Workers' compensation is a government-required insurance policy that provides financial assistance to employees who are injured or become ill as a direct result of their work. These policies are intended to protect both employers and employees. Because they are insurance policies, they keep businesses from facing financial ruin every time an employee sustains an injury. At the same time, workers' compensation ensures that the injured workers will actually receive financial help; even those who work for small companies without large financial resources will typically obtain their just compensation.
You Should Understand Workers' Comp before You Need it
Although workers' compensation is immensely beneficial, filing your claim and obtaining your rightful funds can be a challenge. As with any insurance claim, companies and insurers are often hesitant to make a payment and will try to find loopholes to avoid paying your claim. Because of these difficulties, you should be fully informed about your company's policy, even if you fully believe no harm will come to you at work. You should also provide details of your policy to your spouse or to the person with medical power of attorney in the event of a serious accident.
Workers' Comp Covers More than Just Medical Bills
Medical bills are certainly an important aspect of workers' compensation, but the full benefits of these policies are far more wide-ranging. They include lost wages for any time taken off work, therapy, counseling, and disability payments. In the cases of fatal workplace accidents, workers' compensation can also assist surviving dependants who are left without income after their family member's death.
You Should Act Quickly and Be Extremely Thorough
If you are injured or you become ill because of your job, you should immediately report the condition to your boss or HR department. At your first visit to the doctor, you should tell him or her that you were injured at work, and you should put as much detail as possible on your medical paperwork. In-depth records will make it much easier to defend your claim if your employer challenges it in the future.
A Lawsuit May Still Be an Option
In general, if you receive workers' compensation, you are not permitted to wage a lawsuit. However, there are a few exceptions. If the injury occurred at work but was caused by a third party such as another driver or the manufacturer of a defective product, you may be able to sue that party. Additionally, you may be eligible for a lawsuit if your injury was caused by the intentional or malicious actions of your employer.
Get Advice from an Attorney
Although you can receive workers' compensation without an attorney, it is always helpful to contact a lawyer before filing your claim. Many attorneys offer free consultations and will advise you regarding the complicated process of filing for workers' compensation. In the event that you face difficulties collecting your claim, you will already be able to call upon an attorney who is familiar with the details of your case.
Most people don't associate their job with a high degree of danger. For many, the only workplace injury they will ever suffer is a back ache from sitting hunched over a computer. However, more jobs carry a degree of danger than you may realize. According to the Department of Labor, there are over 3 million non-fatal workplace injuries each year. Across the board, in both the public and private sectors, the vast majority of workplace injuries are sprains and strains.
The Riskiest Jobs
Of course, some jobs carry a higher degree of danger than others, especially when employers and workers do not follow safety protocol. According to statistics, 3.5 percent of all workers will experience some form of workplace injury each year. However, those who work in the following industries face a much greater risk of accident:
Health Care - Health care workers make up a huge percentage of the workforce in this country. Given their occupation, it is ironic that they also have the largest percentage of workplace injuries and illnesses. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nursing home workers face the most dangers, with an average illness and injury rate of 8.3 percent. Hospital workers followed closely behind with a 7 percent injury rate.
Transportation Workers - Workers in all areas of the transportation industry, including both air and ground transit, face a high risk of injury. In fact, around 500,000 trucking accidents occur each year, most of them in rural areas. However, those working in air transportation face even greater risks, with an injury rate of 8.1 percent.
Entertainers and Workers in the Arts - While most people think of the entertainment industry as a risky one financially speaking, few people consider it a physically dangerous field. However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports an 4.8 percent injury rate in this field. While this industry encompasses performing arts, sports, museums, gambling, and other recreational activities, most injuries occur to those who work in performing arts and sports.
Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing, and Hunting - Agricultural workers face the greatest risk of injury in this category; those who work in animal production face a 5.2 percent injury rate. Ironically, loggers and fishers face less danger of injury, although their occupations top the list of jobs with the greatest risk of fatalities.
Manufacturing - Given that those who work in manufacturing are constantly surrounded by moving machinery and sharp blades, it is unsurprising that these workers face a high risk of injury. Interestingly, those employed in beverage and tobacco manufacturing face the greatest risk of all manufacturers, with a 6.4 percent injury rate. Metal manufacturing and wood manufacturing follow close behind. However, workers who manufacture computers and electronics face a risk of injury far below the national average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports only a 1.5 percent accident rate in these fields.
Find an Accident Attorney
Sadly, the vast majority of workplace accidents - across all fields - could be prevented if employers and other workers followed standard safety requirements. In cases of personal injury or wrongful death that is caused by the reckless or negligent behavior of another person, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Find a worker's comp or accident attorney in your area to obtain the money you deserve.
Workplace injuries can be physically, psychologically, and financially damaging. Such accidents can result in huge medical bills, and depending on the severity of your injury, you could be out of work for months, if not for the rest of your life. Fortunately, in these situations, you do have legal recourse. Most workplace injuries are covered by worker's compensation, a state-run insurance program designed specifically for on-the-job accidents. However, you may wonder if you can file a lawsuit against your employer. What if your injury was caused specifically by their reckless actions? In most cases, worker's comp is your only legal option. However, in a few circumstances, you may be permitted to sue your employer.
