Category Archives: Work Injury

What Happens if I Get Fired While on Workers Comp
Work Injury

In general, being fired does not automatically disqualify injured workers from collecting workers compensation benefits if they have a valid and legitimate claim to collect workers compensation. Worker’s compensation is intended to provide benefits, medical expenses, and other medical treatment, to employees who received a workplace injury during their employment, regardless of fault or employment status.

Can You Be Fired During Your Approved Medical Leave?

While it might seem like your employer cannot fire you while you are on approved leave, the truth is not so straightforward. Employers cannot legally fire you in retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim or taking medical leave. However, that does not mean your position is safe and guaranteed to be there when you recover. Most employees are hired on an at-will basis. This means they can quit their jobs for any reason, with or without giving their employer notice. However, it also means that your employer can fire you for any legitimate reason. They are prohibited by law from terminating employees due to medical conditions, workers’ compensation claims, and medical leaves of absence. But they can always cite another reason to justify the termination. These reasons can range from anything from poor work performance prior to the accident to a reduction in workforce or a general layoff. Typically, employers will cite a reason for termination completely unrelated to the workers’ compensation claim or medical leave, as firing employees for medical reasons can easily result in a lawsuit.

When Are Employers Allowed To Fire People on Workers’ Compensation?

There is a difference between firing an employee who filed a workers’ comp claim and firing an employee because he or she filed a claim. Your employer is within its rights to terminate your employment after you filed a workers’ comp claim or even while you are receiving benefits. There is no law requiring your employer to hold your position open while you are unable to work. They have a business to run. If you are no longer able to do the job, or do your job with reasonable accommodations, they may be within their rights to fire you and hire someone else. The Americans with Disabilities Act makes it illegal for your employer to fire you if you can perform the essential functions of your job with reasonable accommodations. That said, your employer needs to do its part to help you perform the essential functions of your job. This could include installing a device to help you take phone calls because you lost your hearing. It may also be possible to use technology to allow you to do your job with vision loss or visual impairment. However, it might not be possible to do the essential functions of your job with certain injuries, such as an amputation.

At-Will Employment vs. Contracted Employees

At-will employees can be terminated for any legal reason without prior notification or cause. On the other hand, contracted employees have a written agreement outlining the terms and conditions of their employment, including the duration of the contract and the circumstances for termination. In contracted employment, termination can only occur if there is a breach of the contract or if both parties mutually agree to end the contract. The termination process for at-will employees is relatively straightforward, as employers can terminate them at any time and for any reason, without providing a specific cause or notice. For contracted employees, the termination process may be more complex, as the terms of the employment contract will dictate the conditions under which the employee can be terminated, including specific reasons for termination, notice periods, and any required severance or compensation.

What Happens to Your Workers’ Compensation Benefits if You Lose Your Job?

In most cases, you should continue receiving your benefits until you fully recover, or you recover as much as possible, and you are able to return to work. Your medical costs should also be covered by workers’ comp. Your right to workers’ compensation does not cease simply because you lost your job. If you are still disabled after reaching the point of maximum medical improvement, you may continue receiving benefit payments. You could also get the rest of this compensation via a lump sum payment. Here are some specific examples of situations when you should still receive benefits after being fired:

  • You were laid off
  • You were fired without cause
  • You were fired in violation of the terms of your employment contract

When Could You Lose Your Workers’ Comp Benefits After Getting Fired?

You might lose your workers’ compensation benefits after being fired if:

Do I Have a Case for a Wrongful Termination Lawsuit?

You may have a strong case for wrongful termination if you can prove that the termination was solely due to having filed a worker’s compensation claim.

This evidence include:

  • Situations such as the employer’s knowledge of the claim by those deciding to terminate
  • Employers showing a negative attitude toward the injury
  • Employer’s failure to adhere to company policies
  • Employer’s different treatment as compared to other employees in similar situations
  • Sudden changes in the work performance evaluations following a claim for workers’ compensation
  • Other evidence showing that the stated reason for the termination differed from the actual reason. This evidence is circumstantial and may, in aggregate, prove that the claim for retaliatory discharge is valid.

These factors are not all-inclusive. Some may be used to show that you have been wrongfully terminated. Once an employee can show this evidence, the employer must refute this evidence and show that there was a legitimate reason for firing the employee that does not include termination due to the workers’ compensation claim. Therefore, to file a claim for retaliatory discharge, you must show that the termination was just that, retaliatory. These factors and others may be used separately or together to show a court that you have been wrongfully terminated for filing a workers’ compensation claim.

What Damages Are Recoverable?

Different states provide different compensation if you have been unlawfully fired while on workers comp. Generally, however, you can recover:

  • back pay
  • job reinstatement
  • attorneys’ fees, and
  • workers’ compensation, if the termination impacted the claim
What Is Workers Compensation Insurance?
Work Injury

Worker’s compensation is a system of insurance that provides financial and medical benefits to employees who suffer work-related injuries or illnesses. Workers compensation insurance is typically mandated by law and aims to protect both employers and employees by ensuring that injured workers receive necessary financial support and benefits while limiting the employer’s liability for workplace accidents. Your employer’s workers’ comp insurance policy will also generally pay death benefits to families of employees who suffer fatal work-related accidents.

Employers are responsible for shouldering the entire cost of coverage and cannot require their staff to contribute to workers’ comp insurance premiums. In addition, workers compensation follows a no-fault system, meaning the amount of benefit an employee receives is not impacted by their, or the company’s negligence, although certain situations may potentially void coverage.

Purpose and Benefits of Workers Compensation

Worker’s compensation is an important insurance program that offers several key advantages for both employees and employers.

