A workplace injury can be a jarring experience. In an instant, you can find yourself trying to make sense that your employer, who provides you with your income and job stability, is now the cause of your pain. This quandary in itself is what makes these types of cases difficult and, unfortunately, what makes so many victims pause before they decide to take legal action.
The reality is that if you suffer an injury at work, you deserve the indemnification provided to you by law. Workplace injuries can have far-reaching effects on your day-to-day activities and livelihood, so we suggest taking prompt legal action.
If you have suffered a workplace accident, you’re likely eligible to receive workers’ compensation insurance benefits. We can help you understand your rights and help you gather all the necessary documentation and complete all the required forms for your claim to proceed. While these benefits are legally available to you, the insurance companies don’t always make it easy for you to receive these benefits, which is why it’s important to seek the guidance and advice of a workers’ compensation lawyer or construction accident lawyer whom you trust.
Workplace Injuries: A Closer Look at the Costs
Across the country, most states require employers to carry some level of worker’s compensation insurance. This policy aims to cover the costs an employee may face if they suffer an injury on the job.
A recent report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics noted there were 2.6 million nonfatal injuries and illnesses throughout one year in private industries. Of these, 1,062,700 resulted in at least one missed day from work.
Regardless of whether an employee misses work or how long they miss from work, they have the right to pursue reasonable costs. These costs may include the following:
If an employee chooses to request medical treatment, they have the right to request reimbursement of these costs. It’s important to note that an employer does not have the right to attempt to dissuade or stop an employee from getting necessary care. In most cases, the employer must allow the employer to go to the doctor and pay them their regular wage while they are at their appointment. The law may sometimes enable the employee to recover mileage costs.
While the employer cannot stop the employee from going to the doctor, in many cases, the law does allow the employer to restrict who the employee may go to and may require prior approval for certain services.
Though medical costs will vary from person to person, covered costs may include:
- Doctor office visits
- Emergency room services
- Medical transportation
- Prescription medication and medical devices
- Rehabilitative services, including physical therapy
- Loss of Earnings
One of the biggest fears employees face after an accident is the potential of losing their job. What if their injury prevents them from returning to their previous position? What if the employer retaliates and cuts their hours, moves them, or fires them altogether? These are all valid concerns.
The important thing to understand is employers cannot fire an employee for opening a worker’s compensation claim. This is discrimination. However, they do not have to hold your job for you in most cases. With that said, if you meet the requirements, federal and state FMLA laws may protect your position for up to one year.
If your injury keeps you out of work for a given period, your employer will likely have to pay your wages while you are gone. The amount of time you miss to receive these wages and the percentage of salary you are eligible for varies from state to state. These wages are non-taxable.
In addition to regular weekly wages, a worker may qualify for:
- Permanent partial disability (PPD)
- Permanent total disability (PTD)
- Return to Work Services
Your state may allow worker retraining services if you cannot return to work or your previous position. In this case, you can further your education or train for a new career at the employer’s cost. Your program will depend on what your healthcare providers recommend and what you and your advocates agree to.
Typical options include:
- College degree programs
- Trade school
- Certification courses
It is essential to advocate for yourself after a workplace injury. Talk to your attorney if you need more time or are uncomfortable with your return-to-work plan. Your health and your well-being are the only things that matter, and in many cases, once you accept a final settlement, most components of the worker’s compensation case are final.
Covered Workplace Accidents
A common question attorneys receive is, “is my injury covered under workers’ comp?”
To answer this, we often look at a few considerations:
- Did the injury happen at work?
- Did the injury occur while you were carrying out workplace activities?
- Was your injury the result of a harmful event or exposure?
- Did you suffer actual injuries?
If you can answer yes to at least one of these questions, you may have a worker’s compensation case. Another thing to point out is most employees do not realize that they do not have to be “on the clock” to have a workplace injury claim. Most states have a “going and coming” rule, which covers an employee if they are coming or leaving work, regardless of whether they are on the clock.
