Although the US Department of Labor has put in place literally thousands of rules, regulations, and mandates to keep workers safe while on the job, there are still thousands of workplace injuries and deaths each year. The Bureau of Labor Statistics cites 4,764 fatal workplace accidents in 2020 alone. This is far too common. For each death resulting from a workplace injury, a family is left without their loved one. This causes families to suffer mentally, emotionally, and financially. If you feel that your loved one died due to their workplace injuries, it is important that you and your family find just and equitable compensation for your loss.
This guide will provide you with more information concerning workplace injuries, deaths, and what families can do to find justice.
Who Is to Blame?
Because there are already so many health and safety regulations put in place, there should not be an ever-increasing number of workers dealing with injury and families dealing with work-related deaths. Families are left asking, “Who is to blame?”
It is always the employer’s responsibility to ensure that rules, regulations, and Federal and state mandates are being followed. When an employer is not in compliance with these essential rules, they are personally responsible for any injuries that occur and any deaths that may result.
However, there is always an intricate chain of command inside any company. Understanding which level of that chain of command the lack of compliance falls can sometimes be confusing. This is why it is imperative that individuals who have been injured at work, or families of workers who have passed away, seek the help of a knowledgeable personal injury or work accident lawyer.
These professionals will be able to help you sift through the details of the accident so that you can clearly see who was to blame.
If you were injured at work and that injury has resulted in a dramatic negative impact on your life, you could be entitled to compensation. Even when injuries do not result in death, the consequences of a work injury can cause an affect on your life for years to come. If you lost income or the ability to work because of your injuries, this can also affect your family for years to come as well.
Many work-related accidents are a result of unsafe work conditions. Much time and legislation have gone into building up a set of workplace standards that ensure workers are safe and protected. When employers do not do their part to enforce these standards, it is a crime. Not only are they responsible for making things right for the victim or the victim’s family, but they may also be held responsible by the state or federal government as well. In order to operate a business legally, employers are required to comply with state and federal safety guidelines.
Unsafe work conditions can include:
- Unsafe obstacles
- Unsafe exposure to the elements
- Exposure to toxic materials or fumes
- Lack of cleanliness
- Working at unsafe temperatures
- Failure to provide safety equipment
- Working at unsafe heights without proper protection
- Working in hazardous environments without protection
Employees are under no obligation to put their lives at undue risk without proper protection provided by their employer. When employers put their employees at unnecessary risk and do not provide adequate protection, the employer is responsible and should be held accountable for any injuries that take place.
Subcontractors and Other Employees
Some work-related injuries or deaths result from the negligence or actions of a sub-contractor or another employee. This can get tricky, as many employers will try to avoid responsibility since they were not directly to blame. However, when this happens, both parties likely are to blame. Sub-contractors and other employees are to be held accountable for any actions or negligence that lead to injuries or death. Still, the employer is also to be held responsible if they did not properly screen the sub-contractor and other employees. This is especially true if background checks were not performed correctly and an employee with a criminal background hurts another employee.
Personal injury and workplace attorneys can help you better understand the many details of this type of case.
Common Types of Workplace Injuries
There are many different types of injuries that can happen in the workplace. Let’s look at some of the most common types and how an employer could be held responsible.
- Electric Shock- Whenever an employee is required to work with or around electricity, it is imperative that they are appropriately trained and adequately protected. If an employer fails to do these things, they are at fault for injuries or death due to electric shock.
- Burns- When employees are required to work with hot surfaces or materials, the employer is required to provide proper training and protective gear. If this is not provided and an employee is injured, the employer is held responsible.
- Hearing loss or impairment- Working around loud noises requires special protective gear and training. It is the responsibility of the employer to provide these to the employee. If the employer fails to do so, they are liable for hearing injuries.
- Eye Injuries- Eye injuries at the workplace can be a result of many factors such as projectiles, dangerous liquids, steam, and other causes. Employees working around anything that could threaten their eyes should be provided with proper protective gear and proper training.
- Broken Bones- Broken bones can result from a fall from a height or a slip and fall incident. It is the responsibility of the employer to provide protection for employees who are required to work on slippery surfaces and for workers who work at great heights. Failure to do so can result in injury, and the employer could be held responsible.
- Lung Conditions- If employees are required to work around fumes or debris that could affect lung function, it is imperative that employers provide them with protective gear and to provide them with the proper training on how to work safely in such an environment. If employees develop lung conditions because these steps were not taken, the employer would be held responsible.
- Rashes/Skin Disease- Employees who must work in close contact with contaminants or hazardous materials must be provided with sufficient protective gear to protect their skin. If this is not done, and employees experience skin rashes or diseases, it is the employer’s fault.
- Joint Injuries- Employees required to lift heavy loads or perform repetitive tasks that could harm joints should be provided with supportive gear or occupational therapy to prevent permanent injury to joints.
- Falls- Employees should not be allowed or encouraged to perform tasks from heights, not part of their job description and where training and protection are not provided.
- Violence- If an employee is injured due to workplace violence, the employer could be held accountable for not providing proper background screenings. Employers can also be held accountable if complaints have been ignored concerning harassing behavior or violent behavior in the past, which then resulted in escalating violent activity.
The Importance of Seeking Compensation
Many employees that have suffered injuries or families whose loved ones passed due to work-related injuries are never justly compensated. This is often due to the fact that they simply do not know where to start in seeking justice.
There can be many confusing details that are involved in this type of case. Companies and employers are often backed by intimidating legal teams, which can threaten and bully people into settling out of court for unfair compensation. Because most people do not fully understand their own rights in these types of situations, they settle without asking many questions.
Work-related accidents and deaths can dramatically negatively affect individuals and their families. A severe injury can result in lost income or permanent disability in many cases. This can change the way a family lives from then on. It can even affect a family for generations to come.
When a loved one passes away because of work-related injuries, a family is emotionally devastated, but they can also suffer financially from the lost income of their loved one.
To avoid these long-term financial consequences, it is crucial to seek the legal advice of a work injury lawyer. They will be able to advise you on the best way to proceed to ensure that justice is done.
Another important reason you should seek compensation is to ensure that employers and companies are held accountable. When companies and employers are not held accountable, the same types of injuries and deaths can continue to happen.
Contacting a work-related accident lawyer is one small way you can help hold big businesses accountable and help ensure that future employees are not injured and affected by the way you were.
Our Houston work injury lawyers are ready to assist you with your case today.