Philadelphia Essential Healthcare Employee Work Injury Lawyer
The United States has the most COVID-19 cases in the world:
- 1,725,900 cases
- 100,625 deaths
- 15.5 million COVID-19 tests administered
Pennsylvania is one of the largest and most population-dense states in the country. Not surprisingly, the state ranks sixth in the total number of COVID-19 cases and fifth in the number of COVID-19 related deaths: (as of 5/27/2020)
- Total number of cases: 72,876
- Total number of deaths: 5,194
- Total number of tests administered: 426,011
- Age breakdown:
- 0 to 4: less than one percent
- 5 to 12: less than one percent
- 13 to 18: two percent
- 19 to 24: six percent
- 25 to 49: 37 percent
- 50 to 64: 25 percent
- 65 and older: 29 percent
- The counties with the most COVID-19 cases are:
- Philadelphia County: 21,738 cases
- Montgomery County: 6,598 cases
- Delaware County: 6,295 cases
- Bucks County: 4,916 cases
- Berks County: 3,919 cases
- Lehigh County: 3,676 cases
- Lancaster County: 2,985 cases
- The counties with the most COVID-19 deaths are:
- Philadelphia County: 1,243 deaths
- Montgomery County: 635 deaths
- Delaware County: 524 deaths
- Bucks County: 461 deaths
- Berks County: 291 deaths
- Lancaster County: 283 deaths
- Chester County: 252 deaths
Source: https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/usa/pennsylvania/(as of 5/27/20)
As of mid-April, at least 9,200 healthcare workers have been infected with the novel coronavirus. However, the actual number of infected workers is thought to be much higher due to the lack of available testing.
- At least 743 healthcare workers have been hospitalized as a result of COVID-19
- At least 184 healthcare workers have been admitted to the ICU as a result of COVID-19
- 27 Healthcare workers across the country have died from COVID-19.
Of those healthcare workers who contracted COVID-19 while on the front lines:
- The median age was 42
- 73 percent were female
- 90 percent were not hospitalized
- 55 percent reported that the only contact with COVID-19 was through their work
55 percent of all healthcare workers who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 are believed to have contracted the virus at work.
While nurses make more than the average wage, they are also more frequently exposed to situations where they may become infected by COVID-19.
- On average, Philadelphia nurses make about $35 per hour.
- The average wage in the United States is $18.58 per hour.
- 89 percent of nurses spend significant time in close proximity with others
- On average, just 55.3 percent of workers spend close proximity with others.
- 93 percent of nurses are exposed to disease throughout their workday
- On average, just 19.9 percent of workers are exposed to disease throughout their day.
- 98.4 percent of nurses have frequent face-to-face interactions with others.
- On average, just 85.3 percent of workers have frequent interaction with others throughout their day.
Philly nursing assistants make, on average, slightly less than $13 per hour. Yet, 95 percent of nursing assistants are frequently in close proximity to others.
Philadelphia pharmacy technicians, on average, make slightly more than $17 per hour. Yet, 85 percent of pharmacy technicians are frequently in close proximity to others.
Many healthcare workers are considered “essential” and must report to work, despite the increased dangers during the coronavirus pandemic.
General COVID-19 Information
The novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, is a very contagious respiratory disease that is spread through the air. The disease is easily spread through small, invisible droplets that are released when an infected person coughs or sneezes. COVID-19 can also spread when someone touches an infected surface and then touches their eyes, nose or mouth.
- The Symptoms of COVID-19
COVID-19 symptoms of the disease are similar to the flu, including a dry cough, low-grade fever and difficulty breathing. Some patients have reported a loss of smell, general aches and pains, nasal congestion, a runny nose, sore throat and diarrhea. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should reach isolate themselves from others and immediately reach out to a healthcare professional to determine whether they should be tested.
