Workers' Comp Eye Injury

If you've suffered an eye injury or vision loss at work, it's important to seek the advice of an experienced New York City workers' compensation attorney.

Most people don't realize that they have a legal right to workers' comp benefits if they suffer from vision loss or an eye injury on the job. However, many employers try to deny their employees a workers' compensation eye injury settlement or benefits by claiming that their injuries were caused by pre-existing medical conditions or even “self-inflicted” accidents. Our NYC workers' compensation attorneys are here to help make sure your employer doesn't get away with denying you your rightful benefits after suffering an eye injury on the job.

At Raphaelson & Levine Law Firm, we understand how difficult it can be for injured individuals and families who need financial assistance after suffering from a work-related eye injury—especially when those responsible for causing your injuries are trying so hard not to take responsibility.

Our law firm offers the expertise and compassion to pursue your case tirelessly to secure a fair worker’s comp settlement on your behalf. Call a workers' compensation injury attorney today at (212) 268-3222 or complete our online case review form to schedule a free consultation today.

Common Types of Work-Related Eye Injuries

Every year, there are 800,000 workplace eye injuries, including lacerations, burns, and punctures. Emergency departments treat about one-third of these injuries, and many of them result in days off work and, sometimes, temporary or permanent disability. Manufacturing, transportation, and construction workers are most vulnerable to these life-changing injuries.

Workers sustain eye injuries due to flying particles (like wood chips), chemical exposure, workplace diseases, sparks, and blunt force trauma to the eye. The impact is readily apparent, and most victims report to a hospital emergency department.

Common types of eye injuries in the work environment include:

  • Corneal Abrasion: This injury results from a foreign object poking you in the eye and scratching your cornea.
  • Corneal Ulcer: If you do not seek corneal abrasion treatment, it may develop into a corneal ulcer. The scratch becomes an ulcer or sore on the cornea. This painful condition can result in blindness or losing your eye.
  • Hyphema: Hyphema describes bleeding within the anterior chamber between the cornea and iris. Its common cause is blunt force trauma, and immediate medical care is necessary to save your sight and eye.
  • Burns: Your eye may sustain burns from heat or chemical exposure. You do not need chemicals to come directly into contact with your eyes; the fumes can damage your eyes. Many people sustain chemical burns because they rub their eyes after touching chemicals. It only takes seconds for most chemicals to penetrate the eye membrane and cause injury.
  • Traumatic Iris: This condition is a result of blunt force trauma. It describes inflammation to the colored part of the eye, and if left ignored, it causes permanent damage and blindness.
  • Puncture wounds: Random objects and tools can penetrate the eye. Wood chips, glass, and metal shards are common industrial particles that lead to eye injuries. If you ever sustain a penetrating object to your eye, put a cup over your eye to protect it and visit the emergency room immediately. Never try to remove the object, or you may cause further damage.

Chemical burns are frequently career-ending and frequently happen in industrial settings. Exposure involves either acids or alkalis. Acids do not penetrate as deeply, but they still cause serious injuries. Alkalis are the most dangerous as they enter the eye quickly and cause deep tissue damage.

Examples of acids and alkalis include:

  • Boric acid
  • Sulphuric acid
  • Sulfamic acid
  • Hydrochloric acid
  • Hydrofluoric acid
  • Nitric acid
  • Phosphoric acid
  • Ammonia
  • Sodium hydroxide
  • Calcium hydroxide
  • Potassium hydroxide

If your workplace contains any of these substances, they should offer training on storing and handling them and addressing injuries. OSHA standards require that training, and your employer may be negligent if they fail to maintain that.

Medical providers grade chemical burns by severity to assess the damage and plan medical intervention. The different grades include:

  • Grade I: Burn limited to the corneal epithelium and primarily limited to the surface. If you sustain this injury, your likelihood of full recovery is high without compromising your vision. You may require a short-term break from work until your eyes heal.
  • Grade II: You notice corneal haze, and there is damage to the cornea. Immediate treatment may prevent permanent damage, and you will likely miss more work than you would with a Grade I burn.
  • Grade III: These injuries result from deep penetration into the eye and damage to the cornea, limbus, and other areas of the eye. Vision is permanently compromised, and surgery is necessary to obtain at least partial vision. You may miss work and face reduced earning capacity if your impairment makes it impossible to continue your current career.
  • Grade IV: Chemical exposure melts the cornea and damages the eye permanently. Vision is lost and cannot be restored. Medical professionals must remove the eye in severe cases, and you may face partial or total disability.