For employees:

  • Provides financial support and wage replacement for lost wages due to work-related injuries or illnesses
  • Covers medical bills, treatment, and rehabilitation services to help employees recover from their injuries or illnesses
  • Protects from potential job loss by offering job security
  • Reduces litigation as workers compensation streamlines the process of resolving injury claims

For employers:

  • Maintains legal compliance by adhering to local labor laws
  • Reduces liability for workplace injuries or illnesses 
  • Enhances employee relations by demonstrating a commitment to employee well-being
  • Encourages workplace safety incentives to pay reduced insurance premiums
  • Provides better financial planning and risk management as workers compensation provides employers with predictable costs for handling workplace injuries

Types of Workplace Injuries Covered by Workers Compensation

While each workplace has its risks, there are a few common workplace injuries and illnesses that are covered by workers compensation. In the US, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Safety Council (NSC) list the following injuries as the most common:

  • Muscle sprains, strains, and tears
  • Bone fractures
  • Cuts, lacerations, and punctures
  • Repetitive strain or stress (RSIs), such as carpal tunnel, tendonitis, and back pain
  • Slips, trips, and falls

Other covered injuries may include burns and scalds, transportation accidents, exposure to harmful substances, and psychological injuries caused by workplace stress, trauma, or harassment. In addition, there are common fatal incidents such as:

  • Electrocution
  • Getting crushed while stuck between objects
  • Being struck by an object or piece of equipment
  • Falling

What Does Workers Compensation Insurance Not Cover?

Not all injuries and illnesses that occur in the workplace are covered by workers compensation insurance. Some of the incidents excluded from such policies include:

  • Injuries suffered while an employee is intoxicated or under the influence of prohibited substances
  • Intentional or self-inflicted injuries
  • Accidents that happen while an employee is on the way to or going home, from work
  • Injuries sustained from recreational activities even if they occur in the job site
  • Food poisoning that happens while the employee is on lunch break as breaks are often not considered work-related

What Situations Qualify for Workers Comp?

If your employer has workers comp insurance, any work-related injury or illness can qualify for benefits and reimbursement. Most policies allow for compensation regardless of who was at fault. Employees may receive workers compensation for chronic injuries and illnesses and those that happen suddenly. For example, an employee may receive compensation for a repetitive use injury, such as carpal tunnel. Workers comp also covers situations that occur in work-related contexts, such as during business travel or company events. If you are not sure if your illness or injury qualifies as work-related, ask your employer, or contact a workers compensation representative.

What Factors Impact the Amount of Workers Compensation Payouts Employees Receive?

The amount of compensation employees will receive for a job-related illness or injury depends on a range of factors, including:

  • The type of illness or injury
  • The severity of the illness or injury suffered
  • The type of treatment required
  • The employee’s salary

Workers can opt to get the payouts either as structured weekly or bi-weekly payments or as a lump sum. If an employee chooses a one-time payout, they are also essentially waiving their right to reopen the claim in the future. This means the employer is no longer responsible for shouldering the medical expenses if their illness or injury worsens. This is why many employees opt for structured payments, especially if they are not certain of the long-term effects of the injuries on their future lives.

What To Do If You Think You Have a Claim

Here are the first steps you should take if you are injured on the job:

  • If you suffered a job-related injury, the first step is to report it to your supervisor immediately and in writing. This is crucial for your workers comp claim. Keep a copy of the report for your records.
  • Seek medical treatment right away, even if the injury seems minor. Some severe injuries, like concussions, do not show symptoms immediately.
  • Complete a claim form from your employer. No matter how your employer learns of the incident, they must immediately offer you a claim form. This claim form must be completed before the employer can provide benefits. Make sure the claim form is filled out entirely and precisely. Keep a copy of your completed claim form.
  • Once your employer receives your claim form, they must notify its workers compensation insurance carrier immediately. They will then arrange medical assistance for you.
  • File a claim with the workers compensation board. It would help if you did so quickly. Any delay on your part could lead to potential snags or delays in receiving benefits. This process can be complex and time-consuming, but it is necessary to receive your benefits.

Illness or injuries caused at work can be challenging to navigate. Knowing what workers comp is, if you qualify for it, and how it works in your state can be helpful. You can find specific information about your state’s workers compensation policies on the U.S. Department of Labor site.

Work Injury

If you live and work in the state of Florida, it is important to understand how the workers compensation system operates. In the event of an injury or accident sustained while on the job, workers compensation provides monetary benefits that can help you and your family get through a difficult situation. 

The filing process for Florida is a simple, but a critical first step in the workers compensation system. Three parties are involved- the injured employee; employer; and insurance carrier. Each party  has responsibilities that are vital in making the process work. It starts with the injured employee. Ideally, when a worker gets hurt in the workplace, he/she would inform their supervisor immediately, and, if necessary, go to the appropriate doctor, clinic or emergency room for medical treatment. However, the law says that you have 30 days from the date of the accident to report an injury. In some cases, that makes sense because the worker may initially experience only mild discomfort with something like a cut or muscle pull and not seek immediate treatment. As time goes on, however, the cut could get infected, or the muscle pull get aggravated and the employee suddenly realizes he/she needs treatment. That is why it makes sense to report an injury to a supervisor right away. Get it on record that something happened that may require medical attention. You will not regret it.

What Florida Workers Comp Covers

Under Florida workers comp law, accidental injuries and diseases arising out of the course of employment are both covered. In Florida, if you are injured because of a work-related accident or illness, your employer’s workers compensation coverage may entitle you to medical benefits and some wage replacement benefits.

