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Can I Recover Workers’ Comp Benefits for a Heat-Related Injury?

Sep 10, 2020 | Workers' Compensation

construction worker in vest at construction site

You never know how long you may be unable to work due to a heat-related injury. Even if you are eligible for workers’ compensation, these benefits do not cover all your lost earnings while you are unable to work in the same capacity as before.

That is why, if your job puts you at high risk for heat-related injury or illness, it is important to take steps to protect yourself. Below, learn more about workers’ comp benefits for heat-related illnesses and what you can do to lessen the risk for injury while working in the heat.

If an injury occurs, our Richmond workers’ compensation lawyers may be able to help you pursue workers’ compensation benefits. We have helped many employees recover benefits for their injuries.

Workers’ Compensation and Heat-Related Illness

If you suffer an injury while doing your work, you are likely eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits, even if the injury was your fault. For example, if you pushed yourself too hard doing your job and this resulted in heat stroke or heat exhaustion that prevents you from working for more than seven days, you may be eligible for temporary partial disability benefits.

One of the main challenges with recovering compensation for a heat-related illness is proving the injury is work-related. Your employer or its workers’ compensation insurer may claim you only suffered heat-related illness because of a preexisting condition (such as those who are overweight or suffer from heart issues are more prone to heat-related illness).

Virginia’s workers’ compensation system does not cover preexisting injuries, unless you can prove your preexisting injury was aggravated by the demands of your job.

These are all reasons you should strongly consider seeking representation from a qualified attorney who can help you gather the medical documentation you need to prove your claim. Even if you have already filed your claim, Geoff McDonald & Associates may be able to help you.

Dangers of Working in the Heat

There are many jobs that require people to work outside, even in extreme cold or heat. For example, construction workers often spend many hours working outdoors. Farmers and others who work in agriculture often spend a significant amount of time outdoors. Oil and gas well operators, landscapers and those who work in mail and package delivery are also at risk for heat-related illness.

Some of the most common heat-related illnesses these workers suffer include:

Heat Exhaustion

When your body overheats, you may experience heavy sweating, increased heart rate and a lowering of your blood pressure. Low blood pressure can result in dizziness, particularly when standing up.

Heat exhaustion can turn into heatstroke if you are not careful. If you experience symptoms of heat exhaustion, it is important to take a break, get out of the heat and drink water.

Heatstroke

This occurs when your body temperature rises above 104 degrees. Without treatment, this can cause damage to your brain, muscles, heart and kidneys. The longer you wait to seek treatment, the worse the damage can be.

Heat Cramps

These are muscle cramps caused by exposure to intense heat. The muscles in your calves, thighs and shoulders are most susceptible to heat cramps. The cramps are brief, involuntary, and go away on their own. However, if you begin feeling nauseous, dizzy or short of breath, you need medical treatment.

Heat Rash

This occurs when sweat is trapped under the skin due to blocked pores or sweat ducts. You may notice superficial blisters or deep, red lumps. Sometimes heat rash can be extremely itchy. If there is increasing pain, swelling or redness, victims should seek medical treatment.

What Can You Do to Stay Safe?

Staying hydrated is one of the keys to avoiding heat-related illness. This includes drinking water or a sports drink before going into the heat and drinking water or sports drinks throughout the day. You should not wait until you are thirsty to drink water.

Your employer can schedule outdoor work periods for early in the morning or times when it is not as hot. Despite the pressure to complete work and meet deadlines, shorter shifts can be an important step for keeping workers safe.

Employers should also keep an eye on employees to try to ensure they are taking regular breaks in the shade or away from the heat. When possible, taking a break in air conditioning can be very helpful.

Employees should watch each other for signs of heat-related illness. Symptoms should be reported right away to help prevent them from worsening.

Have Questions? Give Us a Call for Legal Help

We know employees often have many questions after suffering a work-related injury, including whether they are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits and how much compensation they may receive.

Our attorneys offer a free, no-obligation legal consultation to discuss the situation with you. We can explain if you may have a valid claim and discuss how we may be able to assist you. We are not paid for providing legal help unless you receive benefits.

CEO and President Attorney Geoff McDonald is a member of the National Trial Lawyers – Top 100 and the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association.

Geoff McDonald and Associates: 866-369-9051.

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