There’s always a risk of getting injured in the workplace. If you’re an employee, you face several possible dangers, like equipment malfunction, slip-and-fall accidents, falling objects, and others that could cause serious injuries. Also, if you’re working in high-risk fields like construction and manufacturing, the risk of getting injured is significantly higher.
According to OSHA or Occupational Safety and Health Administration, there were 2.8 million injury and illness cases in 2022. The construction sector has the highest number of preventable fatal injuries, followed by warehousing and transportation. Meanwhile, workers in agriculture, fishing and hunting, mining, and forestry have the highest fatality rates.
You can seek damages if you get injured while working in these fields or any standard work setting. You just need to understand your legal options and what steps you can take. This article will provide tips and guides on navigating workplace injury and seeking fair compensation.
Slip-and-fall accidents are among the most common occupational hazards that result in injuries like broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and even death. Some of the common causes of such injuries are carelessness, defective equipment, and unsafe work conditions. Repetitive motion resulting in tendonitis, bursitis, and carpal tunnel are also among the most common reported injuries.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics records that slips and falls are not compensable unless there is a hazardous condition during the fall. On the other hand, injuries caused by a vehicle accident are compensable, provided the employee was engaged in work-related activities during the accident.
So, what should you do if you’ve been injured? First, you must notify your immediate supervisor about the incident. Depending on your state, your compensation claim can be forfeited if you fail to report the injury within the mandated time frame. After you report the injury, your employer is required to ensure that you get the medical attention you need. The employer will then notify their insurance and file a claim with the state worker’s compensation board.
Depending on the severity of your injury, you are entitled to worker’s compensation benefits. The coverage includes lost wages and medical expenses. Generally, employees are entitled to receive two-thirds of their weekly salary. The compensation also covers all medical costs for diagnosing and treating the injury. These include prescriptions, surgeries, medical equipment, and doctor appointments.
You are also entitled to rehabilitation benefits if you are unable to return to your job. For temporary total disability, you will receive compensation until you can resume work. Temporary partial disability benefits are awarded to employees who cannot hold the same level of employment but can still perform light jobs.
For permanent total disability, employees are awarded the corresponding benefits if they are unable to return to work. In addition, you can also receive disability payments from the SSA (Social Security Administration). For complete or partial loss of a body part that impacts your ability to work, you can receive permanent partial disability benefits. Lastly, in case of fatalities, the family of the employee will receive death benefits as compensation for the loss of financial support.
Since the worker’s compensation program does not include coverage for personal injuries and punitive damages, you need to understand your rights. As such, it is within your legal rights to file for additional damages in a civil court. Since workplace injuries can also cause emotional and physical distress, you can also seek non-economic damages.
Except for some states, an employee can seek compensation if the employer intentionally and directly caused the injury. In such cases, you can sue your employer and prove they were at fault. If defective equipment caused the injury, you can sue the manufacturer and get compensation.
In cases where a third party is involved in the accident that caused the injury, you can file a lawsuit and seek damages against that person. For toxic substance exposure resulting in injury, a toxic tort claim against the substance manufacturer is advised.
It is a common practice among insurance companies to do their best to lower the amount they pay to injured employees. Thus, it would help if you talked to a lawyer who can help you navigate the complexities of worker’s compensation and the claims process.
The lawyer should be able to help you with all the paperwork and advise you at all stages of the claim. Having a reliable lawyer by your side will also ensure the insurance company won’t lowball you. There are instances where employees are required to resign after getting paid a settlement. Check with your lawyer if you can negotiate a higher payout and, at the same time, get compensation from any employment law claims.
Ensuring you follow all the appropriate procedures for a worker’s compensation claim is essential. Remember to file all the paperwork and notify all relevant parties within the deadline so you don’t waste time and effort. A work injury claim generally involves various processes, so you must be patient.
First, there will be an investigation to determine the cause of the workplace injury and determine fault and liability. The next step is to analyse your worker’s compensation coverage and file the claim. There will be a negotiation with the employer or the insurance company to determine the settlement amount. You may need to go to trial if your case is not resolved.
Unfortunately, not all workplace injuries can be resolved with a settlement. Worker’s compensation insurance rarely covers everything an employee needs to cover medical expenses and lost wages. As such, employees have the right to file for a work injury lawsuit to seek damages.
If you go to trial, be ready to present evidence and witnesses. Don’t forget to take photos and videos and secure witness statements during the accident. These will be valuable if your case goes to trial. You should also ensure you have compiled all receipts and medical records.