Austin Work-Related Injury Attorneys
Injuries in the workplace are common. They are just as likely to occur in an office setting as on a construction site. Injuries range from repetitive use injuries such as strained backs, necks and knees and carpal tunnel syndrome, to the more catastrophic ones that typically occur on construction sites, such as electrocution, lung and skin damage from toxic chemicals, falls resulting in spinal cord damage, and even death.
About five times as many accident injuries occur each year in the workplace than from car accidents, which is the most common basis for a personal injury claim. Workplace injuries cost businesses billions of dollars annually in lost labor hours, medical expenses and payments for disabilities and death. If your employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance, you can sue your employer directly even if your employer has an alternative compensation plan with its own rules and compensation structure.
Verdicts And Settlements
A plumber working on a multistory construction project fell to his death after a safety guard railing was not properly installed. The case proved that had the contractor taken the proper steps and measures to keep the fourth story work environment safe and free of these safety failures, the victim might not have fallen.
Byrd Davis Alden & Henrichson, LLP, successfully sought out a settlement to the wife and family that the victim left behind when the contractor and subcontractor failed to properly assure the safety of the workers on site.
People fall or suffer injuries from falling objects in the workplace every day. These accidents occur due to a number of factors. A workplace containing oils, solvents, cleaning materials or other chemicals are ripe for slip-and-fall incidents. Old buildings have cracks in steps, uneven surfaces or holes, making them a hazard for anyone visiting the premises.
Poor snow removal or not having proper lighting is also responsible for many accidents.
Repetitive Stress Injuries (RSIs)
Computer or assembly work can be monotonous but they can also produce painful and chronic injuries from repeatedly using the same muscles or doing so incorrectly. Repeated heavy lifting can damage your back requiring surgery. Another factor that can cause RSIs is awkward posture. RSI injuries include:
An inflammation of the tendons from repeated motions performed awkwardly or incorrectly.
An inflammation of the tendon and its covering caused by repeated bending of the wrist.
A painful restriction of the median nerve in the wrist leading to loss of grip, numbness in the thumb and first two fingers, and pain.
Truck drivers or those who work outdoors are at a risk of being struck by motor vehicles on the work site or while driving or being driven so long as the accident occurred in the course and scope of their employment. These accidents also happen in large warehouses, airports or any other facility where vehicles are commonly used.
These happen not just to electricians but to anyone who is around electrical equipment and contacts live wires. The lack of proper warnings, ill-trained staff who use electrical equipment and defective equipment are all factors that contribute to electrocution or severe burns.
Construction sites are the most common site for workplace injuries since they are considered the most dangerous place to work in. Construction workers are prone to RSI injuries, slip and falls, electrocution and car accidents. Other hazards include:
Though required to wear helmets or hard hats, you can still suffer a traumatic injury if a heavy object strikes your arm, leg or shoulder, or you are struck by a crane or metal bar in the face. Your hard hat can only provide you limited protection if a falling object weighs hundreds of pounds or more.
Falls from scaffolds or high elevations
A poorly constructed scaffold can collapse or another worker can bump into you on a high beam causing you to fall. Tools and other equipment carelessly left on site can cause falls as can the lack of rails or the failure to wear a safety harness.
Failure to warn
Many accidents happen due to failure to warn of dangers or to inspect for potential risks such as gas lines, pipes or electrical wires. Digging and striking an old or leaking pipeline can cause an explosion.
Despite wearing masks or protective clothing around toxic chemicals, workers still risk exposure to fumes and substances that can cause lung and eye damage as well as burns.
Wearing earplugs or other noise inhibiting equipment can protect your ears from constant loud noises, endemic to many construction sites, but they can also prevent you from hearing verbal warnings or impending dangers. Constant exposure to loud noises without protection leads to ear trauma.
Failure to supervise
Contractors and subcontractors must provide safety training to its employees and supervise novice workers and others. The failure to do so is often the cause of many accidents.
Products Liability And Alternative Remedies
Unlike workers’ compensation insurance, you can sue and collect for pain and suffering, usually the highest damage amount in any jury or court award. Your claim against your employer can be for negligence or, under egregious circumstances, gross negligence. By being able to sue your employer, you can potentially receive far more compensation than you could if you are limited to a workers’ compensation claim.
If a defective product or piece of equipment or machinery was the cause of your workplace injury, you can bring a lawsuit against the manufacturer, retailer or designer under products liability law. If your employer has workers’ compensation coverage, you can still bring a third-party action against the responsible manufacturer or designer. Your causes of action in these cases are negligence, breach of warranty and strict liability.
A manufacturer and designer have a duty to provide a product that is safe to use and is not unreasonably dangerous if used in the manner intended. If a hazard is present, there is a duty to warn of any foreseeable risk considered unreasonably dangerous.
Social Security Disability
Should your work-related injury completely incapacitate you, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits as well.
Most Common Workplace Accidents And Risks
About 4 million people suffer from work-related injuries every year, while 13 million are fatally injured across the country. However, research shows that the numbers are slowly declining through the years, and it is likely due to the growing awareness of workplace safety. As per the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses published in 2012, there was no increase in the occurrence of injuries among the private sector. It actually declined from 3.3 illnesses and injuries over 100 cases down to 3.2. For those working in the public sector (government), the occurrence of injuries remained the same at 5.6. Here are some of the most common accidents and risk factors:
The Construction Industry
This industry poses a high risk — not only to the employees but also potentially to pedestrians who might get involved in an accident if they unknowingly walk into an unmarked construction site. In 2011 alone, over 2,000 work-related fatalities were logged, and 17.5 percent of them — about 700 — were from the construction industry. The following are the most common causes of accidents in construction sites:
- Stuck or caught in between
- Struck by object
Among these four, falls are responsible for over 35 percent of the deaths in the construction industry. Hence, most companies put focus on ensuring that their employees are armed with the right tools and knowledge to prevent such fatal accidents from happening.
The Cost Of Workplace Injuries
Every year, American companies spend about $53 billion to cover for costs related to workplace injuries. Apart from medical and hospital bills, here are some more possible indirect costs that companies will have to shoulder as a result of a workplace injury:
- Wages paid to injured employees for any missed days that are not covered by workers’ compensation
- Wages for time lost as a result of work stoppage
- Time spent by supervisors to report and monitor the injury of his or her direct report
- Hiring and training expenses for a new employee filling in
- Lost productivity, in which the time that the injured worker could have spent doing his job is now being spent hiring and training his or her replacement
As an employer, there are a number of obligations to follow. If you do not meet the requirements under workers’ compensation, you could be fined. If you don’t carry workers’ compensation insurance, employees injured while on the job can sue your company in a civil court.
Employers must also post required notices around high-traffic areas in the workplace. These notices must mention an employee’s rights as well as the name of the company’s workers’ compensation carrier or if the employer is self-insured. It must also state that injured workers have the right to receive medical treatment by a doctor of their choice and mention the benefits of workers’ compensation insurance.
Your Work-Related Injury Attorneys
The Austin personal injury lawyers at Byrd Davis Alden & Henrichson, LLP, are committed to helping you recover the maximum compensation to which you are entitled under the law. When someone else’s negligence has caused personal injury or the death of someone you love, call our law firm at 512-593-7650 to arrange a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.