Fort Lauderdale workers deserve to feel safe in the workplace. They should not have to tiptoe around careless employers, hazardous work environments, and lack of proper training. These forms of negligence can be dangerous and even deadly for employees.
When a worker sustains an injury on the job, the most obvious solution is to file a workers’ compensation claim. Before you do so, however, consider whether negligence played a part in the incident. In Fort Lauderdale, a personal injury claim against your employer or another party could likely lead to greater compensation than a workers’ comp claim.
For more information call our Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorneys today for a free consultation.
Should You File a Workers Comp Injury Lawsuit?
Florida’s workers’ compensation program gives employees the opportunity to receive financial recovery for work-related injuries without having to prove negligence. As long as the employee abides by the rules for filing, he or she can receive a check to cover injury-related medical care, missed shifts at work, and temporary or permanent disability benefits.
The workers’ comp system is an excellent solution for workplace injuries in many cases. However, it may not be a worker’s only – or best – choice after an injury on the job.
Some workplace injuries stem not from the hazardous nature of the position but from someone’s negligence. Slip and falls, toxic chemical inhalation, burns, caught in/between equipment, vehicle accidents, sprains, repetitive motion injuries, and electric shock are all examples of common issues that come from negligence or carelessness.
A competent and prudent employer can almost always prevent these incidents by maintaining a safe work environment.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, there were 272 fatal worker injuries in Florida in 2015. The majority (127) came from transportation accidents, followed by falls (52), violence (39), contact with equipment (28), and exposure to harmful substances (21). Most of these fatal accidents were preventable with proper care.
If you or a loved one suffered injuries in any of these common circumstances, you may want to consider filing a personal injury claim instead of workers’ compensation in Fort Lauderdale.
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When to Sue Your Employer
There are federal and Florida state codes in place to help improve the safety of workers. Broken standards can result in worker injury and employer liability. If an employer failed in some way that made the workplace unreasonably hazardous for workers, any subsequent injuries may be grounds for personal injury claims.
Note that a worker cannot file for both workers’ compensation and personal injury compensation. Filing a workers’ comp claim immediately bars the injured worker from suing the employer.
This is why it’s important to review your options with a workers compensation attorney Fort Lauderdale before making your decision. Chalik & Chalik offers free, no-obligation consultations and is experienced in handling all worker safety cases.
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Causes of Workers’ Comp Injury Claims in Fort Lauderdale
If you suffer an injury on the job in Fort Lauderdale and didn’t cause your own injury by recklessness or intoxication, odds are you have grounds to file a workers’ compensation injury claim. Virtually any injury someone acquires while performing job-related tasks, in or out of the workplace, qualifies for a claim in Florida.
However, some workplace accidents and injuries occur more often than others. Data from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), The Travelers Companies, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics cited the most common causes of worker complaints in the hope of improving safety at the workplace.
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Top 5 Workers Compensation Claims and Their Causes
Material Handling Injuries
According to The Travelers Companies’ “Injury Impact Report,” which analyzed more than 1.5 million workers’ comp claims around the U.S. from 2010 to 2014, material handling accounted for the most common cause of worker injury, with 32% of total claims.
These types of accidents occurred most often in retail and the manufacturing industry, causing 40% of all injuries in these sectors. “Material handling” encompasses lifting boxes, handling substances, or otherwise coming in contact with materials capable of injury. Strains and sprains were the most common injury type, comprising 30% of all claims.
Employers can prevent worker sprains and strains while lifting and handling materials by providing correct posture training, personal protective devices, and ergonomic work environments. Repetitive movements such as those on an assembly line can lead to strain and excessive-use injuries like muscle fatigue.
Frequent lifting and reaching for materials can cause shoulder tendon injuries from overuse. Workers should always lift with their knees, get help when lifting heavy loads, and get help when pouring liquids. Employers should provide rest stations or stools, as well as lower countertops and ergonomically-designed tools.
Slip, Trip, and Fall Injuries
Slips, trips, and falls accounted for 16% of all workers’ compensation claim accidents in the Injury Impact Report. Falls were the number one cause of death and serious injury in the construction industry in 2015 (aside from transportation accidents).
The construction industry alone took one in five worker lives the same year. Slips, trips, and falls are some of the most common workplace accidents. They result in millions of emergency room visits, thousands of serious injuries, and hundreds of deaths every year. Bad falls can cause injuries such as:
- Soft tissue injuries
- Cuts, lacerations, punctures, abrasions
- Bone fractures (especially hip fractures)
- Head and brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
The most frequently cited violated safety standard in the construction industry is lack of fall protection. Ladders, scaffolds, and working from heights all put workers at risk of serious falls.
Slippery surfaces, inadequate lighting, loose carpeting, exposed cords, wet or greasy floors, and debris in the walkway can all cause trip and slip accidents in any workplace. Employers can prevent falls by using providing proper fall protection equipment and maintaining a work environment free from hazards.
