When you are injured at work, every physical activity becomes harder to do. You are left compensating for your injury and straining the rest of your body as a consequence. What if you get hurt again, only this time not at work? What if the injury is a direct result of the work-related one? Are there ways to get compensation then?
Consequential Injuries Defined
There is a time when you can get workmen’s compensation for injuries you receive while you are not on the job. These are called consequential injuries, and you can think of them as secondary injuries that are related to the one you received at work. The Department of Labor calls them an effect of the admitted workplace injury that causes, aggravates, or contributes to a condition. According to the Justia website, the scope of coverage in Minnesota on the compensability of consequential injuries comes from the 1961 court case Eide v. Whirlpool Seeger Corp. It held that additional medical care could be compensated if it came as a natural consequence of the primary injury, even if an aggravation to a work-related injury occurred outside of work.
In Minnesota, an injury counts as consequential if it arises from a permanently weakened condition initially caused by a work-place injury. Medical care that you require after normal activities aggravate your condition could get covered. Damage that you suffer when getting treated for the work-related injury can also determine coverage through workmen’s compensation.
In some cases, all you really have to prove is that the second injury isn’t the product of actions so ‘grossly negligent’ as to constitute an intervening cause. The work-related injury also has to qualify as a substantial contributing factor to your current condition, as noted in Sineng Ny v. E.A. Sween Co on the Minnesota Workers Compensation Court of Appeals website. However, ‘substantial’ doesn’t mean ‘only.’ If you can prove that the injury continues to be a big part of your condition after the second injury, you may be able to get compensation for the new medical expenses.
Examples of Compensable Claims
Historically, there is a wide range of consequential injuries that workman’s compensation could cover. Some examples of what you might get compensation for include:
- injuries on the opposite side of your body when compensating or limping on one side
- bedsores from being hospitalized
- injuries arising from physical therapy that you need because of the original injury
- infections of the work-related injury or the treatment of it
- injuries from using wheelchairs, crutches or other devices you wouldn’t have had to use if you hadn’t gotten hurt on the job
- degeneration due to an old work-related injury
- hospitalization for depression or other psychological problems stemming from the work injury
- Here are some examples of what has been declared a compensable consequential injury:
- The original Eide v. Whirpool case was for a badminton injury that worsened a back injury that the employee had received on the job.
- In Michlitsch v. Michlitsch Builders, Inc, an employee that re-injured his eye when he walked into a door while going to the bathroom received compensation.
- A car accident where the plaintiff was rear-ended made the work-related injuries worse in Smith v. Timberland Lumber Company. The court ruled those damages were compensable.
- A plaintiff fell off a ladder and broke an ankle in Vagts v. Tromco Electric. The plaintiff won compensation for damages.
How Do You Get Compensation?
In order for the process to work, you have to make a claim in writing for every injury that springs from the accepted work-related injury. You will likely have to provide some medical documentation of your condition. Medical testimony can, in fact, be crucial. You might need testimony from others about your functioning before and after the second injury, too. The courts may call an evidentiary hearing to weigh the merit of your claim. Getting the necessary information together and navigating the process in a way that gets you the help you need will require an experienced lawyer who knows the intricacies of consequential injury claims.
When your work related injury is snowballing, getting worse from normal activities or causing more damage, contact us to get you the compensation you deserve.