Thankfully, I’ve avoided any significant injuries in my life, but the other day I was taking a shower and thought to myself, “Wouldn’t it be great if I had a legitimate excuse to never work again?” That’s when the thought popped into my head – a concept that I had heard before but didn’t know anything about. It seems like the old locker room joke after a minor injury at work is always, “Oh, you should file for workers’ comp.” But what even is workers’ compensation?
I started to look into who qualifies for workers’ compensation and what the benefits are. I couldn’t believe how serious some of these injuries were! Workers’ compensation is a big deal for people who get hurt. Workers routinely fall off buildings, get t-boned in an intersection while driving the company truck, and some of them are permanently injured. Workers’ compensation is there to help those people recover and live as healthy a life as possible, but it still seems tough. I was a little surprised to learn it can cover a bunch of living expenses, like medical bills after the injury, a living wage, and even food for your cat. Permanent compensation could last a lifetime, but don’t expect to get rich that way.
I think one of the worst injuries that qualify a person for workers’ compensation is what they call “injury due to repetitive motion.” I guess somebody is out there with a jackhammer, pounding concrete their whole life. Next thing you know, you have carpal tunnel syndrome, and you can’t even type or pick up a glass of chocolate milk. Yikes! I couldn’t live like that. No wonder there is a system in place to help people like that. Everyone loves chocolate milk!
Although it would be nice never to have to work and just make money, I’m happy I can still work. It feels good to be in control of my daily activities, and I would never sacrifice that opportunity for an injury. I don’t care how much you pay me. The men and women who sacrifice their health for a paycheck deserve to have a form of insurance if things go wrong on the job.
Unfortunately, I also learned that sometimes companies aren’t willing to pay their injured employees a fair amount of compensation. I’ve heard of horror stories where the company denies their worker was injured on the job. What is that all about? The money comes from the employer’s insurance company if I’m not mistaken. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not surprised that an insurance company would try to reduce the amount they owe an injured worker. But an employer? That’s just wrong.
Luckily for all those hard workers out there, law firms like McCutchen & Sexton are working hard to fight for people who have been injured. They even try to help people when workers’ compensation isn’t enough. I’m glad I live in a world where people are still interested and passionate about doing the right thing.
In a particularly gruesome story coming out of Canada, a woman from Halifax is suing a hospital, and five doctors in particular, after she lost all her limbs while in the process of giving birth to her child.
As bizarre as it is gruesome, the normally joyous occasion of a child’s birth was marred by the discovery of a flesh-eating bacteria, all due to what is being alleged to be an act that may be considered medical negligence.
The woman, Lindsey Hubley, contracted a flesh-eating bacteria within days of giving birth to her child, and the result has left her a quadriplegic amputee. She also had a hysterectomy.
The cause of the bacteria, Hubley alleges, was a piece of placenta that was not removed during the birth of her child. Not only is the hospital potentially culpable on this issue, but other mistakes were also made in the following days. All of which meant, after the bacteria was discovered, that it was too late to save her limbs.
The discovery was delayed, however, because Hubley was misdiagnosed when she first brought attention to early symptoms. Doctors told her she had constipation and sent her home.
Her lawyer, Ray Wagner, alleges that the situation was preventable at least in part and perhaps in entirety if the doctors had been more thorough in their work. “Our allegations are that had she been properly assessed when she presented at the hospital … a substantial part of the damage, if not all of it, could have been prevented,” Wagner told CBCNews.
Hubley is the latest case of medical negligence in Canada, but her story is by far not the only one. In fact, Canada has a large number of medical negligence lawyers, just as America does, and for the same reason. Many cases present themselves regularly across the border.
While Hubley’s story is sad, it still has a relatively happy ending. Though Hubley spent the first seven months of her child’s life in a hospital, her health has been improving. Her husband says she is positive and in good spirits.
“She’s incredibly positive,” he said. “She has an outlook that this process has taken her arms and her legs, but it’s not going to take her happiness.”
Hubley’s trials are not over yet. She still requires a kidney transplant, and she will also require rehab. Her fiance, meanwhile, has been unable to work since their child was born. Nonetheless, the new family remains hopeful about the future.
Hubley, according to Wager, is “lucky to be alive,” and she seems to have found happiness in recognizing that fact for herself.
Hubley’s case is not unique, and if you or someone you know is being mistreated by doctors or a hospital be sure to speak up early and to speak up loudly.
As the years go by and society gradually changes there is an inevitable change in law. Old laws aren’t as applicable, and new technology creates new situations that need to be covered in a legal document. When those laws can potentially affect millions of people, however, lawmakers need to take into account all the people under its umbrella. In the case of workers compensation, people injured at work need to know that the treatment they need for their injury or the financial support that helps keep them and their families living will still be protected.
There has been a lot of talk in the North Carolina Industrial Commissions about the reform of prescription drugs that are covered under the state’s workers compensation programs. According to the website for Environmental, Health, and Safety Today, there are two main points that the Commission is working towards. The first point is that they want to save on health spending by switching the brand name drugs they were prescribing to cheaper, generic and locally made medicine. The second point is in response to the ongoing opioid epidemic. They want to limit the number of people getting addicted to the drug and focus on prescribing different methods of pain relief. With roughly 180,000 prescriptions written over a three-year period between 2012 and 2015, the state could have saved $8.7 million by switching to generic brand medication. The Commission has created an Opioid Task Force earlier in 2017 to meet and brainstorm solutions to the problem caused by the epidemic and workers compensation medication claims. Hopefully, the money they could save by giving injured workers off-brand drugs could go to the Opioid Task Force. Across the country, there are over 2 million people with an opioid disorder. These 2 million come from an estimated 12.5 million people misusing prescriptions with a potential to develop a disorder. In 2015 alone over 33,000 people died from overdosing on these types of medication. The epidemic has cost the country almost 79 billion dollars in lost economic potential.
Wanting to save money on budgets is one thing, but when that means potentially giving people cheaper medication, then North Carolina needs to be careful. Until there are official studies showing that the generic drugs they want to push for are as good as the big name brand drugs I doubt it will become law. There were over 74,000 people who suffered from nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses. Those people need the best treatment their employer and state can provide them.
While reform can keep laws current, sometimes it can be for profit rather than for people. There is a lot on North Carolina’s, and the whole country’s, plate right now. Instead of potentially giving people off-brand drugs they should invest in medicine to find better, non-addictive solutions to the problems that people experience.