Mar 2021

How do stress and fatigue affect your ability to work safely?

A fatigued male construction worker wipes sweat from his forehead

For many adults, a typical weekday includes commuting, 8 hours of work, cooking dinner, taking care of kids, paying bills, cleaning, and a few hours of sleep.

The daily grind has left many people stressed out and fatigued. This situation has created a growing safety risk for many workers.

When people think about being impaired on the job, drugs and alcohol usually spring to mind. But according to a new study by the National Safety Council (NSC), people showing up to work worn out or stressed are so disadvantaged they should be considered impaired and a potential safety hazard, right alongside those who show up to work drunk.

The NSC survey found that 90% of employers are worried about mental health and chronic stress negatively impacting an employee’s ability to perform work.

Meanwhile, another survey revealed that adults feel tired or fatigued between 3-7 days of the week.

When people work impaired, even by mental strain and/or fatigue, the chance for workplace accidents increases. Workplace accidents can include things like falls from heights, toxic exposure to chemicals, welder burns, crane accidents, tunnel worker silicosis, work-related car accidents, electrocution, asbestos exposure, and getting hit by falling objects.

If you were injured on the job while exhausted or struggling with your mental health, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. A lawyer with experience handling workers’ comp claims can help you successfully navigate the complicated process of applying for the program. If you’ve already applied for benefits and have been denied, an attorney can also help you file an appeal.

The Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl represents hard-working, injured employees in Massachusetts and Rhode Island and fights for the workers’ compensation benefits they deserve.

Workplace impairment spikes during the pandemic

Impairment has been a workplace safety issue for decades, the NSC noted in its report. The COVID-19 pandemic has only made the problem worse, with employers dealing with increased employee substance abuse, mental health distress, and fatigue.

More than half (52%) of employers surveyed said they know impairment is already decreasing the safety of their workforce. In a previous NSC study, the nonprofit safety advocacy group found that exhausted employees had negatively impacted 90% of employers.

Meanwhile, 47% of employers said they discuss fatigue, mental health, and stress as forms of impairment.

It’s not just employers who are noticing a drop in productivity – employees are feeling it, too.

In 2020, the National Sleep Foundation did a sleepiness survey. Of the respondents who said that a lack of sleep impacts their moods, 47% said sleepiness has negatively affected their productivity.

With more workplace accidents anticipated due to impairment, employees need to know what workers’ compensation benefits they may be entitled to receive if they get hurt at work. Asking for help, needing assistance, and being in pain are all things we sometimes don’t like to admit to ourselves or others. But passing up on the opportunity to get the benefits you and your family need – and have earned – to heal from a workplace injury will hurt you even more in the long run.

Our law firm offers hands-on representation for injured workers

If you’ve been injured at work, a workers’ compensation attorney who understands the state’s elaborate labor laws can help guide you through the entire process of pursuing benefits. The Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl knows how to fight for the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve to help you recover from your work-related injury or illness. Contact us today for a free case evaluation. We have locations in Fall River and Foxborough, Massachusetts, as well as Providence, Rhode Island.

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Feb 2021

Should I go back to work after an on-the-job injury?

Returning to work after injury

An injury at work often means taking time off to get better. Whether you’re recovering from a broken bone, carpal tunnel syndrome, a brain injury or some other injury, you likely need time off to heal.

There will come a time when you may start thinking about going back to work after a job injury. You may be looking forward to getting back to your job and routine. You also may wonder whether it’s too soon.

When going back to work makes your injury worse

Don’t make the decision to go back to work on your own. You should always talk to your doctor. Your doctor has advised you to take time off for a good reason: You’ve suffered an injury and need to heal. By going back before you get the doctor’s “green light,” you risk re-injury and putting yourself in a worse situation than you were in after the initial accident.