In Florida, workers compensation for medical benefits includes:

  • Doctor visits
  • Hospitalization
  • Physical therapy
  • Medical tests
  • Prescription drugs

Here is what else can be paid for by Florida workers comp insurance:

  • Travel expenses to and from an authorized treatment center or pharmacy.
  • Wage replacement benefits are available if your earnings are lower because of a work-related injury. The wage replacement will equal two-thirds of your regular weekly wage prior to the injury.
  • Temporary total disability benefits are provided because of an injury or illness that temporarily prevents you from returning to work.
  • Temporary partial disability benefits are offered when a doctor releases you to return to work with restrictions.
  • Permanent impairment benefits are available when the injury or illness causes physical, psychological, or functional loss on a permanent basis.
  • Permanent total benefits are provided when the injury causes you to be permanently and totally disabled.
  • Death benefits are paid for deaths resulting from workplace accidents and include the payment of funeral expenses and dependency benefits.
  • Workers’ compensation benefits for lost wages start on the eighth day that the injured employee is unable to work. In most cases, the wage replacement benefits will be equal to two-thirds of the employee’s regular weekly wage.

Deadlines for Florida Workers Comp Claims

The deadlines for filing workers compensation claims in Florida are clear, but it should be noted that an injured employee has up to two years to file a claim for benefits.

Here are the deadlines for the various parties involved in workers compensation:

Employee: It is best for employees to report an injury sooner rather than later, but the law allows 30 days from the time of the accident to report an injury to the employer.

Employer: The employer must file an injury report with the insurance carrier within seven days of being notified. Employers also must notify the insurance carrier within 14 days if the employee has missed seven days of work because of the injury.

Insurance carrier: The insurance carrier has 14 days to file the first report of injury but has only three days from being notified of an injury to send a brochure to the injured employee that outlines their rights, benefits, and procedures for obtaining benefits, as well as their legal obligations.

Occupational Diseases: If you are filing for death benefits due to occupational diseases, the death must have occurred within 350 weeks of the deceased’s last exposure to the source.

Degree of Impairment

The more severe your impairment, the more benefits you will likely receive via workers compensation.. Severity is determined by percentage points, and you get more weeks of pay per percentage point. Here is how it works:

  • Impairment rating of 1-10%: Two weeks of benefits per percentage point. 
  • Impairment rating of 11-15%: Three weeks of benefits per percentage point. 
  • Impairment rating of 16-20%: Four weeks of benefits per percentage point. 
  • Impairment rating of 21% or more: Six weeks of benefits per percentage point. 

You will receive an impairment rating once you have reached maximum medical improvement, which is the point at which your medical condition will not improve. If you are still disabled at that point, the doctor will give you an impairment rating, which is the percentage that identifies what level of impairment you have with that body part. You will then receive pay for a specific number of weeks based on that impairment rating. When you receive workers compensation benefits, your medical bills are paid. You may also receive partial or full disability benefits, either temporarily or permanently. If you are permanently totally disabled, you will be entitled to two-thirds of your pre-injury income. If you have an impairment rating of above 20%, you may be classified as permanently disabled and not able to return to your job. This means you may be entitled to receive payments indefinitely.

However, if you are permanently partially impaired, you can only receive payments for a temporary period based on the impairment schedule listed above. Keep in mind that the payments build upon each other. What this means is that if you are 19% impaired, you would get benefits for:

  • 20 weeks (for the first 10%)
  • 15 weeks (for the 11% to 15%)
  • 16 weeks (for the 15% to 19%)

You would get paid for a total of 51 weeks, and your payment would equal 75% of the disability rate.

Why Are Workers Compensation Claims Different?

Not all personal injury claims are alike. This is especially true when it comes to workers compensation claims. That is because personal injury claims are built on the premise of negligence or wrongdoing. If you can prove either of those elements, then you may be able to receive compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages. In a worker’s comp claim, on the other hand, you are generally prohibited from suing your employer. You must recover compensation through the workers compensation system. In addition, your compensation is limited based on the level of impairment and maximum payouts. Workers’ compensation is not perfect. It does not pay for damages like pain and suffering and emotional distress. However, on the upside, it can be easier to make your claim and recover payment for losses since you do not have to prove negligence to recover compensation. Your employer is almost always responsible for paying for your workplace injuries, regardless of fault. Also, keep in mind that workers compensation claims are not settled overnight. Many cases are complex, and you can expect it to take around 12 to 18 months to resolve your claim.

filling up a work injury claim form
Injury claim processWork Injury

Every state has a statute of limitations in place that limits the amount of time available to file a lawsuit. Basically, the statute of limitations sets a hard deadline for when your claim must be filed. The applicable statutory period varies by state and by the type of legal action, but is usually between two and four years. If you do not file a lawsuit by the time the statute of limitations runs out, your claim will be time barred. You will not be able to take legal action, which means you will be unable to recover compensation for the harms and losses you  endured.

When Can You Sue Your Employer for a Work-Related Injury or Illness?

There are two primary scenarios in which you can sue your employer for a work-related injury or illness: (i) if your employer wrongfully denies you workers compensation benefits; or, (ii) if your employer does not provide workers compensation coverage.

Suing Your Employer: Limitations and Exceptions to Employer Immunity; Why Can’t Most Employees Sue Their Employers for Work-Related Injuries?

State workers compensation laws prevent employees from suing their employers for work-related injuries under most circumstances. The reason for this is that legislators have decided it is best for employees to have access to  financial benefits regardless of fault (in the form of workers compensation benefits) rather than requiring employees to prove that their employers are responsible for their injury-related losses. As a result, workers compensation laws establish what is known as “employer immunity.” Employers must pay workers compensation benefits regardless of fault; but, in exchange for taking on this responsibility, they are immune from most employee personal injury claims.

What Are the Exceptions to Employer Immunity for Work Injuries?

While employers have broad immunity from personal injury claims, this immunity is not absolute. The following are all examples of situations in which you may be able to file a lawsuit against your employer.

