Are you a food service worker who's been injured on the job? You may be wondering what's next:
- What if my injury prevents me from returning to work?
- Am I eligible for Workers' Comp?
- What if a nonemployee caused my injury?
- Should I consider hiring a lawyer?
The experienced work injury lawyers at Monheit Law are here to stand by injured workers.
Our work injury lawyers are here to make sure injured workers receive the compensation they deserve.
If you've ever worked in the food service industry, you know how stressful the average shift can be. In order to function at the highest level, food service providers require their employees to work cooperatively and at a fast pace. On busy nights, the kitchen workload can often become overwhelming.
When the pace picks up, the risk of injury increases as well. Kitchen staff, servers, caterers, and other staff members are all susceptible to workplace injuries in the industry. Like any other industry, these workers are all eligible for Workers' Comp if their injuries force them to miss time from work.
Food Service Workers' Rights
Many food service employees may not even realize that if they've been seriously injured, they qualify for Workers' Compensation. It doesn't matter who was responsible for causing the injury.
If a prep cook slips and falls on a floor spill that someone else should have cleaned up, he or she qualifies for a claim. And if the same prep cook accidentally cuts his or her own hand while chopping vegetables, he or she is still eligible for a claim.
Workers' Comp is a no-fault based insurance system. Employees are ensured that they will receive the compensation they need to recover from injuries, and employers are protected from being sued by injured employees.
If you're a food service worker who has been injured on the job, you may be nervous about filing a claim. You may worry that your employer could fire you, cut your hours, or attempt to force you to work through your injury. Be aware that none of these responses are ever okay. Our veteran work injury attorneys are here to stand up for your rights as an employee.
FREE WORK INJURY CONSULTATION
In the food service industry, proper safety instruction is absolutely crucial. Every day, these workers are surrounded by possibly dangerous conditions. Even when safety standards are adequately enforced and followed, injuries can still happen. Common injuries include:
Cuts and Lacerations
Chefs, line cooks, prep cooks, and other kitchen staffers are constantly in contact with knives, slicers, sharpeners, and other sharp kitchen tools and instruments. With enough experience, most kitchen workers will end up with at least a minor cut at some point in their food service careers.
Most of these injuries are minor and only require a bandage and some time to heal. But unfortunately, some food service accidents result in deep cuts which may require extensive medical care and missed time at work.
Workers are surrounded by hot surfaces, deep fryers, and hot grease. Burns can result from direct contact, such as bumping your arm against a hot stove. Additionally, exposure to hot steam can also result in burns. Cooks and other kitchen staff could suffer eye injuries if hot grease sizzles and pops up into the face.
Sprains and Strains
Food service work often requires repetitive motions and heavy lifting. Employees should be instructed how to lift with their legs in order to avoid back problems and other musculoskeletal disorders. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, "these musculoskeletal disorders accounted for 29% of all lost time workplace injuries and illnesses in 2008."
If knives aren't kept sharp enough, employees may be forced to exert extra force in order to cut effectively. This can result in conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis.
Standing for long periods of time in one position can lead to muscle fatigue and pain in the back, legs, and feet. Cumulative stress injuries also qualify for Workers' Comp, just like direct injuries such as burns and cuts.
What Should I Do If I've Been Injured?
Many injured food service workers fail to report their injuries or even consider a Workers' Comp claim. Part time workers may not realize that they qualify for these benefits. Other workers may be afraid to file a claim for fear of repercussions.
Regardless of whether you're full or part time, you are protected by Workers' Comp, just like all other Pennsylvania workers. In order to give yourself the best chance of receiving the compensation you need, make sure to follow these steps:
- Report the injury to your supervisor as soon as possible.
- Seek medical attention.
- File a claim with the PA Workers' Comp Board.
- Obtain medical reports from your doctor within 48 hours of your initial injury treatment.
- Make sure your employer reports the injury to the Workers' Comp Board
- Request a written statement of your rights from the insurance company
- Consult with a work injury attorney
How Can A Lawyer Help?
In order to receive fair compensation, many injured workers require the guidance of an experienced work injury lawyer. These lawyers understand the various factors at play after a work injury. They can use their experience to analyze the specific circumstances behind your injury and help to make the claims process as smooth as possible.
Specifically, a work injury lawyer may help:
- Collect the evidence you need to win a claim
- File your claim
- File an appeal if your claim is denied
- Settle disputes with your employer or the Workers' Comp board
- Determine if there is a liable third party
- File a personal injury claim, if there was a third party involved
Complications in the Claims Process
In order to protect against insurance fraud, the PA Worker's Compensation Board has strict requirements for filing a claim. However, sometimes workers who genuinely require compensation run into difficulties because of minor mistakes or inconsistencies in their documents. Many claims are denied the first time.
Because of the complicated nature of these claims, an experienced workers' compensation attorney is often a necessary resource. The lawyers at Monheit have experience handling all types of Workers' Comp claims. We've seen claims get denied for reasons both big and small, and we know how to help our clients avoid common roadblocks.
When a Third Party is Liable
Sometimes, food service workers are injured in accidents caused by someone other than a coworker or employer. When this happens, they may pursue additional compensation through a personal injury claim. Examples of these situations include:
- A catering van involved in an accident with another negligent driver
- Injuries caused by independent contractors or outside services, such as a grease removal employee
- Injuries caused by defective restaurant equipment
At Monheit Law, we offer all prospective clients a free consultation. This will allow you to determine if you need a lawyer at no cost to you. Additionally, we only require payment on a contingency fee basis - meaning that you only pay us if we win for you.