Another State’s workers’ compensation story hits close to home. This story from NPR news, details the painful account of Terry Cawthorn. A veteran employee of more than twenty years at Misson Hospital in Ashville, North Carolina, Cawthorn was injured at work through no fault of her own while transferring a patient from a bed to a stretcher. That injury would later give way to a lumbar interbody fusion, as well as a spinal cord stimulator. Despite the obvious severity of the injury, Misson refused to help claiming that the injury had actually occurred at home while “lifting a casserole out of her oven.” To add insult to injury, Cawthorn was delivered termination papers – while she still lay in the hospital recovering from the back surgery. When NPR investigated the possible reasons for a seemingly clear-cut case, they found a simple reason for Misson’s behavior: money. “The view is, for every dollar I prevent going to a going to [workers’ compensation] that’s more dollars for the company.”
It sounds bizarre, but the simple fact is that employers are afforded the right to challenge the fact of whether or not the injury occurred at work. When an employer is paying penny for penny in workers’ compensation costs, it can simply be a business decision to deny coverage in hopes of saving money. In the end, without a union, you’re simply an expendable asset who is easily replaced.
Although this story occurs in North Carolina, this is too often the case in Ohio. Many, many of our clients work in every aspect of the health field and are injured through no fault of their own. More often than not these employers are also self-insured employers who are on the hook penny for penny for workplace injuries. This causes injured workers to run into issues on two fronts: not only is the compensability of the claim attacked, but every aspect of the claim itself, from treatment to compensation. When you ask yourself, “do I need a lawyer,” you should also ask yourself, “am I more important to my employer than money?”