According to the CDC, 2000 workers suffer an eye injury every day in the US. Of those, 100 injured workers will miss two or more days of work – that’s thousands of eye injuries at work every day. Even a small amount of trauma to the eye can cause devastating injuries resulting in impaired sight and even blindness. If you’ve suffered an eye injury at work, you may be eligible to file a claim and receive workers compensation benefits.
Workplace Eye Injury and Illness at a Glance
Eye injury and disease occur most frequently to workers in the manufacturing, construction and mining industries. According to the CDC, eye injuries typically happen in on these circumstances:
- Striking or scraping from small fragments or particles striking or scraping the eye, such as: dust, cement pieces, metal slivers, and wood chips. These materials are often made airborne by tools or weather conditions like wind. In the event a large object hits a workers’ head, injuries from head or brain trauma can also cause serious injury to the eyeball or socket.
- Penetration from flying objects like nails, staples, or slivers of wood or metal can go through the eyeball and result in a permanent loss of vision.
- Chemical and thermal burns from toxic chemicals can cause chemical burns to the eyes. Thermal burns from intense heat to the eye also can happen.
- Eye disease can occur when serious viruses and disease enter through the eye. Hepatitis and HIV can both be transmitted through fluid in the eye, if protective eye wear isn’t used.
Many eye injuries at work can be prevented through the use of protective eyewear and safety practices.
What to Do If You Suffered an Eye Injury at Work
The severity of an eye injury suffered in a fall can be extensive but you may not always know how severe the injury is at first. In either case, it's important to both report the accident to your employer as soon as possible and seek medical attention.
Don’t be tempted to ignore or downplay your injuries and jump right back into work. Put your health first and seek medical attention. Even if you don’t think your injuries are severe, getting medical attention early can be critical to proving your case later.
Most states have time limits for reporting workplace accidents to your employer. Make sure to follow your company’s procedures and report the accident promptly. Failure to report the accident may lead to a claim denial down the road.
After you report the accident and file for workers compensation, your employer or their insurance company may require you to get an Independent Medical Exam (IME) or require medical authorization for treatment. For instance, your care may require you to see a specialist. In these cases, the insurance company (or employer) may require medical treatment authorization before you can receive treatment -- or be left paying the costs out-of-pocket.
If your injuries require you to be away from work for more than a few days, are severe or your employer is refusing to file a workers compensation claim, contact a workers comp attorney. While the process for receiving workers comp benefits may seem straightforward, it can be challenging to receive full and fair compensation for your injuries. A workers comp lawyer will protect your rights and fight for your best interest.
Workers Comp Benefits for Eye Injuries and Disease
Workers compensation provides many types of benefits to injured workers, regardless of fault. These benefits include medical benefits, which pay for hospital and healthcare bills as a result of the injury or illness, as well as a portion of lost income for the period in which the employee cannot work. In many states, the benefits have maximum caps. In New Jersey, for instance, workers compensation benefits are 70% of the workers’ weekly pay, up to the state maximum. For 2021, the maximum is $969/week.
Depending on the severity of the injury or illness, workers compensation benefits can be temporary or permanent and may include the full benefit amount or a partial amount. For eye injuries, the benefit payments will also depend on the severity of injury and long-term prognosis. Potential benefit types include:
- Compensation for Medical Expenses: Covers medical treatment, surgeries, prescription medications, rehabilitation services and devices.
- Permanent Disability: If your injury leaves you unable to ever return to work, you can file a claim for permanent disability. Permanent disability may be partial or full, depending on the extent of the injuries.
- Temporary Disability: You may be able to receive a portion of the wages of your average weekly amount if your temporary disability claim is approved.
Get Help for your Workers Compensation Claim
If you or a loved one suffered an eye injury at work, it's in your best interest to discuss your case with an experienced workers comp lawyer. At Brandon J. Broderick, Attorney at Law, our team offers expertise in workers compensation and employment law. Our compassionate client care and tenacious negotiation can get you the compensation you are entitled to.
Contact us immediately for a free consultation to understand your options.