Despite occupational injuries, nurses may be denied workers’ comp benefits

Although back injuries are an unfortunate occurrence in the nursing industry, many nurses are unable to get workers’ compensation benefits.

Colorado residents, as well Americans across the country rely on kind and caring nurses to provide essential medical care before, during and after treatment. According to the U.S. Gallup Poll, nurses were voted the most trusted professionals in the nation, followed by medical doctors. Contrary to what American patients feel, however, nurses report that they feel overworked, stressed and underappreciated, according to Healthline News. The physical demands of the profession leave many nurses with serious injuries and disabilities of their own. Unfortunately, many nurses are denied workers' compensation benefits because institutions do not recognize their injuries as work-related.

Occupational injuries

Healthline News reported that there were 2.7 million nurses working in the U.S. in 2014. An estimated 38 percent of nurses suffer from back injuries that are caused mainly by moving and lifting patients, according to the American Nurses Association. Approximately 55.7 percent of nurses are affected by other musculoskeletal disorders, according to National Public Radio. In many professions, occupational injuries that occur as a result of workplace conditions are covered under workers' compensation. Yet, many nurses' claims have been denied.

One nurse working in another state had dedicated 20 years of her life to helping patients at a local hospital, as reported by NPR. During one shift, she was helping to transfer an obese patient to her bed when she experienced shooting nerve pain down her back. She immediately reported the injury to hospital officials. Over the next few months, the nurse strained and injured her back repeatedly. After nine months, the nurse underwent a back procedure where a surgeon constructed a metal cage to support her spine. When the nurse went to file for workers' compensation benefits to help with costly medical expenses and lost wages from work, her claim was denied. The hospital claimed that the nurse's back injuries were not related to her job, but stemmed from activities that she engaged in during her personal life.

Workers' compensation

According to the Colorado Workers' Compensation Rules of Procedure, employees are able to dispute a denial of their workers' compensation benefits. Mediation, settlement conferences and arbitration may be used to resolve the dispute. There is a restricted amount of time given to workers who wish to file an appeal in Colorado.

Fighting for what is fair

If you feel as though you have been unjustly denied workers' compensation benefits, you may want to speak to an established attorney in Colorado. A knowledgeable lawyer who understands state and federal workers' compensation laws will listen to the specific details of your case and help you choose the best course of action.

Keywords: back, injury, nursing, workers' compensation