vehicles, materials, or even falling objects.

Employers play a crucial role in preventing struck-by accidents

Knowing the potential risks on the job and what action to take if you’re injured is important. The workers’ compensation attorneys at the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl discuss the four types of struck-by accidents, how employers can prevent them, and how to file a claim.

What are the four types of struck-by objects accidents?

There are four main categories of struck-by accidents, as defined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA):

  • Struck-by flying object: This occurs when an object becomes airborne and strikes a worker. For example, a tool or material may be ejected from a machine and hit a worker.
  • Struck-by falling object: This type of accident happens when an object falls from a height and strikes a worker below. It can occur in construction, manufacturing, or warehouse environments where materials or equipment are stored or moved overhead.
  • Struck-by swinging object: In this scenario, an object that is being swung or suspended strikes a worker. This can include cranes, hoists, or equipment on a swing arm.
  • Struck-by rolling object: This type of accident involves objects that roll, move, or slide. Examples include vehicles, forklifts, and carts.

What should employers do to prevent struck-by accidents?

Preventing struck-by object accidents is a crucial aspect of workplace safety. Employers can take various measures to reduce the risk, such as:

  • Providing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Implementing safety training programs
  • Securing materials and objects properly at heights
  • Storing heavy items close to the floor
  • Using safety barriers and warning signs
  • Securing loose items
  • Using caution around corners
  • Lifting all loads evenly
  • Training workers on potential hazards and encouraging them to follow safe worker practices.

What should I do if I was injured in a struck-by object work accident?

If you’ve been injured in a struck-by accident at work, taking certain steps to protect your legal rights is essential. Here’s what you should do:

  • Seek immediate medical attention: Even if your injuries seem minor, getting a medical evaluation is important. Some injuries may not be immediately apparent but could worsen without treatment.
  • Report the accident: Inform your supervisor or employer about the incident immediately. Be sure to follow your workplace’s specific reporting procedures. Provide a detailed account of the accident, including the date, time, location, and any witnesses present.
    Document the incident: Write down a description of how the accident occurred and any contributing factors. If possible, take photographs of the accident scene, your injuries, and any equipment or objects involved. Visual evidence can be valuable when filing a workers’ compensation claim.
  • Follow doctor’s orders: Attend all medical appointments and follow your healthcare provider’s treatment plan. Also, keep records of your medical treatment, including diagnoses, prescriptions, and medical bills.
  • File a workers’ compensation claim: To recover medical expenses and lost wages, you’ll need to file a workers’ compensation claim. You’ll have to apply in Massachusetts or Rhode Island to start the process. The application process can be confusing. To avoid any delays in your compensation, it’s best to have an experienced workers’ comp lawyer help you.
  • Consult with an attorney: To receive financial benefits, you’ll need to prove that your injury was work-related. Be sure to consult with an attorney who can gather the facts and present your case before the Massachusetts or Rhode Island workers’ compensation boards. An attorney can also advise you on your legal rights, help you navigate the workers’ compensation system, and handle all the complex paperwork.

Contact a workers’ comp lawyer today

If you’ve been injured in a struck-by accident in Massachusetts or Rhode Island, an attorney at the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl can help. We know how workers’ compensation cases work and have a proven track record of successfully representing injured workers.

Take the first step and contact us online to schedule your free consultation. We’ll work tirelessly to help you get the benefits you deserve while you focus on recovery.

Aug 2023

Heat Stress Can Cause Work-Related Injuries, Fatalities

 A carpenter with a hardhat and hammer works outside on a home while the sun beats down on him.

Severe heat frequently leads to work-related injuries and even fatalities, as highlighted in a recent study. That’s why if you work in extreme heat, it’s crucial to prioritize your safety and well-being. Be aware of the risks associated with heat stress and take appropriate precautions.

Employers also need to recognize the need for preventive measures and safety protocols to ensure the well-being of laborers across various industries. Despite being preventable, heat-related illnesses still affect thousands of workers annually, with some instances resulting in fatal outcomes, as noted by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA).

Extreme heat puts workers at risk

A recent study shed light on the dangers associated with work-related heat stress injuries across the nation. The study emphasized that laborers, often involved in strenuous physical tasks for extended hours, face heightened vulnerability to exertional injuries and illnesses.

Surprisingly, no previous studies have comprehensively investigated the primary causes behind catastrophic exertional injuries and fatalities within this demographic.

Every year, a substantial number of workers suffer severe injuries, illnesses, or even death due to the effects of extreme heat in the workplace. In 2021 alone, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported a total of 36 deaths nationwide attributed to environmental heat exposure during work.

