Wilkes-Barre Workers’ Compensation: Healthcare Worker Injuries
Health care workers in Luzerne County medical facilities like Commonwealth Health Wilkes-Barre General Hospital, Geisinger South Wilkes Barre, and Wilkes Barre VA Medical Center face a significant risk of injury. Staff members of Little Flower Manor and other popular direct care facilities may face an even greater possibility of being involved in an accident that results in personal injury. Nursing homes have one of the highest occupational illness and injury rates in the United States.
The recent pandemic highlighted the valuable role healthcare workers play in caring for others. But we often overlook the fact that those who work in medical facilities, whether as physicians, nurses, or other medical support staff members, frequently suffer injuries themselves, while helping others.
If you are a healthcare worker at one of Wilkes-Barre’s hospitals, long-term care centers, or any type of medical facility, it’s important to be informed and prepared for the possibility of injury. Knowing how to respond properly immediately following an accident will help to ensure you receive fair reimbursement for all costs relating to the incident. The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation program covers healthcare workers just as it does industrial and service sectors.
If you have suffered a work-related injury, consult a Wilkes-Barre workers’ compensation lawyer at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys for a FREE and confidential case review. Though you may trust the administration of the medical facility in which you are employed to do the right thing, it’s always best to have legal experts to back you up. You work hard to care for other people when they are hurt or sick; we’ll stand by your side to make sure you get the benefits you deserve. Contact us for free today.
Healthcare workers and on-the-job injuries
The following quote may come as a surprise to some. But it shouldn’t when you stop and think about it.
“Healthcare and social assistance employees continue to report among the highest rates of injury and illness among all private industries.”
– Excerpt from Zurich’s Benchmark Study of Healthcare Workers’ Compensation Claims.
Medical personnel are often tired and stressed from dealing with the physical and mental challenges of caring for patients and their family members; people facing chronically trying or acutely life-threatening situations. This creates a weakened state of awareness, which increases the risk of injury.
The Most Common Injuries Suffered by Healthcare Workers
We think of health care jobs as being different from those of many other professions. But injuries similar to the ones affecting other types of workplaces often afflict health care workers:
- Sprains, strains, broken bones and slipped discs are common injuries suffered by health care professionals, just as in manufacturing and logistics enterprises.
- Slip and fall injuries are common too, just as in other types of businesses.
Injuries more specific to the medical community include:
- Blood-borne infectious diseases
- Needle sticks
Routine Tasks That Trigger Healthcare Worker Injuries:
- Jobs requiring repetitive stress cause some common injuries suffered by healthcare workers. Musculoskeletal injuries can afflict those whose jobs include similar tasks performed multiple times daily.
- Lifting more than a reasonable amount of weight – as when transferring patients, can seriously injure bones and muscles. Even one incident that causes undue strain, can result in an injury with permanent effects. Nursing assistants and orderlies who routinely lift and transfer patients, most frequently suffer these injuries. But they also threaten physical therapists and even doctors and nurses. Anyone who works with patients may be faced with the need to assist them physically, on occasion.
- Administering injections and IVs – Injury may occur during or following routine injections, IV installations, blood draws. Injury becomes a greater risk when doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers treat combative patients. Dropping, misplacing, or improperly disposing of needles can also result in unexpected injury.
- Treating unpredictable patients – or dealing with difficult family or friends of patients. More frequently than most people expect, violence can be a hazard in the healthcare workplace. Not only a patient, but his or her friends or family members can become combative when under stress or experiencing grief.
- Violent criminals must be treated, as well as people whose behavior is erratic due to the ingestion of drugs. Those with mental disorders are also, often, a challenge to treat without provoking aggressive response. At times, medical facilities even face robberies, often committed by drug users. Such individuals may become violent.
Other Hazards in Healthcare Work Environments in Wilkes-Barre
Clean floors help keep germs from growing and multiplying. But wet floors can trigger falls.
- If proper warnings are not posted until floors have dried, serious injury can result.
- If the proper cleaning solutions are not used, in the proper manner, slippery conditions can remain, even after the floor has dried.
Categories of healthcare workers who may suffer injuries – making them eligible for workers’ compensation
- Home Health Aides.
- Long-term care facility workers.
- Physician assistants.
- Physical therapists.
- Occupational therapists.
- Any other type of professional employed in a healthcare facility.
Help for Injured Healthcare Workers in Luzerne County
Healthcare is a satisfying, yet demanding profession. Especially in today’s times. Workers’ compensation will cover most types of injuries that legitimately occur in a healthcare facility, while the worker who fell victim was performing an approved task, during working hours.
To be certain you receive benefits if you suffer an injury and that they will continue for as long as necessary, it’s wise to contact a Wilkes-Barre workers’ compensation lawyer.
A third-party claim may also be filed if someone besides your employer was negligent and thus, at least in part, responsible for your suffering and pain. One example would be if a piece of equipment malfunctioned and caused an injury.
Making certain benefits are approved in the first place is essential, as is keeping up to date on the claim, to make certain every covered procedure is paid. That is the role of the workers’ comp attorney.
When you are injured and begin to receive benefits, that may not be the end of the experience. In some instances, benefits cease too soon, causing further injury to a victim. Such problems must be addressed by a qualified member of a workers’ compensation law firm.