Worker's compensation is designed to protect both employees and employers. This system ensures that injured workers receive the money they need, regardless of the financial status of their company or individual employer. At the same time, worker's compensation protects employers from financial ruin in the event of an unforeseen tragedy. Each state, as well as the federal government, has its own system of worker's compensation. Though each system varies somewhat, the principles are the same in each state. Worker's compensation covers:
Physical and psychological therapy
If an employee is killed on the job, worker's compensation may also reimburse his or her dependants for lost wages and benefits.
Suing Your Employer
Because worker's compensation protects employers as well as employees, you are generally prohibited from suing your employer in case of accident. However, there are some exceptions to this rule:
Purposeful Harm - If an employer intentionally hurts an employee, you may be eligible to wage a lawsuit. There is a particularly famous example of this type of lawsuit: You and your employer get into an argument, and your employer forcefully shoves you. You fall and sustain serious injury. In most states, you would be able to sue. However, a lawsuit would not be permitted in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Maine, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, or Wyoming.
Gross Negligence - In twelve states, you can sue if your injury was the result of blatant gross negligence on the part of your employer. For example, you are a construction worker. Your employer required you to work on high scaffolding, refused to give you proper safety harnesses, and ignored warnings from other workers about high winds. In this situation, your employer's actions were so reckless that they essentially constitute purposeful harm.
Injuries from Other Employees - In very rare circumstances, you may be allowed to sue your employer because of the actions of other workers. However, this is only permitted if they were acting on the orders of your employer. For example, if a factory foreman physically assaulted you while you were trying to file a grievance, and the foreman acted on the orders of your employer, you may be permitted to sue.
Uninsured Employer - If your employer does not have worker's compensation, you are permitted to wage a lawsuit. Often, this means you could obtain more money than you would receive from worker's compensation. However, you will have to prove that your employer was at fault. Some states have funds specifically for injured workers employed by uninsured companies.
Finding an Attorney
The situations in which you are permitted to sue an employer are highly regulated, so if you believe you may have a viable case, it is best to find an experienced accident attorney. Even if you ultimately determine that worker's compensation is your best recourse, a lawyer can help you file the paperwork and get the most out of your claim.
A settlement has been reached in a motorcycle accident lawsuit that was filed on behalf of a police officer against the city of Montgomery, Alabama.
Corporal David Brown was on his motorcycle providing traffic control for a funeral procession in September of 2010 when he was hit and seriously injured by a car that pulled out of the motorcade. Shortly after, the ambulance that was transporting Brown to the hospital was involved in an accident and overturned.
Brown has since undergone extensive medical treatment and numerous surgeries, including the amputation of his left arm at the elbow and right leg at the knee.
In October of 2010, the Brown family filed a lawsuit against the city of Montgomery to obtain workers' compensation benefits. In the suit, Brown acknowledged that he was working as an off-duty officer on the day of the accident, but claims that he had the "permission, knowledge and approval of the City of Montgomery Police Department," and that he was providing service for the "benefit of the department and citizens of Montgomery."
That same month, the city denied Brown's workers' compensation claim, saying that he was working on a private job with the funeral company, and that Brown was not actually on-duty when the accident occurred.
Montgomery County Circuit Judge Tracy McCooey overturned the city's ruling in March, saying that Brown was entitled to benefits and that a hearing would be scheduled to work out the details. City officials responded by saying that they would fight the ruling.
Now, court documents show that Brown has requested that the lawsuit be dismissed; Judge Tracy McCooey granted the dismissal last Wednesday.
The mayor of Montgomery, Todd Strange, and Brown's brother announced on Thursday that a settlement had been reached between the two parties.
"Once we got around the table and were able to have free and open discussion, it became clear that workers' compensation may not have been the best option for David," Strange said.
Brown will receive retirement benefits instead of workers' compensation benefits. According Strange, the differences between the two plans are nominal. However, the retirement package will offer more of a benefit to Brown's family. Brown, his wife, and his daughters will receive health and life insurance through the plan. Additionally, all of Brown's medical costs relating to the accident will be covered by the city.
Brown is set to officially retire on August 8; he is a 19-year veteran of the Montgomery Police Department.
This motorcycle accident lawsuit illustrates how difficult it can be to successfully litigate a claim. If you have been injured while on the job, or in any accident that was caused by another person's negligence, it is in your best interest to consult a qualified personal injury attorney as soon as possible. An experienced attorney will reconstruct your case to determine who is at fault and liable for the accident; they will also deal with workers' compensation and insurance investigators to ensure that you receive the damages that you deserve. Contact an injury lawyer today for a review of your case.
Injuries can occur in any workplace environment. The following statistics from the United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for the year 2006 outline the prevalence of different types of on-the-job injuries in various industries, showing clearly the true human costs of the unsafe working conditions that continue to plague workers in the United States today. If you or someone you love has fallen victim to a workplace injury of any kind, consider turning to a dedicated personal injury attorney to help you achieve justice.