You may be unable to work due to your injury

In some cases, you may be unable to return to work, period. Or, in other cases, you may need to take on different responsibilities when you do return. For example, If you worked in a construction job and sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI), you may be unable to return to work even if you feel you might be ready. The TBI may affect your cognitive abilities. Your ability to make good judgments and sound decisions may have deteriorated after the injury, which means you might put yourself at risk of causing an accident at work and hurting yourself or others.

You may face a stressful work environment

Depending on the injury, you may need to ask your boss to make adjustments. For example, if you are recovering from carpal tunnel syndrome you may need to use new, state-of-the-art equipment which could cause resentment and jealousy among co-workers. Possibly creating more tension, you may need to leave work early for rehabilitation or physical therapy. In addition, you may face ridicule. Your co-workers or bosses may not believe you were injured that badly and treat you dismissively.

Your rights after a workplace injury

You may be tempted to go back to work because your employer tells you it’s time, but if your doctor says you need to stay home, you should listen to the doctor. Your employer is not supposed to tell you to go back against your doctor’s orders. If you do get this type of pressure, you should speak to an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.

Also, keep in mind that going back to work after an injury could harm your insurance claim. Your employer’s insurance company might argue that you decided to return to work and therefore you were not seriously injured. You may lose compensation for expenses and cause other complications in your workers’ comp case.

If you have questions about returning to work after an injury, or feel your rights may have been violated, contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. Injury claims at work can become complicated. You should not handle the case on your own.

For a free and confidential consultation, contact the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl, serving Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Focus on your recovery. We will focus on your claim.

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Jan 2021

Workplace deaths reached highest level in 12 years during 2019

Workplace deaths

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 2019 was not a good year for workplace safety. The BLS released its Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries data on December 16, 2020. The report concluded that 5,333 worker deaths occurred in 2019 due to workplace accidents. That’s a 1.6 percent increase from 2018 and the highest number of worker deaths since 5,657 fatalities occurred in 2007. The rate of workplace fatalities remained at 3.5 per 100,000 full-time workers for three consecutive years.

The BLS data also shows increases of:

  • Transportation-related fatalities – 2%
  • Slip, trip and fall fatalities – 11.3%
  • Construction and extraction worker fatalities – 6.3%
  • Driver/sales worker and truck driver fatalities – 1,005 (highest since 2003)

This report is the second of two, yearly BLS reports. The first report, which was released on November 4th, includes data on nonfatal private-sector workplace injuries and illnesses. The first report concludes that the number of workplace injuries and illnesses in the private sector (2.8 million) remained unchanged from 2018 to 2019. In addition, the report found:

  • 15% of injuries and illnesses in 2019 happened in manufacturing.
  • On average, injured workers missed eight days from work. For workers age 65 and older, it was 16 days.
  • Workers that missed work due to sprains, strains, and tears visited medical facilities at a rate of 6.5 cases per 10,000 full-time workers.

The National Safety Council released a statement to address the high number of workplace fatalities.

“Employers need a systematic approach to safety that includes having policies, training and risk assessment techniques in place to address major causes of fatalities and injuries. Leadership needs to set the tone from the top and engage all workers in safety, identify hazards and measure safety performance using leading indicators to continuously improve,” said the agency.

How can an attorney help me if I lost a loved one due to a workplace fatality?

Workers’ compensation in Massachusetts and Rhode Island is set up to provide financial support for injured workers. But it also provides benefits to survivors and dependents of deceased workers. In order to qualify for death benefits in Massachusetts, you must be the spouse or child of the deceased worker. If you’re the worker’s child, you must be under the age of 18, a full-time student, or be unable to work due to a physical or mental disability.

Massachusetts workers’ comp death benefits pays for:

  • Weekly benefits – 66% of the deceased worker’s average weekly wage.
  • Eligibility for yearly cost-of-living adjustments two years after the date of the workplace injury/illness.
  • $60 per week to each eligible child if the deceased worker’s spouse remarries.
  • Burial costs and funeral costs.

