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Common Workplace Accidents That are Eligible for Personal Injury Claims

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Unfortunately accidents in the workplace are a fairly frequent event, although, not as bad as in the past. Workplace accidents do happen and when they do it is important for employees to know their rights. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, a total of 5250 workers died from work-related injury in the US in 2018, this was up 2% from 2017. The rate of nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses among private industry employees was unchanged for the first time since 2012 at 2.8 cases per 100 full-time equivalent workers. It is also important to note that of all the non fatal cases requiring days off work, 37% required a visit to a medical facility. The median number of days away from work for all private industry cases in 2018 was 8 days. 

 

Workers’ Compensation Injuries

The general rule is that the compensation an injured employee can recover after a workplace accident is through his or her employer’s workers’ compensation insurance. In some states, an employee can bypass the workers’ compensation system and file a lawsuit in civil court if the employer’s actions are intentional and hurt their workers due to negligence. Some states even allow to sue a supervisor or another employee, except for Alabama, Maine and federal government employees. Independent contractors are not covered by workers’ compensation laws. If an independent contractor is injured at a work site they can choose to sue for personal injuries under negligence and product or premises liability. For workers’ compensation injuries most states provide benefits to those injured in the workplace. This means that employees can receive compensation in the form of benefits even when they are partially responsible or at fault for the accident. However, the worker does lose the right to sue in civil court since they would be receiving benefits. 

 

Accidents Not Covered By Workers’ Compensation 

Some workplace accidents are not covered by workers’ compensation laws. This includes workers who are injured by someone other than an employer or coworker. These workers would then have the ability to sue that person or entity. An example of this would be when a worker is injured as a result of a defective machine or tool. They then would be required to sue the manufacturer instead of their employer. A manufacturer can be held liable for negligence or failure to warn. Similarly, a worker injured by toxic substance or gases in the workplace, like asbestos or benzene, may be able to bring a toxic tort lawsuit against the manufacturer for the recovery of acute or immediate injuries like chemical burns or other injuries that might take time to show up such as cancer or lung diseases like mesothelioma. This is why you also think about  business protection insurance as well.

 

Common Workplace Accidents

The possibility of getting into an accident in any work environment is high. However some industries have different risks. For instance the construction industry accounts for about 1 in 5 work related deaths. This is because construction workers are usually the most exposed to accident risks such as, falls, getting struck by an object, getting caught in between objects, or getting electrocuted. Some common workplace accident types include the following: 

 

  • Motor Vehicle Accidents: Workers that drive or operate heavy machinery as part of their job are exposed to different weather conditions, negligent drivers, and faulty mechanical parts. All of these factors can cause accidents. Similarly, workers that spent a lot of time around heavy vehicles, equipment or machinery face a high risk of being struck or crushed by one of them. At times when a motor vehicle accident occurs from negligence from another party who is not a coworker or employer than they could pursue a third-party claim leading to compensation beyond that provided by workers’ compensation benefits. 

 

  • Slip and Falls: Slips and falls in the workplace are usually due to wet or icy surfaces, cords, scattered debris, poor lightning. They can lead to severe injuries requiring someone to miss significant time from work. A lot of the times slips and falls in the workplace are preventable through either proper cleaning or marked hazardous areas.

 

  • Falls from Heights: Falls are the leading cause of worker deaths in the construction industry. Most of the times falls are due to inadequate safety equipment or failure to use safety equipment. Fall protection is required for all workers who work at heights. 

 

 

  • Electrocution: Electrocution is one of the most dangerous workplace accidents because most of the time the injuries can be fatal. Workers are prone to being injured by an electrical shock at work due to them being exposed to live wires, faulty electrical equipment, and broken electrical outlets. It is important for employers to place proper signs giving fair warnings to their employees that they are working close to high-voltage. Similarly, equipment and any other electrical wires or outlets should be inspected and maintained regularly.  

 

 

  • Overexertion: These types of injuries may either occur after a single incident or be cumulative as a result of years of doing the same strenuous activity on a daily basis, such as, lifting, pushing/pulling, and carrying. Employers need to train their workers on proper handling techniques of heavy objects. However, proper labels showing weight and/or hazards should be used, as well as, providing assistive or protective gears and allowing for proper break time helps with alleviating overexertion injuries.  

 

 

  • Struck by Objects: Being hit by an object can cause all types of severe injuries due to gravity’s acceleration making the striking force more severe. These injuries can be prevented by storing materials safely and/or posting warning signs. Use of protective equipment such as hard hats and eye protection aids with making these injuries less severe. 

 

 

 

  • Repetitive Motion: These types of injuries are due to cumulative trauma. They are caused by excessively using the same physical movements repeatedly. They can cause severe nerve damage such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Proper ergonomic and work techniques should be used to prevent these injuries. 

 

 

  • Violence: Workplace violence is common in environments dealing with high stress. A lot of times these includes workplaces where the employee has a high pressure customer facing job. Employers need to provide the appropriate training and create proper communication channels. Proper procedures need to be in place when employees are faced with a distressed customer. 

 

Fortunately most of the workplace accidents are eligible for personal injury claims against workers’ insurance and in some cases might be eligible for additional compensation depending on the situation, where it takes place, and how it happened. Employees are encouraged to seek a lawyer’s advice in order to get the best compensation available for them. 

 

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