If you have been hurt on the job, your injury is probably covered under your employer's workers' compensation insurance policy. But what happens if you incur a secondary injury as a result of your treatment? Can your employer deny covering this injury since it didn't happen at work? Will you need to file a separate claim? Here are a few answers that will help you claim the workers' compensation benefits you deserve.
What is a Secondary Injury?
Secondary injuries are injuries that can be directly linked back to your original work-related injury. A secondary injury is normally the result of some activity you are forced to do during your recovery process.
Unfortunately, because there may be a period separating the secondary injury from the original injuries, employers often view these as being separate injuries when they are not. Secondary injuries are a continuation of, or subsequent to, work injuries, not separate injuries.
Unfortunately, your employer and their workers' compensation insurance carrier may not always see it that way and may attempt to try to make you file a separate claim or deny you coverage for your secondary injury altogether. Secondary injuries should be covered under your initial claim and you should be not required to file a separate claim for these injuries. You are entitled to benefits for these injuries.
What Are Common Secondary Injuries?
Most workplace injuries are very unique. They differ as far as what happened, how it happened, why it happened, and who it happened to. Secondary injuries can also be unique, but they can also follow some common themes as to what occurs. Here are a few:
- Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) - Lying on an operating table or in a hospital bed for an extended period can put you at risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or blood clot. Your odds of getting a DVT or blood clot following surgery are the highest 2 to 10 days after surgery, but you could be at increased risk for approximately 90 days.
- Chronic pain - A traumatic injury, surgery, rods, pins, or screws can all be sources of chronic pain. Unfortunately, although various types of pain management may take the edge off your pain, the treatment may not completely resolve your chronic pain issues. You may require some type of pain management for the rest of your life even when you return to work.
- Infection - Infection is very common following an injury, because anytime there is a break in your skin, you are at risk of infection. If you are hospitalized or have surgery, you may be at risk of contracting a nosocomial infection or a hospital-acquired infection. It is estimated that 1 in 10 people who are hospitalized will contract some type of hospital-acquired infection. Your infection will require treatment along with your original injury.
- Chemical dependence - Very often opioids and other addictive drugs are used to treat your pain following your injury. This can lead to you becoming addicted to these drugs. You will then need to be treated for your addiction to fully recover.
- Depression - Post-injury depression is a very real phenomenon. Unfortunately, work-related emotional and psychological trauma is often not identified or diagnosed. Therefore, it is often left untreated. Any associated mental health treatment you may require should be identified and included as a secondary injury.
These are just a few examples of things that would be a secondary injury associated with your original workers' compensation claim. Each of these along with the associated treatment should be covered under your workers' compensation insurance claim and you should be entitled to additional benefits.