In Rhode Island, surviving spouses and children are also eligible for workers’ compensation death benefits. Weekly benefits are 75% of the deceased worker’s average weekly wage and 80% for a spouse with children. Children must be under the age of 18 or be unable to work as a result of a disability. Spouses lose their eligibility for benefits if they remarry.

If you were hurt on the job, or lost a loved one due to a workplace injury or illness, the workers’ comp lawyers at the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl can help you get the benefits you deserve. We serve injured workers and their families in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. To get started on your claim, contact us online or call us for a free case evaluation.

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Jan 2021

Understanding Accidental Disability Retirement (ADR) Benefits

Workplace disability

What injured public employees need to know

Most public employees in Rhode Island and Massachusetts have access to accidental disability retirement (ADR) benefits if they’re hurt on the job. However, the laws and regulations pertaining to ADR are complex and your eligibility to get compensation may be unclear. Here’s what you need to know about your ADR benefits as an injured public employee.

Who is covered under ADR?

In general, if you’re a public employee in Massachusetts or Rhode Island, you are covered under ADR. This applies to most people who work for the state government or any local, municipal or county government or authority, with some exceptions (one of which, notably, is the MBTA).

What counts as “disability” for the purposes of ADR?

Essentially, the definition of “disability” for ADR purposes is tied to the job you had at the time of the injury. It’s a question of whether you can do that specific job, not whether you can do any job at all. For instance, if your job at the time of the injury involved lifting loads up to 50 pounds, and you are now unable to lift more than 20 pounds, you should be considered disabled for ADR purposes, even though there are plenty of other jobs you could do.

What kinds of injuries are eligible for ADR?

To get ADR, you have to be injured while performing your specific job duties. This is a more specific definition than that used for workers’ compensation, which applies to any injury you sustained while on the job (with a few exceptions).

What does ADR pay for?

ADR only provides a single benefit: wage replacement. Specifically, it pays 72 percent of your pre-injury wages for as long as you are eligible to receive the benefits, which is reviewed periodically. If you remain disabled, you can continue to receive those benefits for the rest of your life.

What’s the difference between ADR and workers’ comp?

Workers’ compensation uses a much more restrictive definition of “total disability” than ADR. While ADR only requires that you can’t do your pre-injury job, workers’ comp requires that you can’t do any job in order to qualify as totally disabled. Conversely, ADR only provides wage loss benefits, whereas worker’s comp pays for your reasonable and necessary medical treatment in addition to wage loss.

If you’re a public employee injured on the job, you’re looking at a complex legal situation as you try to make the most of ADR, workers’ compensation, and whatever other legal options you may have. There are strict deadlines that apply to these claims and you need to take prompt action to protect your rights. We proudly represent injured public employees throughout Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and if you’ve been hurt, we’d be happy to talk to you. Contact the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl today to schedule your free consultation.

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Dec 2020

What workers’ compensation benefits can I get in Massachusetts and Rhode Island?

Massachusetts workers' compensation attorney

Workplace injuries can be devastating, but finding out that you need to take several months off from work can make matters worse. You rely on your job to make ends meet and you may be wondering how you will put food on the table while you recover from your injury.

The good news is, you may be eligible to receive workers’ compensation. This system provides financial support to injured workers who must take time off from work after an injury. But the insurance companies responsible for issuing benefits to injured workers will not readily compensate you. The process is much more complex than you may realize. Here’s what you need to know before filing a claim.

