Posted On: March 31, 2009

Health Care Worker Injuries Can Be Grounds for Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Although caring for a sick person at a hospital, a nursing home, a retirement residence, or a mental health care facility may not seem like a dangerous occupation, the nature of the health care worker’s job can lead to certain work injuries. In these instances, the nurse, nursing assistant, laboratory aid, orderly, or other type of health care worker is likely entitled to Illinois workers’ compensation benefits.

Common kinds of health care worker injuries:
• Musculoskeletal disorders
• Neck Injuries
• Back Injuries
• Arm injuries
• Carpal tunnel syndrome
• Assault injuries by mentally ill or emotionally volatile patients
• Sharp injuries (from needles, surgical tools, lancets, and other sharp instruments) that can lead to exposure to blood borne pathogens that may result in HIV, Hepatitis C, Hepatitis B, and other illnesses.

From 1995 to 2004, orderlies, attendants, and nursing home assistants belonged in the group (second only to truck drivers) with the most number of reported work injuries and illnesses. Almost 800,000 of these workers got sick or were injured on the job during this time period. 154 workers died from their work injuries.

54% of the workplace injuries affecting home health assistants, nursing assistants, and psychiatric aides appeared to involve musculoskeletal disorders, often caused by fall accidents, slip accidents, trip accidents, and auto accidents. Overexertion, which can occur when lifting heavy patients or equipment, appeared to be another common causes of injuries.

Workers' Compensation
Regardless of who was at fault in causing your health care worker injury, it is important that you receive the workers’ compensation that you are owed as soon as possible. The best way to ensure this in Illinois is to talk to an experienced Chicago workers’ compensation attorney about your work injury claim.

UCSF Study Looks at Injured Hospital Workers, UCSF, February 8, 2005

Occupational Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities among Nursing, Psychiatric, and Home Health Aides, 1995-2004, Bureau of Labor Statistics

Related Web Resources:
Researchers link nursing injuries to staffing levels, Medical News Today, June 5, 2009

Needlestick/Sharps Injuries, OSHA.gov


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Posted On: March 30, 2009

Illinois Appellate Court Says Workers’ Compensation Case of Employee that Died During the Claims Process Can Proceed

An Illinois Appellate Court ruling has affirmed that the workers’ compensation claims of claimants that die during the claims process shall proceed as if their deaths never happened. The case, Freeman United Coal Mining Co. V. Van Houten, Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, involved a coal miner that died after filing for an adjustment to his claim, per the Workers’ Occupational Diseases Act.

The worker wanted to obtain Illinois workers’ compensation benefits for a disability he said he sustained because of exposure to coal dust. He died from a heart attack two months after filing the application.

His wife sought to obtain death benefits from his employer. She claimed that her husband’s work-related lung disease aggravated his heart attack.

An arbitrator determined that conditions from coal mining did in fact contribute to the miner’s occupational disease, which was a factor in his death. The miner’s widow was awarded spousal benefits and funeral costs. The arbitrator, however, denied the miner’s benefits claim.

The Illinois Appellate Court affirmed that the miner was suffering from an occupational disease, including chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and coal workers’ pneumoconiosis and its related effects, and held that his workers’ compensation claim should still continue unaffected despite his death.

Illinois Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Although Illinois workers’ compensation law mandates that employers provide employees with injuries and death benefits, it can be a very good idea to retain the services of an experienced Chicago workers’ compensation law firm to make sure that your claim goes through without a hitch and that your request for benefits is not unfairly denied or delayed.

Getting hurt because of your job or losing someone you love in a work accident or because of an occupational disease can be upsetting enough without having to deal with the employer's insurer and any hassles that could lead to financial worries.

Coal miner's claim doesn't abate at his death, Risk & Insurance, March 19, 2009


Related Web Resources:
Workers’ Occupational Diseases Act

Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission

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Posted On: March 27, 2009

Injured Worker To Receive Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Patella Fracture Even with Preexisting Arthritis

A state workers’ compensation commission has upheld that an injured worker should receive benefits for a fractured patella even though the plaintiff had preexisting arthritis in the knee area prior to sustaining the work injury. The employer, Adecco Inc., had sought to overturn a magistrate’s decision to grant workers’ compensation benefits after determining that events at work is what caused the plaintiff’s inability to work when she fell, hurt her knee, and broke her patella.

