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Work Accidents

As New Jersey residents go to work every day, they hope to support their families and provide useful goods or services to society. The daily grind can be mundane, but that routine comes to a halt when someone on the job suffers work-related injuries. There are several workplace accidents that could occur, involving a wide range of employees. Most situations are compensable either through Workers’ Compensation insurance or a third-party lawsuit.

Those injured at work are urged to speak to a Mount Laurel Workers’ Compensation lawyer for more information about recovering compensation after an accident. A host of liability issues may arise from these accidents, and it is important that injured employees understand their legal rights. Learning and understanding work accidents help prevent them in the future. Workers can also help their colleagues avoid accidents or lasting injuries by using quick wit, fast thinking, and wise decision-making.

What are Common Work Accidents?

It is impossible for employees to avoid all work accidents, but they should be aware of situations that could cause injuries. Awareness contributes to accident prevention, and employees should report these accidents immediately, regardless of their severity.

Slips, trips, and falls. Slips, trips, and falls occur on wet floors, faulty scaffolding, unkempt stairs, ladders, roofs, storage shelves, or damaged floors. Even a slip on wet marble flooring while walking into work could result in a severe head injury. Falls from heights can result in paralysis or death, and these accidents might involve other people who are close by.

Mount Laurel Workers’ Compensation LawyersCrinkled floor mats, spilled drinks, and faulty step ladders may cause severe injuries. Phone cables, Ethernet wires, power cords, and USB cabling might lie on the ground unseen. It is easy to trip on these wires, leading to a fall. The location might also have boxes, office supplies, extra chairs, or packages lying around, and they can cause accidents when employees do not realize the space is cluttered. In some scenarios, a falling employee might hit a desk, tool, or large piece of equipment, worsening their injuries.

Electrocutions. Electrocution accidents may result from low-hanging cables, frayed power cords, damaged outlets, or malfunctioning tools. An electrocution may kill the victim, or the victim will suffer from burns, nerve damage, internal injuries, potential brain injuries, and or organ damage.

Victims might not experience a severe electrocution, but they will have a burn at the site of the accident and require medical treatment. The severe injuries listed above may not occur immediately, but damage done to the body could result in a dangerous situation hours or even days after the accident.

Overexertion. Accidents involving overexertion occur any time employees do too much, are left to perform jobs for which they do not have the appropriate physical strength, or do not understand the weight of items they are lifting. Several injuries could result, including lower back strains or vertebrae damage, and employees should report these accidents immediately. Workers should not assume that a back brace can prevent such an accident or soothe the pain.

Falling objects. Falling objects can be found anywhere, but they are most common on construction sites or in warehouses. A tool could fall from several floors up, or crates/boxes could fall in a warehouse or factory store. Employees might also be injured when forklifts or cranes fall, allowing several objects to fall from heights in the process. Even something as simple as a ceiling tile falling after a roof leak could be extremely dangerous.

Caught-in or caught-between accidents. These accidents occur when employees or their colleagues do not realize their location relative to another object. Someone operating a forklift might not realize another worker is behind them, and they might pin that person against a storage rack or other solid object. A caught-between injury can also occur in simpler circumstances when someone moves a desk or credenza in an office and catches their hand, leg, or body between the furniture and the wall.

Release of toxic substances. Accidents involving toxic substances can occur in any facility that either uses or stores these chemicals. A chemical spill can cause burns, or the fumes may cause respiratory damage. If toxic fumes flow into a facility, victims may suffer from a range of symptoms including shortness of breath, disorientation, and even death. Toxic fumes might also cause chronic medical conditions, deafness, or blindness.

Loud noises. Loud noises are common on worksites, and employees often wear earplugs to protect themselves. Unfortunately, unexpected loud noises can cause hearing impairment, physical pain, headaches, nausea, and even hearing loss. Injured employees require medical care even though their injuries appear to be hidden. If the employee is exposed to loud noises over a long period, the damage could be more severe. Reporting these accidents helps prevent them in the future.