Workplace Injuries by Industry
Construction and manufacturing workers continue to be at the greatest risk, with about six injuries per every 100 workers in these industries in 2006. Education and health services workers followed, with 5.4 incidents among every 100 workers. Mining workers faced the third-highest risk with nearly five injuries per 100 workers. Those working in information technology and the financial sector faced the lowest risk, with less than two injuries per 100 workers in each group.
Importantly, construction workers faced a much higher incidence of on-the-job injuries requiring time away from work than any other industry. Nearly 45 percent of all injured construction workers were forced to take time off for treatment and rehabilitation, and 20 percent of those were limited in the work they could do after the construction-related injury. The median time away from work among all injured workers was seven days, with many missing weeks or months of work at a time.
Fatal Workplace Injuries
In spite of stringent safety regulations designed to minimize risks, thousands of workers die every year due to workplace injuries. If your loved one has been killed in a workplace accident, you may have grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit. Transportation workers suffered the most fatal workplace accidents in 2006 with 1,501 deaths. Construction workers were second with 1,273 deaths. More than 40 percent of all workplace accidents in 2006 were vehicular accidents, with an additional 17 percent linked to accidents with workplace equipment, and 14 percent were caused by falls. Other less common causes included violent attacks from co-workers, exposure to toxic substances such as asbestos, and fires and explosions.
Locate a Personal Injury Attorney to Handle Your Case
If you or a member of your family has been injured on the job, you may be facing steep medical bills at a time when your income is diminished. You may be wondering how to cover your expenses without help. A personal injury attorney specializing in workplace injuries may be able to help you and your family obtain the money you need to get your life back on track. Use LawyerShop’s national attorney directory to locate an attorney near you.
Over the years, there have been many successful workplace injury lawsuits. With the help of trained and tested personal injury attorneys, injured and disabled workers have successfully claimed compensation from at-fault employers and co-workers to cover the costs of their injuries and provide for their loved ones. This list outlines some of the most notable recent workplace injury settlements to take place in the United States.
$5.2 Billion: Asbestos Exposure at Owens Corning
The biggest asbestos-related settlement in history took place in 2006 when Owens Corning, a major supplier of asbestos-based fireproofing and insulation, agreed to pay $5.2 billion in cash and stock equities to former employees, their families, and others who were victims of asbestos poisoning from their products. Asbestos was a major commercial product in the 20 th century, and more than 25 million workers were exposed to this hazardous carcinogen between 1940 and 1980. Lung cancer, mesothelioma, and other health problems associated with asbestos have decades-long latency periods, so many more people who were exposed are expected to develop problems in the future.
$36.4 Million: Oil Worker Killed on the Job
In 2003, the widow and five children of an oil worker employed by Motiva received a total of $36.4 million when the worker was killed in a tank explosion. The company had been cited repeatedly for violating safety regulations, and multiple inspections in the weeks leading up to the incident showed that the tank was badly in need of repair. The settlement helped both sides avoid a wrongful death trial in court. Six other workers were injured in the accident, and Motiva was also fined $296,000 by government regulatory agencies.
$19 Million: Ironworker Paralyzed in Construction-site Fall
In a notable construction accident case, an ironworker was rendered quadriplegic when he fell 13 feet, breaking his neck. The worker’s attorney, Mark LeWinter of Anapol Schwartz, secured a $19 million settlement after showing that the worker’s fall was the result of a policy that allowed employees to work unprotected at heights up to 30 feet despite the recommendations of a professional safety expert.
$16 Million: Worker Falls During Demolition
During the demolition of a Pepsi plant in Long Island City, an asbestos handler fell 23 feet from an unsafe scaffold, sustaining serious injuries. The worker and his wife received $16 million in compensation for the incident after showing that working conditions were unsafe.
$4.5 Million: Barge Worker Loses Leg after Injury
24-year-old barge worker-in-training James Talbot lost his leg in an accident in 2004 when the leg was pinned between two barges on the Chicago River in Illinois. James lawyer, John Perconti of Levin & Perconti, successfully argued that Talbot was insufficiently trained for the work he was asked to perform, and that his injury was the result of that failure on the part of his superiors. The parties settled out of court, and Talbot was awarded $4.5 million for pain and suffering, disability and disfigurement, and lost wages under the Jones Act.
Locate an Attorney to Handle Your Workplace Injury Case
If you or one of your loved ones has been injured while at work, you may be entitled to compensation from your employer and other parties. Unsafe equipment, hazardous materials, inadequate safety regulations, and many other workplace risks can form the basis for a major lawsuit. If you have been injured, use LawyerShop to locate an attorney who can help you.
Workers' compensation insurance is a state-mandated benefit system designed to protect employees who are injured on the job, whether from typing on a computer keyboard in an office or from being struck by a falling beam on a construction site. Employers foot the bill for such injuries, regardless of who is at fault. This means that even if a worker was careless and is to blame for his injury, he is still eligible for workers' compensation insurance benefits. In exchange for these benefits, however, the injured worker forfeits his right to sue his employer for damages.