  • Your Employer Intentionally Caused Your Injury– In many states, if you can prove that your employer intentionally caused your injury, then you can seek full compensation for your injury-related losses.
  • Your Employer Was Grossly Negligent– In some states, employees can also sue their employers for job-related injuries and illnesses resulting from their employers “gross negligence.”
  • Your Employer Denied Your Workers Compensation Claim in Bad Faith– In some states, a bad-faith denial of workers compensation benefits provides grounds to sue your employer. However, you may need to exhaust your other remedies (such as filing an appeal with your state’s workers compensation board) before filing a lawsuit in court.
  • Your Employer Manufactured the Product That Injured You– If you were injured in an accident involving a defective product manufactured by your employer, you may be able to sue your employer under the theory of “products liability.”
  • Your Employer Has a Relationship With a Contractor or Subcontractor– If you suffered your injury in an accident involving a contractor or subcontractor, your employer may ultimately be liable based upon its business relationship with the contractor or subcontractor.
  • You Are an Independent Contractor- If you are an independent contractor (as opposed to an employee), then the company that you work for is not technically your “employer.” This means that employer immunity does not apply, and you can sue for full compensation based on the company’s (or one of its employees) negligence.

How Much Will You Recover if You Sue Your Employer?

If you file a lawsuit against your employer for a job-related injury, how much will you recover? The answer depends on the extent of your injuries. In personal injury claims, accident victims can recover financial restitution for their harms and losses. With that said, if your injuries are significant, your financial recovery could be substantial. An attorney will be able to help you seek compensation for all your outstanding and future medical bills, as well as your current and future loss of income. On the “non-financial” side, accident victims can recover compensation for their pain and suffering, post-traumatic stress, emotional trauma,  loss of enjoyment of life, and other life-altering impacts of their injuries. Compensation for financial losses is calculated based on actual and expected out-of-pocket costs. For non-financial losses, there is nothing to “add up,” so a couple of different methods are used- the per diem method and the multiplier method. With either method, personal injury compensation for accident victim’s non-financial losses will often far exceed their compensation for their expenses and lost wages.

Is It Worth It To Sue a Company for a Work Injury?

If you have grounds to file a lawsuit, it will almost certainly be worthwhile it pursue financial restitution from the  company for your work-related injury. This is because work-related injuries can be incredibly expensive. Your medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses can add up very quickly. Filing a lawsuit also allows you to seek compensation for your post-traumatic stress, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life.

Should I Sue My Employer or File for Workers Compensation Benefits?

When it comes to deciding whether to sue your employer or file for workers compensation benefits, the answer depends on your workers compensation eligibility. If you are eligible for workers compensation, then you typically are not eligible to sue your employer. The benefit of being eligible for workers compensation is that benefits are awarded on a “no fault” basis- while you need to be able to prove fault in order to file a lawsuit. However, while workers compensation benefits are limited, filing a lawsuit allows you to recover full compensation.

Workers Compensation Claims vs Lawsuits: Pros and Cons

A workers compensation claim can provide a quicker avenue to money and benefits to an injured worker. But temporary disability and permanent disability payments can be low, and do not compensate the worker for the full spectrum of damages that might be available in a lawsuit, including compensation for the injured person’s pain and suffering, and punitive damages that might punish an employer for poor safety protocols or dangerous conditions. You may also be able to receive government benefits such as Social Security disability insurance (SSDI or SSI) if your injury is disabling and prevents you from working.

injured employee visiting lawyer
Finding an AttorneyWork Injury

Injured workers may be able to receive compensation for medical expenses and reimbursement for lost wages through a workers compensation claim. You receive these benefits if you suffer an injury or illness at work or while performing job-related duties. You do not have to prove fault or establish liability to receive workers comp benefits. Even if you are to blame for your accident, if you are injured at work, you have a right to file a workers compensation claim. While this may seem easy and straightforward, insurance companies and employers are often reluctant to pay out these benefits as long as needed. They may push workers to return to work too soon or look for any evidence to reduce the length of time they would be obligated to pay these benefits. For these reasons, it may be necessary to hire an experienced workers compensation lawyer to assist you throughout the process.

What Does a Workers Compensation Lawyer Do?

worker’s compensation lawyer provides important legal assistance when you seek compensation for a work injury. After you get hurt on the job, if you file a workers comp claim you generally cannot  sue your employer (though there are some exceptions). Instead, your employer’s workers compensation insurer should offer you compensation for the medical care you received for your  injuries and reimbursement of lost wages. You are generally eligible for this compensation for any injuries resulting from work duties, even if your employer was not negligent. Ideally, you and the workers compensation insurer will be able to negotiate a settlement. If you cannot reach a settlement, your claim can proceed to a hearing before a workers compensation administrative law judge. A lawyer assists you with both the settlement negotiation process, as well as with a hearing if one becomes necessary.

Can I Sue My Employer if I Am Hurt at Work?

The tradeoff for employers providing workers compensation insurance to pay for employee’s injuries is that generally employees are barred from suing their employer. There are two primary exceptions:

  • You Can Sue Your Employer if You Are Not Covered by Workers Compensation

If you fall into one of the exceptions to workers compensation in your state, the shield protecting employers from being sued does not apply and you can file a civil action to seek financial restitution for your harms and losses. Exemptions include farm workers, government workers, and domestic workers. Since you would not be eligible for workers compensation in your state, the only way you could be compensated for your workplace injury would be through a personal injury suit against the employer.

  • You Can Also Sue Your Employer if You Are Wrongfully Denied Workers Compensation

You have a right to compensation for your work-related injuries, and if you have properly filed a claim for workers compensation, your employer has a duty to pay it – usually through their insurance carrier. If your valid claim  is still denied, you can then sue your employer for the financial restitution you should have received through your workers compensation claim. Bear in mind that, in some states, you must first go through other steps before you can sue. You may, for example, need to appeal the denial of your claim.

