Workplace Accident Lawsuits: A Quick Guide for Workers

What is required to be proved in a workplace injury lawsuit?  We asked compensation attorneys Gould Injury Law to outline the basics for those involved in such cases.

Aside from paying a fair monthly wage, an employer must take measures for employee safety. Unfortunately, many don’t pay heed to this matter, which eventually results in accidents.  In a 2021 report issued by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 2.7 million non-fatal workplace accidents reported by private industry employers in 2020.

Thousands of people die on jobs too unfortunately, with the BLS reporting over 2700 fatal workplace accidents in 2020 with the fatal injury rate being 3.4 fatalities per 100,000 employees.

It is obvious that there needs to be appropriate workplace accident laws in place and the  federal government has set multiple laws to ensure ultimate laborer safety. These regulations help reduce the accident rate but cannot make it zero. The victims can sue the responsible authorities and ask for monetary settlements.

But what are the key issues to be considered when looking at occupational injuries?

Workplace accidents

All physical damages caused by an unsafe working environment fall into this category. Although most are minor, some can cause severe pain, long-term paralysis, eyesight loss, organ damage, or death.

Common examples are fractures, ligament injuries, breaking bones, internal bleeding, chronic exposure conditions, burns, cuts, etc. Wet floors, defective tools, poorly designed systems, hazardous materials, insufficient protection, insufficient training, or reckless moving can be the reasons.

Specific individuals, including construction site labor, pilots, electricians, and firefighters are at high risk of these issues.   BLS statistics indicate that 10 occupations account for over 38 per cent of workplace accidents among private employers, including nursing assistants, heavy truck and trailer drivers, laborers and freight movers, maintenance workers and others.

Workers’ legal rights to safety

The OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) federal laws enforce some legal rights an American worker has to avoid occupational risks. They state that an owner must provide essential safety gear, enough training, toxin exposure protection, etc. He must perform safe-testing machines to ensure they are not malfunctioning and not a threat to users. He should inform everyone about potential dangers using caution signs and other methods. His other duty is sending details of all on-job accidents to the OSHA server.

On the other hand, his employees can request inspections, report safety problems, and notify minor injuries without hesitation. They can also take action when the upper-level managers don’t follow OSHA standards correctly. 

Workplace Accident Lawsuits

A worker can be partly responsible for the injuries. As per comparative fault law, he can still demand dollars for companies’ partial involvements. The judges will make decisions based on the intensity of both parties’ faults. Lawsuits can be filed against other staff, customers, and machine manufacturing companies if they are at fault.

Suppose, a new but faulty machine has injured a worker’s hand. He can sue the boss for not checking the device and the manufacturers for launching malfunctioning models. People can’t take legal steps for out-of-work or self-inflicted incidents. The same thing is valid if they were on drugs or alcohol during the accidents. 

Compensation

Compensation can be claimed if workplace hazards are responsible for employee losses. According to California federal law, owners must take care of medical expenses and sick-time wage loss no matter who is at fault. When obeyed properly, the workers won’t file an injury lawsuit against them. However, there are exceptions where the victims can hold the supervisors responsible. In many cases, the latter has to pay an additional amount for the suffering, mental trauma from accidents, future medication, and rehabilitation expenses.

If the accident leads to permanent paralysis or long-term disability, paying for future wage loss possibilities is a must as well. 

Time limit

Injured employees or anyone on their behalf should file a lawsuit as soon as possible. Otherwise, their claims can be invalid and they won’t receive monetary support. That’s why maintaining deadlines is mandatory. First of all, they must inform supervisors formally.

They have to fill up a form with correct information and submit it within one month from the accident. Besides, they usually have 12 months to file a claim. These deadlines vary from state to state. Therefore, you should know the actual timings from a knowledgeable lawyer. 

Documentation

One should note down all major and minor details of the incident from the beginning. It will help them to remember everything that happened months ago. Make sure to take pictures of the fractures, bleeding, or other physical damages when you’re in sense. Also, gather accident photos taken by other colleagues or witnesses. Enlist witnesses’ names, addresses, and phone numbers so that they can help you in the court battle.

Keep a record of witness and owner speech, phone calls, or text messages. Store the accident-time clothes, shoes, and accessories in a safe place without touching them. It is helpful in proving negligence in a slip and fall case, machinery hazards, or similar tragedies. 

Legal guidance

Handling legal matters alone is a tedious task. Plus, you might not have enough understanding of the compensation law. You may aim for a way lower amount than you truly deserve. The situation will be worse if the owner denies your claims and refuses monetary settlements. So, you must take help from experienced attorneys.

They have knowledge about your rights, laws, and employer’s liabilities. They will present your situation in front of the jury, prove allegations, and tackle legal difficulties. They can also estimate the ideal recovery amount. The defendants have permission to consult with a defense lawyer as well. 

Supervisor’s negligence

Job injuries come in various forms. Sometimes, both parties handle the settlements by themselves. Otherwise, the sufferer can bring it to the court. Proving fault is the most important part of such lawsuit and the lawyer has to analyze how the business owner failed to provide him with a safe workplace directly or indirectly.

Moreover, he must show the connection between negligence and the accident. If he can convince the court with enough evidence, his client can win the battle. Witness statements, co-worker opinions, medical reports, accident reports, and CCTV footage can unveil the truth. 

Death situations

Fatal occupational accidents are regrettably varied and involve events that occur from a variety of workplace accidents.  Falls from a height, transportation accidents, head injuries, being struck by large objects, and falls into crushing equipment are some common death traps for workers. Some laws declare the surviving family members’ right to get compensation benefits for their close one’s death.

We know nothing can recover this loss but it can help the family financially. They’ll be eligible for this amount whether the company is responsible or not. Plus, they can file a wrongful death charge if job authorities are liable for the accident. 

Source: Gould Injury Law

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