Broken or Fractured Sternum and Workers’ Compensation

If you have had a serious accident and suspect or know that you fractured or broke your sternum (breast bone), you will need to be thoroughly examined and receive medical treatment. This can become expensive, especially if the damage to your sternum has also affected internal organs. There will be doctors’ fees, x rays, medication, the cost of any surgery, bandaging and follow up examinations. It will mean staying away from work until you are sufficiently healed to allow you to continue your job.

Fortunately, most employers are expected to have compulsory workers’ compensation insurance and a claim can help pay for medical treatment and a percentage of any lost earnings. Workers’ compensation attorneys can help with legal advice at any stage of a claim.

How a Workplace Accident Could Result in a Broken or Fractured Sternum

A sternum is a very strong bone that has been designed to support your ribs and at the same time protect your thoracic organs, the heart and lungs. It takes quite a lot of pressure or a sharp and heavy impact to do more than just bruise a sternum. A fractured sternum could result from any of these sorts of workplace accidents:

  • a heavy fall, especially from a height, landing on to the chest or where your chest strikes the ground or something hard or sharp while falling;
  • after being hit by a heavy object;
  • after a vehicle accident, especially a front end crash.

Broken or Fractured Sternum and Workers’ Compensation.

What to Do if You Fracture Your Sternum at Work

  1. Get examined straight away or get immediate medical attention.
  2. For any extensive medical treatment find out if your employer has a preferred medical provider and if so, whether you have any choice at all or whether you have to use the employer’s provider. This could affect your ability to obtain compensation later.
  3. Let your supervisor know at work about the injury.
  4. Complete a workplace accident report within the time allowed by the state, typically a few days or weeks after the date of the accident. This will be important evidence that the injury actually happened at work which you will need later when you file your claim.
  5. File your claim. There will be a time limit you will need to be aware of to do this. The time limit is determined by the state and may be 2 or3 years after the accident. There will be documents you need to support the claim such as witness statements, medical examination reports, bills you have had to pay for medical treatment etc.
  6. Your claim is primarily limited to medical treatment and lost earnings. You may be able to obtain other help such as permanent disability payments and training for another job.
  7. File your claim with the correct authority. This may be with the employer’s insurer directly or a state workers’ compensation agency. Some states may have a state insurer which handles all workers’ comp. claims.

How a Workers’ Comp. Attorney Can Help You

A workers’ compensation attorney can help you with legal advice at any stage of your claim. If your claim is denied by the insurer for any reason you will find that it will be very hard going through the appeals process without effective legal assistance.

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