Researchers delving into the subject unveiled a significant finding: an overwhelming 91.9 percent of workplace injuries categorized as “exertion-related” were linked to extreme heat conditions.

Common heat stress injuries

Exposure to extreme heat can result in a range of work-related injuries and illnesses. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified several common heat-related conditions, including:

  • Heat stroke: Heat stroke is a severe condition that occurs when the body’s temperature regulation system fails, leading to a dangerously high body temperature. It can result in confusion, loss of consciousness, and even organ damage if not treated promptly.
  • Heat exhaustion: Heat exhaustion is characterized by heavy sweating, weakness, nausea, and dizziness. It often arises due to dehydration and can progress to heat stroke if not addressed by cooling the body and rehydration.
  • Heat cramps: Heat cramps are painful muscle contractions caused by electrolyte imbalances due to sweating. They are usually experienced in muscles that are being heavily used during physical labor.
  • Heat rashes: Heat rashes, also known as prickly heat, occur when sweat becomes trapped in sweat ducts, leading to red, itchy skin. They are particularly common in areas where clothing creates friction on the skin.
  • Cardiac arrest (heart attack): Prolonged exposure to extreme heat can strain the cardiovascular system, potentially triggering a cardiac arrest or heart attack, especially in individuals with preexisting heart conditions.
  • Burn-related injuries: When workers come into contact with extremely hot surfaces, they can suffer burn injuries. These burns can range from mild to severe and may require medical attention depending on their extent.

Occupations most at risk

Heat-related injuries and illnesses can affect many workers, but certain professions are particularly vulnerable to heat stress due to the nature of their work and environments. These include:

  • Construction workers: Construction workers often perform physically demanding tasks in outdoor environments, exposed to direct sunlight and high temperatures. Wearing heavy protective gear and engaging in strenuous labor can increase the risk of heat-related issues.
  • Excavation workers: Excavation workers who dig and manipulate the earth’s surface are exposed to both the sun’s rays and the heat reflected from the ground. The confined spaces they often work in can further exacerbate the heat stress.
  • Farm workers: Agricultural laborers work long hours in the fields, often during the hottest parts of the day. The combination of physical exertion, exposure to the sun, and limited access to shade can make them susceptible to heat-related illnesses.
  • Firefighters: Firefighters operate in high-temperature environments due to flames and equipment, wearing heavy protective gear that limits heat dissipation. Their physically demanding work can quickly lead to heat exhaustion or worse if not managed carefully.
  • Kitchen workers: Kitchen workers spend their days near ovens and stoves, creating a high-heat work environment. The constant exposure to hot surfaces and confined spaces can contribute to heat stress.
  • Factory workers: Factory workers in facilities with poor ventilation or inadequate cooling systems can be at risk. Those operating machinery or working near heat-emitting equipment are particularly vulnerable to heat-related conditions.
  • Miners: Miners work in underground or confined spaces, where temperatures can rise due to the lack of ventilation. The physically demanding nature of mining, combined with heat-trapping conditions, poses a significant risk of heat-related illnesses.

Preventing work-related heat stress

Some of the most effective strategies for employers to reduce the risk of heat-related injuries on the job include:

  • Educate workers about heat-related illnesses: Ensure that all workers are well-versed in identifying the early signs of heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke, so they can take immediate action.
  • Implement frequent rest breaks: Encourage and schedule regular breaks during work in extreme heat, allowing employees to cool down and rehydrate. These intervals are essential for preventing overexertion and heat-related conditions.
  • Promote adequate hydration: Stress the importance of drinking water regularly to prevent dehydration. Provide access to clean water and encourage workers to hydrate throughout their shifts.
  • Adjust work schedules: Whenever possible, schedule outdoor tasks during cooler parts of the day, such as early mornings or late afternoons. This reduces exposure to peak heat levels and minimizes the risk of heat-related injuries.
  • Consider hiring more workers: In situations where the workload is particularly strenuous or demanding, consider increasing the number of on-site workers. This can help distribute the workload and prevent individual workers from succumbing to heat exhaustion.

Workers’ compensation lawyers serving MA & RI

At the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl, we understand how heat stress injuries can negatively impact workers and their families. Our dedicated legal team is committed to advocating for the rights of those who have suffered harm from extreme heat conditions in the workplace. With our extensive knowledge and experience of the workers’ compensation system in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, we are here to provide the guidance and support you need to help you find your way forward.