Most employers purchase workers' compensation insurance plans from insurance companies specifically designed to provide workers' compensation insurance benefits. In most states, these are mandatory, with the exception of a few jurisdictions that allow larger companies to insure themselves. Smaller companies, however, such as those with just a handful of employees, need not purchase such plans.
The goal of workers' compensation insurance is to get the injured employee back on his feet and working again as quickly as possible without causing the employer unnecessary hardship or loss of business.
Workers' Compensation Insurance Benefits
If you have been injured on the job, you may be eligible to receive compensation to cover the following:
Up to two-thirds of your pre-injury salary, tax-free
Expenses should you not be able to resume your pre-injury job duties
Be aware, however, that such insurance benefits are somewhat limited and will most likely not cover all your expenses.
On-the-job Injuries: What Qualifies for Workers' Compensation Insurance Benefits
Workers' compensation is typically awarded by law when an employee is hurt in a specific incident, such as a fall or other accident. Still, the system is not limited to injuries sustained in accidents. Illnesses or injuries incurred through participation in a normal, daily work environment or routine, such as repetitive stress injuries or problems from long-term exposure to toxic chemicals, may also qualify for benefits.
Mental illness or emotional problems are only occasionally covered, as these are more difficult to prove. As a result, most employees who suffer from job stress or job-related depression cannot usually rely on benefits from workers' compensation for assistance. If, however, an employee witnesses or experiences a traumatic event on the job that subsequently leads to mental or emotional problems, the employee may be eligible for workers' compensation, according to law. For example, a cashier robbed at gunpoint while on duty may be entitled to workers' compensation insurance benefits if he or she needs psychological treatment or counseling or treatment after the event occurs.
Workers' Compensation Laws and Exemptions
In certain cases, workers' compensation insurance can be denied to employees. Review the information below to learn more about workers' compensation laws and exemptions; if you have a case, speak to a workman's comp attorney as soon as possible for a claim evaluation.
On-the-job Injuries Exemptions
Some types of on-the-job injuries may not merit workers' compensation insurance benefits. These include:
Self-inflicted injuries (such as those incurred if two employees were fighting
Injuries incurred while an employee was breaking the law (i.e. a delivery worker robbing a receptionist at one of his sites)
Injuries incurred while the employee was not working
Injuries incurred while the employee was violating company policy
In addition, some workers are excluded from receiving workers' compensation insurance benefits. These workers include:
Federal government workers
Standard employees in nearly one-third of all U.S. states
To verify whether or not you are eligible for workers' compensation, speak to your employer AND consult one of the personal injury attorneys in your area who specializes in workers' compensation laws.
Receiving Medical Treatment: Deciding Between Your Own Doctor and the One Provided by Your Employer
Depending on your state, you may be permitted to see your own doctor if you suffer an on-the-job injury. However, you MUST submit a written statement requesting this before you are injured, or you may forfeit your right to choose your physician. In most jurisdictions, your employer will choose the doctor who will examine you.
When you visit this doctor, be sure to 1) be honest about your injury and its impact on your life, 2) be thorough when discussing your medical history. If you fail to be truthful, you may seriously affect your chances of winning the workers' compensation to which your injury entitles you.
To determine eligibility for workers' compensation benefits, an employee must prove that his on-the-job injury 1) occurred while working or 2) stemmed from the nature or responsibilities of the job. He must also demonstrate that the risk of injury was augmented by being at work and by performing job duties. Such risk generally falls into one of the following categories:
Risk Directly Linked to Employment
A factory worker injured after his hand was lodged in a machine would not have sustained the injury had he not been at work - his job was the only reason his hands were near the machine. This, presumably, qualifies him for workers' compensation insurance benefits.
An employee who developed adult-onset diabetes after years of smoking, neglecting to exercise, and choosing a poor diet would not be eligible for benefits, because the risks and injury were personal rather than work-related - unless the employee can prove otherwise.
These cases are the most difficult, because the contributing factors are either mixed or unclear. Examples include a lifeguard who developed heatstroke while on the job, a teacher assaulted by a parent after school, and a person injured at work during an earthquake or other natural disaster.
Once increased risk has been proven, the employee must demonstrate that the job injury took place during the course of employment - meaning not only that she was employed by the company at the time of injury, but also that the injury was connected to employment. The injury does not necessarily have to occur during normal work hours to merit workers' compensation.
Third Parties and Workers' Compensation Law
While injured employees who accept workers' compensation insurance benefits aren't permitted to sue their employers, they may still sue negligent third parties who are directly or indirectly responsible for their injuries. For example, if an employee was injured on the job when the ladder he was climbing suddenly snapped AND the employee accepted workers' compensation damages, the employee could not sue his company, but he could file a claim against the manufacturer of the ladder.
But there is a catch: if the employee were to file a personal injury lawsuit and win his case, he would be required to reimburse his employer for all costs out of his settlement. Further, the employer, too, could sue the third party to recover some of the funds it paid out to its injured worker.
