Workplace Injuries: What if Workers’ Comp Cash Benefit is not enough to cover all Damages Resulting from an Injury?

Nov 21

Annually, from 2012 to 2014, the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII), which is conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, has recorded almost three million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in the private sector, including those that occur in office settings, construction sites and industrial sites. While danger is much more extensive and threatening in construction and industrial sites due to the types of machines, equipment, substances and tools that workers use, office employees have their own share of danger too and, though many assume that offices are safe working environments, well, they better think again.

Office environments present various types of potential injuries that are different from other lines of work. Writing or typing on a computer for nearly eight hours every day and making or answering phone calls endlessly, both in seated position and in an indoor workplace setting, many employees are prone to developing vision problems caused by the glare of computer monitors, hands and wrists pains, and back and neck pains. Then there are risks of injuries which are common in any working environment, such as: electrocution due to faulty electrical cords; head or neck injuries due to supplies in stockrooms or shelves falling on employees; cut or laceration, a result of running into, or bumping against, a glass window, a wall, a door, a cabinet, or a chair; possible health problems due to poor ventilation and poor air quality; slipping; and, tripping, which remains to be the most common cause of injury in offices.

Employers have the legal responsibility of providing their employees with a safe and healthy workplace. This legal obligation is mandated by the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act), which the US Congress passed into law in 1970. OSH Act, in turn, created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in 1971, giving it the task of enforcing the standards mandated by OSH Act.

To ensure that employers comply with OSH Act’s safety and health standards, OSHA conducts regular inspection and encourages employees to report their employer if they believe that he or she is not complying with OSHA rules; employees can also request OSHA to inspect their workplace if their employer does not act to find and correct safety and health hazards.

On its website, the law firm Scudder & Hedrick, PLLC explains through an article how financially burdening work-related injuries can be, and that though injured workers can seek cash benefits from the state- mandated and administered Workers’ Compensation program, this benefit, which is about two thirds of an injured worker’s average wage, is often not enough even to cover costly medical treatment. If an injury is a direct result of an employer’s intentional negligence or caused by a third party, like a client, then an injured victim can file a civil lawsuit instead (against his/her employer or liable third party) to get the full amount of compensation that will cover all the present and future damages resulting from his/her sustained work-related injury. Filing a lawsuit, specifically against his/her employer, however, means waiving his/her right to file a Workers’ Comp claim. For higher chances of receiving full compensation, though, an injured victim may want to consider seeking legal help from a highly-qualified personal injury lawyer, who may just be able to help him/her compute the amount of compensation that he/she may want to seek in order to cover all damages related to his/her injury.

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