“On-the-job” injuries are usually thought of as workers’ compensation claims – things like occupational injuries or illnesses that arise out of and occur, while in the course and scope of an employee’s employment. The status of being an “employee” is essential to a successful workers’ compensation claim. Typically, just how or why the injury occurred, or even if the employee was negligent himself, is not dispositive on the issue of compensability in a workers’ compensation claim, as long as the employee is not injured while engaging in misconduct or other prohibited acts or behavior. For example, in some states an employee injured on the job, while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, may be denied benefits under workers’ compensation. Injuries might occur suddenly, like a fall from a ladder, or may occur gradually, like conditions that develop from repetitive motion of parts of the worker’s body.
But just how and why the workplace injury occurred could be very important, if an employee is injured by negligent acts or omissions by “third parties”, that is, persons or entities unrelated to the employer, and in such instances an injured work may be able to bring a claim for his injury against the third party, in addition to the employee’s worker’s compensation claim. For example, if an outside vendor, who services the soda machine in the workplace, spills fluid on the floor on which the worker slips and is injured, the worker might be able to pursue a claim against that vendor, in addition to a worker’s compensation claim. Makers of hazardous machinery or devices may also be potentially-liable parties for injuries suffered with the machines or devices.
In all injury claims, the facts of the occurrence are critical to determining benefits, types of claims that can be presented, possible parties who may owe benefits and receipt of just compensation, whether under workers’ compensation laws or with claims against third parties. It is important that you consult with an attorney as soon as possible after your accident to make sure that you do what is required, like provide timely notice of the incident and injury, and to preserve the evidence necessary for you to prevail later on in a contested situation.
Different Kinds of On-the-job Injuries
Each state has its own workers compensation system, statutes and case law, so benefits, rules, regulations, provisions and requirements will vary – sometimes widely. Workers’ compensation might include, for example, claims that arise from sudden or gradual injuries or from illnesses that develop due to exposure to workplace chemicals or ambient conditions or, in some instances, to the conditions of the employment itself. Breathing harmful dust or vapors, a stressful job that leads to a heart attack or carpal tunnel disorders may or may not be compensable, depending upon the facts and your state’s workers’ compensation system. The only way to know whether your claim may be covered, is to speak with a lawyer, who is knowledgeable in this area of the law. Additionally, a personal injury caused by an on-the-job accident (including slip-and-fall injuries, brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and others) may be compensable in a separate claim against a negligent party. Your lawyer will know if such a claim can be pursued.
Workplace injuries occur in a variety of ways and under a variety of situations. The terms of employment, the status of the worker, the places and activities where injuries occur, can all figure into, and determine, the outcome. Was the worker injured after parking his car and walking toward the place of employment? What if he was injured during a scheduled break? How are claims handled for workers who must travel? What if a traveling worker was injured during a personal deviation to go shopping? What if the shopping included looking for something associated with the employment? These and many other questions can influence or control whether workers’ compensation will be paid, so you will need to have an experienced attorney evaluate the particulars of your claim.
Work-related injuries can be small or large, but you need to know what to expect. How will your employer likely react to your injury? What can they do and what are they prohibited from doing? What benefits should you expect and when can you expect them? What happens to your job? Do you have job security? What if you cannot return to work? Are there other benefits and benefits systems that you can access, and when should you access them? As you can see, getting answers to these and other questions from your attorney will assure you get piece of mind to go along with the benefits that you deserve.
1. Traumatic Injuries Due To Unsafe Equipment Or Vehicles
Defective or hazardous equipment is a common cause of workplace injuries. Poorly designed, manufactured, assembled, or, in some cases, repaired or altered equipment can pose risks. For example, ladders, scaffolds, complicated heavy machinery and power tools can cause disabling or fatal injuries and, if those items are poorly designed or manufactured, claims can be made against those responsible for the poor design or construction. Construction, manufacturing facilities, assembly plants and mining sites are notorious for these types of mishaps.
Serious falls are common for construction workers, miners, and factory workers. A fall from any significant height can result in broken bones, internal injuries, and even permanent paralysis or death. Workers who sustain such serious injuries can expect to be out of work for an extended period while they recover. Many are never able to return to work.
Many jobs require the use of motor vehicles, and there is always a risk of motor vehicle accidents. Fatal or severe accidents caused by careless drivers or equipment failures may happen.
