Every year, more than 4.6 million workplace injuries are reported across the United States. Slip and falls and other types of work accidents occur for a variety of reasons. Malfunctioning equipment, poor training, and a lack of proper protective equipment are just a few. However, a co-worker can even cause another employee’s injury. What recourse does an individual have if they are injured by a co-worker? In Delaware, several options are available to pursue compensation for medical bills, lost income, and other losses after a debilitating work injury.
Common Types of Work Accidents and Injuries
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), a worker is hurt on the job every seven seconds in the United States. Many of these are minor cuts and bruises that do not require hospitalization or days off work. However, more serious injuries leave workers with chronic pain and limited mobility. According to the NSC, the most common workplace injuries include:
Overexertion puts too much pressure or strain on one’s body or mind, causing them to be pushed to their physical or mental limits. Overexertion injuries usually involve repeatedly lifting and lowering heavy objects or performing the same motion for long periods of time without rest. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is one of the most common repetitive motion injuries. Workers who type all day on computers or perform repeated motions in factories are especially vulnerable. Overexertion injuries account for more than one-third of all workplace injuries.
Injuries Caused by Contact with Objects and Equipment
Around 25 percent of workplace injuries involve contact with objects and equipment. Workers can be struck by or against heavy objects, caught-in between two large objects, or crushed by structures. These accidents often involve broken bones, amputations, and other serious injuries. Construction sites, factories, and other workplaces where heavy machinery and hazardous equipment is utilized requires strict safety training and protocols to keep everyone safe. Workers who ignore proper safety procedures endanger the lives of others. For example, if an employee decides not to lockout and tagout the machine they were working on, any worker nearby can suffer a catastrophic injury because of their negligence.
Injuries Caused by Slip and Fall Accidents
Falls are also common in the workplace, and they are responsible for 25 percent of all reported work-related injuries. Falls often occur from heights, but they can also occur on ground floors. Many falls involve damaged or improperly secured ladders and scaffolds. Workers can slip on wet floors, damaged or uneven floors, or trip over debris and tools left in common areas. Every employee plays a vital role in keeping the job site safe according to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards and other guidelines. Neglecting to follow safety guidelines endangers the lives of others in the workplace.
Workers’ Compensation for Work Injuries and Illnesses
After a co-worker causes an injury at work, the first step is to file for Workers’ Compensation benefits. Unlike other forms of compensation, liability is not a factor in Workers’ Compensation cases. There are some exceptions that preclude an employee from collecting benefits. Their claim may be denied under the following circumstances:
- They were under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- They were engaged in horseplay.
- They were involved in an altercation with a co-worker.
Starting the Workers’ Compensation Process
If the injured worker or a colleague is able, they should document the injuries, property damage, and the conditions that led up to the accident with photographs or videos. They are required to report the accident to their employer as soon as possible. If they are not treated at the scene, they should see an approved health care provider and save all medical bills and records. If the employer denies a claim for benefits, it is a good idea to contact a Workers’ Compensation lawyer to assist with an appeal.
Can I Sue My Co-Worker?
A work injury can lead to expensive medical bills. Medical expenses can be daunting, considering Workers’ Compensation only covers a portion of a worker’s income. When a worker’s injuries are caused by another employee, they can file a third-party lawsuit to recover additional compensation, including:
- Costs for medical care
- Past and future lost income
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
Unlike a Workers’ Compensation claim, a third-party lawsuit requires an injured worker to prove a co-worker’s negligence directly caused their accident and injuries. With third-party claims, medical records, accident photographs, and witness accounts reveal how the work injury happened. Therefore, any injured worker should keep meticulous records throughout the claims process. In most cases, an eligible worker can file a Workers’ Compensation claim and bring a third-party lawsuit simultaneously.
What Should I Do If I am Assaulted by a Co-Worker?
More than two million people in this country are assaulted at work every year. Assaults can happen anywhere, including on job sites, work functions, or even during deliveries. A person who does nothing to provoke or engage in workplace violence might be entitled to compensation. If the assault occurs within the scope of employment, it is most likely a Workers’ Compensation claim. However, Workers’ Compensation benefits may not cover all costs. In the United States, a worker is afforded some means to pursue financial compensation after a devastating injury. However, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to resolving a work injury claim. A skilled lawyer takes time to meet with the injured individual and discern how the accident happened. From there, a lawyer can recommend the best type of claim.
Wilmington Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Ensure Injured Workers Receive Necessary Benefits
It is important that all employees practice work safety. However, a work accident can happen if safety measures are not followed. If you have a work-related injury, one of our Wilmington Workers’ Compensation lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC can help. We advocate for injured workers. Call us at 302-888-1221 or complete our online form for a free consultation today. Located in Wilmington, Delaware, we serve clients throughout Dover, Newark, and Middletown.