Workplace injuries are injuries or illnesses that occur 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.