Nurse Who Caught Ebola Faces Delays in Ebola Personal Injury Lawsuit, May be a Disease Covered by Workers Comp Instead
Nurses face many hazards from their jobs, including long-term joint and muscular problems from heavy lifting, assault by patients, and infectious diseases. One nurse who cared for the United States’ first Ebola patient in Texas filed a Ebola personal injury claim against her employer after she caught the deadly disease specifically from her job, but now a judge has halted the case to reexamine some circumstances, and the possibility that her Ebola infection might qualify as a disease covered by workers comp instead.
On Monday, April 20th, a Texas district judge put a halt on the personal injury lawsuit, which nurse Nina Pham’s former employer, Texas Health Resources, has been attempting to turn into a disease covered by workers comp claim. Pham’s attorneys say that the attempts by THR to switch the type of lawsuit are meant to derail Pham’s personal injury case, and pay her less money for her on-going injuries.
Pham worked at Texas Health First Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, which accepted one of the first Ebola patients in the US. While caring for patient Thomas Eric Duncan in October last year, Pham contracted Ebola herself.
Numerous workers comp insurance companies were concerned that they would spend millions of dollars on claims involving nurses who contracted Ebola, but the compensation funds are mandated by both state and federal governments to provide relief for workers injured on the job. Filing a personal injury lawsuit, according to THR, is unnecessary because they already provided a fund to help Pham’s continuing medical care; Pham, however, believes that the hospital was negligent of its employees’ safety when it accepted Duncan as a patient.
Texas District Judge Martin Hoffman issued a temporary restraining order to examine the cases, and in the next two weeks, will proceed with a full hearing.
The hearing will determine if the disease covered by workers compensation court has jurisdiction over the lawsuit or not. If so, the court would have to determine if Pham was an employee of Presbyterian, THR, or both.
Pham’s attorneys, however, have complained that THR waited until after Pham filed her personal injury lawsuit to begin the workers compensation process. They stated that THR pursuing the worker’s compensation claim is “transparently gamesmanship” and added that “the truth” needs to come from the witness stand during a hearing.
Pham filed the personal injury lawsuit against THR specifically, she said, because the company was negligent regarding its employees’ safety – the nurses did not have prior, or receive after, proper training on how to handle Ebola patients, nor did they receive acceptable safety gear. While Pham was the only nurse at Presbyterian to contract Ebola, she said that all the staffs’ health was at risk.
“I wanted to believe that they would have my back and take care of me, but they just haven’t risen to the occasion,” Pham said last year, after recovering from her illness. She has ongoing medical issues related to the disease and the experimental treatments that she received.
The Strom Law Firm Helps Victims File Workers Comp and Personal Injury Cases
If you have been injured on the job, you are legally able to file a disease covered by workers comp case. However, your employer may attempt to deny the claim. We are here to help. The South Carolina attorneys at the Strom Law Firm can help you, whether you need to file for workers compensation, personal injury, class action, or wrongful death. We offer a free case evaluation to see how we can help. 803.252.4800