Examples of Situations That May Call for a Lawyer’s Intervention:

  • When Your Employer Is Threatening To Retaliate Against You if You File a Workers Compensation Claim. It is unlawful for an employer to fire you solely because you file a worker’s compensation claim or seek the benefits you are entitled to. Unfortunately, this does not stop some employers from threatening to terminate an injured workers employment or cut his or her hours. If your employer has terminated you, is trying to intimidate you, demote you, cut your hours, reduce your pay, or any other form of discrimination because you filed a worker’s compensation claim, you may need a lawyer to protect your legal rights.
  • When Your Claim Is Denied. Insurance carriers deny workers compensation claims for many reasons. Some are valid. Others are not. You do not have to accept the insurance carrier’s decision. You may appeal the denial through the workers compensation claims process. The appeals process requires you to file formal paperwork, gather and develop evidence to meet your burden of proof, and present your case at hearing. A lawyer can help you with these steps.
  • When a Third Party Caused Your Work Injury. Though workers compensation is often the exclusive remedy for work-related accidents, you may have a civil action if a third party’s negligence caused your work injury. For example, if another driver struck your car, you may have both a worker’s compensation claim and a personal injury lawsuit. Maximizing the value of both claims is complicated. A lawyer can help guide you through both legal systems.
  • You Are Receiving Other Disability Benefits. If you are receiving Long Term Disability or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, these payments may be reduced if you receive workers compensation wage loss benefits. A lawyer can help you minimize both the long-term disability-workers compensation offset and the SSDI offset, and also help you negotiate a workers compensation settlement that includes a Medicare Set-Aside Arrangement and is structured to put more money in your pocket.
  • When You Have Suffered Catastrophic Injuries. Some accidents are so severe that they may prevent you from returning to work. If the insurance carrier is concerned that you will have partial or total disability, then they will fight harder to delay, deny, or dispute your case. A lawyer can help you get the compensation you deserve.
  • When Your Employer’s Settlement Offer Does Not Cover All Your Lost Wages or Medical Bills. If you are not sure if a settlement offer is good enough, do not rely on the workers compensation judge to make sure that you are getting a fair deal. Although workers compensation settlements must have judicial approval, judges will usually sign off on any agreement if it is not grossly unfair. A lawyer can help you negotiate a higher settlement.

Pros of Hiring a Workers Compensation Lawyer

  • Experienced help with navigating workers compensation paperwork can prevent errors that might otherwise invalidate your claim.
  • You do not have to deal with insurance companies or issues that might arise with your employer in a contested claim.
  • Meeting workers compensation deadlines can be challenging depending on your home state.
  • Typically, injured workers who hire experienced workers compensation lawyers receive more money from their claim.
  • If your claim is denied, workers compensation lawyers are best suited to handle the appeal.
  • Your workers compensation lawyer has your best interest in mind. Your employer may not.

Cons of Hiring a Workers Compensation Lawyer

  • If injuries are minor, no workdays are lost, and your company is cooperating, you may benefit handling the claim on your own and avoid the cost of hiring a worker’s compensation lawyer.
  • If the injury is minor and you do not project it will cause long-term issues, hiring a lawyer could drag out the process.
  • If money is an issue for you – especially if your injury involves lost wages – you might want to avoid the cost.  Workers compensation lawyers generally do not charge their clients an hourly fee. Rather, they get paid a percentage of your claim when a settlement is reached (the percentage paid to your lawyer will need to be approved by your state’s workers compensation commission).
Hurt at Work
Work Injury

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 gives employees and their representatives the right to file a complaint and request an inspection by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of their workplace if they believe there is a serious hazard or their employer is not following OSHA standards. Workers do not have to know whether a specific OSHA standard has been violated in order to file a complaint.

If you are a Federal Employee or a Contractor and have sustained a work-related injury or illness, use ECOMP to report the incident to your supervisor. Employers must notify OSHA within 8 hours of a workplace fatality or within 24 hours of any work-related inpatient hospitalization, amputation, or loss of an eye. If you are a Federal Employee, you may also file a claim for benefits under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA). Depending upon your agency, start by filing OSHA’s Form 301, then file a claim using either form CA-1 (for traumatic injury). After you have received an official FECA case number, you may also file form CA-7 (Claim for Compensation).

Am I Covered by OSHA?

  • Private Sector Workers: OSHA covers most private sector employers and workers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and other U.S. jurisdictions either directly through Federal OSHA or through an OSHA-approved state plan. State-run health and safety programs must be at least as effective as the Federal OSHA program. To find the contact information for the OSHA Federal or State Program office nearest you, see the Regional and Area Offices map.
  • State and Local Government Workers: Workers at state and local government agencies are not covered by Federal OSHA, but have OSH Act protections if they work in one of the states or territories that have an OSHA-approved state program.
  • Federal Government Workers: OSHA’s protection applies to all federal agencies. Federal agencies must have a safety and health program that meet the same standards as private employers. Although OSHA does not fine federal agencies, it does monitor these agencies and conducts federal workplace inspections in response to workers’ complaints.

How To File a Safety and Health Complaint

You (or your representative) have the right to file a confidential safety and health complaint and request an OSHA inspection of your workplace if you believe there is a serious hazard or if you think your employer is not following OSHA standards. You may file your complaint online, fax/mail/email the OSHA complaint form to your local OSHA office, call your local OSHA office or 800-321-6742 (OSHA), or in person at your local OSHA office. The complaint should be filed as soon as possible after noticing the hazard. A signed complaint is more likely to result in an onsite inspection.

