Nursing & Medical Assistants Worker’s Compensation
Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran
When we suffer an injury or illness, we will often find ourselves attending or admitted to hospital. There, we are under the care of medical professionals from nurses to doctors to physical therapists. These are people who work long hours, in some cases for low wages, yet who often care tirelessly for the people they are looking after.
Yet we often take these workers for granted, despite the fact that they not only work in a caring profession but also in a sector where injuries and other conditions are commonplace. If you are a healthcare professional who has experienced an injury or condition from your workplace, what are your rights and what are you entitled to?
Statistics and Common Injuries
There were 629,500 injuries reported from the healthcare and social assistance sector in 2013 according to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) figures. That is significantly higher than the number of injuries reported by the manufacturing sector. Almost half of the reported cases that resulted in days off work were due to reactions to activities such as lifting.
Hospitals can be more dangerous than we realize. Some of the common hazards that nurses and medical assistants can face includes:
- Exposure to pathogens, biological risks, and infectious diseases. These can happen with exposure to patients, exposure to blood and other bodily fluids.
- Exposure to chemicals. Hospitals are full of chemicals, from substances used to clean and disinfect equipment to chemicals used to process x-rays.
- Hazardous drugs such as those used in chemotherapy.
- Exposure to gases such as nitrous oxide.
- Radiation exposure during x-ray or similar procedures.
- Violence. This is an area that is grossly unreported. It is estimated that only 30% of violent incidents involving nurses are actually reported. And BLS statistics reported that healthcare had the highest injury by assault incidence of any profession with 8.2 cases per 10,000 full-time workers.
- Handling of patients. The most common cause of injuries for nurses and medical assistants, this can result in anything from a minor strain to severe spinal injuries.
- Slip and fall. Hospitals need to be very hygienic. This means that floors are constantly being cleaned throughout the day. Wet floors and other hazards can lead to slip and fall incidents and in turn to injured workers.
Healthcare professionals face a daily challenge to tackle these many hazards and to avoid injury or illness. When nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and medical assistants have to take time off work, they are entitled to payments under Michigan’s workers’ compensation scheme.
Michigan state law requires that all private and state employers (federal employees have a separate scheme) carry workers’ compensation insurance. This scheme is designed to cover financial shortfalls due to missed time from work as well as any medical costs including the costs of rehabilitation and physical therapists as well as lost wages.
Although workers’ compensation is a fantastic scheme, it is not perfect. Workers’ compensation claims can get complicated at times and there are strict rules to follow for submitting claims. It is also worth considering that entitlement to these benefits will restrict any potential claim against your employer if poor practices or negligence led to your injury.
Third Party Liability
In some cases, there may be third party liability. This could occur, for example, if a piece of equipment that led to your injury was defective. If this is the case, then you may be able to pursue a claim against the manufacturer. To do so, you need to be able to prove the following:
- You experienced an accident or incident in your workplace.
- The third party you are suing in some way had a duty of care toward you.
- They somehow failed in that duty of care (the equipment was defective or maintained improperly).
- As a result of the incident, you received injuries.
Workers’ Compensation Problems
There are several complications that can arise in the submission or processing of a workers compensation claim.
In order to be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, any injury at work should be reported within 90 days of the incident happening. While the regulations only require an oral report to management, we recommend using any official report forms in your workplace to create a clear evidentiary paper trail.
Sometimes an employer – or their insurance company – will dispute a claim if it is not submitted quicker than those 90 days. Given that the severity of some injuries can take time to appear, this can be very annoying. We therefore recommend that you record and report even a minor injury.
If you have developed an illness as a result of your workplace – particularly relevant in the healthcare sector – those 90 days begin from the day you realized that your condition was workplace related. You will have to show that any illness or condition was not pre-existing.
We all know that insurance companies are always reluctant to pay out money. This means that any initial settlement may be lower than you expected or entitled to. It is always worth consulting with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer to identify low offers and to negotiate a better settlement.
What Will Workers Compensation Cover?
Workers compensation is designed to cover several financial aspects:
- Any medical bills and costs. These can include any initial treatment, any therapy or rehabilitation services needed, and also counseling if required.
- Lost wages. You will get a set percentage of your normal monthly salary.
- Specific loss. If your injury was severe and led to the loss of a limb or digit, then you will receive compensation.
- Retraining. If your injury or condition prevents you from returning to work in your former role, you can receive funding for up to two years of vocational rehabilitation or retraining.
- Death. If a workplace accident has caused the death of a loved one or family member, payments – and funeral expenses – will be paid to the victim’s spouse or dependents.
With the potential risks to health and well-being, it is good to know that schemes such as workers’ compensation exist to support our healthcare professionals when they themselves need care. But as with anything bureaucratic in this life, there are flaws, loopholes, and imperfections. Having expert workers’ compensation attorneys such as Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. on your side can be a crucial part of achieving a positive outcome.
One unique advantage Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. brings to the table is having an experienced nurse attorney as a senior partner. Eileen E. Kroll can talk to other medical professionals in their own language and terms and help interpret and present any medical reports and records to support your case.
We offer a free consultation to give you an initial evaluation of your case and to allow you to ask any questions you may have. If you would like to schedule an appointment, you can call us today on 866-MICH-LAW. We never charge a fee unless we win your case.
Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.