Wilkes-Barre Workers’ Compensation: Injury Claims for Corrections Officers
Workers’ compensation for corrections officers, or any category of jail or prison worker, should be easy to obtain, following a proven on-the-job injury. Managing inmates with records of violence is one of the riskiest professions, according to statistics. Yet achieving approval for workers comp payments when injured is not always simple. All too often, officers with worthy claims encounter obstacles. If you or someone you know was injured while working as a corrections officer at the Luzerne County Correctional Facility or a jail or prison in or near Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, a knowledgeable, conscientious Wilkes Barre workers’ compensation attorney at Munley Law may be able to help.
When a corrections officer suffers a workplace injury, it’s important to follow the steps mentioned in this post. Each requirement should be completed on time via the proper channels. If you are uncertain about the situation or believe you may encounter problems, contact an experienced, Luzerne County work injury lawyer. Yes, you can afford legal assistance. If your case is accepted, Munley Law’s skilled, compassionate Wilkes-Barre workers’ compensation attorneys do not charge for services until you receive benefits.
Workers’ Comp for Correctional Officers in Luzerne County
Corrections officers and all other categories of prison workers serve a vital role in our society. They are responsible for supporting and organizing the lives of inmates, assisting with rehabilitation. But the understandably stressful environment sometimes heightens the tension between inmates, creating potentially violent situations which must be addressed. The potential for injury due to interaction with prisoners, combined with the everyday hazards like those found in any workplace, creates a high-level risk of on-the-job injury for corrections officers.
Workers’ compensation insurance exists to help when violence or accidents result in injuries to corrections officers and other employees of America’s jails and prisons.
Anyone injured at work, in Luzerne County, or any Pennsylvania location, has the right to receive treatment and be reimbursed for expenses covered under the Pennsylvania State Workers’ Compensation Program. Similar programs are operated by other U.S. states. Sometimes the application process is seamless. Other times, obstacles appear. That’s when the services of a workers’ compensation attorney can be helpful. Specialists in enforcing workers’ compensation laws can assist injured corrections officers in receiving the compensation they deserve.
Corrections Officers Injured at Work: The Statistics
The position of corrections officer was the second most dangerous job in 2016. In 2020, the job was more dangerous than ever. The pandemic exacerbated the ongoing level of stress suffered by prison workers and inmates. Tension increased for both corrections officers and their charges. Increased stress can contribute to violence. The International Corrections and Prisons Association mentions the ongoing high rate of physical attacks upon prison staff, by inmates.
As deeply serious as the threat of intentionally inflicted injury is, it is only one potential cause of the many injuries for which corrections officers are at risk. In the next section, we will share a listing of injuries most often suffered by staff members responsible for the welfare of inmates at correctional facilities.
Corrections Officers Likely Face Ongoing High Risk
The job of a corrections officer is one of the most challenging of career positions. On-the-job injuries occur with statistically significant frequency. Steps are being taken to improve conditions for those working in correctional facilities. But the process is exceedingly slow and risk can never be completely eliminated. Jails and prisons will likely always be near the top of the list of workplaces holding above-average potential for a work-related injury.
Correctional researchers, administrative officials, and prison systems seem to have not prioritized the health and safety concerns of COs. While some facilities have begun to implement programs and policies to improve CO health and reduce stress, such as employee assistance programs and peer-support programs, these have not been used on a large scale, nor has their effectiveness been evaluated. These programs may also neglect some of the risks described above that affect CO wellness and safety.
Common Injuries Suffered by Corrections Officers – and Their Causes
A high proportion of corrections officer injuries result from prisoner contact. Worst-case scenarios occur during prison uprisings; when multiple corrections officers receive serious injuries simultaneously. But even on a day-to-day basis, violence is a risk that must be guarded against.
However, any prison employee is just as likely as a factory or retail worker to slip and fall on a freshly mopped floor or strain a muscle when lifting an excessively heavy object.
Common injuries suffered by corrections officers include cuts and bruises, broken bones, head injuries – including concussions, knife or stab wounds.
In a prominent study of U. S. correctional officers killed or injured on the job, it was found that work-related injuries, both fatal and nonfatal, were most often caused by:
- Or other violent acts.
Next on the list of leading causes of both fatal and non-fatal injuries were:
- Overexertion – Strained and sprained muscles and other types of musculoskeletal injuries can result from the awkward postures and movements required to restrain inmates, move furniture or equipment. Standing for prolonged periods when supervising inmates also stresses bones and muscles.
- Contact with dangerous objects and equipment.
- Transportation-related events – Workers in many industries suffer a high percentage of injuries linked to transportation-related responsibilities. Corrections officers must often transport prisoners for various reasons. Not only traffic accidents but incidents resulting from prisoner handling during transport can trigger injuries.
Regarding nonfatal assault and violent act injuries, over one-third, or 37 percent:
- Occurred during incidents when the officer was required to restrain a prisoner.
- Or during interaction with an inmate during an altercation.
Nonfatal injuries most often affected:
- An upper limb.
- Two thirds affected a hand and/or fingers.
The most common types of non-fatal work-related injuries were:
- Sprains and strains (30 percent).
- Contusions and abrasions (28 percent).
The Steps to Take Following an Injury at a Correctional Facility in Wilkes-Barre
Corrections officers are usually employed by a government entity. As an employee, injured prison workers are covered by the applicable employer’s workers’ compensation arrangements.
