Healthcare Worker Injuries in North Carolina
Healthcare workers have one of the most important jobs in North Carolina. Nurses and hospital staff provide vital service to patients in North Carolina Nursing Home Negligence, private and public hospitals, home-care situations and private and public medical clinics. The healthcare field is also one of the fastest growing job markets in our state due to a growing population and aging baby boomers.
Unfortunately, healthcare workers are also at risk of suffering many different types of harm on the job. Work in the healthcare industry can be physically demanding. It can take a toll on the body. Workers can also be injured by a variety of people or things they encounter on a daily basis in their jobs.
If you or a loved one works in the healthcare industry and suffers an on-the-job injury, contact Hardison & Cochran. A work injury lawyer from our firm can provide a free consultation about your case and help you to sort through your options for obtaining funds to cover your losses. Call us today at (800) 434-8399 or send in our online contact form to learn more. We respond to all inquiries within 24 hours.
Types of Injuries In the Healthcare Field
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are more than 18 million workers in the healthcare sector in the U.S, almost 80 percent of whom are women. These workers are exposed to many hazards each day. The CDC reports that cases of non-fatal occupational injury and illness are higher among workers in the healthcare field than among workers in any other industry sector.
While the healthcare field encompasses a variety of different jobs, ranging from home care aid to registered nurse to orderly, all in the field share certain risks that increase the chances of an on-the-job injury. For example, some of the top causes of injury in the healthcare field include:
- Overexertion/repetitive stress –OSHA indicates that healthcare workers are more than seven times as likely to develop musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) compared with other workers. Nursing aids, attendants and orderlies have the highest risk of MSDs, according to OSHA.
- Patient handling activities – These include manual lifting as patients are transferred to different positions or are repositioned.
- Needle sticks – Healthcare workers routinely use needles and sharp medical instruments that could cut or puncture the skin.
- Violence – According to OHSA, health care and social service workers are at high risk of being violently assaulted at work. Patients, their families or their friends all present a risk of violence. Workers in hospitals, especially, are in danger because violent criminals may be placed in hospitals on criminal holds. Hospitals and clinics are also both likely robbery targets because of the presence of drugs.
- Slips and falls – When water or liquids are spilled on the floor of a nursing home or hospital, a healthcare worker can fall on the slick floor.
- Understaffing – Many hospitals, nursing homes and clinics are understaffed as a result of budget limitations and/or a lack of qualified care providers. Understaffing can increase the risks of many types of injuries because of the pressure to work faster and the absence of support to assist with tasks such as patient transfers.
Some of the most common types of injuries suffered by healthcare workers as a result of these and other workplace incidents include:
- Sprains and strains – OSHA data shows that sprains and strains are the most frequently reported injury among healthcare workers. Most strains and sprains affect the shoulders and the lower back.
- Slipped discs – Body mechanics when transferring or lifting patients can damage the discs (the fleshy tissue that cushions your spinal bones).
- Bloodborne infectious diseases – The CDC indicates that needlesticks significantly increase the risk of spreading bloodborne diseases such as HIV/AIDS or Hepatitis B or C.
- Infections – These infections can occur as a result of airborne pathogens or exposure to mucus and bodily waste.
- Broken bones – Fractures most commonly result from workplace violence.
- Head injuries – These may occur due to slip-and-falls or as a result of violence.
Of course, healthcare workers can also experience many other injuries as well because they may spend their days dealing with dangerous patients and hazardous workplaces.
Options Available for Injured Healthcare Workers
If you or a loved one works in the healthcare industry and suffers an injury on the job, you may be entitled to compensation and benefits. There are two possible routes to take:
File a Workers’ Compensation Claim
Workers’ compensation has been established in North Carolina as the only option a worker has for obtaining compensation from an employer after a work-related injury. A worker cannot sue his or her employer after getting hurt on the job.
Workers’ compensation allows a worker to have costs covered after any work injury sustained as a direct result of doing work, whether that injury happened at the normal worksite or not. Also covered are repetitive stress injuries and illnesses that result from exposure to toxins in the workplace. The worker does not need to show negligence by the employer or anyone else in order to recover benefits.
Workers’ compensation benefits can pay for all medical bills and costs arising from the work injury. If the injury causes you to miss work, partial lost wages are paid.
If you become disabled and cannot work at all either permanently or temporarily, total disability benefits may be available. If you must switch to a different job because of your injuries, partial disability benefits are available. Finally, in the most tragic cases, death benefits are paid through workers’ compensation to surviving dependents left behind.
File a Personal Injury Lawsuit
Because you are not permitted to sue your employer for a work-injury, you can only file a personal injury lawsuit if someone else was to blame for the injury you suffered. For example, if you were assaulted by the family member of a patient while you were trying to provide care, then the person who assaulted you may be held legally liable through a third-party personal injury claim.
Personal injury lawsuits can allow you to obtain more money, in many cases, than workers’ compensation benefits. This is because you can obtain damages for things like pain and suffering, which you cannot do when making a workers’ compensation claim.
However, you must prove that the defendant was negligent or intentionally did something wrong in a way that caused harm in order to collect compensation through a personal injury lawsuit.
Our Work Injury Attorneys Help Healthcare Workers
If you or a loved one works in the healthcare industry and sustained harm on the job, you should get in touch with a North Carolina lawyer with experience in handling work injury claims.
Hardison & Cochran is available to help you right away. We can get to work on:
- Evaluating your case
- Assisting you in filing for workers’ compensation benefits or a negligence lawsuit
- Resolving disputes that arise concerning your benefits eligibility, pressure to return to work too soon or coverage of medical treatments.
- Gathering, organizing and presenting evidence proving you are entitled to benefits or personal injury damages
- Negotiating a settlement on your behalf
- Representing you in court or at a workers’ compensation hearing
- Handling any appeals that stem from your case.
Our goal is to advocate for you and to ensure that you are fully provided for and given the maximum possible compensation for your work injuries available under the law.
To learn more about how we can assist you, call Hardison & Cochran today or contact us online. Our case reviews are free, and we charge no fee for our services unless you recover compensation.
- Bloodborne Infectious Diseases: HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Safe Patient Handling, Occupational Safety & Health Administration
- Health Care & Social Service Workers, Occupational Safety & Health Administration