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Philadelphia Worker's Compensation Law Blog

Pennsylvania sanitation workers face risk from discarded needles

Throughout the U.S., millions of Americans use injectable needles to treat a wide range of chronic illnesses. The needle pricks that help keep these people alive and well could prove dangerous for sanitation workers who pick up and sort our garbage. When not properly disposed of, needles can stick these workers, creating a risk of HIV, hepatitis and other diseases and leading to months of testing and medical treatment.

The problem, according to an article in the Bucks County Courier Times, is that workers rarely know where the needle came from and why it was used. A site manager for the sanitation company Waste Management says a needle could have been used by a person who needs insulin for diabetes, or by someone with HIV - which could have far more serious consequences for workers.

Court: California FedEx drivers were misclassified as contractors

Worker misclassification is a major employment issue in the U.S. Workers who are classified as independent contractors are not eligible for workers’ compensation, health insurance and other benefits. It’s a cost savings for the business – and a detriment for the worker. That imbalance of benefits is one reason a recent appellate court ruling regarding FedEx’s classification of workers is significant.

FedEx is well known for classifying its delivery drivers as independent contractors rather than employees. According to an article in Courthouse News, 2,300 drivers in California and 363 in Oregon challenged that classification, claiming that that FedEx forced them to buy company-approved uniforms, equipment and even trucks as if they were independent contractors. At the same time, they claimed, FedEx controlled their appearance, including stipulating the socks they wore and that they be clean shaven.

Workplace violence: The hidden danger for health care professionals

The psychiatric patient showed up to the hospital at about 1:30 p.m., nearly an hour early for his appointment. According to National Public Radio, colleagues heard arguing and saw the patient pointing a gun at his psychiatrist. They called 911, but the shooting started at about 2:30 p.m.

According to NPR, the psychiatrist told police that the patient pulled a gun from his waistband and killed the caseworker who was present. The psychiatrist, who was grazed by bullets, said he went behind a chair, pulled a gun and shot at the patient six or seven times. The patient was hospitalized. Police said he had 39 unused bullets in his possession when he was wrestled to the ground.

Four Martin Attorneys Named to 2015 'Best Lawyers in America®' List

Martin LLC is pleased to announce that four lawyers have been named to the 2015 Edition of Best Lawyers, the oldest and most respected peer-review publication in the legal profession.

Best Lawyers has published their list for over three decades, earning the respect of the profession, the media, and the public as the most reliable, unbiased source of legal referrals. Its first international list was published in 2006 and since then has grown to provide lists in over 65 countries.

"Best Lawyers is the most effective tool in identifying critical legal expertise," said President and Co-Founder Steven Naifeh. "Inclusion on this list shows that an attorney is respected by his or her peers for professional success."

Lawyers on the Best Lawyers in America list are divided by geographic region and practice areas. They are reviewed by their peers on the basis of professional expertise, and undergo an authentication process to make sure they are in current practice and in good standing.


We congratulate the four lawyers from Martin LLC who were listed in The Best Lawyers in America© 2015 for Workers' Compensation - Claimants:

George Martin, listed since 1995-96

Matthew Wilson, listed since 2010

Alfred Carlson, listed since 2013

John Dogum, listed since 2013

Back to School Supply Drive: Martin Law Dropoff Location

Martin Law is proud to support our own Maria Bermudez, Chair-Elect of the Young Lawyers Division (YLD) with their Second Annual Back to School Supply Drive. 

Download the flyer here!school supplies-3.jpg 

The Young Lawyers Division is proud to announce that it is once again holding a Back to School Supply Drive to obtain donations for students in economically challenged areas of the city. Through Friday, Aug. 22, YLD will be collecting backpacks, notebook paper, pens/pencils/highlighters, notebooks, composition books, rulers, dictionaries, folders, binders, pencil cases and anything else that might be useful at designated donation centers across Philadelphia. All supplies will be distributed to local schools and recreation centers in Philadelphia. 

Pictured: 2013 School Supply Drive was a great success!

Man who fell after quitting his job is eligible for workers' comp

Can you receive workers’ compensation benefits for an injury that happened after you quit your job? In at least one case, the answer is yes. In a recent case decided by the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court, a worker argued that he should obtain benefits for injuries that happened after he quit -- and the court agreed.

The issue: In order to be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, a worker must have been within the scope of employment at the time of the accident or injury. The question in this case was whether the worker was within the scope of employment when he had just quit.

According to an article in Business Insurance, the man was a driver who made deliveries for a health care firm. He had been on call over weekend, and asked his manager to reduce the number of stops when he came to work that morning. She refused, and he quit. The manager escorted him to a truck to get his belongings. As he walked with her after getting them, he tripped, fell and injured his left side.


Construction workers worry about work zone speed limit increases

Pennsylvania is raising the speed limits on some interstates. For drivers, the changes could allow them to save a few minutes on the road, but some construction workers fear that more speed will mean more serious work zone accidents.

In late July, the speed limit was raised to 70 mph on the Pennsylvania Turnpike from Blue Mountain to Morgantown. According to news reports, depending how the increase goes, the Turnpike may increase the limit on other roads. A higher speed limit was expected to take place this month on a stretch of Interstate 80 in Clearfield County and a stretch of Interstate 380 in Monroe and Lackawanna Counties.

In at least some places, the speed limits in work zones are also changing. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is raising the speed limit in construction to 55 mph in the new higher-speed sections of the interstates. The work zone limit had been 45 mph. That change has some road construction workers concerned.

What is the workers' compensation offset for Social Security?

If you suffered a workplace injury or illness that is so severe that you are unable to return to any kind of job, it's important to know that multiple types of long-term financial benefits may be available. Depending on your injuries, you may be eligible for permanent total disability compensation through workers' compensation, Social Security Disability Insurance benefits - or both.

Permanent disability benefits are generally two-thirds of a worker's average weekly wages, and they last for a lifetime. They're given for work-related injuries that leave a worker unable to work. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits are available to anyone with an injury or illness who has a qualifying work history and is unable to do any substantial work for at least a year. SSDI is available regardless of how the injury or illness happened.

Court: Pleading the Fifth is not enough to cut off workers' comp

An injured immigrant worker who refused to say whether he is authorized to live and work in the U.S. will continue to receive workers’ compensation benefits even though he invoked the Fifth Amendment when asked about his immigration status. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled recently that the workers’ refusal to discuss whether he was legally able to work in the U.S. was not enough evidence for his benefits to be cut off.

The case involves a man who is originally from Ecuador but who moved to the U.S. more than 10 years ago. In 2008, he was picking mushrooms at a Pennsylvania farm when he suffered a herniated disk in his back. A doctor ordered him not to lift more than 15 pounds as a result, and his job at the mushroom farm ended because there was no work of that nature available.

Study: Lack of trust leads to poorer workers' comp outcomes

Workers should be able to trust their employers while they recover from work-related injuries and illnesses. After all, workers' compensation is a right, and it's illegal in many states for an employer to retaliate or fire a worker for reporting a workplace injury and filing a workers' compensation claim. Yet firing - and the fear of it - persists.

A recently released study found that fear of retaliation isn't just uncomfortable for injured workers. It can actually lead to poorer outcomes for workers' compensation claims, meaning that workers who feared for their jobs had more problems returning to work than other workers did.