Nursing has long been considered a stable, well-paying career. Year after year, labor experts, schools, guidance counselors, and others, have steered people into the field and promised continued growth in the number of available jobs and in salaries. However, nurses face the same challenges as employees in any field. One such challenge that seems to be occurring more frequently within the medical field are employers closing down or being bought out by larger medical groups. When it comes to workplace injuries, nurses and others who work in a direct care setting may be especially prone to on-the-job injury, and many such injuries occur over the course of years.
What happens when healthcare workers are injured and their employer closes down or gets bought out?
Under the Massachusetts workers’ compensation laws, which provides injured workers with medical treatment and weekly paychecks, employers are required to provide workers’ compensation insurance coverage. In general, the workers’ compensation insurance that employers pay for cover the employer for injuries that occur during a particular period of time. Even if the employer is no longer in business, whether it closes down, gets bought, or changes its name, the insurance policy continues to stay in effect for whatever period of time it covers.
So, for example, if a nurse is kicked by a patient or tears a ligament while lifting a patient, an attorney can file claim for workers’ compensation against the insurance policy that was in effect on the day of the injury, even if the hospital where it happened goes out of business.
In the case of repetitive trauma or degenerative injuries, such as carpal tunnel, tennis elbow, or degenerative joint disease, claims can likewise be filed against the employer’s insurance policy that was in effect on the employee’s last date worked. For example, many nurses use their left arm to elevate patients’ limbs and use their right hand to administer injections or perform tests. Those who do sometimes develop left shoulder and right hand injuries, and can file workers’ compensation claims even after the employer closes down.
In most cases, an attorney can help injured workers file claims long after the employer closes its doors, but it is always best to report injuries as soon as possible, and file claims immediately. If you work in the medical profession and are facing closure, downsizing, or buyouts, do not wait to discuss work-related injuries with your physician or to contact an attorney for a consultation.
I am available for free consultations by phone at 508-822-2000, or in person at any one of our offices.
Steven C. Zoni, Esq.