When Accidents Happen at Healthcare Facilities in Wilkes-Barre
Accidents will happen and when they do, workers’ compensation should cover lost wages and medical bills. Illness, injury, or aggravation of an existing condition are all qualifying symptoms for receiving benefits if they are linked to on-the-job conditions. The principle is simple but the claims process can sometimes be much more complex.
Your claim may be denied, or your benefits may stop before you can return to work. A Wilkes-Barre workers’ compensation attorney can make certain you receive a fair hearing and that compensation continues for as long as necessary.
Following are guidelines regarding the workers’ compensation process. But your first response when an accident happens, or symptoms appear that you believe to be work-related should be to:
- See a doctor right away.
- Document the situation that caused the symptoms, their severity, and the recommended treatment.
How Do You Know if You are Covered by Workers’ Compensation?
Nearly every healthcare worker who is an employee of an independent professional or a medical organization in Pennsylvania is covered by workers’ compensation. If you, as a formal employee, suffer an injury that is directly related to your job, and you can prove that’s the case, you are eligible to receive benefits for lost wages and medical bills.
Those not covered by workers’ compensation include people working as independent contractors rather than employees, and workers in some specialized fields which maintain their own systems of compensation, like shipyard or railroad workers. Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys can help you determine if you are eligible to apply for workers’ compensation benefits.
First Steps to Take if You are Injured at Work
Whenever you are even slightly injured in your healthcare workplace, report the accident to your supervisor immediately. Complete an incident report, getting all the facts straight. A thorough description of the situation is important. Even if you don’t currently believe your injury is significant, you can’t be certain. There could be complications at a later date.
Don’t allow yourself to be pressured to settle – to sign away your workers’ compensation rights. Never sign any insurance document until you have consulted with a Wilkes-Barre workman’s compensation law firm.
Remember, your proper action, in the beginning, increases your chances of being paid, should it become necessary to file a claim.
How to File a Claim – What’s the Deadline?
You must notify your supervisor of a workplace injury within 120 days of the date of its occurrence. A case must be filed before three years have passed, since the incident which caused the injury took place.
Then, under the Workers’ Compensation Act, your employer and their insurance company have 21 days after you have given them notice of the injury to agree that it’s work-related and issue an appropriate notice or to deny the claim and issue a statement indicating the decision.
Submit to a Medical Examination and be Straightforward
You will probably be required to be examined by a physician of your employer’s choosing before your claim is approved. Don’t worry. Be confident during the process. If you have a legitimate claim, you will likely receive some compensation.
That said, before an independent medical exam scheduled by your employer, it’s best to consult with a workers’ compensation lawyer. Specialists like the workers’ compensation attorneys at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys in Wilkes-Barre can prepare you with an understanding of what to expect before, during, and following the exam.
Just remember to:
Be Honest About the Incident
Tell your story, truthfully, as it happened. No white lies. Those can get your claim denied.
Don’t Make Exaggerations About What Happened
You may be tempted to embellish the facts. Don’t do it. The advice, “just the facts, ma’am,” applies to workers’ comp claims. And obviously, the facts should remain the same no matter how many times you tell your story.
Don’t Overly Criticize the Healthcare Center Where the Incident Occurred
Even if you are certain the situation at your facility, which caused the injury, was due to unsafe practices, don’t be too accusing, in the beginning. There will come a time when it will be appropriate to become more assertive about the situation. But let your legal representative decide when that time arrives.
Before an independent medical exam is scheduled by your employer, it’s best to consult with a workers’ compensation lawyer. Specialists like the workers’ compensation attorneys at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys in Wilkes-Barre can prepare you with an understanding of what to expect before, during, and following the exam.
When Will I Begin Receiving Benefits?
Benefits should begin approximately 21 days after your employer receives notice of your injury. The amount of compensation will depend upon whether you are partially or totally disabled by the condition. Here is a link to a more in-depth analysis of the way compensation is determined.
What Might Cause My Claim to be Denied?
Frequent causes of denial of workers’ compensation claims for healthcare workers include:
- The employer contests the facts posed by the claim, the work-related nature, or the severity of the injury.
- The incident report contains inaccurate information.
- The claim wasn’t filed until after the 120-day window.
- The employer accuses the injured worker of using illegal substances which impaired his actions, thus causing the injury.
To prevent denial it’s wise to consult with an attorney specializing in workers’ compensation law before filing. If you’re not certain you have all your ducks in a row, the claim will face the likelihood of denial, even though it’s legitimate.
Don’t take too long to obtain legal representation and file a claim. Keep in mind the need to plan and be prepared, long before the 120-day time limit to file.
What Happens if My Claim is Denied? Call a Wilkes-Barre Workers’ Comp Lawyer
If your on-the-job healthcare injury claim is submitted by your employer, but denied, it’s not necessarily the end of the world. Once denied, you will have three years from the date of your injury to file a claim with the state Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.
In such a situation, it’s essential to have the assistance of a Wilkes-Barre lawyer who is a specialist in worker compensation – to ensure your case the best chance of success.
And don’t worry about the cost. The knowledgeable attorneys at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys work on a contingency basis. You don’t pay us unless you receive compensation.
The Possibility of a Third-Party Lawsuit
If defective or faulty machinery contributed to your injury, you may be able to file suit against a third party, in addition to your workmans’ comp claim. If you believe that was the case when your injury occurred, consult a Wilkes-Barre workers’ compensation attorney at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys for assistance.