Benefits covered by workers’ compensation

In Massachusetts, workers’ compensation benefits pay for:

  • Medical expenses. This includes adequate and reasonable medical care, prescriptions, and mileage reimbursement when traveling to medical appointments. Your medical expenses are covered for as long as they have to be until you recover.
  • Wage loss if you’re unable to work. In Massachusetts, workers who miss more than six calendar days of work can receive 60% of their gross average weekly wages for the 52 weeks before an injury for up to 156 weeks.
  • Wage loss if you’re able to work but earn less than you did prior to your injury. If you’re still able to work, but have to take a lower-paying job due to your injury, you can receive 75% of your weekly total temporary benefits. If you were unable to work, you would receive 60% of your gross average weekly wages. If you are able to work, you would receive 75% of the 60%.
  • Permanent disability. If you’re unable to return to work because of a permanent injury or disability, you may be eligible for 66% of your gross average weekly wages for as long as you’re disabled.
  • Vocational rehabilitation. If you were out of work for a considerable amount of time due to an injury, you may be able to receive vocational training in order to return to the workforce.

You must be an employee in Massachusetts or Rhode Island

Employers in Massachusetts and Rhode Island are required by law to purchase workers’ compensation insurance. Some businesses get around this law by classifying workers as independent contractors. In order to classify a worker as an independent contractor, a company must prove that the contractor:

  • Works independently without any direction or control
  • Performs duties outside of the usual course of business
  • Performs duties under his or her own business or trade

If this can’t be proven, the company you work for may have illegally misclassified you as an independent contractor. If you’re in Massachusetts, you can report your misclassification of work to the Attorney General’s Fair Labor Division. In Rhode Island, you can report it to the Department of Labor and Training.

You must follow specific procedures to file a workers’ compensation claim

If you were hurt on the job, you need to promptly report your injury to your employer. It’s best to do so in writing so you have a record of your report. You should also get medical attention as soon as possible to get a proper diagnosis of your injury, as well as recommendations from your doctor. For example, if you sustained a knee injury, you may learn that you need an operation.

In addition, your doctor may tell you that you need to take time off from work for several months and that you should avoid certain activities until you recover. When seeing your doctor, make sure you mention that you were hurt at work. Your medical evaluation, diagnosis and doctor recommendations should all be documented so they can be reviewed by an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer.

In order to file a workers’ compensation claim, you need to know:

  • The date of your injury or work-related illness
  • The date of your loved one’s death if it was work-related
  • The 1st and 5th calendar day you missed work as a result of your injury
  • Your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier
  • The type of injury you sustained and the body part that was affected
  • How long you will need to be out of work
  • The types of benefits you’re pursuing
  • Where you initially went for medical treatment
  • The doctor who is currently treating you

You will also need to provide:

  • Your unpaid medical bills
  • Your documented medical evaluation and/or medical records
  • An incident report indicating how your workplace accident occurred
  • Witness names and statements

Contact an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer for help with your claim

If you were hurt on the job, you deserve to be compensated for every dollar you’re entitled to. Any errors in the filing process can result in benefits being delayed or denied. That’s why you need to put experience on your side. The Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl has several years of experience helping injured workers get the benefits they deserve.

We serve clients in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Contact us online or call us to get started on your claim. You won’t have to pay for your case evaluation, and we won’t charge you for our legal services unless we win your case.

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Dec 2020

Long-term opioid use among injured workers

It’s a public health crisis

It may not be getting the same attention in 2020 thanks to the much more prominent public health crisis, but we’re still suffering from an opioid crisis, too. A recent study published in Safety+Health Magazine found a strong link between workers’ compensation claims and long-term opioid use.

The study, which examined data among workers with significant injuries in 33 states, found that workers who were prescribed a 15- to 30-day supply of opioids within 90 days of their injuries were at substantially elevated risk of longer-term opioid dispensing. That risk increased even further among workers who were prescribed a dose of over 500 milligrams.

Other risk factors included having a higher number of opioid prescriptions early in a claim, simultaneously receiving opioids and other nervous system depressants, and length of time between the injury and the initial opioid prescriptions. The study found that workers aged 35-64 were at elevated risk.

Safe pain management is often a struggle in workers’ comp claims

Managing pain is an important part of treating many types of work injuries, both short-term and long-term. Some work injuries, such as burns and broken bones, are extremely painful for a relatively short period of time. Others, like back and knee injuries, may cause chronic pain that the worker has to live with for the rest of their life.

