We aren’t always aware, but we often take risks in our everyday lives at our jobs. We perform duties that are routine, and sometimes we feel pain from an accident or from an injury that develops over time. Employees are protected from disabling physical injuries that result from workplace accidents and are compensated by their employer’s workers’ compensation insurance. If you become disabled from a work-related accident, you are protected by the workers’ compensation system.
A WORK-RELATED INJURY DOES NOT NEED TO HAVE BEEN FROM AN ACCIDENT
There are many ways that an employee can be injured on the job, and sometimes factors at work, such as environment, faulty equipment, or the affects on your body over time, for instance, that result from an old WC injury from which you were able to return to work. If you are feeling pain while working, it is important to see a doctor to find out if the duties you perform could be a contributing factor. Often, employees continue to work with an injury or try to manage symptoms on their own. This, too is taking a big risk with your health and wellbeing! If you are feeling symptoms that may be a developing condition, don’t wait until your condition becomes so severe that it is disabling. Speak up about your symptoms to your doctor.
Physical injury – any injury to your body such as back, knees, shoulder, hand, etc. Bones can fracture from an accident, but other body parts we use when we work are prone to injury from stress and strain as well. This includes rotator cuff tears, torn tendons, especially in the wrist, and knees and hips with weight-bearing surfaces that over time suffer damage. Other painful and debilitating injuries can be torn meniscus, cartilage defects, torn ligament, or slipped disc.
Repetitive motion – such as seen with carpal tunnel syndrome, heavy lifting, neck or shoulder strain, etc. Over time, an injury may result from day-to-day work functions. It could also result from over-stretching a tendon. Damage to the carpal tunnel in the wrist can cause the loss of use of your hands if not addressed early on. Repetitive trauma can also cause injuries like a herniated disc. Consider someone who shovels walkways with heavy snow at their job, and over time the lifting motion causes damage to their spine.
Consequential injury – if you have been hurt before (i.e. bad back, knee, shoulder, etc.) and now you have a painful ache—it might not be in the exact same place, but may actually be a result from the old injury. Tell your doctor about the symptoms you feel and what you are doing when it happens.
Spinal injury – these types of injuries have different severities. The spine is vital to overall performance at work. Sometimes spinal injuries develop over time and that is called cumulative trauma. Also, the age of a person can be a factor when degenerative disk disease is present and weakens the spine. If you constantly hold your head or body in a certain way at work, a doctor can confirm that this has caused damage to your spine.
Mental health – some situations at work may induce symptoms in the employee that require medical treatment in the form of psychotherapy counseling and medication. With medical evidence to support such a claim did in fact occur due to work environment, a specific event, or series of circumstances, a claim for benefits may be pursued by an employee. For instance, injury or illness can be caused by the physical space you work in or due to aggressive behavior of a fellow employee. Anxiety and depression can also come about after a serious accident at work, whether as a result from the shock of the accident or the emotional state of the person dealing with the pain and symptoms that were direct result of the injury. These types of symptoms are included in workers’ compensation benefits as part of the injury suffered at work.
Faulty equipment – an unknown danger to which workers are exposed, sometimes daily, is the equipment they use. Whether straight from the manufacturer or a repaired piece—equipment, machinery, and tools can cause bodily harm or injury to a worker doing his job. Workers’ compensation is no-fault insurance, meaning it does not matter if you or anyone else caused the accident. The fact that you were injured at your job means you qualify for benefits.
Work hazards – some jobs require a certain level of risk, such as electrical workers or construction workers, but even weather conditions can be a factor that raises the risks involved with performing your duties if you work out-of-doors and in the field.
Environmental factors – if you are suffering from a medical condition that resulted from the environment in which you work, you should first see a doctor who can confirm it is indeed a work-related injury. There are various tests that a doctor can perform to determine whether you have a sensitivity to an environmental condition that exists at your workplace. For instance, poor air quality from an old building or unclean air ducts and vents can produce symptoms of asthma in a person.
UNDERSTANDING WORKERS’ COMPENSATION
Workers’ compensation laws were created to provide employees with no-fault insurance that covers 100% of the medical care for their injury, as well as provide them with disability benefits when they are unable to work. Employers cannot terminate a worker’s employment for filing a workers’ compensation claim, nor can they prevent an employee from taking such action.
Regardless of the situation, workers’ compensation is a complex system that may be challenging for those unfamiliar with it. Having an attorney representing your claim can lead you in the right direction and ensure your rights are protected.
There are no fees charged to you for contacting an attorney for answers to your questions regarding your claim and how it is being handled.
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