If you sustained an injury while on the job, you may be eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits, which can cover the cost of your medical care and a percentage of your lost wages. However, actually getting the benefits you deserve can sometimes be challenging. This is why it’s important to have an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to protect your rights and aggressively advocate for your best interests.

Learn more about how we can help you. Contact us and schedule a free case evaluation with a law firm you can count on when it matters most. We can review your case, explain your potential legal options, and get right to work.

Aug 2023

What’s the Average Workers’ Comp Settlement for a Back Injury?

A warehouse worker sits down while holding his lower back in pain.

Annually, over one million workers experience on-the-job back injuries, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). If you’re among those who suffer a back injury at work, you’re generally entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits, facilitated by your employer’s insurance, can help cover your medical expenses, partial wage replacement, and other economic losses related to your work injury.

However, workers often have a lot of questions about the extent of compensation they might receive for their back injury. What constitutes the average settlement for workers’ compensation related to back injuries? Determining the settlement amount and other factors that influence it can be complex.

Understanding these dynamics is crucial. How much you ultimately receive for your back injury depends on various factors, including the nature of your injury and its impact on your life. Seeking guidance from an experienced workers’ comp lawyer can help you navigate this process and ensure you secure fair compensation.

Workplace back injury settlements

The average settlement for a back injury in workers’ compensation cases typically falls between $40,000 and $80,000, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). However, it’s crucial to recognize that these figures merely represent an average range and don’t represent what you may be entitled to recover if you sustained a work-related back injury.

Actual payouts can differ significantly based on individual circumstances. Some individuals may receive less compensation for their work-related back injuries, while others could secure substantially higher sums. As such, it’s vital to avoid making assumptions and instead talk to a workers’ compensation lawyer who can calculate the value of your potential settlement.

Factors that can impact your claim

Numerous factors contribute to the value of workers’ compensation settlements for back injuries, including:

  • Severity of the Back Injury: The extent of your back injury plays a significant role.
  • Required Medical Care: The necessity for medical treatment, including procedures like back surgery, influences the settlement.
  • Future Medical Care: If you require ongoing medical attention or additional surgeries in the future, this impacts the value.
  • Recovery Time: The duration of time you need to recuperate and miss time from work contributes to the calculation.
  • Ability to Return to Work: A determining factor is whether you can resume work after the injury or face prolonged absence.
  • Pain and Suffering: The level of physical discomfort and emotional distress from the injury affects the settlement value.

All these aspects must be carefully evaluated to determine the appropriate compensation for your back injury.

What happens if you injure your back at work?

In most cases, you deserve full financial compensation for all the economic losses stemming from your back injury, such as:

  • Medical Expenses: This includes covering the cost of your back injury treatment, including provisions for future medical needs.
  • Income Replacement: You should receive compensation for the income you’re unable to earn while recovering from your back injury.
  • Lost Future Earnings: If the severity of your back injury hampers your ability to work in the future, compensation for potential lost income should be considered.

How is settlement value calculated?

When an agreement cannot be reached between you and your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance provider regarding the compensation for your back injury, a judge typically steps in to determine the amount you’ll receive.

In Massachusetts, these matters are frequently addressed by an Administrative Law Judge in the Division of Dispute Resolution, who is responsible for determining the appropriate settlement for your workers’ compensation back injury case.

Meanwhile, in Rhode Island, the resolution rests with an Administrative Law Judge within the Rhode Island Workers’ Compensation Court located in Providence.

How long do workers’ comp cases take to settle?

Times can vary widely from one back injury case to another, but most workers’ compensation cases generally take about 12 to 18 months to finalize.

To get a precise estimate, it’s recommended to have a conversation with your workers’ compensation lawyer. With their extensive experience in navigating the legal process and the intricacies of the workers’ compensation system in your state, they can provide you with accurate insights.

An attorney can help you navigate the workers’ comp system

Work-related back injuries can have a profound impact on your life and livelihood. Whether you’re facing piles of medical bills, lost wages, or the uncertainty of recovery, seeking help from an experienced work injury lawyer is crucial.

At the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl, our dedicated legal team is here to support you throughout the entire process. Our attorneys have a deep understanding of workers’ compensation laws in both Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

From dealing with insurance companies to addressing complex legal issues, we are committed to securing the best possible outcome for your work-related back injury claim. Contact us today for a free consultation, and let us provide the guidance and representation you need.

Jul 2023

Does Workers’ Compensation Cover a Torn Meniscus?

torn meniscus at work; RI and MA workers' compensation lawyer

A torn meniscus is a common work-related injury that can be painful and debilitating. This type of injury affects your ability to work and engage in daily activities. If you suffered a work-related torn meniscus, it’s important to understand your rights and the process involved in recovering workers’ compensation benefits.