Unfortunately, when it comes to pain medication, it’s all too often that injured workers get the short end of the stick. They may get less time with their doctors than other patients, which means they’re less informed about their different treatment options. More importantly, there is always pressure from the insurance company to prescribe the least expensive medication possible, and opioids are often the cheapest pain medications.

Pursuing alternatives to opioids takes time and effort

While opioids are necessary to manage pain in some circumstances, it’s obvious that alternatives need to be explored to help injured workers get the best possible quality of life (and be able to return to work). For instance, physical or occupational therapy may work to mitigate pain before opioids are prescribed. Some injured workers even find relief in acupuncture.

The experience of pain is unique to the individual injured worker. Everyone has a different level of tolerance for pain. Rather than prescribing an addictive medication as one-size-fits-all treatment, doctors need to put in the time to find the safest way to effectively manage pain for each injured worker—and workers’ comp insurance companies need to foot the bill for safe and effective treatment.

The risk of opioid addiction speaks to the larger need for injured workers to stay involved in their medical care and get effective advocacy for their legal rights. If you’ve been injured on the job in Massachusetts or Rhode Island, get an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer on your side to fight for the care and compensation you need. Contact the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl for a free consultation.

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Nov 2020

Common injuries sustained by construction workers

Construction worker injuries

Construction workers have a dangerous job, especially those who work at heights. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s commonly used statistics, 1,008 out of 4,779 private industry workplace fatalities during 2018 were in the construction industry.

The workers’ compensation attorneys at the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl understand the most common types of injuries construction workers sustain on the job, including those that lead to fatalities. If you were hurt on the job and aren’t sure where to turn, we can help.

The Fatal four

The four leading causes of severe and fatal injuries in construction include:

  • Falls — Construction workers who work on ladders or scaffolds are the most at risk of falling from heights. Falls accounted for 33.5 percent of all construction fatalities in 2018, making them the leading cause. Falls often occur when:
    • Ladders aren’t secured properly or are defective, causing them to shift or sway.
    • Scaffolds aren’t properly assembled or secured, causing them to lean or break apart.
    • Workers slip while carrying heavy objects.
    • Workers fall into openings in scaffolds, ramps, or other high walking areas.
  • Struck by object accidents — When safety precautions aren’t put in place, it’s very easy to sustain injuries from falling objects, projectiles, machinery, or equipment. Struck by object accidents accounted for 11.1 percent of all construction fatalities in 2018.
  • Electrocutions —  Electrocutions often occur when wires and circuit breakers aren’t properly secured. Electrocutions accounted for 8.5 percent of all construction fatalities in 2018.
  • Caught-in/between accidents — Caught-in/between accidents occur when workers get stuck inside of or between large equipment, building materials and debris. These accidents accounted for 5.5 percent of all construction fatalities in 2018.

Other common injuries sustained by construction workers

  • Lung illnesses — Construction workers often come in contact with hazardous materials such as silica (which is found in concrete). Exposure to silica has been linked to serious and fatal illnesses such as silicosis, lung cancer, tuberculosis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
  • Back injuries — Back injuries can be caused by accidents on construction sites, repetitive stress, or heavy lifting. These often include muscle strains in the back; herniated discs; fractured vertebrae, and spinal cord injuries.
  • Knee injuries — Construction workers spend a great deal of time on their feet lifting and carrying heavy objects. Over time, this puts a lot of wear and tear on the tendons and ligaments in the knees, causing them to eventually tear or become inflamed.
  • Broken bones — Falls, caught-in/between accidents, being struck by objects, and accidents with equipment can cause serious bone fractures.
  • Puncture wounds — Puncture wounds are common when construction workers come in contact with sharp objects, are hit by projectiles, or have accidents with nail guns.

