Can You Receive Workers’ Compensation for Dehydration?
With summer temperatures in full swing, some workers whose primary work consists of being outside in the heat are taking extra precautions to stay hydrated. However, when the demands of your job are harsh, you may not have adequate breaks to consume the water you need.
Dehydration is a serious concern for those working outdoors, and it can lead to severe injuries such as heat-stroke, muscle tears, and even brain injuries.
Being hydrated is vital for anyone outside in the heat. And if dehydration happens as part of the job, you need to know how that fits into the issue of workers’ compensation.Workers’ Compensation in Atlanta Is for Work-Related Injuries Only
Georgia’s workers’ compensation laws are there to protect employees in case they are injured on the job. Therefore, dehydration injuries might seem like an obvious argument for workers’ compensation.
Unfortunately, it is not that easy. An insurance company will gladly fight off any claim with dehydration listed as a cause of injury. They will consider this an independent, non-work-related issue. Employees with dehydration could be blamed for causing the injury, because they should regulate hydration at work as well as away from work.
If the doctor concludes that you suffered a serious injury as a direct result of your dehydration, succeeding with a claim is easier. If, however, the doctor ties dehydration to a cause outside of work, (such as drinking multiple alcoholic beverages per day) you may find it impossible to receive compensation for an injury that occurred at work.Are Employers Required to Ensure That Workers Stay Hydrated?
Yes, they are.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for the state, it is highly recommended that all employers provide their workers with a means to stay hydrated and also provide shaded areas and regular breaks to prevent workers from suffering from heatstroke.
Under federal laws, workplaces must be free from hazards. While this duty is subject to interpretation, it would be apparent that an employer should provide water and shade to those working outside – because working in direct sun without shade or water is an apparent hazard. Realize, however, that OSHA regulations have nothing to do with your workers’ compensation claim nor will they influence the outcome. You can file a complaint with OSHA regarding unsafe work practices, but this will not improve your chances of receiving workers’ compensation.Factors That Influence Your Claim
Because the conditions of these cases vary, specific factors will help determine if you can receive compensation for a dehydration-related injury at work:
- Exposure was part of your regular job duties. You must prove that the sun and heat exposure was done as part of your regular job duties. Suffering from dehydration on a work break where you are taking a walk is not a job-related injury. A roofer, however, who is forced to stay on a rooftop for eight hours in the heat and suffers heat-stroke would have a viable claim.
- You did not contribute to the dehydration outside of work. The biggest argument against your case will be that you caused dehydration out of work. If you do not stay hydrated off the job, you are an avid alcohol drinker, or you take medications that naturally deplete your water supply, you may find it next to impossible to succeed with your case.
- The dehydration resulted in an injury. Dehydration itself is an injury, but not usually one that takes you away from work long enough to qualify for compensation. If, however, you suffer a more serious injury from the dehydration – such as falling due to passing out from dehydration – then you may qualify for compensation.
The only way to see if you indeed qualify for compensation is to contact an attorney that understands the complexity of these types of cases. Speak with one of the attorneys from Van Sant Law, LLC today to discuss your work-related injury.
If you suspect that dehydration was the cause of your injuries at work and the insurance company is trying to deny your compensation claim, we may be able to help.
To get started, schedule a consultation now at 404-991-5950, or request more information online.