Know what to do if you experience this type of knee injury

The meniscus is a C-shaped piece of cartilage located in each knee joint. There are two menisci in each knee, one on the outer side (lateral meniscus) and the other on the inner side (medial meniscus). These structures act as cushions or shock absorbers between the thigh bone (femur) and the shinbone (tibia).

How a workplace injury can happen

Menisci play a crucial role in maintaining knee stability, distributing weight across the joint, and reducing friction during movement. But each meniscus is vulnerable to injury due to its location and structure and the demands placed on the knee joint during various activities.

The structure of the meniscus is soft, rubbery cartilage that is more prone to tearing compared to other structures in the knee, such as ligaments. The pressure placed on the meniscus during weight-bearing activities increases the risk of injury, especially if excessive force or twisting motions are involved.

Workers involved in physically demanding jobs or those required to perform repetitive motions are more likely to suffer a torn meniscus. Some common scenarios that may lead to this injury at work include:

  • Lifting heavy objects
  • Twisting or pivoting motions during work activities
  • Repeatedly kneeling or squatting
  • A sudden, forceful impact to the knee during workplace accidents.

Is a torn meniscus covered under workers’ compensation?

In Massachusetts and Rhode Island, the answer is “yes” if the injury is work-related and occurs during the course of employment. Workers’ compensation benefits should cover all medical expenses related to your injury, as well as partial wages while you are unable to return to work.

But there are steps you should take to ensure that you meet the requirements for a workers’ compensation claim. After you are injured:

  • Inform your employer about the injury as soon as possible.
  • Get medical treatment. A doctor can begin treatment and document the injury to help establish a link between the torn meniscus and your work-related activities.
  • Contact an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer. An attorney can help you file a claim for benefits and guide you through the process every step of the way.

Do I need a lawyer for a claim involving a torn meniscus?

There is no requirement in Massachusetts or Rhode Island to have an attorney when seeking workers’ compensation benefits. But the process can be complicated, and claims are often disputed or denied. An experienced attorney will be familiar with state laws and how the system works.

A lawyer can:

  • Complete all necessary paperwork correctly and ensure all deadlines are met
  • Gather evidence in support of your claim (such as medical reports and witness statements)
  • Negotiate with insurance companies and adjusters
  • Make sure that healthcare providers who treat your injury take you seriously
  • Help you file an appeal if your claim is denied
  • Represent you at all hearings.

The Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl fights for injured workers. We know what it takes to get a workers’ compensation claim approved. Our firm puts in the work to build a strong case for benefits and will fight for you right from the start.

If you suffered a torn meniscus on the job, learn more about how we can help. Contact us to schedule a free consultation.

Jul 2023

Will Worker’s Compensation Pay For My Prescriptions in Massachusetts?

prescription medication, pad, and stethoscope; Massachusetts workers' compensation lawyer

Suffering an injury or illness while on the job can impact your life physically, emotionally, and financially. Workers’ compensation benefits are supposed to cover all of your medical expenses, but injured workers may still have concerns. For example, will the prescription medications I need be covered?

A lawyer can guide you through the claims process

Under Massachusetts workers’ compensation laws, injured workers are entitled to medical benefits that cover reasonable and necessary medical treatment related to their work-related injury or illness. This includes coverage for prescription medications that are deemed essential for the recovery and rehabilitation process.

But it can get complicated.

The coverage of prescription medications in a workers’ compensation claim varies depending on the specific circumstances of the injury and the treatment plan prescribed by your doctor. If you’re unsure about the coverage for your prescription medications or need assistance with your claim, consult an experienced workers’ compensation attorney right away.

What’s covered under workers’ compensation laws

Before obtaining prescription medications through workers’ compensation, your healthcare provider must obtain pre-authorization from the insurance carrier. This process involves submitting a written request and medical documentation justifying the medical necessity of the prescribed medication.

For a prescription to be covered under workers’ compensation, it must be considered reasonable and necessary for treating the work-related injury or illness. This means that the medication should be directly related to the medical treatment plan and tailored to your specific needs.

In some cases, the insurance company may suggest or require the use of less expensive alternative medications that provide similar therapeutic benefits. You have the right to discuss treatment options with your doctor and can appeal this decision.

The insurance company will periodically review the medical treatment and prescriptions provided. Your doctor must support the medical necessity of the prescribed medications to ensure ongoing coverage.

