Should You Disclose Your Disability When Applying for a Job?

The Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, is a law that makes sure that employers do not discriminate against people who have disabilities who apply to them for open positions. The federal version of the law applies to companies that have 15 or more employees, and some states hold even smaller companies to the ADA standards. There are a wide range of disabilities for which the ADA is applicable, but at its most basic it covers people whose physical condition limits their abilities in major life activities such as eating, speaking, hearing or walking. People who have limiting disabilities are able to apply for any job for which they meet the job qualifications. That means that if their educational background job experience matches the hiring standards listed for the job, they should feel free to apply, even if employing them would mean that the employer would need to make a reasonable accommodation. They also do not need to worry about not being able to do some duties that are not essential parts of the job’s functions – the ADA’s protections mean that if you can fulfill the essential functions, with or without accommodation, an employer cannot discriminate against you.

Many potential job applicants who have disabilities wonder whether they should alert a potential employer about their disability when it is not immediately obvious. The question is worth discussing, as there is no legal requirement to do so. There is no question that it may be easier to avoid the subject completely until after you have been offered a job, but talking openly and candidly has its benefits as well.

The disadvantages of disclosing your ability are obvious: it puts you at risk of being subject to stereotyping and assumptions about whether or not you will be able to do the job, or the trouble that an employer may need to go to in order to accommodate your needs. On the other hand, it gives you the opportunity to dispel myths and to show what you can do. If you do disclose, it is essential that you make it clear that you are able to perform all of the job’s essential functions, and to discuss the reasonable accommodations that you need. By showing a potential employer how you would do a job, you can set aside any doubts and provide a strong sense of your abilities as well as your willingness to do the work that is required. Keep in mind that it is perfectly within a potential employer’s rights to ask how you would do a job, or to ask you to show how you would do it.

When you not only disclose your disability but also show your ability to perform the job, you put yourself in a strong position to get hired. If you do not get a job offer, it’s a good idea to ask why. Simply indicate that you’re asking so you can use the answer as a guide when applying for future job opportunities.

If you believe that your disability is the reason you did not get a job, then having disclosed from the beginning (and demonstrating your abilities) puts you in a better position to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The Real Epidemic We Face Appears to be Medical Errors

We frequently read articles in the news about medical errors by trained medical professionals entrusted with our care—professionals who are sometimes charged with making life and death decisions. Unfortunately, these articles aren’t simply examples of the media’s attempt to sell newspapers. Stories like these are common because medical errors in hospitals and healthcare facilities around the country are now the third leading cause of death in the United States. A recent analysis published in the BMJ (formerly known as British Medical Journal) places the human toll at roughly 251,000 lives per year. If this information isn’t shocking enough, consider this: these people all died because they were receiving care, not because they weren’t receiving it. 251, 000 lives per year translates into 700 per day, and approaches 10% of all deaths in the U.S. annually. Only heart disease and cancer cause more deaths.

What is causing the medical error epidemic?

Surprisingly, detailed information regarding individual medical errors is not readily available. Healthcare facilities are reluctant to provide specifics on medical errors and the CDC (Center for Disease Control) does not require reporting of medical errors. It’s a situation in which healthcare providers are aware that medical errors are taking place, but also acknowledge that not enough discussion about the issue is taking place.

No other industry with responsibility for so many human lives has the luxury of such lax reporting.

Where to begin?

Perhaps a logical path to discovery should begin by looking at the incident rates of medical malpractice. Studies have shown that a surprisingly small number of physicians (roughly 1%) are responsible for nearly 32% of all malpractice claims. Are these same physicians contributing to the large number of medical errors?

A Consumer Reports investigation in California revealed that a large number of physicians were practicing medicine despite being on probation for violations concerning patient safety. How can this allowed?

Perhaps some might consider these recent findings preliminary. However, immediate action seems to be warranted. Lives are at stake. Healthcare providers should only be held accountable, but should also be forthcoming in regard to providing specific and detailed information surrounding medical errors that affect patients under their care. Making this one change could instantly provide additional information helpful toward solving the medical error epidemic. Contact a personal injury lawyer who deals with spinal cord injuries if you are such a situation.

Who Qualifies as an Employee Under the Workers’ Compensation Act?

The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act (PWCA) is the law that requires employers to financially support their workers who have been injured while on the job. The law requires employers to have insurance on hand to pay for injuries to their employees. This insurance money then gets used to reimburse you, as a worker, for most injuries that you suffer while on the job. In return for providing this insurance to its workers, the employer cannot be sued for the injury.

