WORKPLACE ACCIDENT

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Workplace Accident

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If you’ve ever been injured on the job, you know that an accident can change your life forever. Unfortunately, workplace accidents are a common occurrence in Texas. In 2021, workplace accidents were especially high in the state, with 178,900 total nonfatal accidents, or 2.1 out of every 100 full-time workers. A breakdown of that number shows:

  • Manufacturing: 2.4
  • Construction: 1.9
  • Natural resources and mining: 1.1
  • Service providers, trade, transportation, and utilities: 3.0
  • Education and health services: 2.7
  • Leisure, entertainment and hospitality: 2.4

When injuries in a workplace accident occur, you may wonder what your options are to pay your medical bills and other expenses. In Texas, the proper avenue for you to get compensation in some cases is by filing a workers’ compensation claim. In other cases, you may be eligible to file a third-party claim or a personal injury lawsuit. To determine which course of action is right for you, consult an experienced Texas workplace injury lawyer. To learn more about your rights under Texas law, follow along as we explore workers’ compensation and other claims for injured workers.

Workers’ Compensation Claims

The Texas Department of Insurance establishes workers’ compensation for injured workers in the state. Workers’ compensation provides medical benefits and pay to workers who are injured on the job. Being compensated through workers’ compensation does not require a lawsuit. However, unlike a personal injury lawsuit, you cannot receive intangible damages such as pain and suffering through workers’ compensation. This means that your workers’ compensation claim may not be enough to cover all of your damages.

Another problem is that Texas is the only state in America that doesn’t require employers to carry workers’ compensation. For those employers that do not offer workers’ compensation, a personal injury lawsuit can be brought against them for workplace injury.

Unlike a personal injury lawsuit or a third-party claim, a workers’ compensation claim doesn’t require you to establish fault or negligence to recover damages. This makes it much easier to receive workers’ compensation.

Now that you are familiar with the basics of workers’ compensation let’s take a deep dive into the specifics of a claim.

Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Under a workers’ compensation claim, only specific compensation is awarded. These include:

  • Income benefits: a portion of the wages lost due to an injury or permanent impairment to a worker’s body
  • Medical benefits: provide payments for reasonable and necessary medical care
  • Death benefits: these benefits partially replace missing income for eligible family members of workers who are killed at work
  • Burial benefits: partially pay for the deceased worker’s funeral and burial costs

As noted above, you will not be able to be awarded compensation for intangible damages such as pain and suffering outside of a personal injury or third-party claim.

Common Workplace Accidents

Some accidents on the job are more common than others. These include:

  • Construction accidents
  • Auto accidents
  • Forklift accidents
  • Heavy equipment and machinery accidents
  • Oilfield accidents
  • FELA and railroad worker claims

Regardless of the circumstances that led to your injuries, a qualified workplace accident lawyer can ensure that you get the compensation you deserve.

Types of Workplace Injuries

Just like there are a myriad of types of accidents that occur, there is also a plethora of injuries that can happen after a work accident. The most common types of workplace injuries include:

  • TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury)
  • Amputation
  • Broken bones
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Burns
  • Electric shock
  • Falls
  • Hazardous chemical exposure

An on-the-job accident can cause minor to serious injuries. Whether your injuries are slight or catastrophic, you deserve to receive compensation. An experienced workers’ compensation lawyer can help you get the money you need to be made whole again.

Causes of Workplace Injuries

Workplace accidents can be caused by any number of dangerous conditions including, but not limited to:

  • Spills
  • Improperly maintained or faulty equipment
  • Inadequate safety gear
  • Lack of adequate staffing or supervision
  • Inadequate training or certification
  • Failure to comply with regulations such as OSHA
  • Falling objects
  • Chemical exposure
  • Fires and explosions
  • Falls

A workplace injury lawyer can help evaluate your case and determine the causes of the accident and establish the fault of your employer or third party.

Establishing Your Claim

When you’ve been injured, there are certain steps you can take to increase the chances of your claim being approved and ensure that you are compensated fully. For the strength of your claim, take the following steps after an accident:

  • Receive medical treatment for your injuries
  • Report your injury to a supervisor
  • Get the names and contact information of any witnesses
  • Photograph the scene
  • Take notes about what exactly occurred
  • Seek legal help from an experienced workplace accident attorney

Another important type of evidence is the testimony of an expert witness. An expert witness is a professional who has expertise and specialized knowledge in a particular subject. Your attorney can choose to utilize a variety of expert witnesses, including:

  • OSHA experts
  • Accident reconstructionists
  • Engineers
  • Safety equipment experts
  • Hazardous chemicals experts
  • Process safety management experts
  • Other experts

The circumstances of your case will dictate which type of expert is appropriate for you.

Third-Party Negligence

Sometimes, a workplace injury is caused by the negligence of a third party, such as an independent contractor or a company that manufactured equipment used in your job. Third-party claims are not the same as workers’ compensation claims – though you cannot sue an employer for an injury, you can bring a claim against a third party for negligence if the circumstances of your case support it. You can also sue a third party for intangible damages such as pain and suffering.
To establish negligence, a worker must prove:

  • The existence of a duty of care owed to the employee by the employer;
  • That the employer breached this duty in some way and
  • The breach of duty was the direct cause of the employee’s injuries

Proving these elements isn’t always easy – your workplace accident lawyer will work with the evidence to establish that a duty of care was breached by your employer or third party.

Types of Compensation in Third Party-Claims

Unlike a workers’ compensation claim, third-party claims allow you to recover a broad range of damages. These include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Disfigurement
  • Pain
  • Anguish
  • Physical limitations

As you can see, a third-party claim has damages that are much more comprehensive than a workers’ compensation claim.

Maritime Industry Injury Claims

If a worker is injured while employed in the maritime industry, their case is different from a traditional claim through workers’ compensation. Several federal laws apply and dictate which benefits a worker can recover:

Bringing a claim under one of these federal laws requires the specialized knowledge of a lawyer for accidents at work.