- At-Risk Populations
Most of those who are young and health will recover within a few weeks. However, even healthy individuals may need to be hospitalized for a few days to a week before recovering. The primary concern presented by the virus is that it presents an increased risk of complication for those over 60 years of age, the immunocompromised, as well as individuals with certain pre-existing health conditions, including:
- Chronic lung conditions
- Serious heart conditions
- Liver disease
- Kidney disease
- Staying Safe and Staying Well
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that, to combat the spread of the disease, everyone:
- Stay at home and self-isolate if they are feeling unwell;
- Cover their nose and mouth with a disposable tissue when coughing or sneezing;
- Wash their hands regularly for at least 20 seconds with liquid soap and water; and
- Follow social distancing protocol by avoiding close contact (within six feet) with those who may have the virus.
- Wear a mask to prevent the spread of the virus, even if you do not have symptoms
- Pennsylvania’s Response to COVID-19
The decision of how to handle school and business closures was left up to the governors of each state. Governor Wolf has signed a series of executive orders relating to the COVID-19 crisis, which can be found here. Below is a list of links to various websites tracking COVID-19 and the state’s response:
- Pennsylvania Department of Health’s website on the coronavirus in Pennsylvania
- Pennsylvania state government press releases
- Updated Pennsylvania stay-at-home order
- Pennsylvania’s phased re-opening plan
- Learn More about COVID-19
The COVID-19 crisis evolves daily, and so do the suggestions on how to best mitigate against its spread. To stay on top of all updates, occasionally visit the following links:
Philadelphia Healthcare Workers Face a Serious Risk of Contracting COVID-19
For many Philly healthcare workers, treating COVID-19 patients is a daily occurrence. Ever since the virus first showed up in United States, medical workers have been at the front line to help those infected with COVID-19 while doing everything they can to limit the spread of the virus. Needless to say, Philly doctors, nurses and pharmacists face serious risks each and every day they go to work.
The most serious risk facing Philly medical workers is that they are in direct contact with patients who are COVID-19-positive or have been exposed to those who have tested positive. Experts agree that COVID-19 is extremely contagious and can be transmitted both through touch and through the air to those within six feet of an infected person. Nurses and doctors, in particular, spend much of their time in close proximity with patients. According to a recent Brookings Institute study, over 93 percent of nurses are frequently exposed to disease, and 98 percent of nurses frequently have face-to-face contact with others, including sick patients. Given this reality, hospitals are an ideal environment for COVID-19 to spread. Healthcare workers, including nurses, doctors, pharmacists and physician assistants who work in hospitals and are constantly around infected patients are at an increased risk of contracting the virus.
Adding to the dangers facing Pennsylvania medical workers is the fact that many hospitals across the state have experienced a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), especially in the earlier days of the pandemic. Medical workers rely on PPE to protect themselves and reduce the spread of disease to other workers, patients and the general public. PPE includes N95 respirator masks, facemasks, gloves, isolation gowns and eye protection, and is especially important for those treating patients with COVID-19. Due to shortages of PPE, many Pennsylvania nurses and doctors have been forced to rig their own PPE out of more commonly available material. Others have re-used PPE that was intended for a single use. Of course, re-used and home-made supplies do not offer the same protective qualities as the PPE that healthcare workers are used to having. Of course, re-used and home-made supplies are not an acceptable replacement for front-line healthcare workers who are already placing themselves in harm’s way to care for others with COVID-19.
Finally, Philadelphia medical workers face a heightened risk of contracting COVID-19 due to staff shortages and hospital overcrowding. A large part of the reason why the COVID-19 pandemic is so concerning is that the virus has the ability to completely overload the medical system, which was not designed to treat so many patients at one time. Hospitals are full. Staff is overworked. Some have even reported that patients were being treated in the hallway.
Pennsylvania healthcare workers are being asked to perform a herculean task without the necessary support to safely do the job. Not surprisingly, healthcare workers in Philly have already been infected with COVID-19, and experts believe that the number of infected healthcare workers will continue to grow at a rapid pace. The CDC estimates that, as of mid-April, there had been over 9,200 medical workers infected with COVID-19, and 27 have lost their lives as a result of the virus. Healthcare workers who have contracted COVID-19 should reach out to one of the dedicated Philadelphia personal injury lawyers at MyPhillyLawyer to speak with an attorney about their case.