A lawyer can assist you in understanding your rights and options regarding the insurance company’s suggestions or requirements for alternative medications.

Seeking legal representation

An experienced attorney can help you navigate the claims process in Massachusetts to ensure you get the prescription medication and other medical care that you need. A lawyer can:

  • Explain the pre-authorization process, the criteria for medical necessity, and the potential coverage of alternative medications.
  • Work with your doctor to ensure that all necessary paperwork is submitted correctly and promptly to the insurance company.
  • File an appeal on your behalf if your medication request is denied and provide additional evidence supporting the medication’s necessity.
  • Negotiate with the insurance company to ensure that you receive appropriate coverage and timely access to necessary medication.
  • Ensure you receive all of the medical treatment you need for your injury or illness in addition to prescription medication and work to prevent delays or disruptions in treatment.
  • Monitor reviews to ensure that the insurance company continues to cover necessary prescription medications.

Get an experienced attorney on your side

Having an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer by your side can provide peace of mind during a difficult time. Your lawyer can handle your claim so you can focus on your recovery and well-being.

At The Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl, we understand the importance of receiving proper care for your work-related injury or illness. That includes being able to take the medication your doctor prescribes. If you’ve been hurt on the job in Massachusetts, we can help. Contact us now to schedule a free consultation.

May 2023

Common Causes of Demolition Accidents

Demolition worker using a jackhammer to drill into wall on a construction site.

Demolition accidents, especially at construction sites, often result in serious workplace injuries or fatalities. But why do these accidents happen? Just how common are demolition accidents? And what can workers and demolition companies do to prevent injuries?

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) recently offered numerous suggestions for preventing demolition accidents. And if one does occur, it’s critical that injured demolition workers talk to a lawyer right away to learn more about their legal rights and options.

In many cases, injured workers are eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits, especially in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

How common are demolition accidents?

Many workplace accidents occur at construction sites, including demolition accidents. Each year on average, more than 200,000 construction workers nationwide get hurt on the job, according to workplace accident data collected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). These accidents regularly result in over 80,000 construction workers missing work and over 1,000 construction accident fatalities.

And when it comes to demolition and extraction work, as it’s sometimes called, more than 160 workers for every 10,000 demolition workers are hurt on the job while performing demolition-related work each year, according to BLS statistics.

Why do demolition accidents happen?

  • Demolition workers are struck by falling debris, including roofing materials and bricks.
  • Demolition workers are crushed in a building collapse.
  • A worker falls from a height while on a rooftop or scaffolding.
  • A worker sustains a burn injury due to a fire.
  • Demolition workers suffer hearing loss due to loud equipment and power tools used on the job site.
  • Demolition workers are injured in accidents involving backhoes and other heavy machinery.
  • A worker is injured in an explosion.
  • A worker is electrocuted in an accident involving power tools, power lines, or wiring.
  • Demolition workers slip and fall on the job site due to unsafe working conditions or negligence by a third party (e.g., a subcontractor).

Steps to take to prevent demolition accidents

OSHA breaks down demolition safety into three areas–planning, providing protection, and properly training workers. Specific demolition safety tips include:

  • Locate any potential hazards before beginning demolition work. This includes inspecting the demolition site for nearby power lines, water lines, and other potential hazards.
  • Create a plan in the event of an emergency. This includes an evacuation plan and who to notify in the event of a demolition accident.
  • Provide demolition workers with safety equipment. This includes hard hats, hearing protection, protective eyewear, respirators, gloves, foot protection, and Personal Fall Arrest Systems (PFAS).
  • Train demolition workers on how to safely remove debris. Such safety training is mandated for all demolition workers nationwide, according to OSHA Public Law 91-596.

“Employers must instruct employees how to recognize and avoid or remove hazards that may cause an injury or illness based on their assigned duties,” OSHA states on its demolition safety page.

Injured in a demolition accident? Talk to an experienced workers’ comp attorney.

Demolition accidents in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and other states often become complicated legal cases. Even if you are eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits after your workplace accident, getting the benefits your rightfully deserve can often be very difficult.

This is why injured demolition workers should meet with a workers’ compensation lawyer licensed to practice law in their state. The experienced attorneys at the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl know exactly what to do. We have years of experience handling workers’ compensation claims in Rhode Island and Massachusetts and can help you navigate the process from start to finish.

Put your trust in a law firm that puts your needs first. Contact us and schedule a free consultation with a workers’ compensation attorney focused on helping you get the benefits you deserve. We can answer your questions and explain your potential legal options.