Working in healthcare comes with many rewards. However, people who work in the healthcare industry also face many different hazards. Nurses, doctors, and other medical professionals are often exposed to bloodborne pathogens, violent or emotionally disturbed patients, repetitive tasks and potentially dangerous medical equipment. If you are a nurse injured on the job, you need to turn to an experienced attorney for help and support.
Joye Law Firm can bring nearly 250 years of combined legal experience to your case and a commitment to making a meaningful difference in your life. We can help you to pursue compensation for your medical bills, lost income and more. The options we can explore for you may include filing a workers’ compensation claim, personal injury action – or both. With offices in North Charleston, Columbia, Clinton and Myrtle Beach, we are available to meet with you today. If you cannot come to us, we will gladly come to you. Contact us for a free consultation.
Common Nursing Injuries and Illnesses
One out of every five workplace injuries occur in a healthcare setting, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Healthcare professionals are routinely exposed to dangers that are unique to their industry. Sadly, many of these workers face injury risks due to:
- Poor training
- Inadequate supplies and resources
- Similar cost-saving measures.
- Physical demands
- Hazardous trip and fall situations
For instance, when not enough people are on duty to perform a procedure or use certain equipment, staff members may end up trying to lift a patient alone, or they may operate a machine with just one person when two people are required. Healthcare workers may also be forced to work long hours without breaks, which makes injury more likely. These are just a couple of examples of how healthcare workers may be at risk. Here are some other common injuries in the healthcare industry:
- Overextension and repetitive stress injuries – Day after day, workers may find themselves performing repeated lifting of patients or heavy objects as well as bending down and twisting to perform repetitive tasks. Over the years, this activity can cause sprains, strains, slipped discs, arthritis and other degenerative diseases of the spine.
- Needle wounds – Nursing staff and phlebotomists are routinely exposed to the potential dangers of using needles. Patients with HIV, hepatitis and other communicable bloodborne diseases present an ever-present threat. A single self-puncture could result in a deadly exposure.
- Infections – Every day, nurses and other healthcare staff members work around bacteria and viruses that present the risk of infection. Bacterial infections can be very serious if left untreated. Viral exposures can leave a victim with long-term health problems.
- Fractures and head injuries – Healthcare workers must move quickly from one place to another in areas where spills and slippery surfaces are common. Navigating a hospital or busy surgical center can lead to falls. Likewise, patients with severe emotional disturbances, mental health problems or bad reactions to certain types of medications may become violent and aggressive and inflict serious or life-threatening injuries on workers.
If you suffer injury on the job at a clinic, hospital, nursing home, assisted-living facility or any other healthcare setting in South Carolina, you should seek help from Joye Law Firm without delay. We will take immediate steps to protect your legal rights, and we will pursue all compensation that you are due.
Nurses, Healthcare Workers, and COVID-19
People who staff hospitals and emergency rooms, paramedics and first responders by the nature of their jobs have contact with people who have more serious Coronavirus infections. The virus is easily transmitted through close contact. The Medical University of South Carolina, the state’s biggest hospital system, recently announced that 34 of its employees in Charleston had contracted COVID-19.
Whether a healthcare worker who develops coronavirus is covered by workers’ compensation will depend on the specific facts of each case. For example, if you contracted coronavirus from a family member or co-worker, that may create a hurdle to obtaining workers’ compensation benefits.
Workers’ compensation is intended to cover illnesses and injuries that arise in the course of employment. However, South Carolina’s definition of an occupational disease states that ordinary diseases of life to which the general public is exposed are NOT considered occupational diseases.
For that reason, many workers’ compensation insurance administrators may try to deny nurses and healthcare professionals’ workers’ compensation claims related to COVID-19. If your claim has been denied, an experienced Charleston workers’ compensation attorney can file an appeal documenting your elevated risk of occupational exposure to coronavirus beyond that of the general public and give you a stronger chance of securing benefits.
You will need to document clearly that your COVID-19 exposure was a direct result of the conditions of your employment as a full- or part-time nurse, paramedic or healthcare worker. If you or your attorney can document your exposure, you may be able to argue successfully that your job put you at an increased risk of exposure to the virus. You may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits from your employers.
The South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission announced recently the addition of two new Cause of Injury codes for COVID-19 in anticipation of workers’ compensation claims arising from the pandemic. The codes will be used for the reporting of claims from December 2019 and forward.
Lawmakers in South Carolina are discussing legislation that would offer disability benefits to first responders who are forced into quarantine because of coronavirus. The legislation would grant paramedics, EMTs and other first responders the presumption that they contracted the virus within the scope of their duties. We are following these legislative developments closely.
At Joye Law Firm, our workers’ compensation attorneys are committed to standing up for healthcare workers who have developed COVID-19 infections as a result of workplace exposures. Contact us to find out how we can help you.
Workers’ Compensation for Nurses and Healthcare Workers in SC
The South Carolina workers’ compensation system allows workers who suffer injury or illness on the job to receive benefits that cover their medical bills and replace a portion of the income they may lose due to a temporary or permanent, partial or total disability. Even though it may seem like the process of getting workers’ comp benefits is a simple and straightforward one, the reality is different.
Most insurance companies for healthcare employers try to protect their bottom line by paying out as little as possible in claims. For instance, they may try to avoid their obligation to pay benefits by claiming that a worker’s injury or illness is not job-related or that the worker’s condition is not as severe as the worker claims. In some cases, a worker may face retaliation for filing a claim or appealing the denial of his or her claim.
It is critical for injured healthcare workers to have an attorney by their side who will protect their rights. An attorney may work with medical experts, vocational experts and others to establish a healthcare worker’s right to compensation and pursue the full amount of benefits that he or she deserves.
Personal Injury Claims for Healthcare Workers
Generally, workers cannot file a personal injury claim against their employers. Workers’ compensation benefits are the “exclusive remedy” available under the law. However, exceptions exist. For instance, if a third party injures you while you are at work in a healthcare setting, you may have a right to file a workers’ compensation claim with your employer and a personal injury lawsuit against the party that was actually responsible for your injuries. A third-party liability claim can provide compensation that includes:
- Past and future medical expenses
- All of your lost income
- Diminishment in your future earning ability
- Permanent disfigurement and disability
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- All other expenses related to your injury.
Our South Carolina Healthcare Worker Injury Attorneys Are Here for You
Joye Law Firm has the collective skill, experience, and resources that it takes to tackle the most challenging healthcare worker injury cases. When you work with us, you will quickly see that we do more than help our clients to pursue the compensation they deserve – we work to help to restore the quality of their lives, too. To learn more, contact us today for a free and confidential consultation.