Workers’ compensation insurance is paid for in advance by employers, and entitles employees to complete medical coverage and part of their wages for injuries/illnesses associated with their job. Workers’ compensation claims processing involves formalities such as medical record analysis that helps determine the nature and severity of the worker’s injury or illness. Vocational teachers and other employees in the educational sector may also file for workers’ compensation benefits for an injury or illness that occurred on school property or during the normal performance of their work duties. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics says that Pennsylvania educational workers are at a greater risk of injury than the national average. It is a fact that teachers and other education professionals put themselves at risk for the sake of the children they instruct. Both public and private educational workers can apply for workers’ compensation. In case they have suffered permanent injury, disability, or head injury they may be entitled to further payment.
Five main benefits are available to injured educational employees including teachers, principals, paraprofessionals, and educational administrators among others: medical care, temporary disability, permanent disability, vocational rehabilitation, and death benefits. What are the types of injuries most common among workers in the education sector?
- Slips and falls: The risk of slips and falls increases during winter weather conditions when the floors are slippery with students bringing snow and slush indoors.
- Head injuries: These injuries can occur from falls or when trying to intervene with fighting students, or in other circumstances.
- Hip, back, and leg injuries: Workers in the educational sector tend to stand for long periods of time and this could lead to strains and injuries to the back, hip and leg.
- Sports or athletic injuries: These types of injuries are sustained by coaches and gym teachers in their line of work. Locker rooms and gymnasiums are known for their smooth and polished floors that could lead to slips and falls.
- Injuries from exposure to chemicals: Chemistry teachers and lab attendants can fall sick or be injured by constant exposure to chemicals in the labs.
According to the UFT (United Federation of Teachers), here are the things to do if you are injured on the job and want to claim workers’ compensation benefits.
- Immediately notify your chapter leader and principal of the accident and injury, or other incident. Even if the injury is not obvious or seems trivial, all accidents and injuries must be reported as early as possible.
- Fill out a Comprehensive Injury Report and submit it to the principal within 24 hours if possible, or at the earliest.
- See a doctor at the earliest and ensure that you inform your doctor that the injury or illness is work associated. The doctor must complete an OP 198 Absence form that the employee must file with his/her payroll secretary as soon as possible. A C-4 Physician’s Report must also be filed with the Workers’ Compensation Board.
- A C-3 Employee Claim form must be completed, preferably with the assistance of an attorney, and a C3.3 Limited Release of Health Information (HIPAA) form must also be completed if there was an earlier injury to the same body part(s). Both these forms must be filed with the Workers’ Compensation Board at the earliest.
- Complete a WCS-23 Employee’s Notice of Injury, and file it with the school payroll secretary within 10 days.
Here are some other important things to note:
- Your principal must file the Department of Education Occurrence report within 24 hours of receiving it. You must sign to acknowledge having seen it and can also add a statement.
- A C-4 Physician’s Report has to be filled out by your doctor at regular intervals, typically every 4 – 6 weeks during your period of recovery. This is used to determine your level of benefits and it is most important that your doctor fills it carefully.
- If more than 7 years have passed after an accident, a C-25 application for Reopening of Claim must be filed with the chair of the WC Board, along with the attending doctor’s report (form C-27) if required, at the district office where the case was closed.
- To claim out-of-pocket expenses associated with your injury or illness, use the C-257 Expense Reimbursement Form.
- A DB-450 Disability Claim form has to be completed and filed to claim disability benefits. This must be done only if your workers’ compensation claim has been rejected.
Educational employees would find the workers’ compensation application process easier with proper legal assistance. Attorneys utilize professional medical review solutions to determine the legal validity of the claim so that applicants have a better chance of having your claim accepted. With long-term experience and successful handling of many such cases, attorneys would be able to assist claimants efficiently and help them recover due compensation for the injury or illness.