During testimony, the surgeon for the plaintiff explained how the broken patella is the reason the plaintiff has a work disability and that the work injury has even caused the overall condition of her knee to deteriorate. The commission found that there was enough evidence to agree with the magistrate’s findings.

Preexisting Conditions that Can Lead to Workers’ Compensation Disputes
If you or someone you love was injured in an Illinois work accident, you are very likely entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. In certain cases, however, a dispute may arise between you and your employer or his or her insurer that could cause the delay or denial of your work injury benefits.

For example, you may have a preexisting condition that the insurance company may suggest was the actual cause of your work injuries, giving that as a reason for why you shouldn’t receive benefits. However, if your previous injury or work condition was aggravated by your work accident, your employer is legally obligated to compensate you as if you were injured on the job.

In Illinois, the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission is the agency responsible for presiding over workers’ compensation disputes between employers and employees. If the commission issues a ruling on your behalf and your employer’s insurer refuses to comply, you should talk to the Division of Insurance.

The best way to make sure that your rights are upheld and that your workers’ compensation case is properly argued is to speak with an experienced Chicago workers’ compensation attorney.

Benefits awarded for patella fracture despite preexisting arthritis, Risk & Insurance, January 22, 2209


Related Web Resource:
Illinois Workers" Compensation Act

Workers' Compensation Overview, Justia

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Posted On: March 26, 2009

Illinois Industrial Commission Awards Benefits to Worker Injured in Trip and Fall Accident in Employee Parking Lot

The Illinois Industrial Commission awarded benefits to a claimant who tripped and fell after finishing her shift, leaving, and then going back to the workplace. The employee fell in the company parking lot. She worked for North American Lighting.

The woman was a shift factory worker. She worked on the second shift. On the day of her work accident, she clocked out at 1:30am and went to her motor vehicle. She got into her car and moved the vehicle closer to the building. She went back into the building, used the bathroom, and got a candy bar and a cup of coffee.

The claimant tripped and fell over a parking curb as she went to the vehicle. The woman claims that she did not see the curb because the lighting in the parking lot was dim.

Based on the personal comfort doctrine, the arbitrator awarded her benefits and a majority of the commission affirmed this decision. The outcome of this workers’ compensation claim affirms going back into one’s workplace to use the facilities after one’s work for the day has ended is considered a reasonable and foreseeable act per the personal comfort doctrine. This means that her work injury is covered under Illinois’s workers’ compensation law.

The Personal Comfort Doctrine
The personal comfort doctrine allows an employee to engage in certain acts essential to one’s comfort and health while at work and during a reasonable period of time before the actual work begins and ends. Examples of actions that could fall under the personal comfort doctrine: include taking occasional work breaks, and getting something to eat or drink.


Factory worker assembles compensable claim for parking lot injury, Risk & Insurance, March 19, 2009

Related Web Resource:
Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission


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Posted On: March 24, 2009

Four Police Officers Die from Fatal Work Injuries Caused by Weekend Gunbattle

Police are mourning the loss of their own, as the officer death toll from a Saturday gunbattle claimed a fourth life. Officer John Hege was pronounced brain dead on Sunday.

Hege, 41, was among the cops that were critically injured during a shootout with a suspect. The men were wounded on Saturday afternoon when they tried to apprehend a car during a routine traffic stop.

Soon after, 911 dispatchers were told that two cops—Hege and Dunakin—had had been shot. Police began a manhunt to look for the shooter and an anonymous tipster directed them to a nearby building.

Other officers killed in Saturday’s incident were 40-year-old Sgt. Mark Dunakin, 43-year-old Sgt. Ervin Romans, and 35-year-old Sgt. Daniel Sakai. A fifth officer was grazed by a bullet and was released from the hospital.

The gunman shot at police and that is when Sakai and Romans were killed. The suspect, 26-year-old Lovelle Mixon, was also shot to death. On Monday, police said that Mixon was a primary suspect in a sexual assault case.

