Episode 45: Calloway County workers’ compensation attorney Jeff Roberts discusses issues resulting from an electrical injury sustained on the job. Jeff also maintains an office in Christian County to better serve clients in that area of Western Kentucky.
Lockout Tagout Failures
Any time someone is working on a machine, the electrical power should be disconnected for safety purposes. The maintenance worker normally locks the power switch and attaches a tag with his/her name. This is meant to prevent someone else from accidentally turning the power on or turning it on without realizing it’s currently under repair. This could have extremely dangerous, or fatal, results for the maintenance worker. An electrical injury sustained on the job should never happen, if the safety protocols are followed.
There can be situation in which the company fails to properly require lockout tagout as part of their maintenance and safety programs. Even if they do, it’s possible the employees are not properly trained in the use of the safety measure.
People often think about electrical burns when this type of injury occurs. However, it’s fairly common for the injured worker to experience neurological damage as a result of the electrical shock. There is a range of ways the person may be affected. Jeff recalls clients he’s represented who had difficulty walking due to an electrical injury sustained on the job. Nerve damage will often affect the injured worker’s extremities.
Electrical shocks can result in brain damage. An injured worker may have trouble speaking, experience tremors, as well as have cognitive difficulties. These injuries can be life-altering or fatal.
Depending upon the amount of nerve damage, a person is also at risk of losing the ability to use the limb or part of a limb. It could be either partial or total loss of use. Either case could be career-ending for the worker.
Unfortunately for some injured workers, there can also be severe psychological affects, resulting from the electrical injury. Jeff represented a client who was experiencing problems related to the fact that they couldn’t do what they used to do. Psychological issues such as depression, anxiety and a desire to isolate themselves from others. In the most severe cases, mental health issues may also lead to thoughts of suicide.
Does Kentucky Workers’ Comp Cover the Psychological Issues?
Jeff explains that Kentucky’s workers’ compensation law covers treatment for psychological issues, if they are associated with a physical injury or trauma.
The process is similar to other types of workers’ comp injury treatments. The initial objective is to help the worker achieve the best level of recovery for the psychological condition. Often this involves treatment by both a psychologist and psychiatrist. The treatment may involve both counseling and medication. Psychological care can take place at the same time the injured worker is receiving medical treatment for the neurological injuries, burns and other conditions.
Once the patient has reached the maximum recovery levels, he/she will be evaluated to determine the required work restrictions and impairment rating.
Important Comments about Psychological Issues
Jeff would like to take a minute to stress the importance of seeking mental health treatment. Being a tough guy during your coping process and recovery process isn’t the right route. Mental health issues can be serious, but an experienced professional can help you to make significant process.
Often, workers who are experiencing mental health problems from an electrical injury sustained on the job may not notice the signs or the extent of the problems. Jeff explains that it’s often a spouse or other family member who begins to notice a change in mood, outlook or ability. These are important signals that the injured person should seek the help of a qualified mental health professional. Don’t try to endure this by yourself. There’s no shame in seeking help.
Dealing with an Electrical Injury to the Body
A serious electrical injury may require a number of surgeries and on-going treatment in an attempt to help the injured person reach maximum medical improvement (MMI). Jeff has discussed MMI in previous podcast episodes. This is the term used once the injured person reaches a plateau in their recovery, from medical treatments (i.e. surgeries). While some treatment may be on-going, the expected improvement from this point is not expected to be significant. It can take a long time to reach MMI.
Kentucky’s Lifetime Medical Benefit for Workers’ Compensation
Jeff has 30 years of experience handling workers’ comp cases. For the majority of that time, lifetime medical treatment was part of the law. It will still need to be proven that the treatment is reasonable and necessary to treat the work-related injury.
In July 14th of 2018, the law changed. Medical treatment is now limited to 15 years, with the potential for lifetime medical benefits. The injured worker will have to petition for lifetime benefits after the first 15 years. The judge will make a determination.
Workers who were awarded lifetime medical benefits, prior to July 14th of 2018 are unaffected by this change.
There is going to be a major challenge keeping up with the current address and contact information of workers who were severely injured 15 year prior. People move. Phone numbers change and email address change. There will be a risk to that worker of not receiving communication from the Department of Workers’ Claims. This could mean workers exceed the 15-year limit and miss the deadline to petition for lifetime medical benefits for their injuries, including an electrical injury sustained on the job.
The worker needs to notify the Department of Workers’ Claims, if any contact information changes.
Seek Medical Treatment for an Electrical Shock
Getting the right medical treatment is extremely important, even if your injuries don’t seem to be severe. Remember, you are required to notify your supervisor that you’ve been injured on the job.
Don’t wait to seek medical treatment. You may not notice the extent of the injury. If may be impacting your reflexes, your speech, your mood or even your general outlook on life. A trained medical professional may be able to spot medical and/or psychological injuries, even when you don’t.
Understand, however, you have the right to choose your doctor to treat the injury. This is important.
Jeff Roberts Represents Injured Clients Throughout Kentucky
With offices located in Calloway County and now Christian County, Jeff has a history of representing personal injury clients, workers’ compensation clients and social security disability clients across the state. He’s represented clients from Paducah, Bowling Green, Louisville, Covington, Whitesville and many other Kentucky locations. He’s not just a Western Kentucky injury attorney.
We hope you found this episode insightful and helpful. Thank you for listening!
Is It Time to Speak with an Attorney about Your Electrical Injury Claim?
The office phone number is (270) 753-0053 or toll free at 800-844-5108. For more information, visit www.JeffRobertsLaw.com. This podcast is meant to provide information and is not legal advice. Jeff’s principal office is located at 509 Main Street, Murray, Kentucky. Co-host Jim Ray is a non-attorney spokesperson. This is an advertisement.