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Getting Workers’ Compensation Benefits for an Occupational Disease

Workers’ Compensation Claims Involving Job-Related Illness

Factory workerUnder the laws of Delaware, if you have been hurt on the job, you can pursue benefits under the states’ workers’ compensation programs. Work comp is designed to be a compromise for workers and employers. Workers are generally able to secure benefits in a more timely fashion, without the time and expense of a trial. Employers avoid the potential for unlimited personal injury judgments for a workplace injury.

Workers’ compensation benefits are available for more than injuries suffered on the job. Though any injury sustained in a traumatic accident will likely entitle the victim to some level of payment, workers may also seek compensation for repetitive stress or motion injury, mental or emotional distress caused by the work environment, and any illness or disease contracted because of the work environment.

The Common Types of Workplace Illnesses

A sick worker can generally obtain workers’ compensation benefits for any illness caused by some factor in the work environment. Some of the most frequent workplace illnesses that have allowed employees to recover workers’ compensation include:

  • Cancer caused by exposure to toxic or carcinogenic substances
  • Lung disease, including asthma and Mesothelioma stemming from working in dusty air or in a factory that creates or uses particulates, silicates or plastics
  • Skin disease from exposure to gases or other substances
  • Heart disease

Proving an Occupational Illness

Though workers have a right to seek workers’ compensation benefits for an occupational disease, the biggest challenge to obtaining an award can be proving that the disease was caused by your work environment. If others in your job or at your workplace have suffered the same illness, that can be important evidence to support your claim. In addition, your attorney may introduce expert testimony to show the causal relationship between your workplace and your disease.

Contact the Law Office of Michael J. Hood

At the law office of Michael J. Hood, in Wilmington, we bring more than 30 years of experience to personal injury victims in Delaware. For a free initial consultation, contact us online [link to Contact Us page] or call our office at (302) 777-1000 for an appointment.

Suing for a Work-Related Injury – The Limits of Workers’ Compensation

Seeking Damages in Court for a Work-Related Injury

Construction worker and foremanUnder the laws of Delaware, when you have been hurt on the job, you must seek benefits under the state’s workers’ compensation laws. Workers’ compensation typically provides you with a specific benefit for a specific period of time, based on the type of injury. The system allows workers to apply for benefits without going to court, and gives employers a sense of certainty, as damage awards are fixed and won’t vary based on the whims of a jury.

Though workers’ compensation is the exclusive remedy (the only source of potential damages) for the wrongful acts of your employer, you can, under certain circumstances, file a lawsuit in a court of law to recover compensation or damages for losses suffered at work. Here’s how that works:

  • Workers’ compensation benefits are designed only to cover losses caused by the negligence of your employer or a co-worker. If your employer fails to act as a reasonable person, or a co-worker is careless, your only recourse is through a workers’ compensation claim.
  • Many accidents are caused by the negligence of vendors, customers, or unrelated third parties. If you can show that someone other than your employer or a co-employee was careless or engaged in negligence, and that the carelessness of the third party caused some injury to you, you can bring what is known as a third party action. In fact, there’s nothing to prevent you from seeking benefits through the workers’ compensation program for the wrongful conduct of your employer or a co-employee, and simultaneously filing a third party claim for injuries caused by anyone else.

Contact the Law Office of Michael J. Hood

At the law office of Michael J. Hood, in Wilmington, we bring more than 30 years of experience to personal injury victims in Delaware. For a free initial consultation, contact us online or call our office at (302) 777-1000 for an appointment.

Construction Site Injuries—An Overview

The Types of Construction Site Injuries

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), approximately one in every ten construction workers in America is hurt on the job every year. Almost one out of every five dollars paid in workers’ compensation claims annually goes to people hurt on a construction site. Here are the most frequent types of injuries suffered by construction workers:

  • Injuries from falls—The most common type of injury on a construction project is a fall, either from a ladder or scaffold, an unguarded upper level or a construction elevator. A lot of workers are also hurt in slips, trips and falls over site debris, materials, tools and equipment.
  • Injuries from falling objects—Particularly on high rise projects, a lot of workers are hurt when items stored on upper levels, from tools to construction materials to trash, fall on them.
  • Dangerous or defective machinery, tools or equipment—Far too often, general contractors or owners use poorly maintained equipment, or tools or machines that are inappropriate for the job, or that have simply been poorly designed or manufactured. In those instances, the manufacturers and sellers of those devices can be liable for any injury they cause.
  • Negligent hiring, training or supervision—In the drive to complete a project, owners and general contractors frequently hire people without appropriate skills, fail to properly train them to use heavy equipment, and allow them to work without adequate guidance and supervision. Many workplace injuries occur when unsupervised workers devise workarounds that violate safety requirements.
  • Motor vehicle accidents—With trucks and other vehicles in and out of job sites, and with workers traveling back and forth from a job site, workers are continually at risk of injury in motor vehicle accidents.

Contact Our Office

To arrange a free initial consultation, contact us online or call our office at (302) 777-1000. Evening and weekend meetings can be arranged upon request. We will come to your home or the hospital, if necessary.

Workers’ Compensation Task Force Brings HB 373 To Pass

In late June, the Delaware state Senate passed workers’ compensation legislation in order to lessen the burden on DE businesses by halting the sizable workers’ compensation rate increases. The bipartisan Delaware Workers’ Compensation Task Force, which was created on January 30, 2013 by the Delaware General Assembly and Governor Jack Markell, developed HB 373 over the last year and a half. HB 373 also passed in the DE House in early June.

Delaware employers have been seriously concerned with increasing workers’ compensation rates for several years. House Bill 373 aims to make the system more streamlined and efficient, resulting in relief for DE businesses who have endured premium increases in recent years.

