While some occupational injuries of healthcare workers are acute, like a back injury from lifting a patient, other injuries are the result of the job taking a toll on your body through repetitive stress injuries. When you have to repeat the same physical motions numerous times in a shift, day after day, week after week, and month after month, parts of your body can break down from the strain.
Working in healthcare comes with many rewards and just as many downsides. Sometimes the joy of helping people comes with a heavy price tag. Many nurses and other healthcare workers sustain injuries on the job that qualify for workers’ compensation benefits.
Contact S. Burke Law at 404-842-7838 for a free consultation and case review.
Understanding Workers’ Compensation for Repetitive Stress Injuries
According to the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation Employee Handbook:
“Any injury, illness or death arising out of and in the course of employment is by definition a compensable work-related claim.”
The handbook also says that “[r]epetitive motion injuries are compensable if they arise out of and in the course of employment.”
Georgia Worker’s Compensation Rules
To get the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve, you must follow the procedures. First, you must report the injury to your employer immediately. Your company will have forms for you to fill out and submit. Your employer, and the firm they use to handle workers’ compensation claims, can investigate the injury.
Additionally, you must obtain your medical treatment from a doctor on your employer’s list, unless you need emergency medical care. After getting the emergency treatment, you must go to one of the listed physicians for your continuing care.
Workers’ Compensation Income Benefits in Georgia
Under Georgia law, you might qualify for one of these four income benefits for an on-the-job injury:
Temporary Total Disability – if the injury leaves you unable to work, you can collect two-thirds of your average weekly wage for up to 400 weeks, unless you suffered a catastrophic injury, in which instance, there is no limit to the number of weeks.
Temporary Partial Disability – if you have to take a lower-paying job because of the injury, you can get two-thirds of the difference between the amount you were earning before the injury and the amount of your new, lower-paying job. Benefits can continue for up to 350 weeks.
Permanent Partial Disability – if you have a permanent disability from a workplace injury, you might qualify for ongoing compensation. The formula to calculate the amount and duration of the benefits combines a percentage rating by a doctor with other statutory guidelines.
Death – eligible dependents, like a dependent spouse and minor children, can collect cash payments if an employee died from a workplace accident. The benefits will total two-thirds of the decedent’s average weekly wages when injured.
Hurdles to Workers’ Compensation Claims for Repetitive Motion Injuries
Your employer may deny your claim, alleging that something outside of the workplace caused your repetitive stress injury. We will gather evidence to show that your injury happened due to your job tasks. Common allegations employers make to deny workers’ compensation benefits include:
- The employer says your injury could not have happened on the job, based on your job description and activities.
- Your employer claims that one of your hobbies or leisure activities caused the injury. For example, they may say that playing tennis or golf caused your repetitive stress injury.
- The company denies that you needed medical treatment.
Let us help you if you are facing challenges to your workers’ compensation claim. Call us at 404-842-7838.
Types of Repetitive Motion Injuries Healthcare Workers Face
With repetitive use, the tendons that connect your muscles to your bones can swell and develop inflammation. “Trigger finger” and “tennis elbow” are types of tendonitis. When the healthcare worker’s job duties include hours of typing data into a computer or performing other repetitive tasks with the hands or arms, tendonitis or carpal tunnel syndrome can develop.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is a repetitive stress injury in the wrist. Inflammation in the part of your wrist next to your palm (the carpal tunnel) can compress one of the nerves that controls movement and sensation in your hand and fingers. You can experience numbness, tingling, weakness, the sensation of an electrical shock, and other unpleasant symptoms. The signs are often in the thumb, fingers (except the little finger), hand and wrist, and can travel up the arm.
Consequences of Repetitive Stress Injuries
You may not be able to lift or hold objects if you have a repetitive motion injury. Continuing to perform the same tasks at work can be painful and make the injury worse, proving difficult to perform even non-work-related tasks. If left untreated, the injury could render you unable to perform your job or other activities for a long-term basis.
Georgia workers’ compensation laws place a time limit on filing workers’ compensation claims. It is imperative that you act as soon as possible so you do not lose your right to compensation. Call S. Burke Law today at 404-842-7838 to get your free consultation.