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Law Offices of Bo Katzakian

Recovery options for nurse after traumatic on-the-job injury

A California nurse has suffered significant emotional effects after an on-the-job injury, yet there has been some confusion regarding compensation and leave. The complex nature of her situation underlines the need for qualified legal assistance after an on-the-job injury. After a work accident of any kind, it is important for employees to be aware of their right to time off and compensation. 

This California nurse was stuck with a needle while drawing blood from a patient who allegedly tested positive for HIV and Hepatitis C. She did not contract either illness, but did take two weeks off of work to deal with the emotional impact of the situation. While her leave of absence was approved under the Family Medical Leave Act, she was threatened with termination. Her employer also found out, through an investigation of the situation, that she was receiving treatment for mental health concerns, which she claimed to be a violation of her privacy. 

The woman was eventually fired from her job and initiated legal action against her former employer. The judge ruled that the woman was eligible for workers' compensation benefits for her emotional duress caused by the harrowing incident. When any employee is unable to perform his or her job duties because of emotional suffering after an accident, financial recompense and necessary medical treatment may be granted through workers' compensation benefits. 

After some accidents the emotional effects may be more serious that the physical impacts. That does not mean that individuals suffering in this way have fewer rights or should not seek possible compensation. A thorough case evaluation is often the best way to understand available legal options after any type of on-the-job injury. 

Source:, "Workers comp only for distressed nurse after accidental HIV needle stick", Sheena Harrison, Feb. 11, 2015

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