Contact an experienced Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney if you were hurt in a construction accident

The Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl is dedicated to helping injured construction workers throughout Massachusetts and Rhode Island receive fair compensation while recovering from their injuries. Our attorneys know how the workers’ compensation system works and how to work with insurance companies to maximize your chances of being compensated. We know that pursuing a workers’ compensation claim can be confusing and difficult. We’ll work with you every step of the way to help streamline the process.

Contact us online today to schedule your free and confidential case evaluation.

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Nov 2020

Can I get workers’ compensation for chronic back pain?

Chronic back pain

According to MayoClinic, back pain is one of the most common reasons people miss work and suffer from job-related disabilities. Back pain can include dull aching, burning, or a sharp pain. It may also worsen with physical activity. If you sustained a back injury on the job, it’s important to see a doctor if you experience:

  • Persistent pain that lasts more than a few weeks
  • Severe pain that doesn’t improve with rest
  • Pain that radiates down the legs
  • Pain that is accompanied by weakness, numbness, or tingling in the lower extremities

What are the leading causes of work-related back pain?

Work-related back pain can be caused by workplace accidents such as slip and falls and being caught in or between objects and equipment. In most cases, back pain develops over a long period of time and is the result of:

  • Poor posture
  • Heavy lifting
  • Working in awkward positions
  • Frequent bending and twisting
  • Poor workplace ergonomics

Back pain is often linked to:

  • Herniated discs. A herniated disc occurs when the gel-like substance between the vertebrae (bones of the spine) rupture and protrude. This puts pressure on the nerves of the spine, causing pain and discomfort.
  • Damaged vertebrae. Like herniated discs, damaged vertebrae can put pressure on the spinal nerves, causing a great deal of pain and other complications.
  • Muscle strain in the back. An injury to the muscles in the back can cause prolonged spasms, which can lead to pain and discomfort.

Back injuries are often treated with physical therapy, pain medication, exercise, and applying ice or heat. Serious back injuries such as herniated discs and fractured vertebrae require surgery to reduce the pressure on the nerves in the spine.

What is chronic back pain?

Workplace injuries often cause flareups of back pain that go away without treatment. For some workers, the pain never goes away, even after therapy, rest and pain medication. This is known as chronic back pain and usually affects workers who have degenerative issues affecting the spine. These include:

  • Wear and tear of the discs and vertebrae
  • Bone spur formations
  • Overgrowth of joints and ligaments in the spine

Older workers are the most at risk of developing chronic back pain, mostly due to repetitive stress on the back and spine. For workers who develop chronic back pain, the source of the pain is often difficult to pinpoint.

Can I collect workers’ compensation if I suffer from chronic back pain?

If you sustained back pain during the scope of your employment, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system that compensates injured workers for medical costs and lost wages. Workers who sustain permanent or long-term injuries may be eligible for disability benefits, even if they return to work for light duty.

It’s important that you discuss your injuries with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney at the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl. We’ll help you through the complex process of filing a claim. We’ll also prepare all necessary documents and medical records to support your claim and fight for a fair resolution. To schedule your free and confidential case evaluation, contact us online or call us.

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Oct 2020

Workplace injuries linked to heavy lifting on the job

Heavy lifting

Heavy lifting is often just part of the job in some occupations. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, heavy lifting is a common cause of work-related injuries, roughly 36 percent of which involve shoulder and back injuries. Heavy lifting can cause trauma or wear and tear to the muscles, joints and ligaments.

Who is most at risk of work injuries linked to heavy lifting?

Heavy lifting is common in the following occupations:

  • Construction workers
  • Manufacturing workers
  • Warehouse and dock workers
  • Commercial truck drivers
  • Maintenance workers
  • Retail laborers
  • Agricultural workers
  • Logging workers
  • Nurses and nursing assistants

How can workers prevent injuries?

