An expected 1.1 million people will be employed as home healthcare workers by 2028, and the rate of growth for these positions is above the national average. For seniors and those with chronic conditions, there is a high need and desire to be at home when receiving care. But for home healthcare workers, working in someone’s home presents unique challenges and hazards when it comes to being injured on the job.
Home healthcare workers provide a wide range of services, from personal care such as bathing to daily living tasks such as cooking and cleaning to medical services such as medication administration, wound care, vital readings and physical therapy exercises. These workers may be employed by an agency or may be independent contractors hired directly by a patient, sometimes through matching websites like Care.com.
Common Injuries in Home Healthcare
Back Injuries, Sprains and Strains
Home healthcare workers may be required to move or lift a patient, often without the help of another person. Heavy lifting and awkward postures create a high risk for musculoskeletal disorders.
Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens and Needlestick Injuries
Patient homes are far from hospital or healthcare settings, so it's not uncommon for needles and sharps to not be disposed of properly. When a healthcare worker enters the home, they are at risk of getting stuck by a sharp object laying around. When administering an injection, a healthcare worker can be distracted by pets or children running around the area.
Injuries Sustained in Car Accidents
Many at home healthcare workers drive from one patient home to the next throughout their shift. The frequency at which the worker is driving along with the stress of getting from one place to the next makes for a higher risk of a car accident in a work vehicle or their own. In winter weather, a healthcare professional may need to get to the patient’s home regardless of driving conditions.
Injuries from Patient or Family Violence
Injuries from violence could be minor to severe physical injury as well as psychological trauma. Home healthcare workers may need to travel to high crime areas and are at risk of violence getting to the patient’s home. Once inside the home, a variety of factors can lead to verbal abuse and the threat or actual occurrence of physical violence.
Slip and Fall Injuries
There may be many hazards within a patient’s home that could cause a slip and fall accident. Whether it's a poorly maintained parking lot at an apartment complex or jagged carpet within the home, home healthcare workers have little control over the environment in which they are encountering.
Workers Compensation for Home Healthcare Worker Injuries
When you’re injured on the job, often workers compensation can cover medical bills and lost wages. Most home healthcare agencies would be required to have workers compensation insurance. When home healthcare workers are independent contractors or working directly for the patient, the laws vary by state and by circumstance.
In New Jersey, household employers are required to have workers compensation insurance for all part-time and full-time employees. Often, the workers compensation insurance is part of their homeowners insurance policy.
If you believe you are entitled to workers compensation benefits, you have the right to file a claim after suffering a work-related injury. However, the process of actually going through the requirements for a workers comp claim in New Jersey can be challenging or you may be denied. An experienced workers comp attorney can handle your case and make sure you get the benefits you need to recover from your injury and get back to work.
What If Your Patient or Client Doesn’t Have Workers Compensation?
If the patient does not have workers compensation insurance, it still may be possible to file a claim. Every case is unique and there may be many ways to seek compensation for your injuries. A personal injury attorney can advise you of your options and file a claim on your behalf.
Brandon J. Broderick, Workers Compensation and Personal Injury Lawyers
At Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney at Law, we are dedicated to assisting clients throughout New Jersey and New York with their workers injury cases. We have years of experience and the extensive resources you need to secure a fair case result. If you’ve been injured, contact us immediately to understand your options.