Law enforcement injuries can be serious injuries. Police officers are supposed to deal with dangerous situations and armed suspects, which can place their lives at risk. Sometimes, a police officer may also sustain a work injury in more "normal" incidents, such as slip and fall accidents. A police officer also might sustain a dog bite when going to a residence to respond to a call.

Regardless of the cause of the work injury, police officers and their families are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.

Injured California officer is declared brain dead, Boston.com/AP, March 23, 2009

Fourth Oakland police officer dies after weekend shooting, CNN.com, March 24, 2009


Related Web Resources:
Oakland Police

Chicago Police

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Posted On: March 19, 2009

Construction Worker Dies After Falling from Site's 10th Floor

A construction worker is dead following a fall from the 10th floor of a construction site on Wednesday. According to police, Anthony Paino fell and landed on top of the shed of a nearby building. The 28-year-old construction worker was transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.

According to the Department of Buildings spokesperson, Paino does not appear to have been wearing a mandatory harness that is supposed to keep workers secured to buildings so they don’t fall great distances. Following the deadly construction accident, the department issued numerous safety violations against subcontractors and the builder. The department also gave out a stop-work order and will inspect the safety netting at the hotel construction site.

The Department of Buildings has already cited the project several times this year for a number of hazardous working conditions, including the storage combustible materials, too much debris at the site, and neglecting to provide scaffolds and nets over open work spaces.

Paino was employed by a steel subcontractor. He was reportedly supposed to be working inside guardrails at the edge of the building. A spokesperson for the project’s general contractor says other safety measures had also been implemented.

Construction Fall Accidents
To prevent fall accidents, construction supervisors are supposed to make sure that all safety precautions are followed on the site and that workers use the proper safety equipment, such as fall arrest equipment, perimeter protection and opening coverings, and harnesses.

Construction Worker Falls to Death from 10th Floor of Hotel, New York Times, March 18, 2009

Worker Falls to Death at Hotel Project, New York Times, March 18, 2009


Related Web Resources:
Construction Accidents Overview, Justia

Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, US Department of Labor

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Posted On: March 18, 2009

Illinois Construction Accident Sends Worker to the Hospital

An air compressor test that went wrong sent an Illinois construction worker to the hospital emergency room. Washburn resident Ed Grebner sustained facial cuts and pains and aches following the Peoria construction accident on Monday at a work site. The 53-year-old worker is employed by PIPCO Cos.

The Illinois work accident happened early in the afternoon while the construction worker was operating a ground compactor close to the space where workers were testing a 30-inch chilled pipe. A joint broke while a test involving an air compressor was taking place and pressurized air came out of the pipe. Small rocks, dirt, and other debris flew through the air. In addition to Grebner’s injuries, about $25,000 to $40,000 in damage occurred from the accident. Damage included portions of pipe, curtain wall panels, and windshields on nearby construction vehicles.

Air compressors are one of the devices that is commonly used at construction sites. It is important that construction workers exercise extreme caution when working with or around an air compressor.

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration has set up specific guidelines for working with compressors to make sure that everyone stays safe. Unfortunately, accidents can happen. An explosion involving a compressor can be catastrophic for workers and others in the area.

Falling or Flying Debris at Construction Sites
Depending on the size and type of materials they are made of, falling or flying debris at construction sites can result in serious personal injuries for construction workers. Examples of construction debris include scrap metal, bricks, glass, wood, and other kinds of rubble. Large pieces of debris can cause traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, massive internal injuries, and death.

Construction worker injured, PJStar.com, March 16, 2009


Related Web Resources:
PIPCO Cos.

Construction Safety, CDC

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Posted On: March 14, 2009

Worker Dies After Being Crushed by Freight Elevator

A worker at a produce processing plant died on Friday afternoon when the freight elevator he was working on fell on top of him. The employee was under the machine when its rigging gave way. He was crushed by the elevator.

Investigators are trying to determine why the employee, who was not certified or trained in fixing elevators, was working on one. Police, prosecutors, detectives, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration are looking into the elevator work accident. A spokesperson for State Garden Inc, the produce-processing company that employed the worker, says that the freight elevator was actually more a pallet lift and one that did not require a worker who had certification.

Some 300 worker are employed at the company.

