Workers’ Compensation Attorneys
Workers’ compensation helps provide financial assistance to employees that have lost some if not all of their wages and earning potential due to an injury or illness contracted at their place of work.
While workers’ compensation and injury laws vary from state to state, many injured workers are eligible to receive compensation for their injuries. In addition to lost wages, this includes any costs associated with their treatment and recovery.
Any individual who has experienced a workplace accident or injury needs correct information about workers’ compensation, not just hearsay from others. Injured workers can find competent counsel at The Eichholz Law Firm, where our highly experienced workers’ comp legal team can talk with you about your case, answer any questions you have, and help you get the compensation to which you are entitled.
What is Workers’ Compensation?
A system known as Workers’ Accident Insurance was put into place in 1881 in Europe by Otto von Bismarck, and it became the model for a similar program of worker protection in the United States. Today, each state regulates its own workers’ compensation program, and Texas remains the only state in which coverage is optional for employers.
With this program, injured workers are provided with a means to stay financially afloat while recovering from a workplace accident. The coverage may help pay medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, and provide supplemental income to aid in returning to work. Compulsory payments from the employer finance these benefits.
As with many systems, this one incorporates trade-offs. While an injured employee does get payments fairly quickly, there is usually a cap in place to limit them. The cap limits the amount an injured employee can receive and the length of time the payments will be made.
Workers’ compensation differs from disability insurance and unemployment income. Disability insurance payments and unemployment income benefits are paid no matter where an employee’s injuries occur, whether at the workplace or away. However, workers’ compensation payments are only due by law for injuries received (or if death occurs) at the workplace or while doing work-related duties. Health insurance coverage extends to injuries not related to work.
Types of High-Risk Occupations
The Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Occupational Safety (BLS) and Health Administration’s (OSHA) yearly reported data states that there are certain industries and professions that are acknowledged for being exceptionally more dangerous than others.The most serious cases of workplace-related injuries or fatalities occur in occupations that require large amounts of manual labor – construction workers, loggers, roofers, etc. Some of these high risk occupations include (but are not limited to):
- Logging workers
- Commercial fishers and fishing workers
- Aircraft pilots and flight engineers
- Reuse and recycling material collectors
- Structural iron and steelworkers
- Truck drivers and sales workers
- Farmers, rangers, and other agricultural managers
- First-line supervisors of construction trades and extraction workers
- Grounds maintenance workers
Workers’ Compensation Types
A compensation system has been developed to help accommodate the specific needs of injured workers and help encourage their return to the workplace.
Each of the benefits listed below has been created to address the specific financial need of the injured individual depending on how severe and debilitating their sustained injuries were.
Some of the worker’s compensation benefits include (but are not limited to):
- Medical Coverage and Care
- Temporary partial disability
- Temporary total disability
- Permanent partial disability
- Permanent total disability
Every state has different laws regarding workers’ compensation. Refer to your employer’s benefits for details on the types of workers’ compensation benefits you are eligible to receive.
Most Common Workplace Injuries
Approximately 2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses were reported to have occurred in 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS also reports that cases of workplace injuries are showing a slight decline over the past ten years. Despite this improvement, work-related accidents still occur frequently, some of which are serious enough to be life-altering for the victim and their dependents. Some of the most common workplace-related injuries include (but are not limited to):
- Sprains, strains, and tears
- Back and neck injuries
- Falls from various heights
- Carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis
- Construction site accidents
- Heart attacks and strokes
- Electrocutions on the job
- Fractures and broken bones
- Burns – thermal and chemical
- Occupational diseases
These types of injuries could be the result of mechanical failure, lax safety regulations or the negligence of management or other coworkers. By staying alert and well-trained, workers can help minimize the chances of incurring a work-related injury.
Workplace Injury Statistics
There were 5,250 fatal work injuries recorded in the United States in 2018, a 2 percent increase from the 5,147 in 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. These data are estimates from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI). The incidence rate for total recordable cases in the private industry also remained unchanged from 2017 to 2018.
2017 Injury Data
- 26% of the 8982,730 nonfatal work injuries resulting in days away from work in 2017 were related to slips, trips, and falls
- In 2017, 1,252 U.S. workers died in work-related crashes involving motor vehicles (24% of all deaths)
- About 9% of reported fatal workplace injuries in the U.S. in 2017 were the result of homicides
- More than 229,000 injuries due to contact with objects and equipment in 2017 were so severe that they resulted in time away from work
- Workers less than 25 years of age have higher rates of occupational injuries treated in emergency departments than other age groups
Common Causes of Workplace Injuries
Failure to take adequate breaks during a workday can lead to misjudgments and catastrophic results. Whether employees are engaged in sedentary tasks or grueling physical labor, the exhaustion that comes with prolonged work periods can lead to miscalculations that put the lives of others and the fatigued ones in danger. It is far better to take a 15-minute breather than to push deeper into the fatigue zone.
By struggling to lift objects that are far too heavy for an individual to lift alone, many employees experience strains, muscle tears or sprains. Wisdom in the workplace would be to use a company-provided lifting device or ask for help lifting the object.
Perhaps one of the most overlooked causes of workplace accidents is poor lighting. When lights are flickering or producing glare, an employee’s eyes can literally begin to play tricks. Objects can appear to be further away than they really are, or even moving. Momentary blindness can also occur.
