Summer is fading and back to school season is here, whether we like it or not. Children are dreading it, parents are rejoicing and educators in Colorado are preparing to get back into the swing of things educating our state’s great youth. When discussing worker’s compensation, you may be wondering how school falls into play. In the combined 50 plus years of representing Colorado worker’s compensation cases at Kaplan Morell Law, we see employees involved in school-related injuries frequently. Injuries of this category can include anything from people getting hit by cars during drop off or pick up, bus accidents, getting hit with doors, slips and falls, and much more. Schools, while they are typically a safe place, often have a lot of accidents. Below are some common-place injuries in the education environment and how to proceed if you’re a Colorado school employee that has been hurt on the job.
There are a few different types of vehicle incidents that can occur within schools. First, parents or drivers accidentally hitting crossing guards, administration officials, employees, etc. while dropping their kids off or picking them up. This is a unique situation because not only do you have a workplace injury (if you are assigned to be out there), but you also were hit by a car (a parent’s car or personal car) and that is warrant for a personal injury claim. So, in this instance you are looking at both a worker’s compensation claim, as well as, a personal injury case. On the other token, there are school bus accidents. These are extraordinarily painful emotionally (and often physically) because usually children are involved. Bus drivers themselves may be injured, but they also may suffer PTSD or other emotional trauma from the accident. This creates a complex situation.
The next type of injury that occurs at school are indoor injuries. There is a lot of traffic and commotion happening at school, many moving parts, which can allow room for error. Opening a door into someone, slipping on spilled liquid, falling over something, etc. all are pretty common in the classroom. What gets difficult with these situations, is when you don’t report it – as with any type of worker’s compensation case – the more you can document, the better. Often in these circumstances, the employee thinks it will go away, they don’t want to push the issue, they think these sorts of things happen and then they don’t report it in time. Reporting your issue in writing to offer documentation and proof of an accident is imperative if you’ve been hurt.
The next type of common place school injury are altercations. This isn’t between staff members, typically it involves students fighting and teachers trying to step in and break it up. Although usually just a side effect of the ongoing fight, employees may experience pretty serious injuries including head injuries, broken teeth, broken jaws, broken bones, all sorts of things. Again, PTSD can arise in these occasions causing even further pain too.
Now that you know a few of the most common work-related injuries in the education system, let’s talk about how the Colorado worker’s compensation system deals with people with head injuries or mental trauma injuries. They are often slow to address, especially post-traumatic stress disorder. Their focus is on the physical injury. Generally, workers compensation doctors are not well trained or experienced in addressing those issues right away. A referral to an expert might need to be made, which can add extra time to getting answers and relief. The injured worker is having a tough time digesting and understanding what is going on with them with their mood and cognitively. It can be very difficult to work with these cases. The law also protects those who are victims of “crimes of violence” more so than those injured in an altercation between others or trying to calm down a student having a tantrum. Because the students did not intend to hurt the employee, the system can be hard on employee. Working with a well-versed, workers compensation lawyer can help alleviate this and bring you the justice you deserve.
As Colorado schools are back in session, we encourage everyone who is in those atmospheres to be aware of their surroundings and to be as safe as possible. We know that injuries can occur in the workplace, and should it happen to you or someone you know, our team at Kaplan Morell can help offer you relief and assistance to getting the compensation you deserve. Call us at 970.356.9898 to get on the road to recovery today.