OSHA has offered some suggestions on how employers can prevent injuries when heavy lifting on the job. These include:

  • Utilizing the right equipment — forklifts, pallet jacks, hand trucks, duct lifts and other mechanical equipment to lift and transport heavy items.
  • Installing ramps and lift gates — employers should consider installing ramps and lift gates in areas where workers may be transporting heavy objects manually or with machinery.
  • Reducing the weight of items — in some industries, employers can consider working with higher quantities of items to reduce the amount of weight workers need to lift at once.

OSHA also suggests that workers consider employing these smart lifting practices:

  • Utilize the “power zone” — this is where items are placed from mid-thigh to mid-chest, which makes it easier to lift without having to squat or bend.
  • Maintaining good posture — workers should maintain a straight and neutral spine whenever possible. Avoid rounding your back or bending when lifting. Only bend at the knees, not the waist.
  • Limiting how much weight you lift — Avoid lifting weight greater than 50 lbs. If you must lift a heavier object, it should be done with two or more people.
  • Avoid twisting — When lifting a heavy object, it’s better to turn by moving the feet rather than twisting at the torso.
  • Keep elbows in close — Keep the load as close to your body as possible to avoid upper body strain.

What types of injuries are caused by heavy lifting?

Heavy lifting can often lead to these work-related injuries:

  • Muscle strains and tears
  • Tendon/ligament sprains and tears
  • Knee injuries
  • Spinal injuries
  • Injuries to the feet, shins, or knees (if heavy objects are dropped)
  • Slip and falls when lifting (usually when walking surfaces are slick)

If you sustained an injury on the job, you could be out of work for several weeks or months, unable to earn a paycheck. On top of that, you may be facing medical expenses that add up. You may be able to pursue workers’ compensation benefits to cover these losses, but doing so won’t be easy.

Workers’ compensation cases are often complex and require a great deal of paperwork and litigation. Let an experienced attorney at the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl handle your case for you. We know how the workers’ compensation system in Massachusetts and Rhode Island works and how to best represent our clients at trial. Contact us online for your free case evaluation.

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Oct 2020

Do I need a doctor’s note to pursue a workers’ comp claim?

Doctor's note

Workplace accidents that result in an injury can happen when least expected. One careless mistake could lead to several months out of work and costly medical bills. If you were hurt on the job, it’s critical that you take your workers’ compensation claim seriously from the start and take the right course of action.

It could take several months to recover from workplace injuries, such as:

  • Broken bones
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Severe soft tissue injuries
  • Repetitive stress injuries
  • Neck, back and spine injuries
  • Crushed limbs

Filing a successful workers’ compensation claim requires the right documents. Among those is a doctor’s note, which you must have in order to pursue compensation for medical expenses and lost wages.

Why is a doctor’s note so important when pursuing a claim?

The purpose of a doctor’s note is to state whether you can return to work or return with restrictions. The note should only be provided by your primary care physician or another doctor who diagnosed and treated your injuries. Notes from physical therapists, occupational therapists or professionals from other medical practices don’t qualify.

It’s also important to keep your doctor’s note and other medical records on file. Doing so can eliminate questions regarding referrals to specialists, as well as authorizations for treatment.

Ensure that all information in your note is accurate

During your medical evaluation, don’t hesitate to ask questions. It’s important that the instructions given to you by your doctor are clear. There should be no confusion regarding your treatment and length of recovery. If any other issues come up and you can’t return to work, it’s important that you discuss that with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.

When obtaining a doctor’s note and medical records, always double-check to ensure that the information is accurate. Also ensure that the instructions given by your doctor are included and match what your doctor told you.

Let an experienced workers’ compensation attorney handle the rest

If you were injured on the job, you may not be fully aware of the rights and legal options available to you. On top of that, the paperwork involved in filing a workers’ compensation claim can be complex and confusing. Any mistakes in the filing process could lead to your financial benefits being delayed or denied.

That’s why it’s critical that you speak to an experienced attorney who knows how the workers’ compensation system in Massachusetts and Rhode Island works.

Contact the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl to schedule your free and confidential case evaluation.

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