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Doing the Workers’ Comp Stomp (15 December 2006 - 7:06 a.m.)

While in the computer lab on Wednesday afternoon, I was walking over to the printer to retrieve a document. At the same time, a male student ran over and snatched it from my hand. That made me suspicious, so I went to check the computer he was using. He tried to push past me to get there first, and shoved against me with his sizable body, causing me to wrench my back.

I looked at him in astonishment and said, “You’re going to knock me on the floor over this?” The young man was near tears, and replied, "I’m sorry, miss.” Still, when I got to the computer, he continued to push against me from behind, putting pressure on my back as he reached over me trying to shut the computer down.

I was able to prevent him from turning the computer off, and, when I looked at the monitor, I saw a pornographic website on display. On the computer desk where he had been sitting, I found an obscene photo he had already printed, and another one in the printer after he left the room.

Since then, I have been experiencing pain in my lower back. Yesterday, I filed an accident report with the school nurse, and had a meeting with two assistant principals. They informed me that, because I was injured in the incident, it will be necessary to go to a superintendent’s hearing.

My heart sank when I heard that. The young man should be disciplined for accessing and printing porn on school computers, but I don’t want him to get in more serious trouble because I was injured. He did not mean to hurt me. He was just trying to get to the computer before I did, and I was in his way. My injury was not the result of an intentional action meant to cause harm. The young man was scared, and he was only thinking that he wanted to keep me from seeing what was on the desk, and on the monitor.

The assistant principals assured me that I will have a chance to make all of the above clear during the superintendent’s hearing. They then directed me to go back to the lab to type a written report of the incident. While I was doing that, there was a knock at my door. When I opened it, I saw the young man standing there.

He handed me a letter of apology. I took it, and told him I accepted his apology, but explained that I had already discussed the situation with assistant principals, and there is trouble ahead for him. He said, “Okay.”

After he left, I read the letter. It broke my heart. Here’s an excerpt: “I’m so sorry, Ms. B. I don’t know what came over me. I am so so sorry for what I had done. I was sad because I don’t know what came over me. I feel horrible because I lost your trust.”

I feel horrible, too. He’s not a bad kid. But he did something stupid, and I got hurt. This really sucks.

My back is feeling very unstable, and I left work early yesterday because of it. I called my primary care physician, but he won’t see me because I was hurt at work, and he doesn't get involved in workers' comp. I asked the receptionist what I'm supposed to do in a case like this, and she recommended that I call my HMO.

I did that, and the woman I spoke to expressed incredulity over the situation (the fact that I was refused an appointment with my primary care physician), and declared that she had never heard of anything like it. After considering the options, she gave me permission to see my neurologist, and said that the HMO would waive the required referral. But when I called for an appointment, that office said that they don't take workers' comp cases, either.

The HMO representative had also suggested that I call my medical benefits department, so I did that next. The woman in charge said she had never heard of such a thing in all her years at the district. Everyone I have spoken to is astonished that my doctors won't see me because my injury is work-related, and they don’t know how to advise me because the situation is unprecedented.

To further complicate matters, I have had back problems in the past, so this could be considered a pre-existing condition, which means my claim could consequently be denied by workers' comp. Therefore, I have to see a physician who is a participating provider in my insurance plan.

I am at a loss as to what to do, so I'm going to do nothing, and just try to get some rest. I feel so defeated.

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