Teachers help our country become a better place by education our children and giving them hope for the future. While there are many rewarding sides to teaching, there are physical risks and a great deal of stresses. These risks and stresses can lead to accidents and illnesses. Several questions also arise in teaching claims such as whether claims can be made if you get hurt in after-school and away-from the school activities. In addition, with regard to public schools, which are typically funded by cities and counties, settlement may be out of the question. This is because for the most part— with some exceptions— municipalities and public entities tend to shy away from settling workers comp cases. It really depends how the public entity is insured and whether there are funds set aside to settle cases.
Physical injuries that can lead to teacher workers’ compensation claims in North Carolina and in Virginia
Some of the ways teachers can hurt while teaching include:
- Slip and fall accidents. Teachers can slip, trip, or fall in a lot of different ways. There’s a lot of traffic among students, teachers, and even parents. This puts a lot of strain on physical resources. Tiles can be become cracked or broken, carpets can tear, and outdoor lighting may not work which can make it hard to see. Students often leave books on floors. Locker contents can spill. Bathrooms can become messy. Kitchen areas often become wet and dangerous. Just one bad slip or trip can cause broken bones, spinal cord damage, chronic pain, muscle damage, torn ligaments, and other injuries. Bad falls can even result in a traumatic brain injury.
- Exposure to toxic chemicals and substances. Some old schools still have asbestos which can cause life-threatening illnesses. Many schools have mold and dust which can make it hard to breathe. Teachers may suffer rashes, headaches, and other illnesses due to the environment they work in. In severe cases, teachers may even be diagnosed with cancer. Teachers who acquire illnesses may have the right to workers’ compensation benefits based on having an occupational disease; however, these claims can be difficult to prove without the proper proof. This proof tends to come in the form of air samples of measurements of these substances, as well as definitive statements from a qualified doctor that the illness of the worker is from exposure at the job site.
- Repetitive stress issues. Teaching involves different types of repetitive stresses such as constantly writing on chalkboards, using computers on a daily basis, marking papers, and other repeated actions. These stresses can cause carpal tunnel syndrome requiring the teacher to take off from work while he/she receives treatment. Other complications include bursitis (inflammation), tendinitis, and rotator cuff injuries. Repetitive stress injuries may be compensable if the worker, with the help of a skilled workers’ compensation lawyer can show:
- That the stresses were due to work conditions and not home or other conditions
- That the school environment contributed to their repetitive stress injuries and
- That the risk of developing repetitive stress injuries were more than the general public typically faces
- Injuries that are unique to the courses being taught. Chemistry teachers might have a chemical accident. Driver’s education teachers are always at risk of a student getting into a crash. Physical education teachers constantly risk a pulled muscle, sprained back, or other injury. Teachers who work with after-school musicals can hurt instructing a student how to dance.
- Unusual stresses. Teaching is hard work. There’s constant pressure from parents to want their kids to excel. Often, teachers need to be substitute parents. Many children have emotional problems. Teachers have to make sure their students pass standardized tests. There’s a lot of paperwork. Many days, teachers suffer from depression, frustration, high blood pressure, and anxiety. These stresses can lead to mental health concerns which require the teacher to take time off to rest and get psychological help. Unfortunately, these sorts of things are not typically going to be compensable via workers compensation.
- Violence and physical attacks. Sadly, in some schools, teachers are either attacked directly by disgruntled students or they are hurt trying to break up fights. In many schools, these days, gun violence is a major realistic concern. Teachers may be also be stabbed or kicked. Teachers who are physically attacked or shot have the right to demand workers’ compensation while they tend to their physical and emotional health. Exposure to a violent incident may result in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
- Benefits an injured teacher or a teacher with a work injury or proven occupational illness is entitled to:
Teachers are entitled to the following:
- The cost of all medical treatment including pain doctors, orthopedists, surgeons, hospitals, and other physicians
- The cost to treat with physical therapists that are reasonably required to heal physical injuries
- Payment for psychologists, psychiatrists, and mental health counselors – as reasonably needed
- Generally, 2/3rds of the teacher’s average weekly wages while the teacher is temporarily unable to work for up to 500 weeks.
- Permanent and Total disability payments for life if the teacher can’t return to work, and the injury qualifies as a permanent and total disability case.
- If the teacher is able to return to work, possible additional money if there is a permanent impairment to a ratable body part;
- Mileage reimbursement to and from the medical provider’s offices
Teachers may also be entitled to vocational rehabilitation if they are unable to return to teaching again.
Dependents of teachers who are tragically killed have the right to demand workers’ compensation death benefits.
Some additional teacher workers’ compensation issues
Some additional issues teachers face in claiming North Carolina or Virginia work injury benefits.
- Injuries after-school and away from work. Many teachers work as sports, cultural, and other instructors after school. Many times, these activities take them to other schools and to organizations at places in different counties and even in different states. As a general rule, teachers are entitled to workers’ compensation as long as they were in the employ of the public or private school district when the accident occurred.
- Injures while driving to school. Generally, teachers are not entitled to work injury benefits while they commute to school. Each case is unique. Some exceptions do apply. Injured teachers should speak with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer to learn if they have a claim. For example, a teacher who volunteers to take children home from an after-school baseball game may have a claim if an accident occurs on the way home.
Speak with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer today
Attorney Joe Miller Esq., has helped thousands of injured employees get justice. He’s been a strong advocate for injured workers for more than 25 years. He understands your legal rights and works with your medical doctors, and independent doctors, so you aren’t forced back to work until you’re able to work. For help now and answers to your questions, please call (888) 694-1671 or complete my contact form.