If a well-meaning coworker tries to help you when you get injured at work but ends up making your injury worse, you are in a tough position. On one hand, you probably do not want to get your coworker in trouble for aggravating your injury. But on the other hand, you have expensive medical bills to pay and are losing wages too.
Reporting Your Injury When a Coworker Made It Worse
Although keeping your coworker out of trouble is a nice impulse, it is better to report exactly what happened to your employer and the workers’ compensation insurance company. If you leave out mention of what your coworker did, you could risk having your workers’ comp benefits denied.
Due to your coworker’s actions, your injury may be worse than can be explained by a workplace incident, and so the insurance company may start asking questions. If someone discloses that your coworker actually made your injury worse (perhaps by administering first aid incorrectly or by trying to rescue you), the insurer will know that you did not report everything that happened. Then it will start to question the rest of your report and use it as a reason to deny benefits.
Recovering Benefits for an Aggravated Injury
If the well-meaning coworker made your injury a lot worse, you likely can recover benefits for the effects of both the original injury and the aggravated one. For example, you may have suffered a neck strain in a fall. But your coworker moved your head and neck before paramedics could stabilize it, leading to a herniated disc or worse.
First, it is hard to separate the original injury from the aggravated one when they occurred close in time before a medical professional could examine you. You might have had a herniated disc from the original fall, not your coworker’s actions. As a result, the insurance company could have a difficult argument that treatment for the herniation should not be covered.
Second, your aggravated injury happened in the course of your employment, just as the original injury did. Thus, both injuries should be covered by workers’ compensation. You also could have a cause of action against the coworker for personal injuries, although the insurer would argue that workers’ compensation is the exclusive remedy that you can seek.
If you are dealing with the effects of a workplace injury that your coworker made worse, you may need legal representation. A lawyer familiar with workers’ compensation and personal injury cases can help you figure out how to move forward.
Need help getting workers’ compensation for your injury and have a potential personal injury case too? 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.