Many employees still question whether they have a worker’s compensation case. The idea of not going against the employee has become so ingrained in the psyche that many believe only catastrophic injuries qualify as compensable injuries. That is not the case. Common workplace accidents include:
Slip, Trip, and Fall Accidents
Slip, trip, and fall accidents are common everywhere, especially at work. The National Safety Council reported hundreds of thousands of workplace falls throughout one year. In just one year, there were 805 employee deaths involving falls and 211,640 fall injuries that were bad enough for the employee to take time off from work. Same-height falls and falls from a higher level typically fall under the slip, trip, and fall classification.
Common causes of slip and fall accidents:
- Wet flooring from spills, inclement weather, or improper mopping
- Loose electrical cords
- Improperly stored products or machinery
- Loose rugs or flooring
- Unmarked steps
Caught Between or Pinch Point Accidents
Pinch injuries often happen exactly how they sound when a body part becomes pinched somewhere, often in a piece of equipment. A pinch injury in a manufacturing facility may occur in a conveyor or when a body part becomes pinned between two pieces of equipment or fixed objects. In an office, a pinch injury may look like a finger getting stuck in a drawer or door.
The problem with these types of injuries is they are one of the most common types of injuries employees take for granted. These are the ones usually viewed as “not serious.” However, pinch injuries can have serious implications, including broken bones, tendon and ligament issues, and loss of mobility.
For this reason, it is always a good idea to see a doctor after a pinch injury, even if you think it’s not a big deal.
Burns and Chemical Exposure
Burns and chemical exposure accidents can carry some of the most severe, long-term consequences. These injuries happen when an employee touches a hot surface or hazardous chemical or through inhalation.
Because of how scary these injuries can be, we recommend working with an experienced worker’s compensation attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney will help you understand your rights and help you get the treatment you need.
Common Workplace Injuries
Like you cannot predict whether a claim is viable by the type of accident involved, you cannot say whether a given injury merits a worker’s compensation case. The ultimate questions are, does the injury require medical attention, and does it interfere with your ability to work?
Common workplace injuries include:
Cuts and Lacerations
In the grand scheme of things, cuts and lacerations may seem like minor injuries. But that does not consider the degree of the injury and the reaching effects. For example, a deep cut can cause various issues, including muscle damage, mobility issues, and an increased risk of infection.
There are many ways these types of injuries happen, including:
- Pinch accidents
- Improper use of a piece of equipment or machine
- Machine malfunctions
- Broken glass
- Broken Bones
If you incur a broken bone at work, you likely have a worker’s compensation case. Someone who has a broken bone may face a long road toward recovery. The injury can cause significant pain and limited mobility and may require physical therapy.
Common causes of broken bone injuries at work include:
- Slip and fall accidents
- Caught in between accidents
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Traumatic Brain Injuries
It may be uncomfortable to think of brain injuries as common workplace injuries, but they are. These injuries can happen when an employee slips and falls or when an object hits them from above. Other causes of TBIs include struck-by accidents and motor vehicle accidents.
Every person responds differently to a head injury, so there is no way to predict a traumatic brain injury’s short-term and long-term effects. That’s why it’s imperative to recognize the signs of a TBI and take immediate action
Symptoms of a TBI include:
- Memory issues
- Mood changes
- Loss of hearing or sight
There is no all-inclusive list of covered workplace injuries. We can only provide examples as a guide.
Other injuries that may fall under worker’s compensation include:
- Spinal cord injuries
- Sprains and strains
- Repetitive stress injuries
- Mental health issues
The Role of an Experienced Worker’s Compensation Attorney
By law, all employers must post employee rights regarding worker’s compensation in a location that is visible and easily accessible to all employees. However, most employers are not vocal about the employee’s right to legal counsel.
Following a workplace injury, you must understand that you are your advocate. The insurance company works for your employer and has a personal incentive to pay you less. If you are facing a severe injury, you must work with an attorney.
An experienced worker’s compensation can add tremendous value to your case. Not only do they know the law, but most lawyers have worked hard to create connections with local facilitators and care providers.
Your attorney can help you understand your rights, talk to your care provider, and help you create a plan that has your interests in mind. To learn more about your legal rights following an injury on the job, contact an experienced worker’s compensation attorney.