Compensation for Philly Employees Diagnosed with COVID-19
Medical workers who contracted COVID-19 from their place of employment may be entitled to monetary damages. However, certain complications can arise in a Philadelphia workplace injury case involving a COVID-19 diagnosis. Primarily, this is due to the “exclusive remedy” provision of the Pennsylvania workers’ compensation law as well as the challenge of establishing that an employee’s diagnosis was the related to their employment.
As a general rule, when an employee is injured in an on-the-job accident, or contracts an occupational disease, there are two types of claims that they can pursue. The first is a Pennsylvania workers’ compensation claim. A workers’ compensation claim is a means for an injured employee to quickly obtain limited benefits after being suffering an injury on the job. Notably, being diagnosed with an occupational disease, such as COVID-19, counts as a workplace injury.
The Pennsylvania workers’ compensation system is a no-fault system. This means than an injured employee does not need to prove that their employer – or anyone else – was negligent i to obtain workers’ compensation benefits. However, the major drawback to these claims is that they do not allow employees to recover non-economic damages, such as compensation for their pain and suffering. Workers’ compensation claims do, however, provide compensation for an employee’s medical expenses as well as ongoing compensation while they are unable to return to work. That said, non-economic damages can be substantial in Philadelphia workplace injury cases, and, when possible, an employee may not want to forego the possibility of pursuing a claim for non-economic damages.
The second type of injury claim available to a Pennsylvania healthcare employee is a personal injury claim. Personal injury claims are based on the theory of negligence, which is a fault-based system. Thus, to successfully bring in a personal injury claim, an injured worker must prove that the named defendant was negligent, and that the defendant’s negligence resulted in the worker’s injuries. If successful, an injured worker may be entitled to both economic damages, such as medical expenses and lost wages, as well as non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. In general, Pennsylvania law does not cap the amount of damages that are available through personal injury lawsuits (except for in medical malpractice claims and claims against government entities).
The challenge in determining which type of case to bring is that injured workers in Philadelphia do not necessarily have a choice in which type of claim to pursue. Typically, if an employer has obtained workers’ compensation insurance, an employee’s exclusive remedy against their employer is a workers’ compensation claim. Thus, absent some exception, an employee who is injured on the job can file for workers’ compensation, but cannot pursue a personal injury case against their employer. However, the exclusive-remedy provision does not preclude an injured employee from pursuing a personal injury case against a third party. Third parties may include individuals, independent contractors, or other businesses such as vendors, suppliers or service providers. Similarly, the sole remedy provision of the workers’ compensation act does not apply if the worker’s injury was the result of an employers’ willful or intentional actions.
Healthcare employees who have contracted a case of COVID-19 may be entitled to compensation, either through a workers’ compensation claim or a personal injury claim. However, the nuances of these claims can be complex. Thus, any medical worker who tested positive for COVID-19 should reach out to a dedicated Philadelphia injury lawyer to learn more about their rights and what options they have to pursue a claim of compensation.
Do You Need a Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyer?
If you or someone you care about is a healthcare worker and has recently been diagnosed with COVID-19, contact the knowledgeable Philly personal injury and workers’ compensation attorneys at MyPhillyLawyer. Employers, including hospitals, are responsible for creating a safe workplace, and healthcare workers who have become ill as a result of their employment may be entitled to compensation for their injuries. The legal issues presented by the COVID-19 pandemic are unique, and Pennsylvania courts will be wrestling with how to handle many of these cases. Our skilled Philadelphia injury attorneys are comfortable both at the negotiation table as well as in court and will aggressively pursue favorable settlement offers whenever possible. However, as skilled trial attorneys, we will not hesitate to take a case to trial if the other side is unwilling to engage in fair negotiations.
The lawyers and staff of MyPhillyLawyer will be working remotely due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, as the health and safety of our clients, attorneys and staff members are of upmost importance. Rest assured, our operation has not been interrupted and we are still fully available to help you with legal assistance. Please contact us if you have any questions. To learn more about how we can help you recover compensation for the injuries you have sustained, call 215-254-6391, or toll-free 866-907-2231.