While most people understand the hard work and long hours involved in being a teacher, many do not recognize the many dangers of serious injuries that teachers face on a daily basis. However, working in the classroom involves increasing challenges that put teachers’ health at risk. When teachers must file a workers’ compensation claim for injuries on the job, their claims can become more complicated due to the shorter work year that affects calculation of their benefits. Hiring an experienced workers’ compensation attorney is crucial when making a claim for benefits to ensure that you receive what you are entitled to under the law.
Common Reasons Teachers File Workers’ Compensation Claims
Teachers are exposed to a variety of job risks that can lead to injuries—sometimes causing permanent disabilities or death. Some of the major causes of workplace injuries and workers’ compensation claims include:
- Repetitive stress injuries. One of the most common reasons teachers must file a workers’ compensation claim is for repetitive stress injuries. These are caused when a teacher engages in repetitive movements throughout the day. Writing on a chalkboard, grading papers, and working on a computer are some of the repetitive actions that can lead to carpel tunnel syndrome and tendonitis, which can sometimes cause partial or total permanent disabilities.
- Slip and fall accidents. Spilled food and drinks, waxed floors, and debris and water in the bathrooms are a few of the causes of slip and fall accidents at schools. Given the fast pace of the school day and the need to rush to take a lunch or bathroom break, these dangers are even greater for teachers.
- Toxic exposure. Most people would not associate schools with the risk of toxic exposure. However, schools are not always maintained properly due to budget constraints. Teachers risk developing health conditions from exposure to toxic fumes and odors, moisture damage, mold, pests and insects, and excessive dirt and dust. It can be challenging to prove the link between exposure at work and the teacher’s illness when the disease is caused by exposure to toxic substances over a long period of time.
- Work-related stress. Another common cause of workers’ comp claims for teachers is on-the-job stress. Teachers face multiple pressures at work, such as overcrowded classrooms, aging buildings, shortage of supplies, little time to prepare, lack of administrative support, and much more. This can lead to the development of depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, and other mental health issues or manifest as physical problems, such as high blood pressure and gastrointestinal diseases.
- Subject-related injuries. Some teachers face specific dangers due to the courses they teach. For example, a gym teacher could suffer a repetitive stress injury from making a specific movement regularly when demonstrating a technique or suffer another sport-related injury. A chemistry teacher could be exposed to toxic chemicals and suffer a burn or other illnesses from long-term exposure.
- Disease transmission. Teachers spend their days in close quarters with students, other teachers, and parents who often do not stay home when they are ill. As a result, teachers are at risk of developing many bacterial and viral infections.
- Hearing loss. School bells, the slamming of lockers, loud student conversations, and other noises at school can cause teachers to suffer serious permanent hearing loss.
- Workplace violence. Unfortunately, workplace violence is increasingly a cause of teacher injuries. When students get into fights, teachers often must intervene to break up the altercation. In addition, teachers can be the victim of an angry parent’s, teacher’s, or random person’s act of violence that can sometimes be deadly.
Contact Our Experienced New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Attorneys
If you are a teacher and suffered a workplace injury or illness, you could be entitled to benefits to pay your medical bills, replace lost wages, provide partial or total disability benefits, and pay for vocational retraining. Manfred Ricciardelli is here to explain your rights under New Jersey’s workers’ compensation laws and to assist you in getting the benefits you could be entitled to. Call our office today to schedule a free consultation.