Oct 2023

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.

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Oct 2023

Study Reveals Surprising Trends in Workplace Injuries

Man with bandaged hand filling out a work injury claim form.

It’s easy to believe that workplace injuries only happen in certain occupations. For example, construction, manufacturing, and warehouse workers are the most at risk of sustaining injuries on the job.

However, recent research challenges this assumption. It reveals that workers in highly hazardous jobs are less prone to on-the-job injuries than those with moderately dangerous occupations.

Which types of workers are most at risk for workplace injuries?

A study based on 2019 Labor Department data assessed the injury rates across 571 occupations. The injury rate for hazardous jobs such as wellhead pumpers and boilermakers was around three incidents per thousand workers. In contrast, moderately risky jobs recorded significantly higher injury rates. That includes:

  • 23 per thousand for pest-control specialists
  • 43 per thousand for baggage handlers
  • 120 per thousand for welders

At the same time, low-risk professions, such as human resource specialists or loan officers, displayed low injury rates.

A second study explored maritime accidents and their correlation with sea and wind conditions. The highest accident rates occurred when conditions were moderately hazardous, not during extreme conditions.

James Beck, an associate professor at the University of Waterloo in Canada, is one of the study’s co-authors. He sheds light on this paradox. Workers react differently in highly dangerous situations. For example, they often:

  • Display caution by adhering to safety protocols
  • Wear protective gear
  • Follow stringent rules

However, this cautious behavior tends to dissipate in situations perceived as only moderately hazardous.

Video game study reinforces findings in workplace injuries

The researchers conducted a third study to gain deeper insights into worker behavior. In a controlled environment, they asked 92 undergraduates to engage in a simulated video game set in a warehouse. Participants were tasked with placing boxes on shelves with varying degrees of stability. The catch was that some shelves in closer proximity had a greater chance of collapsing.

The results showed that when participants faced a moderately hazardous scenario with a 30% chance of shelf collapse, accidents were 66% more frequent. That’s in contrast to simulations with 10% or 50% chances.

This research suggests that companies should emphasize precautionary measures when the overall risk only increases moderately. While many find it challenging to grasp such risk levels, focusing on precautions will likely reduce workplace accidents and injuries. This approach underscores the importance of worker training and awareness in maintaining workplace safety.

Common injuries in moderately dangerous workplaces

While the specific dangers can vary, some common types of workplace accidents in moderately hazardous jobs include:

  • Slips, trips, and falls: In moderately hazardous jobs, such incidents can occur due to wet or uneven surfaces, cluttered workspaces, or inadequate lighting.
  • Musculoskeletal injuries: Jobs involving repetitive tasks or lifting heavy objects can lead to musculoskeletal injuries. Back strains, muscle sprains, and joint problems are common.
  • Struck-by accidents: Struck-by accidents can result from the improper storage of materials or the lack of protective barriers.
  • Electrical accidents: Occupations that involve working with electrical equipment or machinery can lead to electrical shocks or fires if safety precautions are not followed.
  • Exposure to hazardous materials: Some jobs may require handling or exposure to hazardous materials, chemicals, or substances. Accidents in such environments can lead to chemical burns, respiratory problems, or other health issues.

What to do if you sustained an injury on the job

If you sustained an injury on the job, you may be out of work for weeks or months while you recover. On top of that, the medical bills could pile up. The good news is that you can receive financial benefits through a workers’ compensation claim while you’re out of work. However, getting financial benefits isn’t as simple as it sounds. Any errors in your application or filing process could result in your benefits getting delayed or denied.

The Massachusetts and Rhode Island workers’ compensation attorneys at the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl can help you through the process. They can gather evidence to support your claim and advocate for maximum compensation on your behalf. To learn more about how we can help with your potential case, contact us online and set up your free initial consultation.

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Sep 2023

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.

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Sep 2023

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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