How To File a Whistleblower Complaint

An employer cannot retaliate against an employee for exercising their rights under the Department of Labor’s whistleblower protection laws. Retaliation includes such actions as firing or laying off, demoting, denying overtime or promotion, or reducing pay or hours. Retaliation occurs when an employer (through a manager, supervisor, or administrator) fires an employee or takes any other type of adverse action against an employee for engaging in protected activity. An adverse action is an action that would dissuade a reasonable employee from raising a concern about a possible violation or engaging in other related protected activity. How to file a complaint online: OSHA online whistleblower complaint form. An employee may also file a whistleblower complaint with the same options as filing a safety and health complaint listed above. A whistleblower complaint must be filed with OSHA within 30 calendar days from when the retaliatory decision was made and communicated to the worker. OSHA conducts an interview with each complainant to determine the need for an investigation. If OSHA conducts an investigation, it will also obtain information from the employer and witnesses if needed. If the evidence supports the employee’s claim of retaliation, OSHA will take action that may include requiring the employer to restore the employee’s job, earnings, and benefits, as well as granting other appropriate relief.

What Is the Difference Between Filing a Safety and Health Complaint and Filing a Whistleblower Complaint?

A safety and health complaint relates to unsafe or unhealthful working conditions.  A safety and health complaint filed with OSHA may prompt an inspection of a workplace. If a safety and health complaint is filed with OSHA that includes an allegation of retaliation, that portion of the complaint will be referred to the Whistleblower Protection Program for possible investigation. A whistleblower complaint relates to alleged action taken against an employee in retaliation for engaging in activity protected by the whistleblower laws that OSHA enforces.

Employee Rights During an Inspection

Employees retain these rights during an OSHA investigation:

  • A representative of employees should be allowed to accompany the tour
  • Employees may speak with the inspector privately
  • Employees may attend meetings with the inspector before and after the inspection

An OSHA inspector will likely speak with several employees regarding safety and health conditions. OSHA encourages employees to mention hazards and any illnesses or injuries caused by them, to discuss past hazard complaints, and to inform the inspector if conditions during an inspection are not normal.

After an Inspection

The inspector will meet with the employee and employer to discuss findings and solutions to any found violations. The OSHA area director issues citations and notifications of proposed penalties to the employer for any violations. The citation will include actions that must be taken and a date they must be done. The employer must post a copy of the citation for employees to see, which can list if it was a serious, willful, or repeat offense. Employees have a right to contest the citations to OSHA within 15 days of the posting, usually asking for a shorter allotted time to correct the issue. Employers may also challenge the validation of the citation.

How Long Does OSHA Take To Investigate a Case?

OSHA has up to 6 months to issue citations once the initial inspection is completed. In most cases, citations will be mailed and issued within 1-2 months of the inspection.

Company vehicles
Auto AccidentWork Injury

After a traffic accident at work, one of the most urgent questions you may have is whether you are personally responsible for the accident. If you are driving a company car or truck and cause an accident, you probably expect the accident to be covered by your employer’s auto insurance. Businesses are generally liable for the actions of their workers, including motor vehicle accidents caused by workers who are on the road as part of their job. But you may be held personally responsible for a car accident during work, depending on the circumstances. When determining liability in car accidents involving company vehicles, the question largely hinges on whether the employee was performing duties under the scope of their employment at the time of the crash.

Employer Liability for Car Accidents During Work

Most states have vicarious liability laws that make an employer responsible for the actions of their workers. These liability laws often cite the legal doctrine of respondeat superior. This fancy Latin term means employers are, in general, legally responsible for the actions, or inactions, of their employees while acting within the scope of their employment. The employer’s responsibility extends to situations where an employee’s negligence harms an individual who in turn files a personal injury lawsuit seeking compensatory damages for injuries and property damage. In most cases of auto accidents on work time, the employer’s liability coverage indemnifies the employee against lawsuits by third parties. This means the employer’s insurance company protects the employee from having to personally pay for injured people’s damages. Indemnifying an employee also means the employer’s liability insurance pays the worker’s legal fees if they are named in a lawsuit after the accident. Federal employees or personnel authorized to drive government vehicles may be protected by the Federal Tort Claims Act as they were acting within the scope of their duties.

When the Employee is Responsible for Accidents

  • Criminal Activity: An exception to employee indemnification applies when the employee is committing a crime while driving a company vehicle. If the accident involves criminal activity, the employer may rightfully refuse to indemnify the employee from third-party lawsuits. This can include driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Going on a frolic: If you are goofing off with the company vehicle, some jurisdictions call that a frolic.” If you are in an accident while running personal errands, even if it is during your work time, you may be personally liable for any property damage or personal injury claims made by others, even injuries to co-workers who might be goofing off with you.
  • Independent contractors: Using your personal car on behalf of the company, like for pizza deliveries, may not protect you from personal liability if you are in an accident while on the job. If you lease a company-owned vehicle like a taxi cab or tractor-trailer, your contract could have language that makes you liable for any accidents involving the vehicle.
  • Non-business activity: Having a company car is a great perk, especially if you have use of the vehicle 24/7. Read the fine print in the vehicle agreement with your employer. You are probably not indemnified if you cause an accident while using the company car to commute to and from work, or while on personal or recreational travel outside of business hours.

Are Employers Liable for Injuries in a Work-Related Accident?

Your employer may be responsible for injuries in a work-related accident, which ultimately comes down to vicarious liability. In short, your employer is liable if you are an employee working or otherwise serving your employer at the time of an accident. For this reason, most employers carry liability insurance for injuries an employee could cause in an automobile accident. However, employers rarely carry insurance for property damage if an employee uses their personal vehicle for work. An employee’s injuries in a crash would likely be covered under a workers compensation claim.

