Being injured during the course of your employment and having a workers’ compensation claim can be a difficult and often painful experience. But, it can be made even more uncomfortable or debilitating if you develop a secondary injury as a result of your initial workers’ compensation injury. For example, if you injured your knee at work and the use of crutches, or a walking cast, causes you back pain that further limits you, or requires additional medical treatment, this can qualify as a “secondary” work related injury. If this happens to you, there are some steps you can take to secure additional workers’ compensation benefits.
Step One – Report it to your employer
If you find that you are experiencing a secondary injury that has resulted from your initial work-related injury, you will need to report it to your employer. You will then need to complete the necessary injury report. In addition, you will probably need to provide your employer with any medical evidence of treatment for the secondary injury.
Step Two – Inform your solicitor
If you are represented by a solicitor, you will need to inform your solicitor of the secondary injury, it’s symptoms and the type of treatment you are receiving. Your solicitor can then apprise the workers’ compensation court that you are claiming a secondary injury for which you might be entitled to additional workers’ compensation benefits.
In addition, your solicitor will need a description of when and how the secondary injury started. Your solicitor will be required to prove that the secondary injury is, in fact, a direct result of the initial workers’ compensation injury. Once this nexus is made, there can be a determination regarding additional compensation for medical expenses related to the secondary injury and/or additional lost time from work.
Step Three – Medical Evidence
In order for you to collect workers’ compensation for a secondary injury, or to have your medical bills paid, you must provide your employer, their insurance company and the court with medical evidence that the secondary injury resulted from the initial workers’ compensation injury. While it is true that it can take time for a secondary injury to appear, it is important that at the point in time that you realize you are experiencing a second injury, related to your initial workers’ compensation injury, that you seek medical attention and treatment, if necessary. This evidence will be used to build a connection between the original work-related injury and the secondary injury.
Step Four – Make a claim for additional compensation
Once you have informed your employer and your solicitor of the secondary injury and you have been examined and treated for the condition, you will be able to make a claim for additional compensation. Additional compensation can include the following:
- Payment for additional lost wages
- Reimbursement for any out-of-pocket medical expenses related to the secondary injury
- Payment for ongoing medical expenses related to the secondary injury
- Additional accommodations at work to reduce the severity of the secondary injury
- Payment for prescription medication related to the secondary injury
This additional compensation will be based upon your current wages and physical condition.
Step Five – Receiving a lump sum payment
If the two injuries are found to be related, it is possible for you to receive a combined lump sum payment for both. For this to happen both injuries will need to be assessed for permanent impairment. Once a level of permanent impairment is determined, the court can use the combined values table to ascertain the amount of your lump sum award.
In conclusion, if you find that you are experiencing a secondary injury related to your initial workers’ compensation injury, it is important for you to take three basic steps;
- Report the injury to your employer and your solicitor,
- Seek a medical examination and treatment if necessary,
- Provide your medical evidence to your employer, their insurance company and your solicitor.
From there, your employer, the insurance company, your solicitor and the court can decide as to the nexus between your two injuries and determine if an increase in your workers’ compensation benefits is warranted.
In the event that you find yourself in need of assistance, please contact the law offices of Owen Hodge Lawyers. At Owen Hodge, we are always happy to assist clients in understanding the full ramifications of any and all of your legal needs. Please feel free to call us at your earliest convenience to schedule a consultation at 1800 770 780.