Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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.

Jun 2023

What To Do When Workers’ Comp Denies Surgery

Paperwork of a denied compensation claim.

A lawyer can help you secure the treatment you need.

While some work injuries can be resolved with rest, ice, and over-the-counter pain medication, others may require more extensive medical intervention, including surgery.

Fortunately, workers’ compensation is designed to cover the costs of reasonable and necessary surgeries to treat work-related injuries. However, the not-so-great news is that obtaining approval from the workers’ compensation insurance company can be a challenging process to navigate on your own.

If your request for surgery to address a work injury has been denied, a workers’ compensation attorney can provide the support you need to fight back and protect your rights.

What types of surgery are covered under workers’ comp?

In Massachusetts and Rhode Island, workers’ compensation generally covers all reasonable and necessary surgeries for work-related injuries.

The following types of surgery are commonly covered:

  • Surgery to repair fractures or broken bones.
  • Skin grafts for burns sustained at work.
  • Spinal fusion procedures.
  • Carpal tunnel release surgery.
  • Knee or shoulder surgeries.
  • Eye surgeries.
  • Neck or back surgeries.
  • Brain surgeries.
  • Reconstructive surgeries.
  • Any other surgeries deemed reasonable and necessary for treating work-related injuries.

If surgery is covered by workers’ compensation, the insurance company is typically responsible for paying the entire cost, including pre-and post-operative care, anesthesia, medications, and medical devices. There should be no co-pays, deductibles, or out-of-pocket expenses for the injured worker.

Additionally, workers’ compensation should provide a percentage of lost income while the worker is recovering from the surgery or if they are assigned to a reduced-paying “light duty” role due to the procedure.

Common reasons why workers’ comp denies surgery

Unfortunately, even when your doctor deems surgery necessary for your work injury, the insurance company may deny approval, leading to a frustrating and challenging situation. They might dispute the surgery’s “reasonableness and necessity” and suggest alternative treatments. In some cases, they may insist on a second opinion from a doctor more aligned with their perspective. Alternatively, they may argue that the injury requiring surgery is unrelated to work, thus not covered by workers’ compensation.

It’s important to recognize that insurance companies have a financial motive to act in this manner. Surgery can be costly, and their primary objective is to protect their own financial interests. In such circumstances, it becomes crucial to seek the assistance of a workers’ compensation attorney who can navigate the complexities of the system and advocate on your behalf.

Remember, your well-being and recovery should be the top priority, and legal representation can help you pursue the treatment you need.

How a workers’ compensation attorney can help

At The Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl, we understand that getting the medical treatment you deserve shouldn’t be a frustrating experience. That’s why we advocate for the rights of injured workers in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. We help our clients fully understand their rights and options so they can make informed decisions that protect their best interests.

If your surgery has been denied by workers’ comp, we can thoroughly review your case, gather evidence, and build a strong argument to challenge the denial. Through negotiations with the insurance company, we can advocate for the approval of the surgery, guide you in filing an appeal, represent you in hearings, and present compelling evidence to obtain the outcome your case deserves.

Don’t let a denied surgery claim from workers’ comp prevent you from receiving the medical treatment your doctor recommends. Take action today. Contact us now to schedule your free consultation.

Jun 2023

Watch Out for These Workers’ Comp Insurance Company Tactics

Massachusetts workers' compensation attorney

The right work injury attorney can protect your rights.

Both Massachusetts and Rhode Island have workers’ compensation systems designed to protect injured workers. In theory, this is simple: you’re hurt on the job, you file a claim, and your medical expenses are covered, as are a portion of your lost wages and other benefits if you have a permanent, disabling injury.

In practice, things are rarely that simple. The workers’ comp insurance company, like any other business, is concerned with their bottom line, and they know how to use the system to their advantage. That’s why you need the right workers’ compensation attorney on your side to protect your interests throughout the process.

Some of the insurance companies’ tactics include:

Delay tactics and slow communication

Workers’ comp insurance companies are notorious for taking their time to make a decision on claims. Sometimes, there are legitimate reasons for delays and processing, such as a need for further investigation. But often, they slow the process down as a deliberate tactic to put pressure on the injured worker and discourage them from pursuing their claim.

Fortunately, a workers’ compensation attorney who knows the system and the rules and regulations insurance companies must follow can fight back. We know how to keep your claim moving forward and protect your rights throughout the process.

