You bend to help shift a patient to a new bed and hear a pop in your back followed by excruciating pain; you slip on a liquid left uncleaned off the hallway floor and fall seriously breaking your arm; a patient lashes out physically striking you and causing injury that requires surgical intervention. Each of these potential scenarios are common examples of injuries nurses suffer within the workplace.
Another potential example involves a nurse who cares for an ill patient, and the nurse’s family members become ill with the same virus. What happens if a family member suffers lifelong injury or death due to the illness?
In either scenario, a nurse may wonder whether the injury or illness would qualify as a workplace injury and further ask if these types of cases qualify for workers’ compensation benefits?
How does a victim establish this type of claim?
In these examples, a nurse or other healthcare professional would likely need to show that the injury or illness was due to an event or exposure at work. It is wise to prepare to counter claims that exposure or injury may have occurred outside of work.
In a recent example, a nurse argued that she was entitled to benefits after her son contracted COVID and died. Her son became ill shortly after she cared for a patient with COVID-19. Upon review, the workers’ comp board stated the nurse had not defeated the argument that there was potential her son was exposed to the virus elsewhere. As such, she lost her case.
Although upsetting for the nurse, the case provides valuable insight for others in similar situations, including:
- Know the basics. It helps to know the basics of the law that guides these cases. In general, you will need to show a connection between the injury and the job. A herniated disk that requires back surgery after moving a patient may suffice.
- Gather evidence. Organize copies of medical records and other paperwork to help build your case.
- Know your rights. You have a right to compensation. You can appeal a denial.
These lessons apply to any nurse looking to build a workers’ comp case, whether for a serious injury that requires surgical intervention or exposure to an illness.
Lawmakers passed the laws that guide the worker’s compensation system to help better ensure injured workers promptly receive benefits. Those who believe they have a claim may want to put together a team to help better ensure they receive their entitled benefits. Legal counsel can help with everything from the initial claims process to the need to appeal a denial.