We all rely on healthcare workers to help us and care for us when we fall ill or get injured. But many of us don’t realize that these same workers go to their jobs every day, risking their own lives and wellbeing, to care for their patients.
According to the United States Department of Labor, hospitals are one of the most hazardous places to work in the country. The instances of illnesses and injuries for hospital employees — nurses and others — are higher than even those that work in manufacturing and construction, two industries that are traditionally considered most dangerous for workers.
If you live or work in Pennsylvania and you or a loved one has been one such injured employee, the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act can help you.
Basic Overview of the PA Work Comp Act
In Pennsylvania, all employers are required by the State to provide compensation coverage to their employees in case of work-related illnesses or injuries.
Under this insurance coverage, employees who get injured can claim myriad compensatory benefits to ensure their health and wellbeing is maintained during and post-recovery.
Under the PA Workers’ Comp Act, an injured nurse or healthcare worker can claim:
- Medical benefits to pay for medical care, surgery, hospital stay, medicines, and more.
- Lost wages to get monetary compensation for the time lost due to the injury and recovery.
- Specific loss benefits if the injury causes you to suffer permanent disability or disfigurement.
While the law is quite clear about the way forward in a case of occupational injury or illness, ill-intent providers and employers sometimes try to minimize worker injuries to either deny the claim or diminish the benefits.
To prevent such a thing from happening, contact an expert workers’ compensation attorney in Pennsylvania as soon as you can following your workplace injury.
Note: Do not sign any insurance documents before you have talked to a work comp lawyer who understands your situation and specializes in healthcare workers’ comp cases.
Understanding the Problem
Nurses and other healthcare practitioners work in high-stress environments. They constantly deal with the chronically ill, talk to anxious family members, and have to make split-second decisions.
Their jobs are also physically demanding in more sense than one. They not only have to be on their feet almost all day long, but also have to lift heavy patients, work long hours with not enough sleep, and be exposed to all kinds of infectious diseases.
Common Workplace Injuries for Healthcare Workers
If you are wondering what causes all these high number of work-related injury cases, here are the most common causes:
- Combative or noncooperative patients or their visitors
- Manual lifting and transporting patients
- Slipping on wet floors
- Falling from a height
- Strain or injury from movement
- Aging workers
- Aggravation of existing conditions,
- And more.
How to File the Work Comp Claim
As a nurse or a healthcare practitioner, you may make light of your work-related injury — putting your patient’s care above yours. But, if you do get injured at work, even if it’s a slight injury, bringing it into your supervisor’s attention is extremely important. Because if you opt to file a claim, solid medical evidence is critical in a PA workers’ comp case.
The injury may seem small now, but in case it gets worse later, you want to be prepared for hefty medical bills, a sufficient recovery period, and ensure no wages are lost. So, you and your family can properly focus on you getting better and not worry about paying bills.
In order to be able to do that, filing your worker’s comp claim timely is crucial.
The Work Comp Claim is a time-sensitive document. You have to file it within 120 days of your injury or your provider may deny your claim. Also, what you state in there will decide what benefits you will receive as a result of your injury, or even if you’ll receive anything at all.
So, proceed with care and make sure you have a professional workers compensation attorney available to talk you through the process.
1. See a doctor right away
No matter how little you make of your injury, seek immediate medical care. This will be significant when you will file your claim. Remember to tell the doctor what has happened. Don’t hide anything. Don’t embellish facts. But don’t downplay anything either.
2. Report the injury to your supervisor
After you have sought medical attention, remember to notify your employer of your workplace injury. They will need to know so they can file the claim with their provider. Remember, you have 120 days to the date of injury in which you can bring your accident to your employer’s knowledge. When this period passes, your employer or their insurance provider may move to automatically deny your claim.
3. Talk to a work comp lawyer
As a specialist in PA workers’ compensation act and settling tons of injured worker cases in Pennsylvania, we often come across cases where employers/providers try to diminish the claims or refuse them altogether. What works in our clients’ favor the most is that they have competent legal representation from the start.
Because after you notify your nursing supervisor that you’ve got injured at work, the administration may ask you to sign a bunch of insurance paperwork. But until you have your PA work comp attorney present with you, do not sign anything.
4. Present yourself for the IME
The IME refers to independent medical examination in Pennsylvania workers compensation cases. As part of the process to determine the validity of your claim, a physician of your employer’s choosing will examine you.
During the examination, be truthful and straightforward. Remember that this is an independent examination. The physician might be there at the request of your employer but their findings are going to reflect the true sense of affairs.
However, to prepare for the IME, it’s useful to talk to your work comp lawyer first so they can tell you what to expect. The more you know, the less anxious you’ll be during the exam. So, be truthful and do not exaggerate the injury. Also, do not try to diminish it. Be clear, honest, and straightforward.
5. Document the incident
It may be hard to do so in the immediate aftermath of the injury, but if you can remember the details of the incident, try to note them down. Take pictures if you can, or talk to witnesses. If your injury doesn’t allow you all this movement, see if a colleague or friend can help.
Evidence gathering is an important step of your claim filing process, and may have to continue even after your claim is filed. The additional evidence can help you get a higher tier of benefits and may even prove useful if you decide to file a third-party lawsuit.
When Will You Start Receiving The Benefits?
Your employer has 21 days after the filing of the claim to decide its approval. If they agree with the claim, you can start receiving the benefits 21 days after the date of filing.
However, in case your hospital denies your workplace injury claim, Michael Cardamone is a seasoned work comp attorney representing injured nurses and healthcare workers against hospitals who won’t cooperate. Cardamone Law recently defeated a large area hospital and secured fair compensation for an immigrant nurse. The WCJ found Cardamone’s client credible and passed the verdict in favor of the health worker.
A Third Party Lawsuit
When you are a healthcare worker going through a workplace injury, there may be more parties responsible than just your employer.
A faulty equipment or machinery that caused you to suffer an injury might be culpable. In such a case, you can file a third party lawsuit and claim more compensation. However, Always Call Cards ® first to ensure that this is something that is relevant to your specific case.