Job injuries and the Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Data from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) show that, in 2007, worker death tolls were 5,488 for job injuries, which are injuries occurring in relation to one’s job, or injuries that arise due to, and during, employment, and 49,000 for job-related injuries, or injuries which may be sustained even outside of the company’s premises (in connection to this, the U.S. Department of Labor considers as work-related any injury sustained by those working at home or working in a home office, so long as such injury or illness is directly related to the work they are being paid for); about 4 million workers were also reported to have suffered non-fatal work-related injuries. Most of these injuries involved workers in construction sites, where millions of workers are employed and regularly exposed to heavy equipment, sharp tools, toxic substances, and many other possible causes of bodily harm.

Although accidents resulting to injuries or death may occur in any type of working environment, these remain most common in construction sites due to the presence of many different dangerously sharp and heavy tools, hazardous substances, and machinery which, if not correctly operated or maintained, can cause terrible accidents.

Whatever type of accident occurs, this, as stated by a Brownsville accident lawyer, can cause victims face a variety of setbacks after their injury, including painful recovery periods, expensive treatments, lost time at work, and emotional distress. The most common causes of workplace injuries include:

  • Violent acts due to arguments and office politics;
  • Continuous repetitive motion, which can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome and back pains;
  • Getting entangled in machines in factories;
  • Driving as part of work;
  • Getting struck by an object (or by a vehicle – for those working in construction sites);
  • Getting hit by a falling object;
  • Falling from a ladder, the roof, stairs, or any elevated place;
  • Slipping and/or tripping, which happens to be the second most common cause of workplace injury; and,
  • Overexertion, due to carrying, pulling, pushing, holding or lifting heavy objects.

Regardless of the cause of injury or whose fault it may be, a worker is entitled to file for benefits with the Workers’ Compensation or Workers’ Comp. This insurance benefit was introduced during the early part of the 20th century to provide immediate and sure financial assistance to workers who sustain a job-related injury or who develop an occupational illness.

Availing of Workers’ Compensation benefits, though, requires an injured worker to relinquish his/her right to file a tort suit against his/her employer to further seek compensation. This is because Workers’ Comp was established as a trade-off: receive the benefits, but give up your right to sue your employer. However, an injured worker may rather decide not to avail of the benefits for the right to pursue legal action against his/her employer. This is the path taken by those who are confident that they can prove that the accident was intended by their employer, that the employer does not carry Workers’ Comp or, that the injury is too severe or may lead to death, so that the amount of benefits offered does not fully cover the damages caused by the injury.

While allowing workers to receive compensation for any accidental injury is truly a huge benefit, making sure that this benefit should really be accepted is equally important. Thus, seeking legal advice which may help clarify a victim’s rights and legal options may be a necessary move.

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