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Some workplaces are dangerous environments, and accidents that occur at work can result in injuries for those involved. Workplace injuries may cause you to miss work, and they may even leave you unable to return to work for an extended period. Such circumstances can be stressful, especially if injuries have left you with mounting medical bills and wondering, “Can I sue if I was hurt on the job?”
If you or a loved one has been hurt on the job, you should contact the experienced workplace injury lawyers from Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 today for a free consultation. If we are not able to win your case, you will not owe us anything.
Employers are responsible for ensuring the workplace is a safe environment. To accomplish this, employers must ensure all safety rules and guidelines are adhered to, provide proper safety training and equipment, and ensure all equipment is well maintained. Failure to do so may result in a workplace accident leading to injury or even a fatality.
In 2018, approximately 2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries occurred. These injuries are often caused by slip and falls, which accounted for about 1 in 4 non-fatal accidents, resulting in employees missing work as a result of their injuries. Meanwhile, there were 5,250 fatal work injuries reported in the United States in 2018, resulting in a fatal work injury rate of about 3.5 fatalities per 100,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers.
Safety in the Workplace
Employers have a responsibility to ensure their employees are provided with and utilize proper safety equipment, such as safety harnesses and protective gear. Employees must also be trained to work safely and properly utilize safety equipment.
Safety rules and requirements may be burdensome and seemingly costly, but an accident will be far more costly. These rules and safety requirements exist to prevent accidents from occurring and prevent injuries to employees who reasonably expect a reasonably safe workplace. Failing to ensure employees are following safety regulations and using proper safety equipment may also result in an accident.
Finally, third parties who may be present at a worksite, such as subcontractors or vendors, may be unfamiliar with the work environment and safety requirements; they may cause an accident. If a third party causes the workplace accident, they may be liable for any resulting injuries or fatalities.
COMMON CAUSES OF WORKPLACE ACCIDENTS
Slip and Falls
Slip and fall accidents are among the most common workplace accidents, often caused by working from heights without proper safety gear as well as by cluttered or slippery walking surfaces. Employers should ensure that safety harnesses are used when working from heights, and that all walking surfaces are clear of clutter and debris. Employers should also ensure proper footwear is worn at all times to help prevent potential injuries from an employee slipping and falling on an unsafe surface.
Many workers may be required to travel as part of their job. Truck drivers delivering cargo all over the country and administrative assistants running errands across town for an employer are typical examples. Any employee may be involved in a vehicle accident while within the scope of their employment. Care must be taken that vehicles used for work purposes are properly maintained and inspected. In many cases, there may also be applicable laws or regulations, such as for commercial truck drivers, that place specific requirements for maintenance of company vehicles.
Some occupations may require employees to encounter high temperatures or volatile substances. If situations involving extreme heat or volatile materials are not handled safely, employees may be burned in the event of an accident.
Exposure to Hazardous Materials
Some professions may require employees to handle or be near hazardous materials, such as toxic chemicals or waste. Proper personal protective equipment and other safety equipment in addition to other necessary precautions must be utilized at all times to prevent an accident from occurring and resulting in an employee being exposed to these hazardous materials.
Equipment Malfunction or Misuse
Employers should ensure that all equipment used by employees is properly maintained. Poorly maintained equipment may fail without warning and cause an accident. Misuse of equipment or use of equipment by employees not authorized to use it may also cause an accident.
A major deciding factor when it comes to seeking compensation for workplace accidents is whether or not your employer has workers’ compensation coverage. Employers in every state in the U.S. are required to subscribe to workers’ compensation insurance, with the exception of Texas. In Texas, workers’ compensation is optional for employers. If you are unsure if your employer provides workers’ compensation coverage, you can contact the Texas Department of Insurance Workers’ Compensation Division, which can be reached at 1-800-252-7031, to verify your employer’s status.
If you have been hurt on the job, you may need a lawyer to help you seek any compensation you may be entitled to through your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance or by potentially filing a lawsuit against your employer. In some cases, you may also be able to file a suit against any at-fault third parties.
WHAT IF MY EMPLOYER HAS WORKERS’ COMP?