Exposure to common workplace chemicals can produce serious short-term and long-term effects like skin rashes, poisoning, and critical disorders of the liver, kidney, or lungs. It is not unusual for a workplace to have chemical items like cleaning products or machine lubricants sitting around the premises. Safety data sheets and protective attire like gloves can help prevent many accidents.
Many employees who work in hot conditions are prone to drink less liquids than they need, because their thirst response lags behind their true level of dehydration. A minimum of eight glasses of water each day is crucial. Companies need to emphasize and encourage proper hydration to maximize employee efforts.
Acts of workplace violence can range from verbal abuse to actual physical assault directed at another individual at work. The effects of such abuse can manifest in psychological issues, true physical injuries or even death. Resources are available to help employers recognize risk factors and put in place strategies to prevent such violence.
Stress in the workplace should not be minimized as a contributing factor to job-related accidents. Stress creates negative effects emotionally, mentally and physiologically. This results in decreased productivity. Management can help by promoting and supporting healthy lifestyle choices and a positive team environment.
Slips, Trips and Falls
Dangerously slick floors and corridors with high levels of traffic are prime areas for falls. Slips and falls can result in broken bones, head injuries, and a myriad of additional physical issues. Companies should evaluate their premises for things like uneven walking surfaces, poorly lit areas, and wet surfaces.
How the Claim Process Works
Each state regulates its workers’ compensation process. When an employee gets injured at work, a time clock technically begins. There is a specific amount of time allowed to submit the necessary paperwork for benefits. There are certain requirements for the injured worker to fulfill, and there are certain requirements for the employer to fulfill. Failure to do these tasks could result in the claim being denied.
After a workplace injury, the employer should:
- Give guidance and appropriate paperwork to the employee
- Follow state law by reporting the work-related injury
- File a claim with the insurer
Likewise, the employee needs to:
- Give the employer a detailed report of the injury
- File a workers’ compensation claim
Legal Options for the Employee
Having a valid claim entitles injured workers to a range of benefits. Workers who choose to receive these benefits, however, are not permitted to ever sue their employer for negligence relating to this injury. If, though, the workers’ injuries were intentionally caused by the employer, then injured employees are allowed to sue. In such cases, the injured employees can receive compensation for punitive damages, pain and suffering, and additional tort damages that would not be available with a workers’ comp claim.
Workers’ Comp Hearing
When the illness or injury is indisputably related to work, the claim will be paid. If, however, the claim is not so cut-and-dried and is disputed, a judge in the workers’ compensation court will decide the matter. Both parties, the employee and the employer, will be encouraged to come to a settlement, but if there can be no agreement, the employee’s attorney may take the case to trial at a workers’ compensation hearing.
A hearing could result where there is a dispute about whether or not the injury took place in the workplace and/or while job duties were being performed. If an employer or insurance provider withholds the payment of workers’ comp benefits while maintaining that the employee’s injury isn’t work-related, the injured worker might still be able to receive disability benefits during this time. The amount of money received by the injured worker in the form of these disability payments will then be withheld from any future workers’ comp amount awarded.
Usually, workers’ compensation cases are not about placing blame or fault for the accident and injury, so the compensation amount is not affected by this. If, however, the worker’s alcohol or drug use caused the accident, or if the worker intentionally injured himself or someone else, this behavior could affect the claim.
Workers’ Comp Settlement
Some injured workers choose the option of receiving a settlement rather than continuous benefit payments. There is good and bad with either option. Once a person elects to accept a settlement amount, though, there will be no more right to any future benefits from this injury. This choice may not be the best option, as complications from the injury could develop at a later date.
Length of Time to Report
The state in which the work-related injury took place determines the deadline for reporting such an accident. Some states give 30 days or less. An employer must then report the injury to their insurance provider within 7 days.
How Can Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Help You?
Individuals who have been hurt at work can turn to a dedicated team of legal representatives who have experience dealing with, workers’ compensation claims. We at The Eichholz Law Firm want to make sure your deadlines are met, forms are properly handled, and your case is productively negotiated with the insurance provider to get the best result possible for you.
Call our legal team today at (855)-551-1019 or fill out an online form for a free case evaluation.
- BLS. “NATIONAL CENSUS OF FATAL OCCUPATIONAL INJURIES IN 2018”, Bureau of Labor Statistics, https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/cfoi.pdf. Accessed February 20, 2020.
- BLS. “EMPLOYER-REPORTED WORKPLACE INJURIES AND ILLNESSES – 2018”, Bureau of Labor Statistics, https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/osh.pdf. Accessed February 20, 2020.
- CDC. “TRAUMATIC OCCUPATIONAL INJURIES”, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/injury/fastfacts.html. Accessed February 20, 2020.
- Marisa Sanfilippo. “Workers’ Comp in Plain English: A Breakdown of the Process for Employees”, Huffpost, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/workers-comp-in-plain-eng_b_9890860. Accessed February 20, 2020.
- DOL. “Workers’ Compensation”, U.S. Department of Labor, https://www.dol.gov/general/topic/workcomp. Accessed February 20, 2020.
Please seek the advice of a medical professional before making health care decisions.
At the Eichholz Law Firm We Are Lawyers That Care About You
Our clients are at the center of everything we do and our team is focused on delivering results. We are committed to fighting for justice and increased social responsibility in our community.
Our objective is to provide expert legal services in an effort to maximize results for clients who have been injured through the negligence of others.