Finding an Experienced Workers' Compensation Lawyer
It is in your best interest to hire a personal injury attorney who specializes in workers' compensation law if 1) you are permanently injured or 2) your claim has been denied. If either of these occurs, be sure to save all documents - including your doctor's report - and maybe even get a second opinion.
Next, enlist the help of a qualified workers' compensation lawyer in your area. A personal injury attorney can help you understand how to file an appeal and to ultimately win the workers' compensation insurance benefits to which you are rightfully entitled, as well as help you get past the red tape that often comes along with these lawsuits.
Find an attorney who specializes in workers' compensation law in your area.
Construction accidents cause thousands of injuries and deaths each year – to both workers and passerby. Consult an attorney if you, a loved one, or a friend has been injured or killed in a construction site accident.
Unsafe ladders: ladders that are too short or that are not opened all the way can contribute to construction accidents
Holes in flooring: contribute to falls
Improperly assembled scaffolding: contributes to falls
Construction debris: such as tools and materials being left in workflow areas
Construction Accident Claims
If the victim of a construction accident is a bystander, he or she can file a personal injury claim. If the victim is a construction worker, he or she will usually have to file a workers’ compensation claim. The exception to this is when there are multiple contractors on a construction site and a worker is injured due to negligence on the part of another contractor. In this instance, the injured worker may be able file a personal injury claim against the contractor.
The northern face of the fourth through seventh floors of the 30-story Hilton San Diego Bayfront hotel were knocked out by the explosion, which occurred about 2 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time on Monday. Nine construction workers injured in the blast and one firefighter were transported to UCSD Medical Center, where five workers were admitted in critical condition. Three of those critically injured workers have been placed in medically induced comas to receive treatment for second and third degree burns covering up to 35 percent of their bodies. Four other workers were treated at Scripps Mercy Hospital.
While onlookers and first responders expressed initial concerns that the blast could have been the work of terrorists and arson and bomb squad investigators were summoned to the scene, a spokesman for the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department said that the explosion was caused by an accumulation of natural gas which was ignited by an as-yet undetermined source, most likely an electrical spark or boiler flame.
The 1,190-room hotel was previously scheduled to open in December. It is undetermined whether the opening will be delayed due to the damage.
The accident scene is currently under investigation.
Workplace injuries can lead to costly medical bills and missed days of work. Fortunately, U.S. and state laws protect workers injured on the job. Learn how workers' compensation and an attorney can help you obtain damages.
A workplace injury is an injury or illness that occurs in relation to an employee’s job. Most states narrow the definition of a workplace injury to one that “arises out of and in the course of employment” to prevent employees from pursuing compensation for injuries not directly caused by the job. Generally, a workplace injury occurs because the work environment is unsafe (the premises are dangerous, the equipment is defective, or the environment is contaminated with hazardous chemicals). In addition, jobs that require repetitive or difficult movements (eg. factory labor or heavy lifting) may cause injury.
Types of Workplace Injury
Types of workplace injuries and illnesses that can be compensated include conditions that develop over time because of poor working conditions (for example, certain cardiovascular, digestive, and stress-related conditions). Additionally, a personal injury (including slip-and-fall injuries, brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and others) caused by from an on-the-job accident falls under workplace injury law. Finally, some psychological or emotional conditions resulting from a hostile workplace atmosphere can be compensated.
Workplace injuries happen in many different contexts. Any of the following types of workplace injuries can seriously and permanently compromise your ability to work and live normally. In addition to being painful, these injuries may threaten your earning potential and your family's financial security. A personal injury attorney specializing in workplace injury lawsuits can help you obtain compensation so that you can cover the cost of expenses related to your injury and provide for your family.
Falls and Other Traumatic Injuries
Falls are common among construction workers, miners, and factory employees. Many construction accidents involve falls from defective ladders or scaffoldings. A fall from several stories up can break bones, cause internal injuries, and even result in permanent paralysis or death. Workers who do sustain such injuries can expect to miss a significant period of time at work while recovering, and many are never able to return.
Repetitive Motion Injuries
Repetitive motion injuries are the result of performing one characteristic movement over and over. For instance, many workers who spend their days typing at a computer keyboard without proper ergonomic protection suffer carpal tunnel syndrome, rendering many incapable of continuing to type for long periods. Employers are required to foresee such risks and provide appropriate protection to their employees.
Chronic Exposure Conditions
Many high-risk jobs involve exposure to toxic substances. Miners and industrial workers whose jobs require working with hazardous chemicals and minerals are entitled to appropriate safety equipment and other safeguards to prevent illness due to chronic exposure. The classic example of this scenario is asbestos exposure. Those who were exposed to asbestos in the mid- to late-20th century have since developed mesothelioma and other life-threatening health problems because they were not sufficiently protected.
Psychological and Emotional Trauma
Not all workplace injuries are physical in nature. Many workers develop severe psychological problems due to the nature of their work. A hostile workplace environment, in which some workers are the victims of discrimination or abuse based on gender, race, sexual orientation, religion, or other factors, can be psychologically and emotionally devastating. Many workers in extremely hazardous or high-stress jobs develop stress-related disorders that require costly treatment and render them unable to continue working.
