Oh No, We're Back at Work! What That Means for Workers' Comp Claims
COVID-19 has been devastating on so many levels. Over four million are dead worldwide. Businesses have shuttered. Jobs have been eliminated. Our economy has stumbled and strained to adjust to new demands. The worldwide supply chains have been disrupted. And the damaging impact and effects continue. New variants of the virus have been identified and are spreading. Additional mutations are expected. Incomplete and ineffective immunization efforts have frustrated efforts to get the virus under control. Frustrations with everything associated with or caused directly or indirectly by the virus are now an epidemic.
Despite these obstacles, our nation and local economy have made great strides in overcoming many challenges and are humming. Many displaced employees are back at work, though some are in new fields, doing new jobs, or working with a new employer.
Unfortunately, the conditions are right for an increase in on-the-job injuries:
Workers returning to their old jobs are out of practice. Their habitual routines have been disrupted which increases the likelihood of mistakes and injuries.
Many workplaces have been altered because of the pandemic. New or altered equipment, processes, and employees also heighten the risk of workplace accidents and injuries.
A reopening economy also means an increased demand for goods and services, thus placing additional stresses on the productivity and efficiencies of those providing them. This can also mean less focus on safety.
In addition, many find themselves in new jobs, unfamiliar with the work processes, the equipment, safety protocols, accident prevention, and are struggling to keep up with the new demands on them and their employer.
Fortunately, the law provides recourse for workers injured on the job.
Medical care, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and compensation for lost wages and reduced earning ability are all sometimes necessary and thankfully available to hurt employees under Alabama law. An injured worker may have other claims as well, for example, if his employer takes detrimental actions against him as the result of a workers’ compensation claim or the fact that one could be made. There could be other claims, depending on what caused the injury. For example, if a safety device was removed or there was some other alteration to the equipment which causes the injury. An employee might also have a claim for a defective product or condition which may have caused the injury, depending on where or how it occurred.