Workplace Injuries: Most Common On-the-Job Injuries in Washington State
Workplace injuries are very common and can leave workers with permanent disabilities that limit your earning abilities and can haunt you throughout your life. Whether you work in construction, drive a truck or work in a plush office environment, you are still at risk for a serious workplace injury. If you are hurt on the job or have lost a loved one due to an on-the-job injury, contacting an experienced personal injury attorney is a critical first step.
Here is some critical information you need about workplace injuries, your rights and recourse if you are hurt on the job:
What Are the Most Common Workplace Injuries?
The Washington Department of Labor & Industries has compiled a list of the seven most common workplace injuries. These represent 95% of compensable injuries – meaning these are on-the-job injuries that result in payment to the injured employee.
#1 Caught in, under or between – these injuries occur when part of the body is crushed, pinched or squeezed by machinery
#2 Falls from elevation – these injuries include falls from ladders, roofs or other heights
#3 Falls at the same level – these injuries occur when an employee slips, trips or falls while on a flat surface
#4 Struck by or against – these injuries happen when a part of the body is impacted against a stationary object or hit by a moving object – this also includes noise injuries to the eardrum
#5 Motor vehicle accidents – these injuries include traffic accidents in all types of vehicles (including tractor trailer trucks)
#6 Work-related musculoskeletal disorders of the lower extremities – these injuries are wide ranging and include knees, ankles, feet and hands and encompass back strain, carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis and other nerve, joint and muscle injuries
#7 Musculoskeletal injuries of upper body (back, neck and arms) – these injuries result from overexertion, kneeling, squatting, lifting, awkward posture, gripping, vibrations and other repetitive motion
What Compensation Am I Entitled To for a Workplace Injury?
If you or a loved one has been injured on the job, the first option for recourse is a worker’s compensation claim. These common injuries result in over nine million work days lost each year. This means less money in the injured worker’s pocket and a need to seek compensation for time lost. But in addition to a worker’s compensation claim, you may be owed damages from any third parties that may have contributed to the injury. This can only be done with an experienced personal injury attorney acting as your advocate.
Remember if you are hurt on the job, you are entitled to recover worker’s compensation and you should file a claim right away. In addition, you can bring a claim against a negligent third party through the assistance of an experienced personal injury lawyer.
What Will My Employer Have to Pay for My Workplace Injury?
In general, your employer will not pay anything if you are injured in the workplace. You are entitled to file a Labor & Industries claim (known as an L&I claim). Your employer cannot prevent you from filing for worker’s compensation benefits. If your employer threatens retaliatory action against you if you file a worker’s compensation claim you can sue them!
In the state of Washington, Title 51 prevents employees from suing their employers for on-the-job injuries, even if the employer was negligent. Title 51 is designed to compensate you regardless of fault of your employer. Your remedy is to file an L&I claim.
There are a few exceptions to the law that prevents you from suing your employer. Firefighters and police can sue if employer negligence resulted in injury or death on the job. And general contractors running construction sites can be held liable for injuries caused by unsafe worksite conditions including injuries to independent contractors working on the job site.
What Should I Do After a Serious Workplace Injury?
First and obvious is to seek medical treatment and file an L&I claim. Doctor’s or hospital visits, medication, treatment and subsequent therapy should all be covered by worker’s compensation insurance and should not leave you out of pocket financially. If the injury is minor, you will want to file a claim for any lost time off work, but that should be the end of it. But if the injury is more serious or expected to have lasting effects, you will want to pursue a substantial worker’s compensation settlement with an experienced attorney at your side to get you the maximum redress for your injuries.
What Are the Long Term Impacts of Workplace Injuries?
On-the-job accidents can leave you with debilitating long term effects that you may not be aware of from your current perspective. Debilitating pain, loss of limb or joint functionality, sleep disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, headaches and other complications may occur. Recovering from a serious injury can be a long road involving therapy, medical rehab, weeks or months of work missed and even the inability to ever return to work. In cases like this, the financial settlement should be significant because it represents the damage done to you over the course of the rest of your life, not just the state you are in today.
What Should I Do to Protect Myself and My Family After a Workplace Injury?
After an on-the-job accident, your knee jerk reaction may be to get on your feet and back to work as soon as possible, particularly if you are the main breadwinner in your family. Days off work mean lost money, but rushing back to the workplace without proper healing can cause you more and worse problems down the road.
You may have more options for compensation than you suspect. You may be eligible for a third party claim against an employer of a negligent worker on the job site (such as a general contractor or a subcontractor). This may be especially true if the other employer or its workers were negligent. Depending on the circumstances leading to your injury, you may be entitled to both an L&I claim and a third party claim.
It’s best to contact our office as soon as possible after a serious workplace injury, rather than rushing back to work while still in pain and recovering. Rob can tell you what your options are, how he can help you and the best course to follow to protect your family’s finances and your future. You only have three years to file a workplace injury claim, so call now.