Factories can be dangerous places to work, with employees commonly suffering minor to severe injuries every year. Fortunately, workers’ compensation provides important benefits to injured factory workers, but there are critical rules to follow and deadlines to meet. Sometimes employers and their insurance companies exploit the program to avoid paying benefits to deserving workers, and even when everyone is acting in good faith, it could take time to receive your benefits.
If your workers’ compensation claim was denied, or if you have questions about the system and how it works, an Altoona lawyer experienced with factory worker injuries lawyer could help. Altoona workers’ comp attorneys could help ensure you are treated fairly in the factory workplace.
Common Injuries Suffered in Factories
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) maintains statistics on workplace injuries. It identifies the manufacturing sector as the most frequent source of reports of severe injuries among employees, with the construction industry coming in second. In fact, almost 60 percent of the reported amputations were suffered by factory workers.
Other injuries that commonly affect factory workers include:
- Overexertion, leading to back and shoulder strains
- Repetitive stress injuries
- Fractures, sprains, head, and spinal cord injuries due to slips, trips, or falls
- Injuries resulting from forklift accidents
- Hearing loss
- Chemical exposure injuries including respiratory problems and burns
An Altoona attorney could ensure the workers’ compensation program covers these and any other injuries a factory employee suffers while working.
Workers’ Compensation Program Overview
Pennsylvania Workers Compensation Act §301 requires factory employers to offer their employees medical care and wage loss benefits when they suffer a work-related injury. An injured factory worker is entitled to these benefits even if his or her injury results from his or her own negligence, unless the injury or death is caused by the claimant’s intoxication. In return for these benefits, workers give up their right to sue the employer for negligence. The program is not voluntary, in that most workers are barred from filing civil claims against their employer or coworkers, and are restricted to pursuing a claim through the workers’ compensation system.
When Might an Injured Factory Worker Need an Attorney’s Help?
If a factory worker reports an injury, gets proper medical care, starts receiving his or her benefits promptly, and returns to the shop floor completely healed within a few weeks or months, he or she might not need legal assistance. However, many cases do not proceed so smoothly.
There are situations in which a worker should immediately seek legal advice to protect his or her rights. These include:
- Employer contends an injury is not work-related
- Medical provider clears a worker to return to duty before he or she feels ready
- Employee disagrees with a disability determination
- Employee’s injury could prevent him or her from ever returning to his or her job
- Employee has developed a disease related to occupational exposure
- Employer engages in harassing or retaliatory behavior against employee
If any of these situations occur, it could be beneficial to speak with a factory worker injuries attorney in Altoona right away.
Work with an Altoona Factory Worker Injuries Attorney
Employers sometimes take advantage of factory workers who are not familiar with their rights under the workers’ compensation program. Bringing a legal professional on board to assist with a claim can signal that the employee intends to fully exercise his or her right to benefits.