Workers’ compensation strikes a delicate balance: As a worker, you get compensated for their injuries, but employers do not get brought to court to compensate you for your non-physical injuries, like mental pain and suffering.

Companies Have Found Ways Around Workers’ Compensation Laws

However, a key term in the PWCA is “worker.” More and more companies, like Uber, are trying to save money at the expense of the people who make their profits possible. To do this, they look for new and unique ways to skirt around workers’ compensation laws. One way to do this is to classify their workers as independent contractors, rather than employees.

Independent contractors are not considered to be among the “workers” that the PWCA protects. However, whether you are an employee or an independent contractor is, at best, difficult to determine.

Factors Used to Determine If You Are an Independent Contractor

When they wrote the PWCA, politicians left a lot of ambiguity in the language of the law so courts could figure out who was an “employee” and who was an “independent contractor.”

Unfortunately, the courts in Pennsylvania have made things overly complex. Over a series of cases, they decided that there were a handful of factors that were important. However, the number of important factors has grown unwieldy. Worse still, some cases have considered a few factors as more important than others, but others consider those same factors as less important.

The result has been that there are a handful of factors that may or may not be considered by a court in determining whether you are an “employee” – and therefore covered by the PWCA – or an “independent contractor.” These are whether:

  • The employer can control how the work is to be done;
  • The worker is responsible for the result of the work, only;
  • The employer supplied the tools for the work;
  • Payment is on a time basis or a project basis;
  • The worker can be terminated at any time;
  • There is an independent contractor agreement between the parties.

Some of these factors signal that you are an employee, while others show that you are just an independent contractor. Some answers may go one way, while others go the other.

Workers’ Compensation Attorneys Face This Question on a Daily Basis

A firm understanding of all of the cases that have been decided in Pennsylvania give workers’ compensation attorneys, like those at Martin Law, the ability to better determine your work status, no matter how ambiguous it may seem. Call their law office at (215) 587-8400, or contact them online.


The Basics of a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Pennsylvania

As defined in my previous posts, workers’ compensation is a type of insurance that provides lost wages as well as medical benefits to employees who are injured during the course and scope of his or her job. If you are an injured employee and are in the process of filing a workers’ compensation claim, it is very important that you retain an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. This will best protect your interests and significantly improve your chances of receiving adequate compensation. There are several important steps and aspects of a workers’ compensation filing. This post will delve into this concept.

Key Steps of a Workers’ Compensation Claim

Initially, it is imperative that you, the injured employee, give notice to your employer within 21 days of the work-related injury. You may be barred from any compensation if do you fail to provide such notice. Therefore, you should tell your supervisor or boss immediately upon any work related injury you sustain. This is true even if the injury is minor. This is required under Section 311 of the Workers’ Compensation Act (“WCA”). Once such notice is provided, the employer is then required, per WCA, to provide notice to his insurer and to file an injury report.

From here, if the employer or insurer denies the workers’ compensation demand, notice of denial must be provided to the injured employee no more than 21 days from the date of original notification of injury. On the other hand, if the employer or insurer accepts liability for the injury, Notice of Compensation and an Agreement for Compensation must be provided, within 21 days from the date the employee provided notification of the injury. The Notice of Compensation and the Agreement for Compensation must be filed with the bureau accompanied by a Statement of Wages. The Statement of Wages is used to calculate the injured employee’s wages and the employer should provide a copy to the employee.

As mentioned in my previous post, if you opt to file a workers’ compensation claim, and are granted workers’ compensation benefits, you waive your rights to sue your employer for negligence relating to your work related injury. Yet, if you are denied workers’ compensation benefits, you may pursue such lawsuit. A negligence claim, in Pennsylvania, requires the injured employee (“Plaintiff”) to establish four elements. First, Plaintiff must show that the employer (“Defendant”) owed him a duty to conform to a certain standard of care for the protection of others. Second, Plaintiff must show that the Defendant failed to conform to said required standard. Third, Plaintiff must show a causal connection between the conduct and the resulting injury. Forth, finally, the Plaintiff must show actual loss or damages.

Hire an Attorney for your Claim

There are many complexities in workers’ compensation claims. For this reason, it is imperative that you hire an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to best protect your interests and to significantly increase your odds at compensation. The workers’ compensation attorneys at Martin Law are here to help. We are highly experienced Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorneys with five offices conveniently located throughout Pennsylvania. Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation!



The Role of Insurance Companies in Personal Injury Cases

Are you suffering from a personal injury at the fault of another person? You may be entitled to compensation from that person’s insurance provider. Insurance providers play key roles in accident cases. To many, said roles may seem quite complex. This post, however, is aimed at providing some clarity.