2. Injuries Caused By Repetitive Motion
Repetitive motion injuries occur due to repeatedly performing a single characteristic movement. For example, employees who spend their days typing on a computer keyboard without appropriate ergonomic protection may develop carpal tunnel syndrome, which renders them unable to type for extended periods. [Smart employers take steps to improve the workplace by anticipating such risks and providing adequate protection for their employees. In so doing, smart employers reduce their loss experience for workers’ compensation claims and safe money otherwise spent on workers’ compensation premiums and benefits.]
3. Chronic Exposure To Dangerous Chemicals or Substances
Many jobs require some measure of exposure to toxic or hazardous chemicals or substances and that exposure, whether brief or long term, may lead to the development of serious illnesses or injuries. Silica or coal dust can lead to serious medical issues for miners. Various chemicals involved in manufacturing can lead to illnesses or injuries to factory workers. Welders may breathe welding fumes, including airborne lead, which can lead to serious, life-threatening conditions. In all instances in which a serious illness or injury occurs, it is important for the affected worker to seek legal counsel, who can investigate, and prosecute if appropriate, a claim for health problems caused by harmful, work-related toxic or hazardous exposures.
4. Emotional And Psychological Trauma
Physical injuries are not the only type of workplace injuries. Many times, there are emotional or psychological components to the physical trauma of a workplace injury. Many states will require that there be an actual, physical trauma that then precipitates or causes the psychological issues before accepting responsibility for treatment of the psychological issues. That is, the physical trauma causes the psychological issue. Some states, usually in a very limited fashion, will recognize as compensable causation in the opposite direction, that is, the stress causes the physical problem. It is obviously more difficult to prove that job stress, among all the other stresses of life, actually caused a physical injury. The classic example of a stressful job-physical injury situation is the worker who suffers a heart attack at his desk without any other obvious or known stressor as the precipitating cause.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who Can Seek Benefits for On-the-job Injuries?
Any employee, who is injured at work and covered by workers’ compensation, can file a claim for benefits. If you suffer and injury, you may be entitled to reasonable and necessary medical care and treatment. If you are unable to perform the usual and customary aspects of your job due to your injury, you may be entitled to some portion of your regular weekly income.
This type of claim should be filed as soon as possible after a workplace injury or illness occurs. Delay in filing a workers’ compensation claim can jeopardize your ability to receive appropriate compensation. Timely notice of the accident and injury must be given to prevent the claim from being barred.
What Are the Statutes of Limitations For On-the-job Cases?
As has been stated before, every state has its own workers’ compensation system and statutes. Filing requirements vary from one state to the next. The best advice is always to seek legal representation as soon after your injury as possible and let your lawyer make sure that you comply, or have complied, with the notice, filing and other time limitations specified by your individual state law. These time limitations act like statutes of limitation in personal injury claims and failure to comply with the requirements could cause you to lose the right to compensation.
When Is It Best to File A Case For an On-the-job Injury
The various time requirements (statutes of limitation) in a workplace injury case vary from state to state. A workers’ compensation claim may have a notice requirement, a hearing requirement and other time limitations. A third-party negligence claim, associated with a workplace injury, will have whatever statute of limitation there is for bodily injury claims in that jurisdiction. Time requirements are sometimes tolled or extended due to various circumstances, like following the death of an injured worker, the minority or incapacity of the claimant, etc. The only way to know for sure is to seek competent legal counsel as soon as you can so your rights will be protected. You do not want to lose your right to seek recovery for medical expenses, lost wages, and other benefits or damages due to your delay.
Secure Worker’s On-the-Job Rights
The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) seeks to improve workplace safety in order to reduce or minimize worker injuries or illnesses. Dangerous conditions can be reported to OSHA by workers, who will investigate and enforce changes to foster safe conditions. Keeping the workplace free of disease-causing agents and hazardous conditions benefits everyone.
If you suffered an on-the-job injury, whether due to an unsafe workspace, or otherwise, in the Savannah, GA area, then you may be entitled to compensation. Get in touch with the Thomas Hunter Law Firm today to schedule a no-obligation case evaluation with our attorney.
Before products are placed in use and commerce, manufacturers should exercise care that it is safe and free of defects. Negligence on the part of the manufacturer in the design or manufacture of the product may cause severe damage or harm. Financial costs, missed wages, pain, suffering, and mental distress from a defective product can be devastating. You’ll need a product liability lawyer who can help you get the money or verdict you deserve.