When injured at work as a corrections officer:
- Tell your supervisor immediately about the incident during which you incurred your injury.
- Document what happened, including as many details as possible.
- See a doctor.
- Submit a workers’ compensation claim as soon as possible.
- Contact a workers’ compensation lawyer for a consultation if it seems you may experience difficulty in receiving fair and timely reimbursement for treatment, lost income, and other legitimate issues directly related to the workplace injury which may qualify for compensation.
The corrections officer’s employer – the facility – usually operated by a government entity, should have a policy established for addressing workplace injuries. In general, medical bills and part of any lost wages are covered by workers’ compensation. The percentage of wages covered normally depends upon the severity of the injury.
Emotional and psychological pain and suffering which understandably accompany some incidents that occur at correctional facilities are not normally included under workers’ compensation coverage.
In some cases, further litigation is warranted by the situation. In cases where other parties, unusual circumstances, or faulty equipment contributed to the condition that caused the injury, additional compensation through a third-party lawsuit may be possible.
To obtain workers’ compensation for corrections officers, take immediate action
Reacting properly immediately following an injury increases your chances of receiving reimbursement if a claim is necessary.
Complete an incident report even if you believe you are only slightly injured. The full extent of damage is often not apparent immediately. Sometimes complications can occur later.
Strive to record facts accurately. Make descriptions detailed. Note dates and times. Don’t let officials pressure you to settle immediately. If you believe you will not receive the benefits for which you are qualified, don’t sign off on your rights until you speak with a Wilkes-Barre workman’s compensation law firm.
Why Contact a Wilkes-Barre Worker’s Compensation Lawyer?
Most people understandably expect that an injury obviously incurred while working in a jail or prison would warrant immediate compensation. But it can be difficult to convince an insurance adjuster to approve payment to cover injuries suffered at any type of workplace, including a correctional facility.
If you suspect or encounter any problems in submitting your claim, contacting a Wilkes-Barre personal injury attorney familiar with the laws and process governing workers’ compensation can result in valuable advice and/or the advantage of obtaining a skilled negotiator who will stand up for your rights. Remember, Munley Law workers’ compensation attorneys do not charge for services until you receive approval of your claim.
How to Determine if an Injury is Covered by Workers’ Compensation
Workers’ comp covers most employees
If you are an employee of an organization, your on-the-job injuries are almost certain to fall under workers’ compensation coverage. As long as your injury is directly related to your job duties, and you can prove that is the case, you are eligible to receive the benefits of medical bill payments and reimbursement for lost wages.
A few exceptions
Notable exceptions to workers’ compensation coverage are workers who serve as independent contractors. Also, some professions maintain their own systems for compensation, like, for example, shipyard and railroad workers.
To be certain, seek legal advice from an attorney who handles workers’ compensation for corrections officers
Knowledgeable, professional representatives of insurance companies often do their best to discourage payment of some claims for workplace injuries. Confusion is sometimes created by the fact that laws are always changing. Each state differs regarding workers’ comp coverage details.
With such uncertainty and confusion, it’s only fair that you, the injured employee of a prison or jail, should consult with a professional. Workers’ comp attorneys are skilled in determining whether you qualify for workers’ comp benefits or reimbursement from a third party for job-related injuries. You deserve professional representation.
What is the Deadline – and how Difficult is it to File a Claim?
A supervisor must be notified of any workplace injury suffered within 120 days of its occurrence. The workers’ comp case must be filed within three years of the date the injury-causing incident took place.
Under the Workers’ Compensation Act, the employer (the supervising government entity, in the case of a publicly run prison) and the employer’s insurer, have 21 days following the date they receive notice of the injury, to determine whether they agree it’s work-related or not. If they agree, an appropriate notice will be issued. If they don’t believe it to be work-related, they will issue a statement of denial.
What Conditions May Cause a Claim to be Denied?
Here are a few common issues:
- The employer or the insurer may believe the injury was not work-related, or of sufficient severity.
- The incident report appears to contain errors.
- Required dates for notification and claim filing were not met.
- The employer believes the injured worker was using illegal substances which impaired his actions and caused the injury.
Prompt consultation with a workers’ compensation attorney helps prevent oversights that may result in claim denial.
If your claim is denied:
It doesn’t necessarily mean the end of your case. If your employer submitted a claim, which was denied, you have three years from the date your injury occurred to file a claim with the state Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.
If filing on your own, it’s essential to seek the assistance of a Wilkes-Barre lawyer who specializes in workers’ compensation. Remember, Munley Law attorneys work on a contingency basis, so there is no fee unless we obtain your benefits.
Is a Third-Party Lawsuit Appropriate?
If faulty, defective machinery or equipment at the prison contributed to your injury, you may be able to file a third-party lawsuit. A Wilkes-Barre workers’ compensation attorney can help you determine if you have the basis for a third-party case.
Still uncertain about the workers’ compensation process? See our Frequently Asked Questions page.
The professionals at Munley Law, based in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, are here to help. Since 1959, workers injured in Pennsylvania have trusted Munley Law to secure their benefits. Our workers’ compensation attorneys have earned the highest possible peer and client review ratings from Martindale-Hubbell, and have consistently been named among the Best Lawyers in America. J. Christopher Munley was named “Workers’ Compensation Lawyer of the Year,” for our region in 2016.
If you were injured at work as a corrections officer, call us today at (844) 264-9919 for a free consultation with a Wilkes-Barre workers’ compensation lawyer regarding your specific situation.