Insurance Companies and Personal Injury Cases

When you (“plaintiff”) are injured in an accident of any type, and if it was the fault of another person (“defendant”), your initial instinct should be to file a claim for your injuries. Normally, soon after the accident, the defendant’s insurance provider will contact you and you can start the claim at that time. Nevertheless, if defendant’s insurance company does not contact you, then you should contact that person’s insurance provider to start the claim.

Once you begin your claim, you will be corresponding with that insurance provider’s “claims adjuster”. Basically, the claims adjuster handles the insurance provider’s claims. The claims adjuster does not represent you, the plaintiff. Instead, he or she represents the defendant’s insurance provider and seeks to protect their best interest. Therefore, the claims adjuster will attempt to keep costs low in terms of settling your case, if there is a settlement. Conversely, you will normally want to increase their settlement figure.

From here, the claims adjuster will investigate claim and determine liability. You should not give the claims adjuster detailed information about the accident as this could jeopardize your chances of compensation. If the claims adjuster does not find defendant liable, the adjuster may not be willing to settle.

Yet, you do need to communicate with the claims adjuster to an extent. You will need to gather all of your medical bills, medical records, estimates of repairs, lost wages, etc., and send these to defendant’s insurance company’s claims adjuster. Do not forget, you should also include documentation of any lost wages and, if relevant, statements of pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, disfigurement, etc. All this information is combined in a demand packet for settlement purposes.

Later, after the claims adjuster’s investigation is complete, and after a thorough analysis of your demand packet, defendant’s insurance provider may be willing to offer you a settlement. If a settlement is offered, you may, of course, accept or deny it. If you decide to accept the settlement, you must do so in writing. The claims adjuster will then send you a standard “release” form. This form releases the defendant, and his insurance company, from later claims related to the accident.

Lastly, you should know that if all or some of your medical bills were paid by your own health insurance provider, this may require you to reimburse your health insurance provider out of the settlement you get. This is called a “medical lien”.

Statute of Limitations

Suppose you are never offered a settlement from defendant’s insurance company. Or suppose the settlement was too low and they would not increase the amount. Well, in this situation you may want to file your accident case with the court and take it to trial. Yet, per Pennsylvania Title 42 section 5524, you must file such lawsuits within two years of the accident. If you do not file within this limitations period, you will most likely be barred from doing so. Thus, this rule should be strictly adhered to.

Take Action now

For your best chances of getting adequate compensation for your injury, it is critical that you hire an experienced personal injury attorney. Such an attorney can be found at the Law Offices of Eisenberg Rothweiler Winkler Eisenberg & Jeck, P.C. Please contact us at (866) 569-3400 for a FREE initial consultation.

Appellate Court Grants Workers’ Compensation to Nurse with Floor Wax Allergy

A Pennsylvania appellate court has ruled in favor of a nurse whose allergy to the floor wax used by her employer created breathing problems that forced her to seek work elsewhere.

In April of 2010 Nancy Little was working full time as a registered nurse for Select Specialty Hospital in York, Pennsylvania. She began experiencing serious breathing problems, with symptoms so severe that she sought treatment at a nearby emergency room. After a few days off from work, she returned to her duties, but experienced the same symptoms again a month later. At that time she noted that the floors in the facility were being waxed. She also returned to the local emergency room for treatment, and was not able to go back to work for almost three weeks.

Ms. Little’s breathing problems continued with repeated episodes requiring emergency care. Following an episode in August of 2010 she did not return to Select Specialty for work. In October she applied for total disability workers’ compensation benefits for the time that she had missed from work, as well as the time that she was unemployed after leaving the hospital. Her claim was denied by Select Specialty, and in November she got a part-time job with another hospital, located in Altoona, Pennsylvania. Her new employer, Altoona Hospital, switched to a different type of wax upon learning of her allergy to the wax used by Select, and subsequently Ms. Little has not experienced any breathing problems in her new environment.

Ms. Little appealed Select Specialty’s denial of her claim, and upon review of her testimony and information provided by a toxicologist, a workers’ comp judge agreed that she had suffered disabling occupational asthma as a result of having been exposed to a chemical called di-isocyanate in the floor wax. The judge awarded her benefits for the weeks that she had missed and was unemployed, as well as partial disability benefits for a short period following, during which a physician had indicated that she had fully recovered, but Ms. Little appealed this decision, arguing that because she was unable to return to full time work, she should receive full compensation benefits. This claim was denied by the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board, which found that because her asthma had resolved and she hadn’t shown residual impairment, the benefits that had been given were sufficient.

