For many people, one of the most gruesome types of injuries that they can imagine involves an injury to the eye. This sensitive area of our body isn’t usually touched (and if it is, only gently)— so the thought of an injury to the eye is cringe-inducing. Yet every single day in the United States, approximately 2,000 workers sustain a job-related eye injury that requires medical treatment.
When a person suffers a work-related injury or develops an illness at work, they may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. An eye injury or vision loss that happens at work will typically qualify a person for workers’ compensation benefits.
In some cases, however, the insurance company may minimize an eye injury to reduce the number of benefits that you are owed. In these situations, a Mt. Holly workers’ compensation lawyer can advocate for you so that you not only are awarded benefits — but that you get the appropriate level of benefits based on the injury that you have suffered.
Common Types of Work-Related Eye Injuries
Eye injuries can happen in any number of ways. While eye injuries are most common in jobs that involve an element of physical labor, they can happen in almost any workplace.
The most common type of eye injury results from small particles or objects (such as dust, cement chips, wood chips, or slivers or metal) striking or scraping the eye. This may happen when these particles fly off of tools, are blown in the wind, or if they fall from above an employee. In some cases, large objects may strike an employee (or a worker might run into an object), causing blunt-force trauma to the eye.
Other types of eye injuries may be caused by:
- Penetration by objects like nails, slivers of wood or metal or staples
- Chemical and thermal burns from industrial chemicals or from the use of high heat (such as in welding)
When an employee suffers any of these types of eye injuries, they may lose their vision entirely (such as if an object penetrates their eye). In other cases, their vision may be compromised for a period of time — or even permanently.
In addition, a worker may acquire an eye disease after being splashed by blood, having droplets from coughing or sneezing fly into their eye, or even just by touching their eyes with a contaminated finger. Eye diseases may result in minor symptoms, such as swelling or irritation, or life-threatening diseases.
Lights can also cause damage to an employee’s eyes. This includes damage from using a computer for an extended period of time, which can cause migraines, nausea, fatigue, and dizziness. Some sources of light — like fluorescent lights, sunlamps, lasers, and even natural sunlight — can also cause eye diseases and disorders, particularly when a worker is overexposed to these lights.
Certain types of workplaces carry a higher risk of eye injuries. Carpenters, assembly line workers, electricians, welders, mechanics, and computer data personnel have high rates of job-related eye injuries.
How You Can Qualify for Workers’ Compensation If You Suffered an Eye Injury at Work?
Most workers who suffer an eye injury at work will be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Under New Jersey law, employees who suffer an on-the-job injury or develop an illness related to their work are eligible for benefits. These benefits may include medical treatment, temporary total compensation benefits, permanent partial compensation benefits, permanent total benefits, and/or death benefits (for dependents of an employee who died from a work-related illness or injury). The value of your workers’ compensation benefits will depend on factors such as the severity of your injury and if you are permanently disabled.
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, which means that you do not have to prove that your employer was at fault for your injury or illness in order to recovery. At the same time, even if you were partially to blame for your eye injury — such as by failing to wear eye protection — you will not be barred from recovering. The system is designed to ensure that workers who are hurt on the job get the medical treatment and monetary benefits that they need.
If you are hurt at work, you should report your injury as soon as possible. This will trigger the employer’s requirement to provide you with a workers’ compensation claim form and instructions for filing a claim. Generally, you will need to demonstrate that you have a specific injury (such as an eye injury) and that your injury was work-related.
In many situations, particularly those that involve a serious injury to the eye, your employer’s insurance company will approve your claim so that you can get treatment and benefits. In some cases, however, the insurer will dispute your claim. They may request that you submit to an independent medical examination (IME), or have you followed to prove that you are exaggerating or making up your injury.
If the insurance company is disputing your claim — or the severity of your injury — you may want to consult with a Mt. Holly workers’ compensation lawyer. An attorney can help you document your injury, prove that it is work-related, and advocate for you through the workers’ compensation system. This may be particularly important if you have suffered an eye injury, which can lead to devastating, life-long effects such as vision loss.
Hurt at Work? We Can Help.
If you have suffered a work-related eye injury, you will likely be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits will help you seek medical treatment, and provide compensation on a temporary, extended, or even permanent basis as you recover from your injury — or if you are unable to return to work because of your eye injury or vision loss.
At Bross & Frankel, we represent clients who have been hurt at work. We are zealous advocates for each of our clients, and pride ourselves on our track record of success. To learn more about how we can help or to schedule a free claim review with a member of our team, contact our office today at (856) 795-8880, or reach out online.