Explosions. Explosions can occur when gases or chemicals are not stored properly. Gas station tanks might explode, or machines might malfunction, resulting in a pressure release or massive explosion.Mount Laurel Workers’ Compensation Lawyers

Fires. Worksite fires must be contained as soon as possible, but employees are often left to deal with these problems alone. Employees caught in a dangerous situation may attempt to extinguish the fire and suffer from burns or smoke inhalation. If the employee is using malfunctioning tools, they may find that the machine or workstation is ablaze. In other instances, fires can occur as a result of using tools in close proximity to flammable substances or materials. For example, a steel grinder on a construction site will spark, and the sparks can easily light clothing, other fabrics, or raw materials on fire.

Bright flashes. Explosions and fires may cause bright flashes. A bright flash might also occur because of a unique manufacturing process that causes damage to the eyes. If the flash is bright enough, it may also cause burns. Welders are particularly susceptible to a condition known as arc eye because the bright light of a welder’s arc lasts for quite some time. Benign causes of flash blindness or eye injuries include laser pointers, flash photography, and searchlights.

Car accidents. Employees may drive as a part of their work, whether they work in logistics, skilled service, or sales. Employees are eligible for Workers’ Compensation after car accidents whether they were behind the wheel or not. So long as the victim was engaged in their work duties or traveling for work, they should report these accidents and receive compensation.Mount Laurel Workers’ Compensation Lawyers

Fleet vehicle drivers may fall victim to an improperly loaded trailer or traveling workers might be involved in a car accident in their personal vehicles. If the victim is driving or operating a defective vehicle, they may receive Workers’ Compensation and sue the manufacturer for damages.

Assaults. Work accidents can extend to fights or assaults during the workday. Another worker might start a fight or assault the victim, and the victim should report this incident immediately. If an employee falls victim to an assault by a customer, patient, or a random assailant, they are still eligible for Workers’ Compensation. Additionally, a third-party lawsuit may seek to recover damages from the security company, building management company, or another party that did not protect the employee.

Are Certain Jobs More Dangerous Than Others?

Anyone could be injured on the job at any time, and every victim may file suit when it is clear a third-party’s negligence caused the accident, or the insurance company is not acting in good faith. When employees take jobs, they should know if they are eligible for Workers’ Compensation. Generally, employees paid with a W-2 form are eligible for Workers’ Compensation, as they have an employee-employer relationship with the business. Independent contractors do not have such a relationship, and they are not typically eligible for Workers’ Compensation.

Owing to the diversity of the American workforce, some jobs tend to be more dangerous than others. Common industries that deal with work-related accidents include the following:

Manufacturing. Accidents in manufacturing vary widely because the industry uses a range of machines, tools, and processes. Manufacturing employees may be hurt by machines, fires, chemicals, or slip and fall events on the factory floor. In some cases, these accidents occur because of a lack of supervision.Mount Laurel Workers’ Compensation Lawyers

Health care. Health care workers could slip on a wet floor or suffer injuries involving small medical supplies such as scalpels, syringes, or other sharp objects. Other accidents may involve handling patients because supporting patients, lifting them from beds, or offering bathroom assistance could result in a fall for one or both parties. Violence is common in the medical industry. When health care workers are attacked by patients or visitors, they must report these incidents as soon as possible.

Transportation. Workers in the transportation industry suffered from nearly 185,000 injuries in 2018 alone, including falls, crushing incidents, and caught-between accidents. Transportation workers might also suffer accidents while working on the rails, repairing buses, or cleaning railcars. These workers are also susceptible to the release of toxic fumes, scalding, burns, or electrocutions. Additionally, transportation workers spend their days around massive vehicles; they are in much more peril than most people realize.

Pharmaceuticals. Pharmaceutical workers can suffer from injuries such as skin abrasions; fume, steam, or smoke inhalation; and/or cuts and lacerations from dropped or broken glass. For example, a drum of powder used to manufacture tablets might tip over. As the powder disperses, it can cause shortness of breath, choking, and eye injuries.

If a worker avoids the fallen drum of powder, they might slip on that powder during cleanup. If workers in a laboratory must wash or clean their facilities often, they might slip on wet floors. Employees running experiments may suffer from small cuts or needle sticks when using experimental devices or processing data. During this process, workers might also inhale toxic chemicals during an accident or suffer from scalding when working with hot water or steam.