Many employees have wondered, “Can I sue if I was hurt on the job and my employer has workers’ compensation insurance?” The law varies from state to state; in Texas, participation in workers’ comp is generally optional for employers. If your employer has workers’ compensation insurance, you generally may be unable to sue your employer for compensation after a workplace accident.
However, if the accident resulted in the death of the victim, and it was caused by gross negligence on behalf of the employer, you may still be able to file a lawsuit against the employer. If pursuing a wrongful death claim for your loved one hurt on the job, your lawyer may help you seek punitive damages as a result of the employer’s gross negligence.
Employees who are the victims of workplace accidents will need to file a claim with the workers’ compensation insurance provider. Any compensation provided must generally be sought through this system unless a third party was liable for your injuries.
Even if you pursue compensation for your injuries through workers’ comp, you may still need a lawyer if you were hurt on the job. An experienced workplace injury attorney may be able to help you navigate the workers’ comp system and help you seek the compensation you may be entitled to under workers’ compensation laws for the injuries you suffered in the accident.
WHAT IF MY EMPLOYER DOES NOT PARTICIPATE IN WORKERS’ COMP?
In Texas, workers’ compensation is optional, and if the employer does not participate in the state workers’ comp program, you may be able to sue the employer directly for any compensation you may be entitled to for your injuries caused by a workplace accident. A skilled workplace injury attorney in Texas may be able to help you understand your legal options and handle any claims while you focus on recovering from your injuries.
WHO ELSE MAY BE RESPONSIBLE FOR A WORKPLACE ACCIDENT?
If your injury was a result of the negligent behavior of a third party, you may be able to file a suit against the liable third party, even if your employer has workers’ comp insurance coverage. If a third party is involved in the accident, you should be sure to collect as much information as possible. Be sure to find out who they work for, their name, and their contact information as well.
It is also important to collect the contact information of anyone who may have witnessed the accident and the third party’s involvement. This may include third party contractors, vendors, custodial service providers, or other non-employees present at the worksite. If you think a third party may have been responsible for your workplace injury, you should contact a workplace accident attorney as soon as possible, so they may begin to investigate your claim as soon as possible, and so that they may take appropriate actions to preserve any available evidence relevant to the accident.
Generally, you may be able to seek compensation for economic as well as non-economic damages caused by workplace accidents. If you have been hurt on the job, your lawyer may be able to help you pursue any compensation you may be entitled to.
Potential economic damages you may be entitled to include:
- medical expenses
- lost wages
- loss of potential income
Compensation for medical expenses may cover the cost of medical bills incurred as a result of any injuries caused by the accident. This may include the cost of emergency room visits, hospital stays, treatment, and any medications necessary to treat your injuries.
If you missed work as a result of your injuries, you may be able to claim compensation for your lost wages during your period of treatment and recovery.
Loss of Potential Income
If your injuries have left you unable to return to work, you may be able to seek compensation for the loss of potential income you may have been able to earn if not for the accident and the resulting injuries.
Meanwhile, potential non-economic damages you may be able to seek include, but are not limited to:
- pain and suffering
- wrongful death
Pain and Suffering
You may be able to seek compensation for the pain and suffering caused by your injuries. This type of compensation is based on the extent your injuries may have affected you and your quality of life, as well as other details of your case.
If you have lost a spouse or parent due to a workplace accident, you may be able to seek compensation for this loss. A spouse may generally seek compensation for a loss of companionship, and children may be able to pursue compensation for the loss of a parental figure.
STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS
The statute of limitations establishes a window within which you may file a claim. You may be prevented from filing any lawsuit if the applicable statute of limitations has already expired. The statute of limitations for personal injury claims varies from state to state, but it is often two or three years from the date of the accident. It is worth noting, however, if any injuries are not discovered until a later date, the statute of limitations may instead start when any such injuries are discovered or should have been discovered.
CONSULT THE WORKPLACE INJURY LAWYERS AT ZINDA LAW GROUP TODAY
At Zinda Law Group, our experienced team of workplace accident attorneys may be able to help you after you or a loved one has been injured in an accident at work. Our skilled team of lawyers have years of experience helping victims pursue the maximum compensation they may be entitled to after being injured at work.
Meetings with attorneys are available by appointment only.