Questioning the extent of your injuries and disputing medical treatment

Workers’ compensation is supposed to pay for the full cost of reasonable and necessary medical treatment for your work injury. This means the insurance company has a strong incentive to question whether treatment is “reasonable and necessary,” especially if you need surgery and other costly procedures.

They may dispute or deny treatment, require you to get a second opinion, or try to argue that your injuries were not work-related and thus not compensable.

The result of these tactics is lengthy delays and a highly frustrating situation when you’re just trying to heal and get back to work. As experienced workers’ compensation attorneys, we understand the rules and regulations surrounding medical treatment for work injuries, and we can push back on the insurance company’s attempts to downplay your injuries.

Asking for a recorded statement

An insurance adjuster or case manager may ask you to provide a recorded statement about your work injury, implying that it’s a necessary step to move your claim forward. Here’s what you need to know: any recording can be taken out of context and used against you. Plus, you only have one chance to get it right, and it’s easy to get tripped up.

If the insurance company asks you to give a recorded statement, it’s best to politely decline until you have a chance to discuss with your attorney. We can advise you on the best way to proceed and help you craft a statement that accurately tells your side of the story.

Talk to an experienced workers’ compensation attorney today

Remember, the workers’ compensation insurance companies have attorneys on their side. Their goal is to protect the insurance company’s bottom line. The only way to level the playing field is to hire a workers’ compensation lawyer who knows the system and will advocate for your interests from start to finish.

If you’ve been hurt on the job in Rhode Island or southeastern Massachusetts, you don’t have to deal with the insurance company on your own. Contact the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl for a free consultation.

May 2023

Loading Dock Accidents & Safety Tips To Prevent Them

A loading dock with orange safety cones and yellow barriers.

Workplace accidents that result in serious injuries often occur on loading docks. Unfortunately, loading dock accidents are becoming more common, according to a recent article in Safety + Health Magazine, which is published by the National Safety Council.

So why are loading dock accidents so common? What are the common causes of such accidents? And what can be done to prevent them? Below, you can find the answers to all these questions and more, including information on how a workers’ comp lawyer can help if you or a loved one has been injured in a demolition accident.

If you do get hurt in a loading dock accident in Massachusetts or Rhode Island, make sure you contact the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl. One of our experienced workers’ compensation attorneys can answer your questions and explain your legal options.

How common are loading dock accidents?

There’s a reason why loading dock accidents happen so often. So many items are loaded and unloaded on these docks across the country. Each year, businesses transport more than 18 billion tons of goods across the country, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. And each year, thousands of loading dock employees get hurt on the job.

In 2018, nearly 6,600 employees sustained an injury at work on a loading dock, ramp, or dock plate, according to workplace injury data compiled by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). That number is the most loading dock injuries in a single year since the BLS started listing the source of specific workplace injuries and illnesses in 2011.

Why do loading dock accidents happen?

Loading dock accidents that result in serious injuries occur due to many of the following reasons:

  • Forklift hitting or running over loading dock workers.
  • Falling objects hitting employees, either from delivery trucks or shelves near loading docks.
  • Delivery trucks hitting workers.
  • Vehicle collisions at or near loading docks.
  • Employees slipping and falling on loading docks, often due to water, snow, or ice.

What are common loading dock injuries?

Common loading dock injuries include:

  • Head injuries, including concussions and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs).
  • Back injuries, especially lower back injuries, due to lifting heavy boxes.
  • Broken bones, including bones broken in the arms, hands, and feet.
  • Internal injuries, which are caused by workers getting crushed by large, heavy objects or by forklifts or delivery trucks.

What can be done to prevent loading dock accidents?

Health + Safety magazine interviewed several workplace safety experts, each of whom offered some of the following suggestions for preventing loading dock accidents:

  • Properly train loading dock workers on how to safely operate all equipment, including forklifts and machinery.
  • Inspect loading docks regularly to ensure everything’s safe, especially the machinery used to load or unload trucks.
  • Inspect all machinery used to load and unload merchandise on loading docks, including forklifts.
  • Make sure loading docks are level and stable before unloading anything onto them.
  • Improve the lighting on loading docks, which are often too dark and not well-lit.
  • Set speed limit signs near the loading dock to encourage drivers and forklift operators to drive slower.
  • Install guardrails near loading docks to protect loading dock workers for trucks and forklifts.
  • Create a designated area where truck drivers can wait so they are not accidentally hurt during the loading or unloading process.
  • Require loading dock workers to wear reflective clothing so drivers and other workers can see them.
  • Install reflective markings on loading docks, especially in high-traffic areas used by delivery trucks and forklifts.