Technology. Workers in technology jobs might trip on cords, cables, or plugs. If IT workers go into the field to assist other businesses, they could be involved in car accidents, slip on wet floors, or trip and fall while moving across a busy office. IT professionals might also cut themselves on computers or technical equipment. These workers may also suffer from head or neck injuries when boxes fall from shelves or when they must crawl into tight spaces to reach wires or cables.

Hospitality/food service. Although hospitality or food service workers might slip on wet floors in dining rooms or kitchens, they also frequently suffer burns because of the use of warming lamps, warming ovens, hot plates, and/or blow torches. Kitchen workers might suffer from oil burns, inhale smoke after a fire on the grill, or cut themselves while preparing food. Workers should report these incidents immediately because, although they may be part of the job, they are compensable. Additionally, food service workers do not want to make contact with a patron’s food while nursing a wound of any kind.

Retail. Retail workers often find themselves in crowded stock rooms with falling products, tripping over merchandise left on the floor, or slipping on wet floors from spills or improper cleaning procedures. Sadly, retail workers may also be subject to assaults or other forms of physical violence when irate customers enter the store. Crushing or caught-between accidents can occur when displays or merchandise racks fall. Burns can occur when employees must replace light bulbs, or broken glass shelves, windows, or displays might cause severe lacerations.

First responders. Police, firefighters, EMTs, and emergency personnel can suffer injuries on the job because of the dangerous nature of their work or in a violent assault. A police officer or EMT might be attacked at the scene of an incident or involved in a secondary incident. For example, police officers arriving on the scene of a car accident might be struck by a vehicle or otherwise involved in an accident when more vehicles cause a pile-up.Mount Laurel Workers’ Compensation Lawyers

Firefighters might be injured while entering burning buildings because of falling debris or structural collapses. Even though firefighters are equipped with oxygen masks, they may also suffer from smoke inhalation or visual impairment from contact with soot and smoke. In extreme cases, firefighters might be exposed to toxic chemicals while attempting to contain a fire.

Teachers. Teachers might be kicked, bitten, or even punched by students in their buildings. Children spill things throughout the day, and teachers might trip inadvertently. The custodial staff must complete repairs and clean constantly, and they could be injured by their tools, large cleaning machines, or while slipping on floors they must maintain throughout the day. Administrators may fall victim to the same accidents as teachers, and even upper-level administration might visit buildings and slip, fall, or suffer injuries while observing a classroom.

Construction workers. Those in construction jobs may be involved in construction vehicle accidents, or accidents might occur in road work zones. Electrocutions, trench collapses, and falls from heights may occur because of the fast-paced nature of the job and the fact that buildings under construction are often not fully enclosed. Tools could malfunction at any time, causing severe injuries. Nail gun accidents are among the most common because the high velocity of the nails and the use of compressed gas can lead to catastrophic failures.

When cranes or other large machines fail, they could tip over, drop large objects, catch fire, or even explode. Trenches dug throughout these sites might collapse at any point, and industrial gases or substances might ignite as a result of poor storage or other adverse conditions.

Skilled service personnel. Anyone working in a skilled trade visits either a worksite or a customer’s home during the day. Electricians, painters, plumbers, HVAC technicians, utility workers, carpenters, machine operators, and arborists might be injured on the job at any time. From electrocutions to cuts and bruises, workers should report these injuries and seek medical care as soon as possible, even if that means canceling appointments for the rest of the day.

Truck drivers. Truck drivers spend all their time on the road, tending to their vehicles, and loading or unloading. Because accidents can occur in any of these situations, truck drivers are susceptible to every potential injury, from electrocution to crushing, caught-between accidents, and/or road accidents.

Is Compensation Available After a Work Accident?Mount Laurel Workers’ Compensation Lawyers

Compensation for work accidents begins at the time of the incident. Workers’ Compensation is a no-fault system that pays for all reasonable medical treatment required at the time of the accident, and those benefits continue as the victim requires medications, surgeries, medical equipment, and follow-ups with additional doctors. After emergency treatment, the employer may designate a doctor within their insurance provider’s network. After the employee misses work for seven days, their wage-loss benefits begin.

Temporary partial disability. Temporary partial disability is common for injured workers. They can receive benefits, recover, and go back to work. In these cases, the employee receives 70 percent of their average weekly pay, but not more than 75 percent of the New Jersey state average when missing work. The state also publishes a reference chart every year to help employees understand their rights.

