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On The Job Injuries: Negligence & Worker’s Compensation

Posted by attorney Jonathan Mani

Are you aware of the laws governing work injuries and worker’s compensation in West Virginia? If negligence was involved in your accident, there is a chance you could hold your employer liable.

In recent news, workplace accidents have made headlines. Each year, more than 4.1 million people in the United States suffer a workplace injury or occupational illness. Recently, a garbage disposal worker was killed when the man was either pinned under or between the piece of machinery that picks up and dumps the garbage.

In another account, a man was collecting scrap metal for recycling when he was crushed to death inside machinery near a construction site. Police say the man stuck his head and body inside of a piece of machinery to retrieve a motor for recycling when he became stuck and was crushed. In another story, a construction worker fell off of a roof and had to be airlifted to a hospital.

In the United States, 165 die from occupational disease every day and 18 more die from a work related injury, totaling approximately 1,000 deaths each year. Workplace deaths and injuries result in costs of $155.5 billion annually.

The saddest part about work-related injuries and deaths? Almost all of these accidents are preventable, with only 4% resulting because of technical issues such as faulty equipment. Construction, not surprisingly, is one of the most dangerous industries with 15.2 deaths occurring per 100,000 workers.

West Virginia is one of the states listed that has experienced a 20% increase in workplace deaths. Steps that can help lower workplace death and injury rates include using safe equipment, asking for assistance, lifting carefully, notifying your supervisor of any pain you experience on the job, using a dolly if an item is too heavy to lift, being aware that repetitive motions can lead to carpal tunnel, maintaining awareness of risks, getting enough sleep and exercising.

In West Virgina, employers are required to offer workers’ compensation- employers with fewer than three employees are excluded from this requirement. While the choice of physician is made by an employer, in West Virginia, there is no time or money limit.

For temporary total disability, the amount is determined by the worker’s wage and is subject to weekly maximum and minimum amounts. Payments are allowed to continue for 208 weeks. Death benefits are also payable to an employee’s family, based upon a percentage of the deceased worker’s income.

Common work-related injuries can involve getting caught in or between objects, motor vehicle accident injuries, musculoskeletal disorders, falls and being struck by or pinned against objects. Workers can often file a premises liability or product liability personal injury claim.

Employers are required to keep their property free of hazards and provide a “reasonably safe" environment for employees. If warnings are not posted, employees are not trained properly and safety specifications are not followed, you could have a lawsuit.

If your equipment malfunctioned, there is a chance that the manufacturer can be held responsible. Manufacturers have a duty of care and if a preexisting design defect caused you injuries, or if there were not sufficient warnings about the equipment, the company can be held liable.

While your worker’s compensation will cover medical bills, wage loss, and permanent injury, filing a lawsuit can allow you the fighting chance to reclaim damages for pain, suffering and emotional distress. Don’t just settle for compensatory damages- know your rights and if possible, seek out punitive damages as well! When your life has been adversely affected by another’s negligence, you might not be able to recover entirely physically, so at the very least, you should hold someone responsible for their careless actions.

Additional resources provided by the author

Mani Ellis & Layne, PLLC is a personal injury firm based in West Virginia that handles a wide range of cases from work injuries and wrongful death to car accidents, catastrophic injuries, dangerous drugs, dog bites and medical malpractice. With over 35 years of legal experience, Mani Ellis & Layne is a firm you can trust to represent you!

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