Workplaces should provide eye protection where there is a risk of these injuries. However, protective goggles and masks vary between work sites, and many employers are not attentive to ensuring every team member has access to them. If your employer was negligent when supplying eye protection or training on proper equipment use to avoid eye injuries, you might also have grounds to file a personal injury claim. You can consult with a workers’ compensation attorney to explore this option along with collecting workers’ comp benefits.

New York Workers' Compensation Benefits for Eye Injuries: How Much Compensation Should I Expect for an Eye Injury?

Workers’ compensation insurance benefits cover medical bills, vocational rehabilitation, specific losses, and in cases of permanent partial disability or total disability, future medical expenses and reduced earning capacity. It does not cover emotional damages, like pain and suffering or reduced enjoyment in life.

If you cannot work, you may receive a weekly benefit. Injuries sustained between July 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021, are subject to a maximum weekly benefit of $966.78. Your actual benefit is based on your average weekly wage, including overtime pay. You can receive this weekly benefit for up to 160 weeks for an eye injury, amounting to a settlement amount of up to $154,684.80.

Since your weekly benefit amount depends on your salary, we need that information to determine an exact amount. Bring a paystub with you to your first consultation, and we can calculate your estimated benefits.

Qualifying for a Workers’ Compensation Eye Injury Settlement after an Accident at Work

Treatment rarely stops at the emergency room, and many injured workers need to consult with specialists, especially ophthalmologists, to gain sight or adapt to the loss of vision. The approved physician’s list may not include any ophthalmologists, so you are left to worry about your future and wonder if you will receive the correct treatment. Meanwhile, insurance companies look out for their best interests and will make your claims process difficult.

You qualify for workers’ compensation after an injury if:

  • You are an employee. Self-employed, contract and temporary workers do not qualify under New York law. There are special rules for seasonable employees that could apply to your situation if you are not a regular worker for your employer.
  • Your employer carries workers’ comp insurance or follows requirements to self-insure workers’ compensation claims.
  • Your injury occurred while you were working for your employer. You do not need to be on-site; many workers file claims for injuries sustained while working for their employer in other locations (deliveries, visiting vendors, etc.).
  • You meet all of the state’s deadlines for filing notices and claim forms.

In addition to these requirements, you must also:

  • Inform your employer of the workplace injury
  • Seek medical treatment from an eligible treatment provider

Of all these requirements, most people find forms and deadlines the most challenging. The claim process is very deadline oriented and missing one can forfeit your claim. Also, you may not complete forms correctly, and that can also work against you.

A workers’ compensation lawyer knows the deadlines and procedures and can make sure you do not lose your claim on administrative matters. When you are recovering from eye injuries and fearing for your future, it is difficult to manage all the overwhelming issues associated with workers’ comp. Allow us to work for you so you can focus on healing, and we can deal with insurers and paperwork.

Filing Your Worker's Comp Claim

When you hire our firm, we take the following steps to file your claim:

  • Inform your employer: If you have not notified your employer of your injury, we take that step for you to preserve your claim. Your employer must know of your injury within 30 days of its occurrence.
  • File the employee claim form: We file Form C-3 with the Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB), so they notice a pending claim. If the insurance company denies your claim, we can appeal and request reconsideration immediately without worrying about that vital form.
  • Collect medical records and reports: Our attorneys reach out to your treatment providers to collect your medical records and request reports. Insurance companies may use this information to show you were not as injured as you claimed or dispute any disability findings. We argue against these conclusions, as many times, they are not supported by medical evidence.
  • Monitor your case: We stay in contact with insurance adjusters and the WCB to monitor the status of your claim and provide information. As we learn new developments, we contact you to keep you up to date.
  • Address any WCB filings or appeals: If your claim is denied, we follow up on any appeals and request reconsideration of your case. Many workers’ compensation claims receive settlements on appeal even after an insurance company rejects them.

We remain available through this process to answer your questions and offer reassurance as the process moves forward. It is also up to you to inform us if your condition changes or new developments may affect your claim.

Workers' Comp Lawyer For Eye Injury Claims

Serious eye injuries and vision loss are traumatizing developments, especially for those whose professions rely on their eyesight. Uncertainty and fear are real and understandable, and the last thing you need is to fight insurance companies that only look out for their interests. Leave that battle to the workers’ comp lawyers at Raphaelson & Levine.

Call us today at (212) 368-3222 to schedule your free consultation and case evaluation, or use our online form.

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Located near Penn Station in New York, NY, our law firm serves Nassau County, Rockland County, Suffolk County, Westchester and all of New York State, including the five boroughs of NYC: Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, and Staten Island.
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