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Now What Happens?

Philadelphia Workers' Compensation Lawyer, Debra Jensen, Describes a Case Involving an Injured WorkerBy Debra A. Jensen, Managing Partner, Galfand Berger, LLP

Like he did every morning, Tom got ready for work. He had breakfast with the kids before sending them off to the bus stop. Tom’s wife kissed him goodbye, and they both headed off to their jobs. Tom worked on a factory production line. He arrived on time, said hello to his buddies and his union shop steward, punched the clock and headed to the line. His day started like any other. Then, “it” happened. Even to this day, years later, Tom can’t talk about the accident. The machine jammed and Tom was told to clear it. As he reached in to clear the jam, the machine unexpectedly restarted. Tom’s hand and arm were crushed. Minutes seemed like hours as Tom’s co-workers scrambled to help. They weren’t trained for a situation like this.The employer never even considered it.

Tom thought, “Now what happens?

An ambulance arrived and Tom was rushed to the hospital. After that, he only remembers the pain. When he awoke from surgery, his wife and parents were by his side. The look on their faces said it all. Tom’s wife spoke. She told Tom that the doctors tried their best to save his hand but they couldn’t. He didn’t hear the rest. But he soon learned that his injured arm would need multiple surgeries and skin grafts. He would have to learn to use a prosthetic hand. He would need months of physical therapy.

Tom thought, “Now what happens?”

The injury impacted Tom in ways he never would have imagined. Months of painful recovery resulted in lost wages, lost benefits and lost opportunity. Tom could never return to work the line. His employer began to lose patience.

Tom couldn’t keep up with his bills. His family’s security was at risk. Then there were the day-to-day realities of his injury. He couldn’t play with his kids like he used to. He couldn’t fish or hunt or walk his dog. Bathing, getting dressed or doing chores were nearly impossible. He couldn’t even drive. His relationship with his wife suffered. Tom felt like he was letting his family down. It weighed heavily on him.

That’s when Tom’s union suggested he call our firm. At first Tom hesitated. He wasn’t a “lawsuit” kind of guy. But when he looked at his family around the dinner table, he knew he had to do something. So, he called us. One of our lawyers went to Tom’s home. After the very first visit, Tom knew he was in good hands. He liked that we’ve been representing injured workers, consumers and individuals since 1947. And, he liked knowing a team of attorneys and exceptional staff would be working on his case.

Then, we got to work!

We called Tom’s union to make sure Tom was getting all the benefits he was entitled to under the collective bargaining agreement. Fortunately, for Tom, his Union had his back. They promised to help us any way they could. That’s just what unions do for their brothers and sisters! And that’s why our firm has been on the side of labor for nearly 70 years.

Soon after, we filed a claim to increase Tom’s Workers’ Compensation benefits. We had carefully evaluated Tom’s benefits and recognized his compensation checks were too low. We also made sure all of Tom’s medical bills were getting paid so his credit rating wasn’t affected because of his work injury. Tom soon learned the Workers’ Compensation system can be tricky. But he was secure knowing that our firm literally helped write the book on Workers’ Compensation in Pennsylvania. He gave copies of our book “Workers’ Rights to Workers’ Compensation” to his buddies. And, his union kept it in their office. (We’re happy to send you a free copy, just give our office a call!)

Tom’s Workers’ Compensation benefits increased and his credit remained solid. At the same time, our attorneys investigated Tom’s other legal rights. Our attorneys quickly recognized Tom might have a claim against the company that built the machine on which he was hurt. Our products liability lawyers got involved. Sure enough, the machine lacked common sense safety features that would have prevented Tom’s injuries. The company that made the machine tried to blame Tom for the accident but their user manual, missing guards and non-existent emergency shut-off told a different story. The machine was defective and should never have been sold.

We proved our case by working hard. We hired experts. Interviewed witnesses. Inspected the machine. Investigated the manufacturer. We learned this wasn’t the first time an accident like this happened on their equipment. This time, we weren’t going to let them get away with it. We prepared our case for trial. If we didn’t get a verdict for Tom, he wouldn’t get the recovery he deserved. And, that’s another thing Tom liked about us. He knew we were willing to put our money on the line for his case. If we didn’t win, Tom wouldn’t owe us a dime. But that wasn’t an issue. We did our homework and the jury agreed with us. They awarded Tom enough money to help Tom and his family live the reality of his new life.

We proved our case by working hard.

Tom still has nightmares about the accident. He wishes it never happened. He is still healing. And, so is his family. At least now, they won’t lose their home, the calls from bill collectors have stopped and Tom will get the training he needs to return to a different job.

Accidents like Tom’s happen in the workplace more often than you can imagine. But what happens when your injury is not just in the workplace? What happens when you are in your car and another driver, texting on their cell phone, blows through a stop sign and hits you? Or what happens when you go to the doctor for a routine procedure that results in a medical mishap? Or you’re in a grocery store and a wet floor from a leaking refrigerator causes you to fall? Injuries from these accidents have life-altering consequences too. Your job, your family, your home and your security are all at risk.

We are proud of the work our firm champions on behalf of injured workers, consumers and individuals. For years, your rights have been under attack by big business and insurance companies. They have used slick campaigns in an effort to convince the public that people like Tom and his family don’t deserve justice.

Well, we know they do and it was our privilege to help restore dignity and security to them. We’ve been helping people since 1947 and we won’t stop. Our firm will continue to be your voice. If you are injured, and have questions, call us for a free consultation. Tom is glad he did.

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