Struck-By Object Injuries
Falling objects can cause serious to fatal head and brain injuries, as well as contusions, cuts, punctures, and fractures.
Contact with dangerous objects and equipment in the workplace, such as heavy machinery or electrical components, can easily lead to workers’ compensation claims in Fort Lauderdale. In Florida 2015, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 28 fatal injuries that stemmed from contact with objects on the job. This doesn’t include contact with vehicles or transportation accidents, which separately took 127 lives in Florida the same year.
Proper head protection at work can help protect workers from falling debris and objects such as tools and building materials. Securing objects on scaffolds and belts can prevent items from falling. In retail, items falling from shelves is a common cause of struck-by object workers’ comp claims.
Employers can secure shelving units, shelf items safely, and train employees on how to prevent falling objects to help decrease the number of these kinds of accidents.
Exposure to Harmful Substances
Chemicals, acids, pesticides, glues, heavy metals, paint, solvents, and disinfectants in the work environment can all cause worker injuries, instantly or over time. Some workers don’t discover these injuries until years after the date of exposure, as is the case in most claims relating to asbestos exposure.
Exposure to toxic substances by way of contact with the skin, accidental ingestion, or inhaling the fumes can result in trips to the hospital. Exposure to harmful substances can cause:
- Accidental poisoning
- Nausea and vomiting
- Skin irritation
- Chemical burns
- Organ disorders
- Loss of consciousness
- Wrongful death
Employers must put labels on all dangerous substances in the workplace and train employees on safe handling, precautions for use, and emergency first aid. The most effective way to protect workers from this type of hazard is to eliminate the hazardous chemical or substitute it for something safer, preventing exposure before it occurs.
Otherwise, engineering controls, administrative controls, and personal protective equipment are also ways to decrease the risk of harmful exposure.
The vulnerable eyes can sustain injuries at work that temporarily or permanently affect vision. The manufacturing and construction injuries report the most eye injury workers’ comp claims in Fort Lauderdale.
Eye injuries can stem from an object striking the eye and causing trauma, chemicals or cleaning products getting into the eyes, thermal eye burns, and infectious diseases. Injuries such as welder’s eye are preventable with proper employee protective equipment.
Employers can reduce the risk of eye injuries by protecting employees from chemical gases, vapors, caustic liquids, molten metal, and flying objects that could all injure the eyes.
Eliminating the hazard is best, but if this isn’t possible, employers should equip workers with protective goggles, glasses, face masks, or welding shields. Eye injuries can be painful and temporarily disabling at best and permanently blind workers at worse.
Transportation Accident Injuries
Transportation accidents are common causes of workers’ compensation claims in Florida and around the nation. Delivery truck drivers, oil and gas workers, police officers, firefighters, airport crew members, and fishing and boat workers are more at risk of these types of accidents than others.
Incidents involving vehicles can inflict serious to fatal injuries on unsuspecting workers, including:
- Broken bones
- Cuts and lacerations
- Bruising and contusions
- Internal organ injuries
- Neck, back, and spine injuries
- Traumatic brain injury
- Traumatic amputations
Hospital bills for a worker struck-by or caught in between vehicles can be astronomical. A workers’ compensation claim may be able to cover the costs of medical expenses and partial lost wages, but they will not cover the workers’ physical pain, emotional distress, or lost quality of life.
A personal injury claim, on the other hand, could result in compensation for all losses relating to the incident. Before you file a workers’ comp claim and lose your right to sue your employer, contact a workers compensation lawyer Fort Lauderdale and discuss your options. A PI claim could be in your best interests.
For a free legal consultation with a Chalik & Chalik lawyer serving Fort Lauderdale, call (954) 476-1000
When To Contact a Fort Lauderdale Workers Compensation Attorney
Just because a workplace injury is common doesn’t mean it deserves any less care or attention. If you suffered one of these common workplace injuries in Fort Lauderdale, explore your rights and legal options during a free consultation with one of our local Fort Lauderdale attorneys.
We work with injured employees firsthand and know how devastating serious injuries can be on the entire family. Loss of important wages, temporary or permanent disability, hefty medical bills, and the uncertainty of the future can feel overwhelming. Let us help. Call (855) 529-0269 today to speak with a workers’ compensation attorney.
What does a workers’ compensation lawyer do?
Instead of filing for workers’ comp and receiving the limited benefits therein, find out if you are eligible to file a negligence claim against your employer. If the defendant is not your employer, but rather a coworker or third party, you could file both types of claims in Fort Lauderdale.
Either way, know that you might be eligible for greater compensation than just workers’ comp benefits after a workplace injury. A conversation with a skilled Fort Lauderdale workers comp attorney can help you understand your rights and options moving forward.
If you suffered a broken bone, head or back injury, or other serious harm while at work in Fort Lauderdale, get the legal help you need. Jason and Debi Chalik want to hear your story. Call the Law Offices of Chalik & Chalik today for a free, no-obligation consultation today.
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