Elevator Worker Injuries
It is the job of elevator workers, also known as elevator mechanics, elevator constructors, elevator repairers, and elevator installers, to install, replace, maintain, assemble, and repair elevators, moving walkways, dumbwaiters, and similar kinds of equipment.

Unfortunately, as with all professions (especially those requiring manual labor), work accidents resulting in injuries can happen. An elevator worker can get hurt while lifting or moving heavy tools, parts, or equipment. He or she can also get injured during a fall accident, experience electrical shock, or get crushed by a falling elevator.

It is the responsibility of employers to make sure that workers are properly trained, have all of the safety equipment that they need, and there are no unnecessary hazards that could cause injury or death.

As an injured worker or the family member of an employee that was killed during a work accident, there are ways to make sure you receive the workers' compensation benefits you are owed.

Worker at Chelsea plant crushed by elevator, Boston.com, March 14, 2009

One dead in Chelsea elevator accident, MSNBC.com


Related Web Resources

Illinois Workers' Compensation

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Posted On: March 12, 2009

Noisy Chicago Work Environments Can Cause Hearing Problems for Employees and May Increase Number of Illinois Motor Vehicle Accidents

According to a new study to be published in the journals Occupation Environmental Medicine, Accident Analysis and Prevention, and Traffic Injury Prevention, excessive noise at work increases the chances of both work accidents and motor vehicle crashes.

Researches reached their findings after examining a sample of 53,000 workers:

• Over 60% of the employees were exposed at work to noises equivalent in decibels to the degree of the sound a subway makes when it pulls up at a station—that’s 90 decibels daily.
• Exposure to this much noise on a daily basis can increase the chances that he or she might become involved in a work accidents.
• If hearing loss occurred, researchers found that workers had a 7% greater chance of getting hurt in an accident.
• The study suggests that excessive noise in the workplace is a problem that is often ignored.

According to Acoustics.com:
About 30 million people are exposed to dangerous levels of noise at work. Employees that work in environments where they are exposed to vibration, lead, carbon monoxide, solvents, and chemicals also appear to experience a greater likelihood of developing hearing loss.

Occupational hearing loss is one of the most common work-related injuries and one that could be easily avoided. It is also a hazard that is often ignored by safety officials and employers.

Hearing loss often develops gradually, which may be one reason it is easy to ignore. Yet the damage is often irreversible and may affect not just the worker’s ability to do his or her job but it can severely compromise one’s quality of life and ability to do normal tasks. Other consequences may include:

• Social isolation
• Impaired driving ability
• Impaired ability to communicate
• Greater risk of work accidents, motor vehicle accidents, and other kinds of accidents
• Tinnitus (constant hissing or ringing in the ears)
• Loss of income
• Medical and rehabilitation expenses


Noisy Workplaces Make Employees Deaf and Raise Risk of Accidents, MedIndia.com, March 13, 2009

Your Job or Your Hearing? Hearing Loss in the Workplace, Acoustics.com


Related Web Resources:
Hearing Loss, MayoClinic.com

Occupational Hearing Loss, CDC

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Posted On: March 11, 2009

Former Railway Worker Sues Railroad Company for Spine, Back, and Neck Injuries

A former railroad worker for Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Company is suing the railroad corporation for injuries he sustained on the job. He filed his railroad worker injury lawsuit in Madison County Circuit Court.

James Bahm began working at the railroad company in May 1976. He says that he was injured and sustained cumulative trauma while working as an engineer because the seat that he would sit on while the locomotive would go over rough tracks was defective and worn out. As a result of his injuries, Bahm says he experienced serious pain and suffering, mental trauma, and loss of wages and benefits. Also, his ability to work became impaired and he began to incur medical expenses because he needed treatment for his injuries.

His railroad injury lawsuit accuses BNSF of negligence because it allowed for the use of an engine that was not in proper working condition, produced too much vertical motion, was not properly inspected, had deficient cushioning on its seat, and was a hazard to crew members. Bahm is also accusing the railroad company of failing to give him a safe work environment, not properly maintaining and inspecting its equipment or track so that they were in safe working condition, not using safe working methods or equipment, not doing more to decrease the amount of cumulative trauma he was exposed to, and neglecting to test workers for the effects of cumulative trauma. Bahm is seeking to obtain more than $200,000 plus costs.

