Nursing is a strenuous and stressful profession. Nurses are expected to be hardworking, patient, knowledgeable, kind and tireless. For most nurses, the most rewarding aspect of the job is the emotional satisfaction that they get from seeing patients walk out of the hospital healthier than when they walked in. However, it is their dedication and commitment to the job often combined with the apathy of their employers that put nurses at risk for a wide range of injuries.
If you have been injured at work in an accident that was due to no fault of yours, you may be eligible to file a nursing injury claim for compensation.
Common Risks That Nurses Face At Work
Nurses typically face two types of injury risks at work – one is from one-off accidents and the other from ongoing situations.
Injuries caused by one-off accidents might include:
- Sharps or needlestick injuries;
- Slipping injuries from wet surfaces;
- Tripping injuries from things left lying carelessly around on the floor;
- Assault by a patient or patient’s family;
- Injury caused by equipment that is faulty or not inspected and maintained on schedule.
Injuries caused by ongoing situations may include:
- Repetitive strain injury from having to perform the same procedures repeatedly without a proper break in between tasks;
- Work-related stress from working in a high-stress department such as the ICU or ER for prolonged periods of time without getting a proper replacement;
- Sleep deprivation and fatigue from working double shifts several times a week;
- Upper limb disorders from having to maintain a rigid or awkward posture for long periods of time;
- Muscular injuries or back injuries at work from lifting or moving heavy patients without any help.
Employers’ Responsibilities Towards Nurses Health And Safety
As in any other workplace, employers have a legal duty of care towards nurses that they employ. This means they are legally required to conduct a thorough risk analysis of the workplace and accordingly put measures in place to mitigate these risks. If they fail to do this and you’re injured at work because of their negligence you could file a nursing injury claim for compensation.
Specific safety measures may vary depending on the type of workplace but in general, employers are required to:
- Provide adequate training to all nurses;
- Develop a reasonable work schedule that allows nurses to get adequate breaks;
- Rotate staff so that all nurses get sufficient time off from work to rest and de-stress;
- Create appropriately designed work stations so there is a place for everything and everything has a place;
- Organise regular refresher courses for nurses especially on areas such as how to use equipment safely and correct postures to minimise risk of muscular injuries;
- Inform nurses immediately in case of outbreaks of contagious diseases and educate them regarding preventive measures;
- Provide all nurses with proper personal protection gear.
If your employer failed in their duty of care to you and you are injured as a result of this negligence, you may have cause to file a claim for compensation.
What You Should Do If You’re Injured At Work
If you were injured in a one-off accident, you should:
- Seek medical treatment and keep a record of the doctor’s diagnosis and prescription;
- Report the accident to your immediate superior or manager;
- Complete an accident form and also file a formal report in the accident book providing a detailed account of the accident and your injuries;
- Get photographs of the accident site showing the hazard that caused the accident, whether it is an obstacle that you tripped over, a faulty device, or a wet surface, etc;
- Get photographs of your injuries;
- Get the contact details of any other staff who witnessed the accident.
If your injuries are the result of an ongoing situation, you will have to establish cause and show that your injuries were due to your employer’s negligence.
Filing A Nursing Injury Claim
Filing a successful nursing injury claim with no knowledge of personal injury law can be notoriously difficult. You have to first be able to prove that your somebody else such as your employer was negligent and this negligence resulted in your injuries. To be able to do this successfully, you have to be well versed in personal injury law, especially since you may have to argue against your employer’s team of experienced lawyers. Another drawback to fighting a nursing injury claim on your own is that it can leave you with little or no time to attend to your injuries or to your other personal or professional commitments. Last but not least is the restrictive time limit within which you must file your claim in court. If you’re unsure if the time limit has passed in which you can file a claim for compensation, please contact us and a solicitor will be able to advise.
The best way to avoid all of these pitfalls and increase your odds of filing a successful claim is by having a personal injury solicitor to represent you. Experienced personal injury solicitors will be able to tell you whether you have sufficient grounds for claiming compensation, and if you do, they will offer to represent you on the basis of a No Win No Fee agreement.
In a typical No Win No Fee personal injury claim your solicitor/ law firm will bear all the expenses related to your claim as it proceeds. You do not pay any upfront fees, and if you lose your claim you do not have to pay anything at all so your financial risk is zero. You only cover the legal expenses if your nursing accident claim is successful and you are awarded compensation. Generally, you will pay an agreed percentage of your award which is taken directly from the compensation settlement. The exact amount and the mode of payment will be outlined in the No Win No Fee agreement.
Most solicitors also offer a no-obligation, complimentary first consultation, which allows you to talk to them and get their legal advice for free. This is a great way to get two or three opinions before choosing a personal injury solicitor that you think is best for your nursing injury claim.