Can I get Workers’ Comp After an On-the-Job Car Accident?

If you do happen to get into a car accident while on the clock and within the scope of employment, and the accident leads to damages such as medical costs or lost income, you can file for workers’ compensation. Bear in mind that none of these rules apply if you are on your commute to work. While it may seem that traveling to the office would count as within the scope of employment, it does not. This is referred to as the “coming-and-going” rule. Still, there are some exceptions. For example, if you are on-call, in most cases your drive to the job would be covered within the scope of employment. For employees who are required to spend significant time traveling, such as nurses, the commute may be covered. Employees while on business trips are also likely protected.

Workers Comp vs. Liability Insurance

Even though these policies have different coverages, they are complementary in practice. We can describe that relationship like this: employers liability insurance kicks in where workers comp stops. Both policies cover workplace injury, only different aspects of it. Workers’ compensation covers the costs related to the injury without alleging liability on the employer’s side. Employers’ liability insurance covers expenses if the employer gets sued for punitive damages. That means that workers comp must cover the accident-related costs, whereas the employer’s liability covers the employer if they are somehow responsible for the incident. The employer’s liability coverage is broader than the workers compensation coverage because it responds to a wide array of claims. Workers’ compensation kicks in whenever there is an injury in the workplace, and the employer’s liability is triggered where an employee sues the employer for negligence.

Protection When Using Your Personal Car for Work

If you use your vehicle for purposes other than travelling to and from work, you should be aware of any insurance requirements in order to avoid getting into problems. Commercial insurance may be necessary depending on the type of use and the quantity of driving required. Your personal car insurance, with an exception, may be sufficient to cover light business use of your personal vehicle; but you should never assume you are protected without first checking with your insurance company. Any company that permits or compels workers to use their personal vehicle for business purposes should either obtain hired and non-owned coverage separately or add it to an existing auto policy. Non-owned coverage protects vehicles owned by employees but operated on behalf of the company, whereas hired coverage protects vehicles not owned by the company or the driver.

work injury falling
Work Injury

Accidents happen. Unfortunately, they happen more than we make think.

From car accidents to slip-and-fall situations and accidents at the workplace, an accident can be only a step away. This fact is why it is imperative to do everything necessary to prevent a workplace accident from happening, as they can be debilitating.

Here are the best tips on how to avoid accidents in the workplace:

What is Considered a Workplace Accident?

workplace accident is anincident that causes bodily injury during the scope of duty—or while you are working—at your place of employment. It can also include being injured en route while on the clock (i.e. a truck driver that delivers goods to multiple locations).

The most common workplace accidents include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Overexertion—This can include strain or injury while lifting or carrying heavy items
  • Slip and falls—This can be as simple as slipping down several stairs or as severe as falling off of a 20-foot ladder
  • Falling objects—This can include when an object falls from higher up and causes serious injuries to the employee below
  • Repetitive movement—This can include shoulder pain, chronic back injury, carpal tunnel syndrome, and more from performing the same movements over and over.

How to Prevent Accidents at Work

It is imperative to understand that many workplace accidents are preventable. With proper precaution, applying safe practices, and paying attention, workplace accidents may be avoided.

Here are the main ways to avoid accidents at the workplace:

Get educated

Whether you are the employer or the employee, it is vital to have the proper education in training. Employees must be adequately prepared to perform the tasks that are asked of them.

Without proper training in both protocol and day-to-day operational procedures, accidents are more likely to happen. When employees know their job and are trained correctly, the risk of injury greatly reduces.

Create a safe workspace

If you want to prevent an injury, consider your surroundings. Ensure that your work area is clear of debris, additional hazards, and spills of any kind.

Keep order and organization in the area employees conduct their business. Poor maintenance of these areas is a surefire way to breed an injury.

Use safe lifting techniques

If employees are instructed to conduct heavy lifting and moving of items, they must use proper lifting techniques that will ensure the safety of themselves and their coworkers. The following practices offer safe lifting techniques:

  • Keep the load close to you
  • Lift from a position of control and power
  • Don’t twist whilst lifting
  • Separate your feet in a staggered stance before and during the lift

Employees should be offered proper safe lifting protocol including body mechanics. These instructions help reduce strains, sprains, and other injuries during and after lifting heavy items.

Personal protective equipment

PPE is wildly important in specific jobs and their respective duties. PPE can dramatically decrease the chance of injuring oneself at work.

Common forms of personal protective equipment include:

  • Safety goggles
  • Gloves
  • Safety shoes
  • Air purifiers in toxic environments
  • Earplugs
  • Hard hats
  • And more

Create a wellness plan

Having a plan of action can greatly lessen the chances of injuries in the workplace. Have employees take training courses and inform them of what is expected of them. By removing miscommunications and improper training, employees can stay safe and efficient during their working hours.

Teach employees to alert the proper manager or top official of any hazardous materials, situations, or incidents. Additionally, employees must document any safety issues to ensure they are handled and prevented from occurring again in the future.

Identify safety concerns

It is important to know the scope of work in addition to the surroundings of the work environment. Walk the premises to check for any potential hazards, then review existing accident reports from previous years.

A safety consultant can be hired to further provide safety advice. Everyone is responsible for providing a safe working environment; therefore, all employees personnel, and safety officers must participate to ensure the safest work environment.

Install proper lighting

Whether the job requirements are fulfilled during morning, noon, or evening hours, proper lighting is a must. Install proper lighting that adequately floods the working areas with light.

Ensure that all areas between working areas are also properly lit. This includes the parking lot, sidewalks, exterior of the premises, bathrooms, break rooms, and any other area where employees will be visiting.

Safety signs

Proper signage is a great way to reduce the risk of injuries at work. Without identifying dangerous and hazardous areas, injuries are bound to happen.