Why should I hire a workers’ compensation attorney?

Loading dock injury claims should be straightforward, especially if the injured worker is eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits. Unfortunately, many work accidents quickly turn into complicated legal cases due to various factors such as disputed liability, third-party involvement, or employer negligence.

It is crucial to seek legal guidance and representation to navigate through the complexities and ensure that your rights and entitlements are protected.

To learn more about your legal rights, talk to an experienced workers’ compensation attorney at the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl. We regularly handle workers’ compensation claims in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. As a result, we thoroughly understand how the system actually works.

Demand the benefits you rightfully deserve. Contact our law firm and schedule a free consultation with a Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer you can count on when it matters most. We can answer your questions and explain your options.

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.

Apr 2023

How Long Can You Receive Workers’ Comp Benefits in R.I.?

Safety at work concept. Close-up view of hardhat and injured factory worker in the background.

Understanding workers’ comp benefits in Rhode Island

Rhode Island, like all states, has a workers’ compensation system in place to provide financial assistance to workers who are injured on the job or develop an occupational illness.

Under Rhode Island law, all employers with one or more employees must carry workers’ compensation insurance. Once an injured worker’s claim has been accepted, they are eligible for various benefits through workers’ comp.

Workers’ comp medical benefits cover all reasonable and necessary medical treatment related to the work injury, including doctor’s visits, hospital bills, prescriptions, and prosthetic devices. Injured workers are also eligible for disability benefits through workers’ comp.

But how long is an injured worker eligible to receive workers’ comp benefits? In Rhode Island, there are many factors to consider. The length of time a worker can receive workers’ comp benefits depends on the severity of their injury, their ability to return to work, and the type of benefits they are receiving.

Total Disability Benefits

Total disability benefits are an important component of the workers’ compensation system in Rhode Island, providing financial assistance to workers who are completely unable to work due to their injuries.

As of January 1st, 2022, Rhode Island has discontinued the intermediate spendable base wage (SBW) calculations and has adopted a new compensation formula. For new injuries, the compensation rate will equal 62% of the claimant’s average weekly wage instead of the previous 75% of their spendable base wage.

Workers with dependents, such as non-working spouses or children under 18, may be eligible for additional dependency benefits. This financial assistance can help alleviate the financial burden of caring for loved ones while recovering from a work-related injury.

There is also a maximum weekly compensation rate for total disability benefits in Rhode Island. This amount is adjusted annually to account for changes in the cost of living.

Total disability benefits are available for as long as a worker is completely unable to work due to their injuries. Workers must provide medical documentation of their disability and work status to continue receiving benefits. In some cases, workers may be required to attend medical examinations or vocational rehabilitation programs to continue receiving benefits.

Partial Disability Benefits

In Rhode Island, injured workers who are able to return to work but are earning less due to their injuries may be eligible for partial disability benefits through the workers’ compensation system. These benefits are designed to provide financial assistance to workers who are unable to earn the same amount of money they were making before their injury or illness.

Partial disability benefits in Rhode Island are calculated as a percentage of the difference between a worker’s spendable base wage before the injury and their current earning capacity. These benefits are available for up to 312 weeks, with a maximum weekly amount that is the same as total disability benefits.

Once a worker’s condition has stabilized and is not likely to improve further, their benefits may be reduced. After reaching maximum medical improvement, a reduction in benefits is intended to encourage injured workers to seek out new job opportunities or vocational training programs that may enable them to earn a higher income.

Scheduled Awards

Rhode Island workers who sustain injuries to specific body parts listed in a state schedule may be eligible for scheduled awards through the workers’ compensation system. These awards provide a set amount of financial assistance to workers based on the type and severity of their injury.

The amount of a scheduled award is calculated based on the worker’s average weekly earnings, subject to a minimum of $90 and a maximum of $180 per week, multiplied by the number of weeks specified in the state schedule for the body part injured. For example, if a worker loses a thumb, the state schedule provides payment for 100 weeks of benefits. The worker’s average weekly earnings are then multiplied by 100 to determine the amount of their scheduled award.

Scheduled awards are available for a variety of injuries to specific body parts, including loss of use of an arm, leg, hand, foot, eye, or ear, as well as amputations, disfigurement, and scarring. The state schedule provides specific guidelines for the duration and amount of benefits available for each type of injury.

Contact a workers’ comp lawyer in R.I.

At the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl, we have extensive experience representing injured workers in Rhode Island, and we are committed to helping our clients seek the compensation they deserve. Our dedicated legal team understands the challenges that injured workers face, and we work tirelessly to help our clients overcome those challenges and achieve the best possible outcome.