Cumulative Trauma
Cumulative trauma refers to injuries that develop over a period of time. Sometimes, a cumulative trauma can take months or years to develop. This type of trauma can affect the tissues, cartilage, and ligaments of the body and can occur because of the railroad worker’s routine, which my require that he or she engage in repetitive motions. It is sometimes challenging for a worker to figure out the cause of his or her cumulative trauma.

Former BNSF worker claims worn-out seat caused injuries, St Clair Record, March 9, 2009


Related Web Resources:
Train Accident Overview, Justia

Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway Company

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Posted On: March 5, 2009

Illinois Highway Construction Worker Injured on the Job Files Third Party Lawsuit Against Motorist

A couple is suing a driver for injuries the man sustained while working on the job as a highway construction worker. Craig and Collette Poettker filed their Illinois personal injury lawsuit in St. Clair County Circuit Court last week against motorist Joseph Courtney. The Poettkers are seeking over $700,000 in damages.

The Illinois work accident reportedly took place in a construction zone on Highway 161 on March 2, 2007 when Courtney, who was driving on the road, rammed through a barricade while trying to change lanes in the construction area. Craig claims that as a result of Courtney’s driving, flying debris struck him and caused serious, permanent leg and head injuries. He says that he experienced extreme mental and physical pain, lost wages from taking time off work, has incurred multiple medical expenses, and is unable to deal with ordinary life matters. Collette is claiming loss of her husband’s consortium and society.

Their Illinois civil complaint accuses Courtney of negligence when he drove through the construction zone at over 35 mph and did not slow down even though a speed limit was posted for when workers were in the area. The couple is also accusing him of failing to properly control his vehicle and not keeping a proper lookout for hazards on the road.

Also named in the Illinois car accident lawsuit is Helitech, the company that Courtney was working for at the time of the catastrophic work accident. Craig claims that Helitech should have known better than to allow Courtney to drive for work when he had a history of speeding violations.

Highway Construction Accidents
Ideally, a highway construction site will be properly set up to minimize injuries to workers. However, merely placing this type of work area on a road can create a hazardous situation for both highway construction workers and motorists.

Common causes of highway construction accidents include:
• Road debris
• Inadequate warning signs
• Cones that are placed in the wrong spots
• Crane accidents

In Illinois, injured highway construction workers are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if they sustained their injuries while on the job. They also may be entitled to third party compensation for personal injury.

Flying debris on highway caused construction worker's injuries, suit claims, The Madison/St Clair Record, March 5, 2009

Related Web Resources:
Construction Laborers, Bureau of Labor Statistics

Construction, US Department of Labor

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Posted On: March 4, 2009

Chicago Police Officers and Illinois State Police are Entitled to Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Chicago police officers, Illinois state police, and other law enforcement officers can be prone to serious injuries while doing their line of work. When this happens, an injured public safety official is entitled to Illinois workers’ compensation benefits.

Examples of injuries that can occur to police officers:

Motor vehicle accidents: Many police officers are required to roam the through the city in a police cruiser or on a motorcycle or in another type of vehicle. Like all other motorists, however, law enforcement officers risk getting involved in a motor vehicle accident—whether they are going about their daily routine or engaged in a high-speed police pursuit. While an injured police officer may be able to sue a negligent motorist or suspect for personal injury, availing of one’s workers’ compensation benefits can also be a financial help.

When Directing Traffic: A police officer directing traffic in the middle of a busy intersection or around a construction zone may be prone to pedestrian-liike injuries if he or she is accidentally struck by a car, a truck, a bus, or a motorcycle.

Slip and Fall Accidents: Especially during the winter months, a police officer who is going up the stairs or an icy driveway may accidentally slip and fall, possibly sustaining a head injury, a back injury, or a neck injury.

• Gunshot or knife wounds while apprehending suspects and criminals

• Dog bite injuries when responding to a police call at a residence

• Bruises and beatings during on foot pursuits and chases

• Injuries sustained during a police rescue

• Exposure to hazardous substances and disease at a home, business, or facility


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