We often hear of injured employees when there is a traumatic work site event, such as a crane falling on a construction worker, or an explosion in an oil refinery. However, even injuries that seem small or insignificant can lead to serious complications and life-altering consequences.
Such a case occurred in Colorado this spring, when Joseph Williams, an employee at a Home Depot store noticed a slight popping noise in his knee while assisting a customer during his shift. Mr. Williams was not concerned with what he thought was a minor injury, until the next day when a high fever set in. While being treated at a local medical center for the flu, his test results were examined by a workers' compensation physician who had him admitted to the University of Colorado Hospital. He was treated for a step infection in his knee and diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis (a flesh eating bacteria).
Since his diagnosis, Joseph Williams has faced extensive medical treatment, including skin grafts, and the road to recovery will be a long one. Mr. Williams will need to continue weekly treatments for at least a year. Though the Williams family was fortunate, he was diagnosed and received treatment for his dangerous illness, the family now faces mounting medical bills for ongoing care.
The family is without major medical coverage and is pursuing a workers' compensation claim to receive benefits for his injuries.
Importance of Treating and Reporting Injuries
Mr. Williams could have just as easily remained undiagnosed until it was too late. Necrotizing fasciitis is a serious infection that often stems from an insignificant injury, like a small cut or bruise. Left untreated or caught too late, the quickly spreading flesh-eating disease often leads to amputation. For this reason, any injury should be taken seriously and treatment should be sought out as soon as possible. Even if the injury is in fact minor, the consequence of delaying treatment of a serious injury is not worth the risk.
If an individual is injured while on the job, treatment should be sought and the injury should also be reported to the employer. An injured worker may be entitled to workers' compensation benefits for medical bills, treatment and lost wages. Speak to a workers' compensation attorney to find out more about your rights and discuss any benefit claims.