Every year, over 4,500 workers are killed in workplace accidents, one-third in transportation and highway accidents, one-fifth as a result of workplace violence, one-sixth in equipment or machinery collisions, and one-sixth in falls. (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics; see also the AFL-CIO’s Death on the Job report.) Workplace fatality rates have fallen dramatically over the past generation, from 18 deaths per 100,000 workers in 1970 to 4 deaths per 100,000 workers in 2002, but the truth is that everybody should be able to come home safely, and the employers that cut back on worker safety and the companies that put unsafe equipment in the workplace need to be held responsible.

Over four million work-related injuries each year are serious enough to require hospital treatment, according to OSHA. Every year, over 1% of workers are injured so severely on the job they need to take time off to recuperate. In some occupations — like freight movers, police officers, truck drivers (tractor-trailer and delivery), and workers at industrial workplaces and construction sites — 5% of workers are severely injured. Review of insurance data shows that nearly three-quarters of these injuries have just five causes:

  • Overexertion, i.e. injuries caused by lifting, pushing, pulling, holding and carrying
  • Falls on same level / tripping on hazard
  • Falling to lower level / falling without a proper guardrail
  • Bodily reaction, i.e. injuries from bending, climbing, reaching, standing, sitting, and slipping or tripping without falling
  • Struck by moving, falling or flying object

The remaining claims are primarily highway incidents, “caught in/compressed by” accidents involving forklifts, factory machinery, and other apparatus, falling objects, repetitive motion, and workplace violence. Other causes include carbon monoxide poisoning electrocution and trench cave ins.The falling accidents at construction sites are particularly inexcusable, given the detailed OSHA guidelines that provide more than adequate protection.

How Work Injury Lawyers Can Help

Workers compensation covers many of these claims and is a “no fault” process, but workers comp is an adversarial process, where the difference between a lawyer shuffling paper and a zealous advocate can mean hundreds of thousands of dollars. Workers’ comp doesn’t cover what is referred to as “general damages,” such as pain and suffering, and so it’s essential that every part of the claim be maximized to provide fair compensation. Workers compensation does, however, generally cover:

  • Payment of medical expenses for treatment related to sickness or the injury
  • Settlement for severe disfigurement or scars
  • Compensation to cover a specific losses like loss of a limb or appendage
  • Coverage physical therapy and vocational rehabilitation programs
  • Death benefits

Under workman’s damages law, companies must cover payment for lost wages and all accident-related medical expenses. Nonetheless, there are many rules and requirements that should be fulfilled for a worker’s claim to be accepted. You ought to talk with a workers compensation attorney promptly to discuss your legal rights if you workers compensation claim is denied.

If you have a workplace accident, even if it seems “minor,” don’t hesitate to report your injury. If you don’t report an accident or injury promptly, your company may refuse you payment for clinical treatment and out of work benefits. Additionally, in the event you don’t rapidly report your injury, the defense may challenge when your injury actually happened at work and the trustworthiness of your claim.

Some Example Work Injury Lawsuit Issues

Sometimes there’s a dispute over whether the injury was “work-related.” An injury during a lunch break is typically not “work-related” unless it involved your employer. An pre-existing condition that is worsened at work can be considered “work-related” if you have sufficient medical evidence of the worsening. Mental conditions are treated the same as physical injuries, so long as there is sufficient medical proof.

Many times, the question is: which workers compensation law applies?

What About Work Injuries Caused By Companies Other Than The Employer?

Workers comp, too, only applies to the employer, and doesn’t absolve other companies in the area, like subcontractors and heavy machinery and crane manufacturers, from their duties to keep workers safe. Our workplace injury lawyers thoroughly investigate every case to review, for example, any history of accidents, the presence of OSHA violations, and whether appropriate safety procedures were created and followed to ensure every party responsible for our client’s injuries is held fully responsible either under workers compensation laws or under tort law claims like negligence, recklessness, and punitive damages. You need to talk with a lawyer concerning whether you’ve got a viable personal injury claim even if you’re receive workers compensation benefits. Workers Compensation doesn’t cover pain and suffering, and it doesn’t grant legal immunity to third parties, and so a personal injury claim against another responsible party could provide compensation for losses which were not covered by workers’ comp settlement. That is, for example, how asbestos lawsuits work, despite workers’ comp statutes.

In these types of cases in Pennsylvania, the key legal issue is often: does that company have a legal duty to keep people safe if those people aren’t their employees? To answer this question, courts often look to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court case, Althaus ex rel. Althaus v. Cohen, 756 A. 2d 1166 (Pa. 2000). As the Althaus case said, “The determination of whether a duty exists in a particular case involves the weighing of several discrete factors which include: (1) the relationship between the parties; (2) the social utility of the actor’s conduct; (3) the nature of the risk imposed and foreseeability of the harm incurred; (4) the consequences of imposing a duty upon the actor; and (5) the overall public interest in the proposed solution.” However, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has also said “It is not necessary to conduct a full-blown public policy assessment [like that required by Althaus] in every instance in which a longstanding duty imposed on members of the public at large arises in a novel factual scenario.” For example, in cases involving unusually dangerous equipment or activities, like electrical power lines, there is no need for a court to go through the Althaus factors, because an electric supplier’s high duty of care to persons lawfully in proximity of the electrical lines has been recognized in this Commonwealth for well over a century.

Work Injury Lawyers In Philadelphia

Our law firm is based in Philadelphia, and we represent workplace injury clients across Pennsylvania, with most of our work in Philadelphia, Montgomery, Bucks, Delaware, Chester, and Lancaster counties. In New Jersey, we work primarily in Camden, Burlington, Glouchester, Salem, Mercer, Ocean, and Atlantic Counties. In Delaware, most of our clients are from or were injured in New Castle and Kent counties.

You can also read some of my articles relating to work injuries, such as:

You can also read about our brain injury and spinal cord injury practice areas.

For a confidential, no-obligation consultation with our work injury lawyers, call (215) 948-2718 or toll-free (844) 459-8719, email me at msk@thlawyer.com, or use the contact form below.

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