When assembled, the Workers’ Compensation Task Force was charged with:

  • Reviewing Delaware workers’ compensation law
  • The impact of the 2007 workers’ compensation premiums amendments
  • Reasons for recent increases in premiums
  • If the need for any additional changes to statutes, regulations, or practices is required in order to control premium growth (which has risen each calendar year since 2006, and is now the third most expensive in the US)

House Bill 373 recommendations focused almost exclusively on medical costs, as they make up 65-70% of every dollar spent on workers’ compensation premiums in DE, and are 100% responsible for the increase in premiums. Reimbursements paid to health care providers for workers’ compensation patient treatments were significantly reduced. Some DE treatment reimbursement amounts were found to sometimes be 3-5 times greater than the same procedure in other states.

The Task Force’s findings led to them suggesting:

  • Insurance carriers – heightening the oversight
  • Medical costs – stricter control
  • A new rating organization consideration

Workers’ Compensation Injuries

Due to DE workers’ compensation ‘belt-tightening’, it is even more imperative that you seek an experienced attorney when filing your workers’ comp claim. In the event of a workplace injury, you will need comprehensive counsel. We will assist you in gathering all relevant evidence to support your claim and will assist you in the preparation of all required documents.

Contact Our Office

At our office, every client is entitled to a free case evaluation. To set up a private meeting with an experienced Delaware workers’ compensation attorney, contact us online or call our office at (302) 777-1000. Our office is open Monday through Friday, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., but we will meet with you evenings or weekends upon request. We will travel to your home or the hospital if necessary.

Michael J. Hood represents premises liability accident & personal injury victims in the cities of Wilmington, Newark, Middleton, Seaford, Laurel, Milford, Brookside, Claymont, Pike Creek, Wilmington Manor, Elsmere, Edgemoor, New Castle, Chester, Springfield, West Chester, Broomall, Woodlyn, Elkton and Pennsville. Also serving New Castle County, Kent County and Sussex County in Delaware as well as Delaware county, Chester county and Philadelphia county in PA.

We’ve Moved!

Attorney Michael J. Hood Has a New Location!

The law office of Michael J. Hood has moved to a new location:

The office of Michael J. Hood, LLC, we have provided comprehensive legal counsel to personal injury victims in Delaware and Pennsylvania since 1982. We understand the uncertainty and anxiety that come in the aftermath of a personal injury. We will work hard to make certain that you have accurate and up-to-date information at all times. We will learn as much as we can about your accident and injuries so that we can give you a timely and realistic appraisal of the strengths and weaknesses of your case, the reasonable value of your claim and your chances of success.

We offer a free initial consultation. For a confidential meeting, contact us online.

Practice Areas

Contact Michael J. Hood

Michael J. Hood represents premises liability accident & personal injury victims in the cities of Wilmington, Newark, Middleton, Seaford, Laurel, Milford, Brookside, Claymont, Pike Creek, Wilmington Manor, Elsmere, Edgemoor, New Castle, Chester, Springfield, West Chester, Broomall, Woodlyn, Elkton and Pennsville. Also serving New Castle County, Kent County and Sussex County in Delaware as well as Delaware county, Chester county and Philadelphia county in PA.

Death Benefits for Workers Compensation

Worker’s compensation benefits are meant to provide benefits to employees injured during the course of their employment.  That injury could be caused by an accident or an occupational disease. That injury could also result in the death of the employee, which may entitle the employee’s survivors to benefits. We have handled many workers compensation cases over the years, including those where workers’ lives have been lost.

It’s not just accidents killing workers

If someone thinks of a work related situation that results in the death of an employee, a truck or construction accident, something sudden and traumatic, may come to mind.  But it’s not just accidents that could kill an employee. It may be a long lasting but ultimately fatal occupational disease that ends an employee’s life.

If you have an occupational disease, contact our office to discuss the situation.  You don’t want to wait for it to kill you and have your survivors file for benefits.  You may be entitled to benefits now, and it may be easier to prove your illness is work related while you are still alive.

Employee or non-employee, that can be the question

The injured worker must be an “employee,” meaning the individual’s work must be under the direction and control of the employer. Independent contractors are not covered. In many instances an individual’s status as an employee or independent contractor is disputed.

Employers often have workers sign an acknowledgement or contract stating they are independent contractors to try to avoid responsibility for workers’ compensation coverage and other employment related costs and regulations. Such written acknowledgements will not defeat a claim for benefits if the employer exercised direction and control over the work performed by the deceased individual.

We can assess whether an employment relationship existed, enabling the injured individual to collect workers’ compensation benefits. Depending on the circumstances, if the company denies the deceased was an employee, a better option may be filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the company.  Though the plaintiff would need to show the company at fault (unlike workers compensation, which is a no-fault system), far greater damages may be available in court.

Workers Compensation Death Benefits

The workers compensation law provides for the payment of weekly compensation benefits and a burial expense allowance of $3,000.00 in Pennsylvania, $3,500 in Delaware. The benefits, a percentage of the weekly wage, are payable to the employee’s dependents, including a spouse and dependent children.  Benefits are payable to eligible children until age 18, unless they are dependent because of a disability, in which case compensation shall continue during the child’s disability. Benefits to a child can continue to be paid until age 23 if the child is enrolled as a full-time student in an accredited educational institution in Pennsylvania, until age 25 in Delaware.

The loss of parent or spouse due to an accident or illness can be traumatic and we provide personal, caring service to make a very difficult time a little bit easier. We have more than 31 years of experience working with families who have lost loved ones and we work hard to get them the compensation they deserve.

Contact Attorney Michael J. Hood

To arrange a free initial consultation to discuss a possible Pennsylvania or Delaware workers compensation claim, contact us online or call our office at (302) 777-1000. Evening and weekend meetings can be arranged upon request. We will come to your home or the hospital, if necessary.