Common Causes of Workplace Injuries
Employers are obligated to maintain a safe workplace for their employees, but many fail to do so, and workers are injured every year as a result. Use this list to identify workplace hazards and determine whether you may be at risk. If you have already suffered an injury in the workplace, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries, medical bills, and other losses.
Defective or Hazardous Equipment
One of the most common causes of workplace injuries is defective or hazardous equipment. Equipment may be hazardous if it is poorly designed, manufactured, assembled, or repaired. Anything from complicated heavy machinery and power tools to ladders and scaffolds can cause a disabling or fatal injury given the right circumstances. These types of accidents are particularly common at construction and mining sites.
Many workers are exposed to toxic substances. Employees whose jobs involve working with toxic substances have a right to appropriate safeguards so they are not at an unnecessary risk for illness or injury. For example, many workers in the asbestos industry were exposed to unsafe levels of asbestos during the 20th century and are now developing mesothelioma, asbestosis, lung cancer, and other conditions as a result.
Workers whose jobs require them to perform one or more characteristic repetitive motions are at risk of injury. Carpal tunnel syndrome from typing is a well-known example of a repetitive motion injury that may impair a person’s ability to perform their job.
Motor Vehicle Mishaps
Motor vehicles are integral to many peoples’ jobs, and where there are motor vehicles, there is always a risk. These accidents may be caused by reckless drivers or by equipment malfunctions. They are often serious and occasionally deadly.
Insufficient Safety Guidelines
All workplaces are required to establish and enforce appropriate safety guidelines in order to protect their employees. Workplaces that fail to do so are nearly always hazardous.
Many workers are injured each year because they or their co-workers do not receive the training necessary to foster a safe workplace. All employers are obligated to train their employees thoroughly in order to avoid injuries. Workers who are undertrained or asked to perform duties for which they are unqualified put themselves and others at risk.
Reckless Co-worker Conduct
Employees can injure their co-workers when they behave recklessly or under the influence in spite of thorough safety training and appropriate guidelines. In these cases, the reckless individuals can be held responsible, but so can their supervisors and those who hired them.
Workplace Injuries – Do I Need a Lawyer?
If you have suffered an injury in the workplace, it may be prudent to seek legal counsel. A lawyer can help protect your legal rights and promote your interests in the event that you are injured on the job. If there are complications with your workers' compensation claim, a lawyer can advise you of your rights and provide you with the information you need to make an educated decision about pursuing compensation. If you are entitled to compensation through other means, such as a Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA) claim, an attorney can provide you with legal representation and handle the legal proceedings, as such claims are brought before a court.
It is in your best interest to seek legal guidance from a qualified attorney if your workers' compensation claim has been contested. If you have been injured on the job, you may be eligible to obtain financial compensation for lost wages, medical treatment, vocational rehabilitation, and, in cases of permanent injury, inhibited earning capacity or loss of future income. The purpose of workers' compensation insurance is to provide injured workers with appropriate compensation without the need for legal action. When a workers' compensation claim has been denied or contested, however, legal action may be necessary to help you obtain the compensation you deserve.
Workplace Injuries – Who Can File a Claim?
Anyone injured in the workplace with access to workers' compensation through their employer or an insurance provider can file a claim for monetary damages (in some instances, such as with rail employees, claims must be filed through the Federal Employers Liability Act). Fault does not need to be determined to file a workers' compensation claim. The purpose of workers' compensation coverage is to provide injured workers with compensation for medical costs, rehabilitation costs, and loss of wages without the need for legal action and regardless of who was responsible for the injury. If you have suffered an injury at the workplace, and it is severe enough to require medical attention or prohibits you from completing your work obligations, you can file a workers' compensation claim.
If you have been injured on the job or suffered a work-related illness, it is important to file a claim for workers' compensation as soon as possible after the incident occurs or the illness begins. If you fail to file a workers' compensation claim in a timely manner, it can jeopardize your ability to obtain the compensation that you deserve. If the time period between the date the incident occurred and the date the claim was filed is significant, it may prompt an investigation into the legitimacy of the claim. It is also important to note that, in some cases, your eligibility to file a workers' compensation claim may be permanently waived if the statute of limitations expires.
Workplace Injury Statutes of Limitations
In personal injury law, the statute of limitations refers to the period ranging from when a workplace injury occurs (often referred to as the "date of harm") or when such an injury is discovered (the "date of discovery"), to the last day on which a workplace injury case may be filed. A person who has been injured by a workplace accident and is planning on filing suit must make every effort to do so before the statute of limitations passes. Should the statute of limitations expire before a suit has been filed, the defendant can have the case dismissed due to its being filed in an untimely fashion. However, the responsibility to make the court aware of a statute of limitations violation lies with the defendant; the court will not automatically dismiss a workplace injury case filed after the expiry date.
When must a workplace injury case be filed?
