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Getting Back to Work After a Serious Hand Injury

Hand injuries can be crippling, and for anyone who works with their hands—most people—such injuries can have serious career consequences. If the injury happened at work, workers’ compensation insurance should cover not just medical costs, but rehabilitation and potentially some retraining as well. For people who suffer hand injuries outside of work, the path can be more difficult.

Recovering from hand injuries is a long process

The hand is enormously complex, and injuries to it can be just as complicated. Even an invisible injury like a torn tendon or carpal tunnel can have long-term consequences. But broken bones and amputations are common as well. One of the challenges of recovering from a major hand injury is that many factors can cause recovery to go more slowly than anticipated, or not be as successful as hoped. Many types of injuries lead to chronic conditions that limit the injured hand’s functions and affect an individual’s ability to work.

Workers’ comp and hand injuries

Because workers’ compensation is a no-fault insurance system, workers who are injured on the job need to meet a fairly low threshold to get coverage for an injury. By law an employer is required to provide workers’ compensation insurance to all of its employees and qualified contractors. For an injury to be covered it must have arisen out of and in the course of the worker’s employment. Hand injuries on the job are no different from other types of work-related injury as far as coverage is concerned.

Lasting hand injuries often force people to change the kind of work they do. Workers’ compensation may cover retraining programs where a doctor has imposed permanent work restrictions related to the injury and the employer has not offered permanent light duty work. The success of a retraining program depends on many factors, only some of which are within the worker’s control. But it can offer a way to change careers in response to an injury that otherwise could leave the worker unemployed for the long term.

Injuries outside of work

One hopes that an individual who causes his or her own hand injury has insurance to cover the injury and its consequences. Of course, as we all know many people lack such insurance, and for them the cost of such injuries can be enormous.

Someone who suffers a hand injury as a consequence of another person’s negligence may have the option of filing a personal injury lawsuit to recover whatever costs an insurer won’t cover. Quite often these include things like job retraining, prosthetics, and physical therapy. Unlike workers’ compensation insurance, a lawsuit can also recover compensation for pain, mental anguish, and other forms of damage that a hand injury often brings.

GGRM is a Las Vegas workers’ comp and personal injury law firm

If you have suffered a serious hand injury and you think you have not received fair compensation, whether from the responsible employer or from a person who caused the injury, it’s important to talk to an attorney right away. The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury and workers’ compensation cases for over 45 years. For a free attorney consultation about your case, call us today at 702-388-4476 or through our contacts page.

Workers’ Compensation and Depression

Depression is a common side effect of injuries. It can arise as a consequence of the injured person’s changed circumstances—lost enjoyment, sleep problems, diminished career prospects—or it can be a side effect of medications. Like any mental illness, depression can be a difficult condition to reliably prove and document for legal purposes. This includes incorporating it into a workers’ compensation claim.

A baseline requirement for an injury to be covered by workers’ compensation is that it must have arisen out of or in the course of the worker’s employment. When a person suffers mental health problems as a consequence of work-related events, establishing a causal link between work and the illness can take special care. In the case of depression, showing that it arose specifically because of work, or a work-related injury, may be challenging if the person also suffered depression for reasons having nothing to do with work. Someone with a history of depression may have a more difficult time getting coverage.

The problem of proof is an advantage for insurers, who will require injured workers to undergo “independent” evaluations that are often conducted by professionals who have a financial interest in making diagnoses that are favorable to the insurer. Unlike a broken bone, depression can’t be found in a scan or observed in a person’s physical movements. Instead, it has to be evaluated by questioning the patient and potentially the patient’s family members, and may be interpreted according to an evaluator’s subjective opinions.

The link between work and depression may be easier to establish if the worker suffering depression can point to a specific event that triggered it. If a physical injury at work leads to depression, that causal link may help. Depression that can be linked to a particular pain medication prescribed as part of a treatment plan may also be easier to link to work. Nevada law also has specific allowance for mental illness resulting from “extreme stress in times of danger” at work, which may apply if a worker suffers depression due to witnessing or suffering a particularly shocking circumstance on the job, such as a violent accident.

Someone suffering from depression in connection with a work-related incident should not be discouraged from exploring a workers’ compensation claim to cover treatment costs. At Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez we have represented clients in workers’ compensation matters for more than 45 years. For a free attorney consultation about your circumstances call us today at 702-388-4476 or reach us through our contact page.