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Workers’ Compensation for Nurses
You went into the field of nursing because you want to make a difference in the lives of sick and injured people. Unfortunately, the stress and conditions that you work under can often leave nurses sick or injured themselves.
According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
An average of nearly 60,000 nurses miss work each year due to a job-related illness or injury. These nursing injuries statistics only cover actual missed work days, not nurses who could work but required a part-time schedule or modified duties due to their injuries. The New York Workers’ Compensation Board processes more claims for nursing injuries than it does for construction workers, and the illness and injury rate is nearly twice as high for nurses as it is for the private sector.
When you dedicate your career to improve the health of others, you would expect to receive courteous treatment in return. Sadly, that is often not the case. If you have filed a compensation claim with your employer and received a denial of benefits or are experiencing other difficulties with receiving your compensation in a timely matter, consider hiring a workers’ compensation attorney. The team at Terry Katz & Associates has helped injured workers obtain the compensation they deserve for more than 30 years and we understand the unique challenges of your profession.
Common Nursing Injuries
Literature published by OSHA indicates that the following are the most common categories of healthcare worker injuries:
- Injuries due to understaffing: Clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, and other care facilities frequently face staffing shortages due to budget limitations and the lack of qualified people available to hire. This means existing staff must worker harder, faster, and with fewer resources to meet patient needs. It is often only a matter of time before a nurse experiences a significant injury working in these conditions.
- Needle sticks: Giving injections to patients is a typical job duty of nurses. Handling the needle either before, during, or after the patient injection could result in a significant cut or puncture to the nurse.
- Patient handling: This broad category refers to lifting and repositioning of patients in wheelchairs, hospital beds, in and out of vehicles, and other common maneuvers. Nurse injuries from lifting patients are an extremely common occupational hazard.
- Repetitive and overexertion stress: The OSHA report indicates that those in the nursing field, including nurse’s aides, orderlies, and attendants, have a seven-fold risk of developing a musculoskeletal injury as other types of workers. This is easy to understand when you consider that the weight of a patient’s body is likely much heavier than anything people in other occupations lift on a regular basis.
- Slip and fall accidents: Water and bodily fluids are just some of the things that a nurse might slip on while on duty. He or she could also trip over equipment, other staff members in a crowded or chaotic environment, or any number of other possibilities.
- Workplace violence: Nurses and other healthcare workers face a much greater threat of violence than many other occupations. Patients, their family members, and other people associated with them may physically take out their frustration about the situation on a nurse. Nurses must also care for violent criminals who are in the hospital on a medical hold. Another possibility for violence comes from the fact that clinics and hospitals are frequent targets of theft because these facilities store prescription drugs.
The above represent broad categories of the most common nursing injuries. OSHA also keeps nursing injuries statistics on specific reasons for workers’ compensation claims. These include:
- Bloodborne pathogens and infectious diseases occur most often due to accidental needle sticks and can put nurses at risk of developing Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, or HIV/AIDS.
- Broken bones and head injuries, which most typically occur due to workplace violence or a slip and fall accident.
- Infections can happen from airborne exposure to bodily waste, mucus, or other airborne pathogens.
- Slipped discs are one of the most common reasons for back injuries in nursing. This painful injury most frequently happens among nurses who routinely transfer or lift patients.
- Sprains and strains of the lower back and shoulders are among the most common healthcare worker injuries.
While these represent the most frequently reported clinic, outpatient, or hospital injuries, many other possible types of nursing-related injuries exist. You are entitled to file for workers’ compensation in New York if you sustained any type of injury on the job.
Options for Injured Healthcare Workers
The workers’ compensation program in New York operates on a no-fault system. This means that you do not have to prove that your employer is at fault for your injuries and can file a claim even if your own negligence partially or fully caused your illness or injuries. It also means that you cannot sue your employer for lost wages, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other common categories of financial compensation in a personal injury lawsuit.
Your injury need not happen at work if you were in the process of carrying out the duties of your employment.
For example, perhaps you were driving to participate in a health fair at your employer’s request and a negligent driver struck and injured you. When you file for workers’ compensation and receive notice of an approved claim, you are entitled to full payment of your medical expenses plus partial payment for your lost wages if you need to miss work.
You may be able to receive total disability benefits if you cannot work in any capacity on a temporary or permanent basis due to your injuries. You may also qualify for partial disability benefits if you must accept part-time or less physically demanding work to accommodate injuries that occurred on the job.
Although state law prohibits you from suing your employer for a workplace injury, you can file a personal injury lawsuit against any third party that contributed to it. Personal injury claims due to assault by a patient or family member are among some of the most common causes of lawsuits filed by nurses.
A successful personal injury lawsuit can allow you to collect greater financial compensation than you can expect to receive from a workers’ compensation claim. That is because the judge and jury consider many other categories of compensation than medical expenses and lost wages. However, it is incumbent upon you as the person filing the lawsuit to prove that the party you are suing committed a negligent or deliberately harmful act and that his or her actions are the direct cause of your injuries.
Filing a Workers’ Comp Claim for Hospital Injuries
We understand this is a challenging time in your life. You want to work, but your injuries or illness simply do not allow it. You need time away from work to rest and recover as well as income to meet your expenses. Terry Katz & Associates invites you to contact our law firm at 888-488-7459 to schedule a free legal consultation with one of our experienced workers’ compensation attorneys. We will explain more about the process of obtaining injured nurses compensation, whether you have received a denial of your claim or you are just starting the process of applying for workers’ compensation benefits in New York.