The statute of limitations in a workplace injury case may vary, depending on the type of accident, the nature of the injury, and the unique laws surrounding personal injury cases in the state in which the injury occurred. The timeframe for filing a workplace injury lawsuit can range from as short as 30 days to as long as 6 years. Because the statute of limitations in workplace injury cases vary so widely, if you have been involved in a workplace accident, it is in your best interest to contact a skilled workplace injury lawyer as soon as possible. An experienced attorney can help you file a workplace injury claim and obtain compensation for medical bills, loss of wages, and other losses.
Workplace Injury Damages
A person who suffers an injury or illness due to a workplace injury or job-related activity is generally entitled to workers’ compensation. Workers' compensation is supplied by your company's insurance or other funding for which the employer is responsible that provides medical care and cash benefits for employees who suffer on-the-job injuries, sicknesses, or disabilities. In certain states, some workers are excluded from workers’ compensation, including farm, maritime, and railroad employees, casual workers, and business owners.
Under normal circumstances, an employee cannot sue his or her employer directly because such cases are covered under workers' compensation. However, in cases where an employer does not have proper workers' compensation coverage in place; or an injury is caused by a third-party such as a subcontractor, property owner, or equipment manufacturer; or due to gross negligence or misconduct on the employer's part, compensation may be obtained through a workplace injury lawsuit.
Types of Workplace Injury Damages
The benefits provided by workers' compensation and the amount of damages which may be recovered in a workplace injury case can be significantly different. Workers' compensation often covers only a percentage of the cost of medical treatment and wages lost during a period of injury or disability. However, damages awarded in a successful workplace injury case may compensate injury victims for the full amount of medical treatment and lost wages in addition to compensation for pain and suffering, future loss of income, costs of future medical treatment and therapy, and reduction in the victim's quality of life.
An employee who suffers a job-related injury or illness is entitled to workers’ compensation: insurance or other funding (paid for by employers) that provides medical care and cash benefits for employees who suffer a job-related injury, sickness, or disability. In some states, certain employees (including farm, maritime, and railroad employees, casual workers, and business owners) are excluded from workers’ compensation.
A workplace injury is any injury that takes place in the course of a person’s employment. Many kinds of workplace injuries are possible, including traumatic personal injuries such as those sustained in construction accidents; repetitive injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome; and conditions such as mesothelioma caused by exposure to hazardous workplace materials. Any of these injuries can be devastating to your health and financial security, and your employer may be responsible for compensating you if you are hurt on the job. However, you will need the help of a seasoned workplace injury attorney in order to prove that your employer is at fault and secure just compensation for your injury.
Your Right to a Safe Workplace
All employees are entitled to an appropriately safe and healthy workplace in which they are not at undue risk of injury or illness. It is the responsibility of employers, who profit from the work of their employees, to provide such an environment. This includes keeping the workplace free of disease-causing agents as well as hazardous conditions that could cause an accidental injury such as a fall. If the specific workplace in question is inherently dangerous, the employer must provide appropriate safety precautions, which, if followed, reduce the risk to acceptable levels.
The Principle of Negligence
Like other personal injury lawsuits, most workplace injury lawsuits are based on the principle of negligence. In order to prove that you are entitled to compensation from your employer under this principle, your attorney must show that your employer had a duty to provide a sufficiently safe, healthy working environment for you, that your employer failed in that duty, and that you were injured as a sufficiently direct result of that failure. Each case is unique, but if your attorney can show that these conditions hold true in your case, you stand a good chance of claiming compensation for your injury.
Locate a Workplace Injury Attorney near You
If you have suffered an on-the-job injury, you may be entitled to compensation. Speaking with a lawyer intimately familiar with workers’ rights is essential; use LawyerShop to locate an experienced workplace injury attorney in your area to make sure your rights are maintained.
Tina Conder, an Indiana resident who worked on the riverboat casino Glory Of Rome, is suing her former employer under maritime law for damages suffered as a result of a flea infestation aboard the vessel.
The 5,000-passenger Glory of Rome riverboat, where Conder worked, is docked indefinitely in Indiana’s Harrison County and serves as the Caesars Indiana casino. According to the suit, while working as a dealer aboard the boat, Conder contracted numerous flea bites that led to disabling health problems. Conder claims to have suffered two heart attacks as a result of steroid injections used to suppress her reactions to the flea bites, and she has since been diagnosed with hypereosinophilic syndrome, a rare blood disorder.
Although Conder is eligible for limited benefits under Indiana's workers' compensation laws, if the casino is found to be covered under the federal Jones Act she may be eligible for elevated compensation intended for injured maritime workers, including reimbursement of medical fees and payment of back wages. In December 2007, a Harrison Circuit Court judge ruled that Conder qualified as a Jones Act seaman and that her job was intended to help the vessel fulfill its mission.
The case is currently on hold while the Indiana Court of Appeals reviews the judge's ruling, although both sides in the case have stated that they expect the case to end up in federal court before a final decision is reached.
