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Should I be attacked by a patient or visitor at work, what actions do I, or my family, have to take to avoid having me enter the workers' comp system?

Monday December 16, 2013
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Question:

Dear Nancy,

It is my observation that campus security at my facility is not performed in the way our facility security policies or industry standards dictate.

I am very concerned for my safety. I have instructed my family and co-workers should I be attacked to refuse ED assessment and/or treatment at my employer's facility and to have me taken to another nearby facility so I can avoid entering the workers’ compensation system. What actions do I, or my family, have to take to avoid entering the workers comp system?

Lorna



Dear Nancy replies:

Dear Lorna,

Your question is a little unclear but I assume you are talking about being "attacked" while on the job due to a patient's actions, which arguably would allow you to file a workers' compensation claim for an injury that arose out of and during the course of employment. Workers' compensation is the only remedy against the employer when you are injured at work.

Workers' compensation was established to help employees who suffered injuries that arose out of and during the course of employment, by not requiring the employee to prove any negligence on the part of the employer. Likewise, the employer benefited because it did not have to defend itself in court against such allegations.

Specific procedures and requirements for filing a workers' compensation claim should be detailed by the employer in its policies and procedures. If you want to obtain compensation, rehabilitation and other benefits for the injury, a claim under the workers' compensation state law is necessary. Obviously, you have a right to be represented by a nurse attorney or attorney who focuses his or her practice in workers' compensation law.

It is your choice should you decide not to file a claim under workers' compensation. However, before thinking the only option for you is to keep out of the system, you should consult with a nurse attorney or other attorney in your state who can advise you of workers' compensation law and your rights under the law so you can make an informed decision.

Simply going to another ED facility would not resolve your apparent desire to avoid entering the workers' compensation system. Moreover, if you are seriously injured, delaying treatment may be extremely harmful to your life or well-being.

Should an injury arise out of and during the course of employment due to a third party's negligence (e.g., a defectively designed chair you sat in at the nurse's station collapsed and caused you harm), the chair manufacturer is not the employer. Therefore, you arguably would have a specific claim (e.g., product liability) against that chair manufacturer.

Cordially,
Nancy




Nancy J. Brent, RN, MS, JD, is an attorney in private practice in Wilmette, Ill. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as legal or any other advice. The reader is encouraged to seek the advice of an attorney or other professional when an opinion is needed.