Workers who have hidden disabilities resulting from workplace injuries may need medical care and time off work to recover. These workers could face stigma in the workplace because other employees and managers cannot see their injuries and do not understand why they need leave. Despite this issue, workers with hidden disabilities can still receive workers’ compensation.
Types of hidden disabilities and hidden injuries that workers may have include:
- Hearing loss
- Visual impairment
- Heart problems
- Breathing difficulties such as work-induced asthma
- Depression and anxiety
Minnesota workers’ compensation laws do not distinguish between obvious physical injuries and hidden injuries. Nearly any work-related injury is compensable. Unfortunately, workers who do not have obvious injuries do not always report them, for several reasons:
- They do not know they have been injured
- Fear of stigma from coworkers and managers
- Workplace culture discriminating against workers with disabilities
- Wanting to get back to work and work through the pain
- They do not know they could receive benefits, including free medical care
Workers with hidden disabilities from work-related accidents should report their injuries to managers as soon as possible. Even if they discover an injury long after it initially occurred, making a report is key to receiving benefits.
If you have a hidden injury, you could face obstacles in getting benefits because the employer or the insurance company may not believe you are injured. Have your doctor send the insurance company any bills for services, and make sure you explain your diagnosis. You should give your employer any doctor’s notes that place you on leave or list your restrictions.
For workers with disabilities not caused by work, getting help could be even harder. You should determine if you have disability insurance coverage through work that could give you income if you need to take leave. If you have medical restrictions affecting your ability to perform your job duties, talk to your employer. The Americans with Disabilities Act protects workers with some disabilities who need accommodations at work. If your disability qualifies, your employer will need to engage in an interactive process with you to modify your job position or place you in another position. You may need an employment lawyer to help.
Do you have a hidden work-related disability and costly medical bills? Joe Osterbauer, Esq. and the Osterbauer Law Firm stand up for injured Minnesota workers’ rights. Joe’s 27 years of workers’ compensation experience and his team’s speedy service combine to get clients the results they need. To schedule a free consultation, visit Osterbauer Law Firm online or call Joe’s office at (612) 334-3434.