When is a cut not just a cut?

Posted on by

Most people will cut accidentally cut themselves doing chores around the house. But a cut on the job can lead to serious consequences for many workers. So when is a cut not just a cut?

Industrial amputations and crush injuries

Workers in meatpacking and manufacturing frequently suffer serious cuts and amputations from blades and crush injuries. From a legal perspective, employers often accept initial responsibility for these injuries under workers’ compensation.

But even if the employer accepts responsibility for paying workers compensation, the employer may attempt to blame the employee for the injury. This means employers will pay medical bills related to a cut or amputation,  but will fire the employee for some safety violation. Employers will often deny paying temporary disability benefits to an employee they accuse of violating safety rules.

Safety violations and retaliation

Employers can argue employee safety violations as a defense to paying workers’ compensation benefits. I will concede that sometimes employees violate safety rules. But other times, employers fire employees on flimsy pretext of a safety violation. Employees may be able to bring a retaliation case in that circumstance.

But, Nebraska workers’ compensation law might also provide some additional remedies for an employee fired for a bogus safety violation. Nebraska workers’ compensation law awards a 50 percent penalty and attorney fees if there is no reasonable controversy about entitlement to benefits. No reasonable controversy is a difficult standard for an employee to meet. But a flimsy termination related to a work injury used to deny benefits  is one circumstance where fees and penalties may be likely.

Moisture,  infection and amputation

But even less serious cuts can present complications. The complication I see the most is moisture. Workers in packinghouses often work in wet environments. This moisture can infect cuts and lead to amputations.

Moisture can also present other issues. For example, a food service employee required to wear gloves during their work would sweat under the gloves. That sweat would increase the risk of infection of a cut and could lead to an employee missing work.

Side effects of medication

Medications can reduce the risk of infection for a serious cut. But medications have side effects that can sometimes require medical treatment. In a recent Virginia case, a bowel disorder caused by medication prescribed to prevent infection was an injury covered by workers compensation. The Virginia decision relied on the so-called “compensable consequences” doctrine. Nebraska recognizes the “compensable consequences” doctrine and will pay benefits related to adverse side effects of medication.

But workers’ compensation insurers often balk at covering infections from cuts and side effects of taking medication from work injuries. Cut, crush and amputation injuries aren’t the only injures that involve compensable consequences. However, proving these consequences is easier in cut and crush cases because of the obvious nature of the injury and how it was caused.

The offices of Rehm, Bennett, Moore & Rehm, which also sponsors the Trucker Lawyers website, are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Five attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 95 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska, Iowa and other states with Nebraska and Iowa jurisdiction. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.