Fatal work accidents still occur frequently in the United States and many American men and women lose their lives earning an honest living. Improper work safety conditions, dangerous workplace environments and unsafe conditions contribute to scary work injury statistics. The question one must ask is when a work injury lawyer should be contacted if such workplace injuries do occur.
According to Department of Labor statistics, in 2013 alone, 4,585 men and women went to work in the morning and never made it back home. Major workplace tragedies are nigh-impossible to cope with but even if the situation is unbearable, there are situations when legal counsel is required.
Work Related Injuries: What they Are and Are You Covered?
Those injuries or illnesses which arise in close relation to a person’s employee are referred to as work related injuries. Of course, there are distinct state-specific definitions which involve minor differences, but overall, a workplace injury is described as the type of injury arising out of and in the course of employment.
This definition serves a particular purpose: that of hindering employees from attempting to receive compensation for injuries that did not occur in relation to the job.
Work related injuries occur often. In fact, in the United States, 15 workers die daily as a result of traumatic injuries. Similarly, 200 workers face hospitalization daily as a result of work injuries. Some industry sectors present higher risks of occupational injuries. Construction workers, for instance, warehouse employees, transportation workers as well as drilling-rig employees are most exposed to such accidents.
OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) data reveals that 3 million people suffer work-related injuries nationwide but not all types of injuries are reported, so there is a significant dark figure that needs to be taken into account.
Worker’s Compensation Insurance covers the costs of injuries related to an employee’s job, but it’s worth considering whether to accept such compensation plans.
This particular insurance form was created in order to provide adequate wage replacement as well as cover the medical costs arising after work related injuries. The only downside to accepting worker’s compensation is the fact that workers are forced to relinquish their right to sue their employers for the tort of negligence.
Litigation Outside of Worker’s Compensation
As a general rule of thumb, accepting compensation from your employer’s worker’s compensation insurance is connected to the relinquishment of your rights to sue for damages. The compensation you receive does offer liquidity benefits to the person injured, yet these cash benefits are rarely sufficient and cannot compensate the worker’s suffering.
There are certain exceptions when lawsuits can be filed even in such situations:
- Injury resulting due to a defective product – such cases may allow for a products liability action
- Toxic substances involved in your injury – a toxic tort lawsuit may be an option
- Third-party involvement in your injury – consider the possibility of a personal injury lawsuit against that particular person
- Employer’s egregious conduct – personal injury lawsuit possibility against your employer
- No worker’s compensation insurance – if your employer does not carry such a form of insurance, you are free to sue
Work Related Injury Types
Each injury type is correlated with distinct compensations depending on several factors. Of course, context is relevant where work related injuries are concerned. And while they occur in a multitude of contexts, the extent of a workplace injury can influence (and even completely compromise) a person’s ability to live and work normally.
A work injury attorney can help you decide whether your claim bears merit and aid you in obtaining compensation.
Traumatic injuries and falls are most common among construction workers, factory employees, warehouse employees and miners. From defective ladders and equipment to unsafe work conditions, there is a multitude of factors which can lead to falls. Knee injuries and broken bones are the most common form of work-related injury but can often incapacitate workers for long periods of time.
Significant injuries can cause employees to miss significant periods of time at work and their recovery may never be complete.
Chronic exposure to toxic or irritant substances is an inherent factor of certain high-risk jobs. From mining to industrial professions, there are jobs that involve handling hazardous materials, minerals and chemicals. In such situations, using the appropriate safety equipment is essential.
Repetitive motion injuries are another common type of work related injury and arise when employees perform the same movement over and over again. Carpal tunnel syndrome is the perfect example of such an injury: it occurs when employees spend days on end typing at keyboards while not taking into consideration proper ergonomic protection.
Psychological stress and emotional trauma is considered a workplace injury despite the fact that it is not physical in nature. Hostile workplace environments, aggressive employers, discrimination and abuse are enough to cause significant damage to employees.
Deciding When You Require a Work Injury Lawyer
Any type of work related injury should be enough to have you seeking legal counsel. The majority of employees rarely know their legal rights and cannot efficiently promote their interests. While not all work injuries result in litigation, it’s important to know that work injury lawyers can safely guide you through the complicated proceedings of managing your worker’s compensation claim.
Furthermore, making educated and informed decisions is paramount when facing work-related injuries or illnesses. A competent work injury attorney can properly advise you on compensation pursuits and compensation rights.
There are also other means of compensation apart from worker’s compensation. In such cases, a work injury lawyer can not only offer legal representation when a claim is brought to court but also handle the legal proceedings.
Another situation when a work injury attorney should be sought out is when worker’s compensation claims are contested.
Not every worker’s compensation claim is approved and in such a case, your financial compensations may not be awarded. Anything from lost wages, rehabilitation, medical treatment as well as permanent injury costs and loss of future wages can be analyzed by your attorney and included in an adequate compensation claim.
While the purpose of the work injury compensation act is to bypass legal action altogether and directly award appropriate compensation to workers requiring it, when claims are denied, you may find yourself in the position of having to sue.
When a lawsuit is unavoidable, searching for the best work injury attorney can make the difference between a fair settlement and no settlement at all.
Claiming Monetary Damages via Worker’s Compensation Insurance
Although anyone who sustained an injury at work is able to file a claim through their employer’s insurance provider, an attorney can make sure that your claim is correctly filed and completed. When filing for monetary damages, one does not need to determine fault. Regardless of who was responsible for the injury itself, worker’s compensation was designed to cover the costs.
Swiftness in filing your claim is important. Obtaining the compensation you require (and deserve) can be hindered when failing to file your claim in a timely fashion. More often than not, late claims prompt legitimacy investigations. Moreover, not that in specific cases, you can actually lose your eligibility to file such a compensation claim when your statute of limitations expires.
Filing your claim must therefore represent one of your main concerns. There is a statute of limitations connected to each claim (the amount of time awarded to people between the moment of injury occurrence and the moment of injury discovery). If you or your attorney have failed to file your suit before this statute of limitations has expired, your case may be dismissed.
Recognize Work-Related Injuries
There are certain situations when worker’s compensation does not cover the costs stemming for your injury.
Lunch breaks, for instance, are particularly rocky terrain. Normally, injuries occurring during an employee’s lunch break are not covered. However, the situation varies when the personal nature of your lunch break turns professional. If you were picking up lunch for you and your boss, for instance, and you fell and hit your head, worker’s compensation may cover the injury.
Worker’s compensation also covers injuries which arose on company premises, including cafeteria, elevator or halls.
Company events are also debatable topics. Injuries arising during company events such as team buildings, baseball games or picnics, are normally covered under worker’s compensation. Business trip injuries are also covered, but your commute to and from work is not (if you are not driving a company vehicle, in which case, the injury is most likely covered).
There are countless loops and loopholes and it’s important to know that however versed you may be in law and workplace injuries, only an experienced work related injury attorney can truly and correctly guide you through an already gruelling process.