Visitor Question

Second degree burn on my hand falling onto a powerwasher at work…

Submitted By: Daniel (Massachusetts)

I work for a Company that has annual inspections of it’s residential homes. I work with people that have challenges. One week of the year we have to go and clean these residential homes as well as independently living persons’ apartments, as well to pass the strict home inspections.

I was asked to power-wash the outside of the residential home siding with the provided power-washer. The side of the building slopes downward. After completing a section, I was walking back up the slope to turn off the machine when I slipped on the wet grass, falling onto the exposed muffler of the gas powered power washer. I sustained 2nd degree burns to the palm of my hand.

I was just told by my doctor that I could not return to work for at least 2 weeks, until they cleared me. When talking to my HR Rep and sending her the required forms, she informed me that I have to use my sick time first, then, if the Insurance picks up my claim, then I will get compensated thru workers comp for my remaining time out.

The Doctor will not know if I have permanent nerve damage to my hand until a few weeks from now, but VERBALLY said I would definitely have scarring.

I have not been thru workers comp like this before, and am fearful of getting the run around. What can I expect? Should I retain a lawyer? Will retaining a lawyer effect my work? Is it legal for them to take my sick time first since the injury was job related? How does workers comp work for injuries that might have long lasting effects or permanent damage? Are they even liable?

Phew! Sorry for all the questions! Any information you can give would be very helpful.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.


Dear Daniel,

Yes, until such time as the doctor certifies you as unable to work, you may have to rely on your sick time. The doctor(s) who evaluate you will determine if your injuries are temporary or permanent. This is referred to as the type of disability you may have.

Unfortunately in most cases “scarring” isn’t classified as a temporary or permanent disability. Unless you are able to prove scarring will adversely affect your ability to perform your job duties, you may have to settle for a certain amount. Unfortunately workers compensation doesn’t cover pain and suffering, sometimes referred to as mental anguish or emotional distress.

You might want to consider seeking the advice and counsel of a workers compensation attorney. Most won’t charge for an initial office consultation. Your claim, especially because there may be permanent damage, seems to require legal representation. That way you won’t be taken advantage of by a difficult insurance representative.

Learn more here: Burned at Work

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney.

Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call 888-972-0892.

We wish you the best with your claim,


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