What Types of Injuries Does Workers' Comp Cover?
Workplace injuries can occur in any industry or job, from office work to construction sites. If you're injured on the job, your employer's workers' compensation insurance is designed to cover your medical expenses, lost wages, and other related expenses.
Types of Injuries that Workers' Comp Addresses
Workers' compensation covers both physical and mental injuries. Workers' compensation laws vary from state to state, but in general, they cover four types of injuries: accidental injuries, repetitive motion injuries, occupational diseases, and mental health injuries.
These are the most common types of injuries that are covered by workers' compensation. Accidents can happen at any time, and they can be caused by falls, equipment malfunction, explosions, or other types of incidents. If you are injured due to an accident at work, you may be entitled to medical expenses, lost wages, and disability benefits.
Accidental injuries can include:
- Slip and falls: Wet floors, uneven surfaces, or cluttered spaces can cause an employee to trip and fall, leading to sprains, fractures, or head injuries.
- Vehicle accidents: Employees who drive company vehicles or operate heavy machinery are at risk of being involved in a collision, which can result in serious injuries or fatalities.
- Burns: Employees who work with hot machinery, chemicals, or other flammable materials are at risk of sustaining burn injuries, which can range from minor burns to severe burns that require hospitalization.
- Machinery accidents: Heavy machinery can cause serious injuries if it malfunctions or if an employee is not trained to operate it properly.
- Falls from heights: Construction workers or those who work at heights are at risk of falling from scaffolding, ladders, or roofs, which can result in severe injuries or fatalities.
- Explosions: Workers who handle hazardous materials or work in industrial settings are at risk of being injured by explosions or fires caused by gas leaks, faulty equipment, or other accidents.
Repetitive Motion Injuries
These injuries are caused by performing the same motion over and over again, and they are common in jobs that require a lot of typing, lifting, or assembly work. Repetitive motion injuries can be difficult to diagnose because they develop over time, but they can cause chronic pain, numbness, and tingling in the affected area.
Repetitive motion injuries can include:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome: This condition occurs when the median nerve in the wrist is compressed, causing numbness, tingling, and weakness in the hand and wrist.
- Tendinitis: This condition occurs when the tendons become inflamed, causing pain and stiffness in the affected area.
- Bursitis: This condition occurs when the bursae, small sacs that cushion the joints, become inflamed, causing pain and swelling.
- Trigger finger: This condition occurs when the finger or thumb gets stuck in a bent position, causing pain and difficulty in moving the finger.
These are illnesses that are caused by exposure to hazardous materials or conditions in the workplace. Occupational diseases can take years to develop, and they can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms are often similar to other illnesses.
Occupational diseases can include:
- Asbestos-related diseases: Asbestos is a material that was commonly used in building materials until the 1980s. Workers who were exposed to asbestos can develop lung cancer, mesothelioma, or asbestosis.
- Respiratory diseases: Workers who are exposed to dust, chemicals, or fumes in the workplace can develop respiratory diseases such as asthma or bronchitis.
- Hearing loss: Workplaces that have high levels of noise can permanent hearing damage if workers don't wear protective ear gear.
- Skin diseases: Workers who are exposed to certain irritants or chemicals can develop skin conditions such as dermatitis, eczema, and hives.
- Lead poisoning: Construction workers or those who work with lead-based paints can develop lead poisoning, which affects the nervous system, blood cells, and other parts of the body
Mental Health Injuries
These are injuries that affect an employee's mental health, such as anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Mental health injuries can be caused by a traumatic event at work, such as a workplace accident, a violent incident, or harassment.
Mental health injuries can include:
- PTSD: PTSD can occur in workers who experience or witness a traumatic event at work. It can cause flashbacks, nightmares, and anxiety.
- Depression: Depression can be caused by a stressful work environment or a traumatic event at work. It can cause feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and fatigue.
- Anxiety: Anxiety can be caused by a stressful work environment or a traumatic event at work. It can cause feelings of fear, worry, and panic.
What to Do After a Workers' Comp Injury
If you have been injured on the job, it is important to take immediate action to protect your health and your rights. The first step is to report the injury to your employer as soon as possible. This will ensure that your employer is aware of the injury and can take steps to address any unsafe working conditions. You should also seek medical attention as soon as possible, even if your injury does not appear to be serious. This will help to establish a record of your injury and ensure that you receive the appropriate medical treatment. Finally, consider contacting an experienced workers' compensation attorney who can help you navigate the complex process of filing a claim and obtaining the benefits you deserve.