Ensure all safety signs are visible and placed according to any danger risks. Ignoring safety symbols or signs can greatly increase the risk of someone getting hurt on the clock.


Necessary supervision

Instead of training employees and sending them to work, having a supervisor on the clock during business hours helps keep employees safe.

Workplace errors and improper conduct can be avoided with a trained supervisor in charge. Delegate a person to supervise employees to ensure everyone is not only doing their job but also doing it the safe, correct way.

Bottom Line

Injuries can happen anywhere. When they happen at work, they can be life-altering and career-ending.

Properly training employees, having adequate supervision, creating a wellness plan, and using the right protective gear and lifting techniques will significantly reduce the likelihood of injury at the workplace. Employers, employees, and other personnel will be safe, and the job will get done most efficiently.

work injuries
Work Injury

No one expects to suffer injury or death at work – but accidents happen every single day, in all types of workplaces, even in office and retail settings.

All workers should understand the dangers at their workplace. Employers have a responsibility to disclose accidents (more on that below), and provide a safe workplace free from recognized hazards, and provide safety training in a language and vocabulary workers can understand.

Transportation accidents consistently are the leading cause of death at work, followed by falls, slips, and trips. Below are some examples of fatal workplace accidents in recent years. 

#1 Deadly Combination of Floor Cleaning Chemicals at Restaurant in Massachusetts 

Back in November 2019, the 32-year-old manager of a Massachusetts Buffalo Wild Wings was killed when he inhaled an accidental combination of acid and bleach that  created deadly toxic gasses. 

About one-third of injuries or illnesses involve harmful substance exposure – things like ammonia, chlorine, acid, bleach, and carbon monoxide. According to the National Safety Council, the leading cause of non-fatal injuries or illnesses is exposure to harmful substances. 

#2 Suffocation in Nevada Cryotherapy Chamber

Back in October 2015, a 24-year-old woman working in a Las Vegas area cryotherapy chamber accidentally suffocated when using a cryotherapy machine by herself. Nevada’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration declined to investigate the accidental death because it occurred after work hours and “she was not engaged in her job” when her death occurred. 

#3 Tree Trimming Death in San Diego, CA 

In February 2023, a 39-year-old arborist became trapped and pinned in cut palm fronds while working a tree-trimming job near the Chula Vista Golf Course in San Diego. When firefighters responded and reached him by ladder about 50 feet in the air, he had succumbed to his injuries. 

#4 Northern California Warehouse Worker Death From Ceiling Collapse at Coffee Distribution Center 

In March 2023, a long-time employee of a Peet’s Coffee Distribution Center was tragically killed when the warehouse roof collapsed during a storm. The building was red-tagged after the incident. 

#5 Cinematographer Death From Prop Gun Accident on Movie Set 

In October 2021, a 42-year-old cinematographer was killed when she was accidentally shot by an unchecked gun on a movie set near La Cienega, New Mexico. Her death led to calls for gun safety reform on film sets. 

#6 Construction Worker Killed by SUV Plowing Into Apple Store in Massachusetts 

In November 2022, a 65-year-old man working on a construction site outside an Apple store was killed when a speeding Toyota 4Runner crashed into the store. 22 other people were injured. Electronic records revealed the 53-year-old driver did not apply brakes on the vehicle prior to impact. The driver was charged with motor vehicle homicide by reckless driving and reckless driving. 

#7 Maintenance Worker Death from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning at Michigan Hotel 

In November 2022, a maintenance worker was found dead of apparent carbon monoxide poisoning in the boiler room of a hotel. Testing revealed carbon monoxide levels in excess of 500 parts per million, much higher than the OSHA safe threshold of 50 parts per million, for an eight-hour work period.

#8 California Construction Worker Killed From Fall from Stadium Roof 

On June 5, 2020, a 37-year-old rope access technician fell 120 feet to his death at SoFi Stadium when he stepped onto an unsupported section of roof that was under construction. 

#9 Teenage Worker Killed Working Alone at South Dakota Gravel Pit

In May 2023, a 19-year-old man was killed by a piece of machinery while working alone at a South Dakota gravel pit.

#10 Worker Killed in Forklift Accident at Georgia Hyundai Accident 

In April 2023, a 62-year-old man operating a standup forklift was killed when he became pinned between it and a large shelf. Dozens of people are killed each year in forklift accidents, according to OSHA. 

Workplace Accident Statistics

According to the National Safety Council, there were 4,472 preventable work deaths in 2021 – and more than four million injuries requiring medical care. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a slightly larger number of 5,190 fatal work injuries in 2021, which include homicides and suicides – an increase of 8.9% from 2020. Workplace accidents take many forms, and workers in all industries are potentially vulnerable to injury or death. Top industries for preventable fatal work injuries in 2021 were:

  • Construction
  • Transportation and warehousing
  • Agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting
  • Professional and business services
  • Manufacturing. 

Women make up less than 10% of all workplace fatalities, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics

Employers Must Disclose Workplace Injuries and Illnesses 

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) now requires employers of 10 or more full-time employees to post a log of fatalities, significant injuries, and illnesses that require medical treatment beyond first aid. The form – Form 300A – must be certified by a company executive and posted somewhere in the workplace where similar OSHA notices and orders are usually posted.

Speak to a Knowledgeable Advisor Following a Workplace Accident 

A workplace accident can upend your life leaving you damaged physically and financially. Following a workplace accident, it is important to understand you  have legal rights and you may be entitled to financial restitution for your harms and losses. If you or a loved one are involved in a workplace accident, information is available about your legal rights and options. Compensation may be available through a workers’ compensation claim, or a personal injury or wrongful death claim. 

Contact our team today, and let us know how we can help.