Nursing Injuries on the Job: What to Know

Nursing is a physically demanding job. Nurses often suffer work-related injuries and illnesses that require costly medical treatment and time off work. If you have sustained serious injuries while performing your job as a nurse or healthcare worker, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits to cover your medical bills and reimburse a portion of your lost wages while you are recuperating.

Keep reading to learn more about common injuries in healthcare occupations and how an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer can help you pursue the benefits that North Carolina workers’ compensation provides.

4 Common Types of Nursing Injuries

Some of the most common types of nursing injuries involve the following:

Musculoskeletal injuries

These common injuries are typically due to overexertion on the job. Overexertion injuries — injuries characterized by excessive physical effort — are the number one cause of nursing injuries. Healthcare workers may develop overexertion injuries from lifting patients, bending over to attend to patients, and transportation incidents such as pushing hospital beds and wheelchairs. Repetitive movements can lead to repetitive strain injuries, back injuries, and shoulder pain. Many nurses develop carpal tunnel syndrome on the job.

Fall injuries

Slip and fall accidents are another leading cause of injuries to nurses. Spills are common in hospitals, nursing homes, and other medical facilities. A nurse may slip on a wet floor or recently mopped floor and sustain ligament tears, bone fractures, or other fall injuries. A slip resulting in a backward fall can cause head injuries or back injuries.

Hazards on the job

Healthcare settings contain many workplace hazards and hazardous substances. Nurses are at serious risk of suffering needlestick injuries and sharps injuries. Nurses may be exposed to HIV, hepatitis B, or other potentially harmful blood-borne pathogens if they are inadvertently stuck with needles while caring for patients. Proper disposal of needles and other sharp objects in compliance with workplace safety practices is crucial to the safety of nurses and healthcare professionals. Nurses are also at risk of exposure to chemotherapy drugs, antivirals, estrogens, and harmful substances, which can result in acute allergic reactions, nausea and vomiting, infertility, and even fetal loss.

Violence from patients or co-workers

Unfortunately, nurses and healthcare employees are also at risk of injury from workplace violence and physical abuse, which are workplace hazards. A significant percentage of workplace assaults occur in healthcare facilities. Mental health patients and nursing home residents with dementia may become agitated and violent. They may assault the nurses and other healthcare workers providing care for them.

What To Do After a Nursing Injury?

If you or a family member sustains an occupational injury, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits for your medical expenses and a portion of your lost wages. Workers’ comp insurance covers injured nurses who sustain injuries at work.

Most businesses in North Carolina that employ three or more employees are required to purchase workers’ compensation insurance to protect their employees. Workers’ compensation provides benefits regardless of who caused a work-related injury.

If you or another member of a nursing staff sustains a hospital injury while performing your nursing duties, you should take the following steps to protect your right to claim workers’ compensation benefits

1. Seek immediate medical attention

If your injury requires emergency medical care, go to the emergency room. Tell the medical provider who treats you that you were hurt on the job so that they can include that information in your medical records. After your initial treatment, be sure to follow your provider’s treatment plan and keep all follow-up appointments.

2. Report the injury

You must provide notice of your work-related injury to your employer to preserve your right to pursue workers’ comp benefits. Your employer will file Form 19 with the workers’ comp insurance carrier and should provide you with Form 18 to file for workers’ comp benefits with the North Carolina Industrial Commission. You must give written notice to your employer within 30 days of the injury to ensure you do not waive your right to benefits.

Related: 10 Most Often Used Workers’ Compensation Forms in North Carolina

3. Create a file

Keep copies of all your medical records and bills related to the incident that caused your nursing injuries. Take photographs of your injuries. If you have the opportunity, take photographs of the scene of the incident and speak to eyewitnesses. Although workers’ comp is no-fault insurance, you should preserve essential documents related to your injury for your own records.

4. Contact an attorney

An experienced attorney can assist you in filing a workers’ comp claim whether you have an acute injury or repetitive trauma injury. Having a knowledgeable attorney guiding you through the claims process can increase your chances of filing a successful claim and getting the benefits you need. A workers’ compensation lawyer can make sure your claim is filled out correctly and includes the necessary information. The attorney can communicate with the insurance company on your behalf and present your cases for benefits to the North Carolina Industrial Commission if necessary.

You must file your workers’ comp claim within two years of the date of the injury, or you will lose your right to pursue benefits. If your claim is denied or your employer disputes that you are not eligible to receive benefits, you can appeal the decision. Your attorney can request a hearing before the North Carolina Industrial Commission. As your legal advocate, your attorney will do everything possible to secure the benefits you need when you are off work due to a serious nursing injury.

Seek A Nursing Injury Lawyer in North Carolina

Nurses are essential healthcare workers. They provide care and health services to people in hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other healthcare settings. When healthcare workers sustain workplace injuries, they deserve to focus their time and energy on healing from their injuries and moving forward. At Hardison & Cochran, Attorneys at Law, our workers’ compensation attorneys have extensive experience advocating for the rights of injured healthcare workers and other workers who need benefits provided by North Carolina law. Our Raleigh law firm focuses exclusively on injury and disability law, which means we have the knowledge and resources to handle the most complex cases.

When you hire our experienced attorneys for your case, we will gather and preserve crucial evidence to build a solid case in your favor. Because filing a worker’s compensation claim in North Carolina has specific deadlines, we can handle all the necessary paperwork to ensure your right to benefits is protected. You can be assured that your claim is in good hands at Hardison & Cochran. Contact our Wake County law office today at 252-333-3333 for a free consultation with a nursing home injury lawyer near you.

About the Author

When joining Hardison & Cochran in 2008, Joel Jackson Hardison made a transition from defending insurance companies in Workers Compensation cases to representing injured and disabled workers. He applies the insights he gained from representing insurance companies to assist the injured workers he represents.

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