If you have been injured on the job or have developed an occupational illness, contact us today to schedule a free consultation. We will review your case, answer any questions you may have, and provide you with the information and guidance you need to make informed decisions about your workers’ compensation claim.

Apr 2023

How Long Can You Receive Workers’ Comp Benefits in Massachusetts?

Injured worker with a bandaged hand uses a pen to fill out a work injury claim form.

Navigating the Massachusetts workers’ compensation system can be complex without help from a lawyer

Workplace accidents are an unfortunate reality that can happen to anyone. When accidents do happen, they can result in physical harm and financial instability. Workers’ compensation benefits aim to provide relief for workers who have been injured or become ill as a result of their employment. These benefits typically cover medical expenses, lost wages, and vocational rehabilitation services.

However, it’s important to understand that workers’ compensation benefits are not indefinite. The duration of benefits varies depending on the type of injury or illness, as well as the severity and duration of the disability. It is crucial that employees are aware of how long they can receive benefits to plan for the future and ensure that they can financially support themselves and their families during the recovery period.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has established clear guidelines regarding the duration of workers’ compensation benefits, but the process of navigating the system and accessing the benefits can be complicated. Insurance companies can deny or terminate benefits, leaving workers in a difficult situation. That’s when seeking legal assistance from a Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer can help workers obtain the benefits they deserve.

Temporary Total Incapacity Benefits

Temporary Total Incapacity Benefits (TTI) are a vital form of relief for workers who have been injured or become ill and are unable to work for six or more days. The days of incapacity do not have to be consecutive.

The benefits available for TTI include weekly payments that amount to 60% of the worker’s gross average weekly wage in the 52 weeks prior to the injury or illness. These payments are subject to a maximum limit set by the state’s average weekly wage (SAWW) at the time of the injury or illness. Workers can receive these benefits for a maximum of 156 weeks, starting from the 6th day of disability. A worker who is unable to work for 21 or more calendar days will be retroactively paid for the first five days of incapacity as well.

The duration of benefits for TTI is subject to change, depending on the worker’s medical condition and progress. The Department of Industrial Accidents (DIA) may terminate or reduce benefits if the worker’s condition improves or if they return to work.

Temporary Partial Incapacity Benefits

Temporary Partial Incapacity Benefits (TPI) are a form of workers’ compensation that provides financial relief for workers who are able to work but earn less due to their injury or illness. Workers may be eligible for TPI benefits if they are forced to take a lower-paying job or work fewer hours due to their injury or illness.

The benefits available for TPI include weekly payments that amount to 75% of the worker’s weekly total temporary benefits. These benefits are subject to a maximum limit set by the state’s average weekly wage at the time of the injury or illness. For example, if a worker received $440 a week as total temporary benefits, the most they could receive in TPI benefits would be $330 a week ($440 x .75 = $330).

Workers can receive TPI benefits for up to 260 weeks. The duration of benefits may be subject to change, depending on the worker’s medical condition and progress. Workers may have their benefits reduced or terminated if they return to work full-time or if their condition improves to the point where they are no longer eligible for TPI benefits.

Permanent and Total Incapacity Benefits

Permanent and Total Incapacity Benefits (PTI) are a vital form of workers’ compensation that provides financial support for workers who are totally and permanently unable to do any kind of work as a result of a work-related injury or illness. To be eligible for PTI benefits in Massachusetts, workers must demonstrate that their injury or illness has resulted in a total and permanent disability that prevents them from performing any kind of work. Workers do not have to exhaust their temporary benefits before applying for PTI benefits.

The benefits available for PTI include weekly payments that amount to 66% of the worker’s gross average weekly wage in the 52 weeks prior to the injury or illness. The minimum amount a worker can collect is 20% of the state average weekly wage at the time of their injury, while the maximum amount is the SAWW at the time of their injury. Workers also receive an annual Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) to ensure that their benefits keep pace with inflation.

PTI benefits can be received for as long as the worker remains disabled. Unlike temporary benefits, there is no maximum limit to the duration of PTI benefits. However, the Department of Industrial Accidents may review the worker’s medical condition periodically to determine if their condition has improved to the point where they are no longer eligible for benefits.

