Workplace accidents take place in different types of settings, be it construction sites, office buildings, or even hospitals. Injuries that result from such accidents vary significantly, as do the consequences. In some instances, victims end up needing prolonged medical care and might also have to spend months away from work. Given that workplace injury lawyers specialize in handling such cases, seeking advice from one soon after an accident is the ideal way to go.
From an employer’s perspective, having to deal with any such matter can be challenging as well. This is especially the case with small and mid-sized businesses that don’t have legal teams in place already. In this scenario, too, getting in touch with a workplace accident attorney or lawyer should happen as early as possible.
What Qualifies as a Workplace Injury or Illness?
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a work-related injury or illness is one that results owing to an accident or exposure to hazardous materials at a workplace. This is also the case if any such event leads to the aggravation of a pre-existing illness or injury. Occupational diseases, on the other hand, are ones that people contract over time, typically after exposure to hazardous materials.
For example, if a chemical spill in a factory results in respiratory organ damage, blindness, or burns, they would qualify as workplace injuries. Examples of occupational diseases include chemical poisoning from prolonged exposure, carpel tunnel syndrome, hearing loss, as well as mental health disorders. Differentiating between the two becomes important when it comes to the legal responsibilities of an employer.
What If You Are a Victim?
If you’ve been involved in a workplace accident, dealing with the repercussions may not be easy, all the more so if your employer is reluctant to pay the compensation you seek. Fortunately, using the services of a specialist workplace injury attorney can help you navigate through the process more easily.
Benefits of Hiring a Workplace Accident Lawyer/Attorney
Workplace accident attorneys who represent victims seeking compensation help their clients in different ways.
- Pinning liability. Your attorney will study your case carefully and determine who to hold liable. This could be your employer, a vendor, a manufacturer, a subcontractor, or even multiple entities.
- Arriving at a number. Workplace accidents/illnesses vary in scale and size, so there’s no fixed number when it comes to the compensation you should seek. Since workplace accident lawyers/attorneys specialize in this realm, they may arrive at a suitable number after going through all the intricacies of your case.
- Getting compensation. Typically, the path to getting compensation is not easy. This is because employers and insurance companies tend to go all out in trying to minimize how much they need to pay. Good workplace injury lawyers handle such cases on an everyday basis, and getting one to work on your case increases the likelihood of getting the compensation you deserve.
Should You Opt for Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
If you work in New York, there’s a good chance that your employer has paid for workers’ compensation insurance. If you choose to get workers’ compensation benefits, you get monetary help to deal with medical expenses and lost wages. However, once you opt for workers’ compensation, seeking compensation from your employer is no longer an option. Another probable drawback of getting workers’ compensation is that it does not cover aspects such as mental and physical suffering. Besides, victims need to get treatment from pre-approved medical providers.
What If You Are an Employer?
Business owners and managers need to stay vigilant, watch out for incidents that may result in injuries, and take measures to minimize the occurrence of such instances. According to OSHA, an employer needs to ensure the training of staff and the presence of first aid materials based on all potential hazards in a workplace.
Get Medical Help
If you, as a business owner or manager, find out about a workplace accident, you need to do everything in your power to handle the situation as quickly and effectively as possible. In case of non-life threatening injuries, get an employee with a first aid certification to provide first aid. If there’s a need for additional medical assistance, call an ambulance without wasting any time.
Secure the Location
Securing the scene of the accident is important because a thorough investigation requires that it be as undisturbed as possible. This ensures that there is no contamination of evidence and it also minimizes the possibility of secondary accidents. What you basically need to do is cordon off the location, switch off all machinery in the vicinity, and set up temporary signage.
Complete the Required Paperwork
You or your workplace injury lawyer/attorney needs to inform your workers’ compensation insurance provider about an accident within 24 hours of it taking place. You also need to file a formal incident report. Further, OSHA requires that businesses submit their 300A forms by February 1 each year, with information about all recordable incidents that took place in the preceding year.
Review and Make Adjustments
After any workplace accident, it’s important to determine why it happened and what you could have done to prevent it from happening. This gives you the ability to prevent or minimize the occurrence of similar incidents in the future. Part of the review process is to collect as many eyewitness accounts as possible and go through reports of prior incidents. Once a thorough review is complete, formulate suitable changes in your safety protocols and policies. In addition, implementing a return-to-work policy demonstrates that you have your employees’ best interests at heart.
Workplace accidents are fairly common across the United States, although the severity of injuries may vary greatly from one case to the next. Consequently, the compensation that victims stand to receive to cover damages is not the same. Given that legalities play a crucial role in most such cases, seeking assistance from a workplace injury lawyer/attorney is the best way forward. This holds true for accident victims and employers alike.