Physical labor is rough, and the men and women who work at construction sites, factories and in industrial settings are tough. Many tend to work through pain; after all, the labor is physically intense. For example, a steel worker may be lifting 50 pounds multiple times a day, often dozens of times a day. It’s no wonder that workers often believe they shouldn’t bother filing legal claims for work accidents/injuries; they’re used to working through pain.
Here’s why this way of thinking can lead to problems down the line. The average worker is in their 30s, and people in their 30s are obviously physically healthier than in later years. Someone who works through pain in their 20s and 30s may one day wake up and realize they can’t work effectively. If that happens in their 40s or 50s, the financial consequences can be quite serious.
To illustrate: A construction carpenter in Philadelphia is 30 years old and has been doing construction-carpentry work his entire adult life, since finishing his apprenticeship at his local union in Philly. He has a work accident when he falls off a scaffold and hurts his shoulder. However, he does not file any type of claim or otherwise seek any legal help. He simply works through the pain. Over time, the carpenter begins having constant pain in his right shoulder, due to the injury and overuse. However, he works through the pain and carries on. Fast forward now to age 40. The carpenter experiences disabling pain in his shoulder and realizes he cannot work the hours he did before the fall accident. He has kids in school and a mortgage to pay.
In this scenario, the worker could file a workers’ compensation claim for the overuse injury. However, the problem with workers’ compensation is that it is not designed to be a retirement fund for injured workers. Instead, workers’ compensation is designed to be a short-term fix with the ultimate goal of getting the worker back on the job. The permanent disability payments are not an effective solution in a case like this.
Instead, this worker could have consulted with a work accident lawyer when the fall accident occurred. The lawyer would have analyzed whether there was a valid negligence claim against another party, in which case, the worker may have received financial compensation for any future work loss. However, since the fall accident occurred over 2 years ago, any such claim would be barred by Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations in work accident cases.
The bottom line is that injured workers should realize they should not work through pain. Doing so can put their future work lives at risk.
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