Ms. Little appealed this decision to the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court, which unanimously agreed with her position and reversed the decision by the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board. Though they agreed that her asthma had been resolved, the judges ruled that her continued sensitivity to the floor wax meant that she was not able to return to her pre-injury work environment, and that she was therefore able to collect additional benefits. The ruling stated that, “A claimant need only show the aggravation arose in the course of employment, the aggravation is related to the employment, and that the claimant cannot return to the work place because the aggravation will most probably occur.”

If you need a workers’ compensation lawyer in Pennsylvania contact Joseph DeRita at the Law Offices of Joseph DeRita with offices in Philadelphia & Jamison, PA.

Employee Files Suit Claiming Workers’ Compensation Retaliation

When a worker is injured on the job in Pennsylvania, workers’ compensation insurance provides for their medical expenses, as well as additional benefits that they may need. Employers or their insurance companies may deny benefits or appeal approvals that are granted by the Workers’ Compensation Board, and often do because they fear that their policy rates will increase.

Though it is fairly common for this type of challenge to arise, it is illegal for an employer to take retaliative actions against an employee for having filed a workers’ compensation claim.  Yet that is exactly what a Pittsburgh man has claimed that his previous employer has done. Richard L. Nelson has filed suit against Enerfab Corporation, as well as the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers Local 154 and Mark Angle Jr., claiming that he was physically attacked, had been discharged and was banished from the union as a result of having filed his workers’ compensation claim.

According to Mr. Nelson’s complaint, he worked as a welder for Enerfab in 2009, and joined the union at the same time. Five years later he claims to have suffered a knee injury while on the job, and that he was asked not to file a workers’ compensation claim. He did seek medical attention and required surgery to repair his injury, and subsequently filed a claim. Though he returned to work a few months later, he says that he was informed that he had been placed on a no-hire list and was being discharged. Following this he filed a grievance with his union.

In November of the same year, Mr. Nelson claims that he attended a meeting about the grievance he had filed, and was subsequently attacked by Mr. Angle. He was banished from his union and his discharge was confirmed. His complaint indicates that all of these actions were in retaliation to having filed the workers’ compensation claim for his on-the-job knee injury.
The suit is seeking damages for the injuries that he sustained in the attack, as well as compensation for the damages that he has suffered. Mr. Nelson is also seeking protection against any attacks that may come in the future. His case has been filed with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania.


Delayed Cancer Diagnosis Results in $3 Million Verdict

When Katherine Palar was sent to Punxsutawey Hospital in March of 2009 for an MRI of her spine, the scan was read by Dr. John Wohlwend. In April she was sent back for a second MRI, and Wohlwend again viewed the images, focusing on identifying and describing a small cystic lesion located close to her spine. In reading both scans he ignored a mass that was present in the right upper lobe of Palar’s lung. That failure to report a mass measuring 2.2 centimeters by 1.8 centimeters was reportedly responsible for the progression of Palar’s non-small cell carcinoma of the lung from a stage IA to a stage IIIA 4.5-centimeter mass, and the reduction of her chances of survival from 70 percent to less than 25 percent. A Jefferson County jury has awarded her a $3 million delayed diagnosis verdict, the largest ever awarded in the county.

In reviewing the case, the jury assigned fifty percent negligence to each of two physicians – Dr. Wohlwend and Dr. Kamal Khalaf, who had reviewed Palar’s X-rays in 2010 and 2012 and who had not spotted the lesion. Though Dr. Khalaf admitted his liability, saying that he could have been more prudent in his care, Dr. Wohlwend defended himself in court, stating that an MRI of the spine is not used to look at the lung, and therefore he pays no attention to the lungs when a spinal MRI is prescribed. He further maintained that the lungs appear blurry on MRI films.

In expert testimony provided for Ms. Palar, Dr. Michael Racenstein of Alexian Brothers Medical Center indicated that Dr. Wohlwend’s failure to suggest a follow-up examination of the mass in the lungs represented a breach in the standard of care expected of a radiologist, and had resulted in the progression of Ms. Palar’s condition, as well as the injuries that she suffered while undergoing radiation and chemotherapy once her advanced stage illness was diagnosed in 2013. Speaking for himself, Dr. Khalaf indicated that had Dr. Wohlwend referenced the lung mass in his reports he would have responded by suggesting further evaluation and consultation.

During the course of the trial, Ms. Palar had requested a $2 million verdict, to which the defense offered no response. The jury took just one hour to deliverate and awarded her $3 million, with $1.5 million provided to compensate her for past noneconomic losses and $1.5 million for future noneconomic losses.

If you are look for a personal injury attorney in Bucks County Pennsylvania then you need Joseph Derita.