Eye injuries are one of the most common types of injuries suffered in the workplace, and they are also some of the most serious. That’s because even seemingly little damage to your eye can impede your ability to see, which, in most cases, will make it difficult for you to continue with your regular job. The good news is, if you suffer an eye injury at work, you may be entitled to certain compensation. In this article, you’ll learn about how much compensation you can claim for your eye injury, and you’ll find out how to know if you have an eye injury.
What kinds of eye injuries are there?
An eye injury happens when any harm is done to the eyeball, socket, or ligaments and muscles that are vital to the eye’s movement and function. They can be caused by blunt force, burns, scratches, cuts, toxic liquids and smoke.
Most common types of eye injuries
Although there are many different types of ways to endure an eye injury, one of the most common types are caused by small objects flying through the air. These objects may include shards of glass or metal, that can cause serious damage.
Workplaces that have hazardous surroundings are normally supposed to train employees on how to protect eyes instruct that protective goggles are to be worn at all time. Even so, each day, around 2,000 workers in the United States have an eye injury that requires medical attention. See the list below for the most common types of eye injuries. Keep in mind that not all eye injuries qualify for workers’ compensation, and take the necessary precautions to make sure these don’t happen to you:
- Blunt force trauma: This happens when a blunt (not sharp or pointy) surface makes contact with your eye. A black eye is an example of minor eye injury due to blunt force trauma.
- Abrasion and scratches: This can be caused by any object like a cat’s claw or paper.
- Chemical burns: Especially in laboratories and factories; this is when caustic chemicals make contact with the eye.
- Laser surgery negligence: This is normally the fault of the doctor who performed your laser surgery.
- Fractures or breaks: The orbital bone may break due to blunt force trauma.
- Needlestick injuries: Damage to the eyeball or surrounding areas due to contact with a sharp object.
- Medical negligence: Damage to the eyeball resulting from a doctor’s error, including misdiagnosis or mistreatment.
- UV radiation burns: Too much UV exposure can be caused by sitting under a sun lamp, or in a tanning bed.
- Foreign bodies: When any exterior object enters the eye and causes damage. Examples include dirt, dust, sand, sawdust, metal slivers.
Unfortunately, workers’ comp varies by state and by country, so you’ll have to read the workers’ comp laws particular to where you live. Additionally, if you work for a very small company, your employer may not be responsible for paying up.
It’s also important to keep in mind that each state determines who is eligible for workers’ comp. The following groups may not be eligible for compensation for eye injuries depending on the state they live in:
- Domestic workers
- Independent contractors
- Undocumented workers
- Seasonal workers
Just to give you an idea of what your state may offer for workers’ comp for eye injuries, in Pennsylvania, eye injury comp for permanent vision impairment is limited to 275 weeks of payments. And in Virginia you may be eligible for 100 weeks of disability benefits, multiplied by the percentage of your eye impairment, for example if you are 50% or 100% blind.
It’s important to make sure that you follow the standard safety procedure rules and guidelines as determined by your place of work. If you do incur an eye injury, and you are found to be at fault for your own negligence, then you won’t receive workers’ comp. If you do think that your place of work is at fault, or that your issued gear doesn’t meet the eye protection standards of the American National Standards Institute, you may want to consider hiring a lawyer who specializes in workers’ comp to help you file a claim.