According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 260,000 private industry, and state and local government workers missed one or more days of work in 2014 due to injury in an on-the-job fall, and 798 of them died. Not surprisingly, the construction industry experienced the highest number of deaths from falls. Sadly, a large percentage of workplace falls would be preventable if employers simply followed Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fall safety guidelines. And yet, employers regularly fail in this legal duty. The first step to compensation when workers suffer a fall is to file a Workers’ Compensation claim through their employer’s insurance carrier to pay for medical treatment and other covered costs. Often, though, workers’ comp does not pay the full reimbursement value suffered by the employee. To better understand your rights and the workers’ compensation process after a fall at work, contact an experienced Macon and Middle Georgia work injury lawyer at the Mann Law Firm to schedule a free consultation.
Dangers of Workplace Falls
Any worker can suddenly be injured from a fall in the workplace. Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) research reveals that:
- Two-thirds of fall-related injuries happen on same-level surfaces.
- The remaining one-third – elevated falls (from a height of 10 feet or more) – are the most serious and cause more severe injuries.
- Between 20 and 30 percent of fall accident victims suffer moderate to severe injuries such as bruises, hip fractures, or head injuries.
- The most common fractures caused by falls are those of the spine, hip, forearm, leg, ankle, pelvis, upper arm, and hand.
- Fall accidents are the most frequent cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBI).
Common causes of these mishaps include:
- Oil, grease or soapy spills on floors
- Water, melting snow or ice (that which has refrozen)
- Inadequate lighting that hides dangerous floor conditions
- Uneven steps, changes in floor texture or height, and broken handrails
- Cement or some other type of powdery substance on floors
- Obstacles carelessly left about
- Falls from ladders, scaffolds or other elevated areas.
Here’s What Happens When You File a Workers’ Compensation Claim
All Georgia companies with three or more employees must offer Workers’ Compensation insurance. Although employees have 30 days to file a “notice of injury” with their employer, filing immediately avoids delays in the process and reimbursement. Even so, sometimes your claim may be denied. Workers’ comp is essentially “no-fault insurance.” It is intended to treat your injuries so you can return to work as soon as possible. Therefore, coverage for an employee who misses a minimum of seven working days due to injury is limited to only the following:
- 100 percent of medical bills
- Ongoing disability benefits – though there could be coverage limits or gaps
- Two-thirds of your average weekly wages; maximum payment amounts are limited – or “capped” – by the state.
But workers’ comp also has some serious reimbursement shortcomings. It won’t pay for a variety of other expenses you might incur — from incidental transportation costs to-and-from the doctor, all the way up to the very important pain and suffering. You also cannot collect legal damages from your employer in court, because in exchange for subscribing to the workers’ compensation program, they are generally protected from injury lawsuits by their employees.
Third-Party Liability Claims When Workers’ Comp Doesn’t Fully Cover You
Often, your workers’ comp claim can be augmented by civil claims against third parties that also might have contributed to your injury accident. For example:
- If you are injured by a defective product at work, you can file a product liability claim against the designer, manufacturer, and/or the distributor of the product.
- If the behavior or actions a lawful visitor to your employer’s company created conditions that caused your injury, you may file an insurance claim or lawsuit against that person or company.
- And even though fellow employees’ actions don’t generally allow you to sue your employer, if a fellow worker’s malicious acts caused your on-the-job injuries, you could file a personal injury lawsuit against that employee.
- You might even sue your employer, but only if you can prove their willful negligence caused the accident. And that standard of proof is extremely high.
Contact the Macon and Middle Georgia Mann Law Firm’s Workers’ Comp attorneys today if you’ve suffered an on-the-job injury from a fall. Call (478) 742-3381 to schedule your free and confidential initial consultation about your case.
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