When the employee is approved to go back to work by the chosen doctor, their benefits stop.

Temporary total disability. Temporary total disability benefits are exactly the same as partial disability benefits. In these cases, however, the victim may not recover fully or be released for work. There will come a point at which these benefits are converted to permanent disability benefits.

Permanent partial disability. Partial disability often includes the loss of function of a limb. The State of New Jersey has a chart that explains how much insurance companies must pay for a specific injury or a scheduled loss. The chart includes damage to the hands, arms, fingers, legs, feet, toes, eyes, and ears. Non-scheduled losses do not appear on the chart, and they often include the heart, lungs, back, or other bodily systems. The employee receives a lump-sum payment once their temporary disability benefits end. Other partial disabilities are paid weekly because of the victim’s persistent injuries.

Permanent total disability. Permanent total disability benefits continue after 450 weeks if the employee has reached their maximum level of recovery, cannot return to work, and is deemed to be less than 50 percent recovered. These benefits are also paid when a combination of injuries makes it difficult for the employee to obtain gainful employment.

Death benefits. Dependents of a deceased employee receive 70 percent of the worker’s weekly pay, and those benefits are divided among the spouse and children. Children receive benefits until they turn 18, but benefits extend to age 23 for full-time college students. Additionally, disabled children are eligible for further compensation, given their dependence on their parents. Death benefits include a $3,500 payment to cover burial or funeral expenses.Mount Laurel Workers’ Compensation Lawyers

While eligible employees may receive Workers’ Compensation after an accident, third parties may be found liable for those injuries. Workers’ Compensation law shields the employer from liability, but manufacturers, contractors, distributors, or suppliers could face a lawsuit if they contributed to the victim’s injuries. These entities may be guilty of using improper designs, providing defective equipment, or leaving behind hazards that cause injuries.

Victims should ask a lawyer if a third-party lawsuit is appropriate given the facts of the case. Both a Workers’ Compensation claim and a third-party lawsuit can proceed concurrently. If a loved one died because of a work accident, third parties can be named in a wrongful death lawsuit seeking additional damages.

When filing a third-party lawsuit, victims may sue for all their lost income, over and above what is allowed under Workers’ Compensation law. The victim can sue for medical costs because Workers’ Compensation may not pay for specialist visits or certain procedures. A third-party lawsuit also allows the victim to recover compensation for pain and suffering, emotional distress, or punitive damages.

Although asbestos trusts do not provide compensation for accidents specifically, they offer compensation to workers injured from asbestos exposure on the job. Victims and families can ask a lawyer if a now defunct corporation has an asbestos trust and if the victim qualifies for compensation.

It is also possible that a freak accident may have exposed the victim to dangerous levels of asbestos, such as a ceiling caving in on a teacher working in an old building. The mesothelioma diagnosis might not come until much later, but that teacher has a right to file a claim for damages.

Why Should Injured Employees Hire a Lawyer?Mount Laurel Workers’ Compensation Lawyers

Hiring a lawyer helps expedite the claims process and gives injured employees a partner in their recovery. Victims should schedule a consultation with a lawyer to learn more about the claim and its validity. As the lawyer collects evidence, they can justify a lawsuit against a third-party company or the insurance provider.

While the case is pending, the lawyer works with all stakeholders and handles communication from phone calls to emails and accepting letters. Victims also need a lawyer who knows the tactics insurance companies use to avoid paying benefits. The lawyer should also have established relationships with expert witnesses and medical providers who can offer an independent evaluation of the situation. If the claim is denied, the lawyer will represent the victim at all appeals and hearings. If the insurance company delays payments or treatment, a lawyer working under retainer can take swift action.

Mount Laurel Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Kotlar, Hernandez & Cohen, LLC Help Injured Employees Seek Compensation for Their Injuries

If you or a loved one has been injured during an accident at work, reach out to the experienced Mount Laurel Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Kotlar, Hernandez & Cohen, LLC.  Our lawyers can ensure an injured employee can properly recover, receive the services for which they are entitled, and recover compensation if warranted. Our legal team can help with both Workers’ Compensation and third-party claims. Call us today at 856-751-7676 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Mount Laurel, Cherry Hill, Trenton, and Vineland, New Jersey and Trevose, Pennsylvania, we serve injured workers throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

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