These are some of the most common work accidents that can befall teachers and their resulting injuries:
- Slip and falls – These frequent accidents can happen both indoors from spills or slippery surfaces, and outdoors from snow and ice, or uneven sidewalks. Injuries from a slip and fall can be as minor as a sprained ankle or as serious as a head injury.
- Trips – Obstacles within the school from classroom furniture to children’s legs can cause a teacher to trip and break or fracture a bone, or sprain or strain a ligament or tendon.
- Physical assault – While the National Center for Education Statistics reports that 9.2 percent of teachers have been threatened with violence, and 5.4 percent have actually been physically attacked, the numbers are certainly much higher. This is because so many incidents of assault go unreported. Teachers who are physically assaulted in schools by students or parents can suffer serious injuries, as well as emotional trauma such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
- Stress – Many teachers work long hours at low pay in underfunded school districts. Some must worry every day about their safety, in addition to the wellbeing of their charges. These conditions can lead to anxiety and depression.
- Computer use – Teachers who sit at desks using computers for much of the day are at risk for repetitive motion disorders such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Left untreated, repetitive motion disorders can result in limited use of the affected muscles of the hand or wrist.
As a Philadelphia workers’ compensation attorney can further explain, teachers can also develop occupational illnesses from working in an old building that contains materials made with asbestos, or from exposure to chemicals used for cleaning and sanitizing. An occupational illness is a medical condition that develops over time from constant exposure to toxic substances.
If You Are Injured on the Job
If you are injured or develop an occupational illness in the course of your work as a teacher, you must report your injury to your supervisor and complete an accident/injury report. Incidents of physical assault or other safety incidents require additional reporting.
Workers’ Compensation benefits are available to teachers in Bustleton and South Philly through the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act. It is important to file for your Workers’ Compensation benefits immediately because if your injury recurs, but you never filed a claim, there will have been no record established and it may be difficult for you to receive medical benefits.
It is not required that you use a Workers’ Compensation lawyer to file your claim, however, there are time limits for filing a claim for your work-related injury. Working with an experienced Philadelphia teacher workers’ compensation attorney can relieve you of the stress of navigating the system alone – especially if your claim is denied on a technicality.
A successful claim can provide you with some or all of the following benefits:
- Wage loss benefits
- Medical benefits include hospital treatment, prescription medications, and prostheses.
- Temporary or permanent disability payments whether your injury is partially or totally disabling.
- Specific loss benefits for loss of part – or all – of certain body parts
- Death benefits for dependents of a worker who is killed on the job
Benefits of Hiring a Workers’ Compensation Attorney Representing Teachers
There are many reasons it is wise to enlist the help of a Philadelphia attorney offering representation to teachers who have sustained workplace injuries when you are seeking workers’ compensation benefits.
Again, first, doing so will minimize your stress. You won’t have to worry that paperwork isn’t being filed on time or that you might have made statements to an insurance company representative if you know that a professional who specializes in representing teachers is handling your case. This will also give you more time and freedom to focus on recovering from your injuries.
You must also consider the fact that insurance companies often respond to claims by attempting to deny them or convince victims that they deserve relatively small amounts of compensation. An insurer is not going to do the work of fully accounting for all your compensable losses for you. The goal of any business is to make money, not spending it when doing so can be avoided. Insurance companies are no exception.
Proving you deserve workers’ compensation benefits can be particularly challenging when you’re injured while working as a teacher. This is because the argument can be made that the line between when a teacher is working and when they are not can often be blurred.
You are only eligible for workers’ compensation benefits if your injuries were sustained when you were genuinely on the job. For example, if someone in another profession is required to drive to work sites sometimes, but they are injured in a car accident when they are driving on their lunch break, they often will not be considered eligible for workers’ compensation benefits because their accident occurred when they were not technically working.
If you’re a teacher in Bustleton or South Philly, you know that there isn’t always a clear distinction between when you’re “at work” and when you’re not. Once more, an accident could occur at some point when you are on a field trip. Or, like many teachers, perhaps you stay at work after you are technically required to in order to plan lessons, grade assignments, conference with parents, participate in after-school student activities, and more.
It’s highly possible an insurance company will review your claim with the goal of finding a reason to justify arguing that you were not genuinely “on the job” at the time of your accident. This is one of many tactics an insurer might employ to limit how much they must pay you.
A qualified workers’ compensation attorney will understand how insurance companies try to limit the amount of money they pay out to claimants. If there are flaws in an insurance company’s argument for denying your claim, a lawyer can poke holes in these flaws to demonstrate why you actually are eligible to recover workers’ compensation benefits. If an insurance company is willing to provide you with some compensation, but not necessarily enough given the extent and nature of your injuries, your lawyer will show how you are deserving of more compensation than the insurance company might have initially offered.
Speak With a Philadelphia Teacher Workers' Compensation Attorney
At Gross & Kenny, LLP our entire practice is dedicated to helping injured workers. Our experienced Philadelphia teacher workers’ compensation lawyers can make a difference when it comes to the success of your claim. Contact us online to schedule your free initial consultation in our Philadelphia, Pennsylvania office.