Workers’ Compensation: Traumatic Injury

Work-related injuries afflict thousands of American workers daily. Many of these injuries are preventable, and in many cases, an employer must pay workers’ compensation benefits to the injured employee.

Workers’ compensation injuries fall into two categories:
Occupational Diseases- illnesses affecting the respiratory system, skin, hearing or other body systems; usually occur over time, and include ailments caused by repetition or environmental factors.
Traumatic Injury- injuries such as sprains, fractures, cuts or concussions; occur in one occurrence, and can include injuries caused by a traumatic event such as a fire, chemical spill, fall or other unexpected occurrence.

Types of Traumatic Injuries
The U.S. Department of Labor defines a traumatic injury as “a wound or other condition of the body caused by external force, including stress or strain. The injury must be identifiable as to time and place of occurrence and member or function of the body affected. It must be caused by a specific event or incident — or series of events or incidents — within a single day or work shift.”

Some common traumatic injuries include:

  • Chemical spills
  • Heavy object moving or lifting
  • Fires
  • Falls from a height

Facts About Traumatic Injuries

  • According to a 2007 Centers for Disease Control (CDC) study:
  • more than 4 million workers had a nonfatal injury or illness
  • 9,000 workers are treated in emergency departments each day, and approximately 200 of these workers are hospitalized
  • 3.4 million nonfatal injuries and illnesses among civilian workers were serious enough to be treated in hospital emergency departments.

Some employers have procedures in place for seeking medical attention after a traumatic injury. Often, they will advise employees of a specific medical center preferred for treatment. In any trauma situation, the first step is to call 911 and seek immediate care.

When to Get An Attorney Involved
Contacting an attorney to help with a traumatic injury case is a smart course of action if:

  • Your employer denies medical care
  • Your employer responds to your case by firing, or disciplining you
  • You do not receive the full amount of your workers’ compensation benefits

You need an attorney with access to specialists who can accurately assess your injuries. The attorney can then force the insurance companies and your employers to send you to an appropriate care physician. The more treatment that one receives, the better response the person will have, and the less chance there will be of permanent disability. The lawyers of Meehan Law Firm in St. Louis, Missouri have extensive experience with traumatic injury workers’ compensation cases.

As a result of the 2005 Missouri legislative reforms, an issue has developed regarding reinjury to a body part that was hurt in a previous workers’ compensation claim or other traumatic incident. Under the new law, work has to be the substantial factor in the injury. This has led many employers and their insurance companies to deny otherwise compensable cases simply because the person had a prior accident in their history. You will need an attorney to assist you in getting over this hurdle.

Workplace traumatic injury can also result in future medical needs, which the Workers’ Compensation Division must address in connection with their award. The Meehan Law Firm has experts that can assess whatever your future medical needs might be.