Medical Benefits

When a worker is injured on the job in Massachusetts, they are entitled to medical benefits to cover the costs of medical care related to their work-related injury or illness. To be eligible for medical benefits, workers must have suffered a work-related injury or illness that requires medical attention. This may include doctor’s visits, hospital stays, surgeries, diagnostic tests, prescription medications, and rehabilitation services. Workers must also ensure that they report their injury or illness to their employer within the designated time frame, as failure to do so may result in a denial of benefits.

The duration of medical benefits is based on the medical needs of the worker. There is no set end date; as long as the worker requires medical treatment for their work-related injury or illness, they are entitled to receive medical benefits. This may include ongoing medical care, rehabilitation services, and prescription medications. However, the insurance carrier has the right to deny or stop treatment that they believe is not necessary or reasonable. In these cases, workers may need to appeal the decision to the DIA to continue receiving the medical care they need.

Scarring and Permanent Loss of Function and Disfigurement

When a worker suffers a work-related injury or illness in Massachusetts that results in scarring, permanent loss of function, or disfigurement, they may be entitled to receive scarring and permanent loss of function and disfigurement benefits.

To be eligible for these benefits, workers must have suffered a work-related injury or illness that resulted in scarring, permanent loss of function, or disfigurement. The scars must be located on the worker’s face, neck, or hands. The severity of the scarring or permanent loss of function or disfigurement is also a factor in determining eligibility for benefits.

The benefits available for scarring and permanent loss of function and disfigurement vary depending on the location and severity of the injury. Workers may receive a one-time payment in addition to other workers’ compensation benefits, such as medical bills or lost wages. The amount of the payment depends on the severity of the scarring or permanent loss of function or disfigurement, and workers may be entitled to receive up to eight times the state average weekly wage at the time of their injury.

The duration of benefits for scarring and permanent loss of function and disfigurement is a one-time payment. However, if workers were injured or suffered an illness prior to December 24, 1991, they may be entitled to slightly different benefits.

Survivors’ and Dependents’ Benefits and Burial Costs

When a worker dies as a result of a work-related injury or illness in Massachusetts, their surviving spouse and dependents may be entitled to receive survivors’ and dependents’ benefits and burial costs.

To be eligible for survivors’ and dependents’ benefits and burial costs, the deceased worker must have suffered a work-related injury or illness that resulted in their death. The surviving spouse and dependents must also meet certain eligibility criteria, which include being the spouse or child of the deceased worker. Children are eligible only if they are under the age of 18, full-time students, or unable to work due to physical or mental disabilities.

The benefits available for survivors and dependents include weekly payments to the surviving spouse equal to 66% of the deceased worker’s average weekly wage, up to the maximum of the state average weekly wage at the time of the worker’s injury or illness. Surviving spouses become eligible for yearly cost-of-living adjustments two years after the date of the injury or illness. If the spouse remarries, $60 a week is paid to each eligible child. The total weekly amount paid to dependent children cannot exceed the amount the spouse had been receiving. Additionally, burial costs up to eight times the SAWW in place at the time of the worker’s death may be provided.

The duration of survivors’ and dependents’ benefits is based on the dependency of the surviving spouse and dependents. Surviving spouses can receive these benefits for as long as they remain dependent and do not remarry. Dependent children may receive benefits until they turn 18 or longer if they are full-time students or have physical or mental disabilities.

Vocational Rehabilitation

When a worker in Massachusetts suffers a work-related injury or illness that results in permanent functional limitations, they may be eligible for vocational rehabilitation benefits. These benefits are designed to provide workers with the opportunity to return to meaningful employment by acquiring new skills or by being matched with a job that accommodates their limitations.

The benefits available for vocational rehabilitation include training and education programs, job placement assistance, and other vocational services. These services may include on-the-job training, career counseling, and adaptive technology or equipment. The cost of these services is paid for by the workers’ compensation insurer.

The duration of vocational rehabilitation benefits is not fixed and depends on the worker’s individual needs and progress. Workers may request a meeting with the Office of Education and Vocational Rehabilitation (OEVR) at any point during their claim to explore their options for vocational rehabilitation services. If the worker chooses to lump sum their claim, they have up to two years from the lump sum approval date to request vocational services.

Talk to a workers’ comp lawyer in MA today

At The Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl, we understand that navigating the workers’ compensation system can be complex and challenging for injured workers and their families. That’s why our legal team is dedicated to helping injured workers understand their rights and options.

By working with an experienced attorney, an injured worker can ensure that their claim is handled promptly and efficiently and that they receive the full range of benefits they are entitled to under Massachusetts law.

If you have been injured at work in Massachusetts, it’s essential to seek legal assistance as soon as possible. Contact us today for a free consultation.