Angela Page, a former librarian at Liberty Middle School, filed for workers' compensation in June 2004, after developing a condition known as multiple chemical sensitivity. She didn’t receive workers’ compensation for the 2005-2006 school year until in April 2007, after winning an appeal. Further appeals have prevented Page from collecting compensation for the period of time between June 2006 and December 11, 2007, when she was fired.
Multiple chemical sensitivity is a debilitating condition characterized by the inability to tolerate a wide range of chemicals, including ones commonly used in deodorants, detergents, and other products containing synthetic fragrances. Page claims her condition resulted from exposure to mold caused by a leaky roof at the library where she worked.
In December 2005, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health reported health hazards at Liberty Middle School, including leaks and mold.
Page proposed a plan that would enable her to perform work for the school at home, creating classroom Web pages, writing lesson plans, and tutoring students via computer. The school district rejected her plan, opting to fire her instead.
Page claims in her suit that she lost her savings during her fight to obtain workers’ compensation. She is currently at risk of losing her home.
The city of Elyria filed an appeal this week, contesting a decision by the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC) to award benefits to the family of a police officer killed in a motorcycle accident.
According to the appeal, the BWC erroneously awarded benefits to Officer Bradley Scott. The city claims that Scott was not performing police duties at the time of the crash.
On Aug. 27, 2004, Scott collided with a car and was thrown from his motorcycle. The driver of the other vehicle, Shawn Stevens, pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter and was ordered to pay damages to Scott's family.
At the time of the accident, Scott was performing work for the police union. Officers of the union are considered to be on duty while performing work for the union, according to a contract between the city and the union.
The BWC awarded Scott's family approximately $250,000. The city exercised its right to appeal, challenging the BWC's decision several times. To date, it has lost each appeal.
Neither Scott's family nor Elyria police Chief Michael Medders could be reached for comment.
Valerie Boodaghians worked as a nurse at Ocean Township Intermediate School in New Jersey. She alleges that upon opening the nurse's office at the school in August 2004, she noticed a fine dust. She claims that as she attempted to clean the debris, she became so sick that she had to go to the emergency room.
According to the lawsuit, Boodaghians was diagnosed with fungal laryngitis at Philadelphia Ear Nose and Throat Association in April 2005. She further claims the condition caused her to develop a partial paralysis of her vocal chords.
The school district denied her workers' compensation claim, arguing that Boodaghians had suffered a chronic illness prior to her hospitalization.
The suit claims that one year prior to Boodaghian's hospitalization, the school district closed the intermediate school in order to remedy a mold problem. The district admits to having hired a contractor during the 2003-2004 school year to remove mold. The district further claims that prior to the start of the same school year, air quality tests found nothing of concern.
Boodaghians, who now works as a nurse at Ocean Township Wanamassa Elementary School, maintains that others at the intermediate school are sick.
The school has a student body of 1,400, grades five through eight.
Boodaghian's lawsuit is still in the discovery stage, which is expected to last until summer.
Effective Jan. 9, the repeal conforms to the Texas Court of Appeals' ruling in Mid-Century Insurance Company v. Texas Workers' Compensation Commission. This case determined the initiation of lifetime income benefits. According to the ruling, lifetime income benefits are not to be paid prior to the date an injured employee becomes entitled to benefits.
The repeal was published in the Texas Register on Jan. 4.
The group rating system offers discounts for companies that are part of the group rating program.
Among other requirements, a potential group must "demonstrate a common purpose and possess proven results from safety and loss-control practices" to qualify for a group rating, according to the bureau.
Corky and Lenny's and Timely Advertising Specialty, both of Woodmere, and Linderme Tube, of Cleveland, say the system is unfair. The suit alleges that the system forces companies that are not part of a group rating program to subsidize those that are.
Last month, the bureau, also known as the BWC (Better Workers' Compensation), reduced the maximum discount from 90 percent to 85 percent.
According to Attorney General Martha Coakley, the Pittsburg-based company violated the state's Independent Contractor Law when they hired the drivers as independent contractors, not employees.
In addition to depriving the drivers of workers' compensation, health care, and other benefits, classifying the drivers as independent contractors deprives the state of tax revenue from employee pay checks.
FedEx Corp. plans to appeal the citations, according to company spokesman Maury Lane. Meanwhile, Coakley's office is continuing its investigation of FedEx Ground.
A Pittsburgh, PA-based company specializing in workers' compensation solutions recently filed a lawsuit against the state, alleging that it erroneously awarded a contract to a competitor without a bid process.
In its lawsuit, Premier Comp Solutions claims that Pennsylvania's Departments of General Services and Labor & Industry should not have awarded a contract to Industrial Medical Consultants without allowing competition to bid.
Industrial Medical Consultants is affiliated with Highmark, Inc., a high-volume Pittsburg health insurance company.
The suit alleges that approval of the "sole-source" contract violates the state's procurement code. The code states that only in two situations should a contract be awarded without a bid process: in an emergency or when there is only one contractor available capable of providing required services.
The plaintiff's case contends that neither situation was applicable; therefore, Industrial Medical Consultants' contract should be voided.
A Highmark spokesperson could not be reached for comment.
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