Bladder Injuries and Workers' Compensation : Is a work-related bladder injury compensable under the worker’s compensation statute?

Casey Short

Initially, a bladder injury may appear to be a strange worker’s compensation claim. However, nurses will often contact The Previant Law Firm with questions regarding bladder issues and whether a bladder injury falls under the worker’s compensation statute. It may appear odd that a worker may obtain worker’s compensation benefits. Where your work activities and the requirements of your occupation directly harm your body, you may be entitled to worker’s compensation benefits. A work-related bladder injury would be considered a “non-scheduled injury” and compensable under the worker’s compensation statute. (See our explanation of scheduled v. non-schedule injuries).

Consider the following scenario: Sarah is a nurse who works in the emergency room at St. Paul’s Hospital in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She has worked in the emergency room for six months, and because of the demands of her job, she is frequently unable to use the restroom until well after she actually needs to. Sometimes, Sarah has to wait hours before emptying her bladder. As a consequence of consistently not responding when nature calls, Sarah develops a urinary tract infection (UTI) and has to miss a week of work until the pain, discomfort, and constant urge to urinate subsides with antibiotics. If Sarah explains to her treating physician that the UTI was caused by her work duties, then her claim should be properly covered by St. Paul’s worker’s compensation insurance carrier. In a case like this, the small amount of medical bills and wage loss will typically be covered by the worker’s compensation insurance carrier.

What happens if Sarah suffers more serious complications from her work induced UTI? Suppose Sarah failed to treat the UTI and continues to ignore nature’s call because of her job duties and Sarah develops a serious kidney infection. Because of her kidney infection and its lingering effects, Sarah’s treating physician gives Sarah permanent work restrictions of working only 6 hours per day. Because Sarah is limited to only part-time work, she suffers a loss of earning capacity. You’ll recall that only “non-scheduled injuries” can lead to a loss of earning capacity claim. In this scenario, medical bills, wage loss, and loss of earning capacity may be compensable through St. Paul’s worker’s compensation insurance carrier. However, it is highly likely that the worker’s compensation insurance carrier will deny and contest the work-relatedness and the permanent disability of Sarah’s kidney infection.

The difficulty in these types of claims is establishing a patient’s permanent work restrictions or their permanent partial disability rating. Unlike personal injury cases, in the worker’s compensation world there is no such thing as “pain and suffering,” rather there are permanent partial disability ratings. A permanent partial disability rating is compensation for a physical impairment that affects the worker’s ability to perform their occupation. Whether or not a permanent partial disability rating due to a serious kidney infection can impair an individual’s ability to perform their work duties can be difficult to determine. For example, The Previant Law Firm had a client who was a package delivery man and suffered a serious lifting injury that resulted in the amputation of one of his testicles. Despite the complete loss of a testicle, a judge correctly found that no such permanent partial disability occurred as the worker’s loss of a testicle did not result in any impairment to him performing his job. The same may ring true for a bladder injury, as a treating physician must state a specific permanent partial disability rating and specifically how it will affect that individual’s ability to perform their job duties. Without such support a permanent partial disability rating is very difficult to prove.

The Previant Law Firm’s skilled attorneys have the tools, skills, and creativity to properly plead your claim and win what you rightly deserve. Ultimately, if you have been injured at work and have questions regarding the worker’s compensation system, please contact The Previant Law Firm as soon as possible. Call (414) 240-1185, or contact us online.