All workers throughout our state and nation have the right to a reasonably safe workplace. Most of the time, employers respect this right, following Occupational Health and Safety (OSHA) regulations as they pertain to workplace safety and worker training. However, this isn’t always the case, and even when it is, workplace injuries are still possible.
The National Safety Council (NSC) reports that every seven seconds, a worker is injured on the job. When a worker is injured at work, they have a right to recovery, including the recovery of compensation for their medical expenses, as well as a portion of their lost wages in many cases. If you have been involved in a workplace injury, our experienced lawyers at The Masters Law Firm can help you understand your rights. Please call us today to learn how we can help.
Common Types of Workplace Injuries
All workplaces have the potential to be dangerous. Indeed, even an office worker who doesn’t engage in manual labor could slip and fall or could develop a repetitive stress injury. That being said, those who work around heavy equipment or machinery, such as construction workers, natural gas industry workers, loggers, and coal miners are at a much higher risk of injury.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that in West Virginia, the most common causes of worker injury are:
Exposure to harmful substances or environments;
Falls, slips, and trips;
Contact with objects and equipment; and
Violence and “other injuries by persons or animals.”
In the construction industry specifically, falls, machinery (caught-in/between) accidents, struck by object, and electrocution injuries are the leading causes of worker injury and death. Injuries in certain industries, such as coal miners, may also be at risk of explosion-related injuries, including burns or injuries due to mine roof collapse or mine rib falls. In the natural gas industry, injuries from equipment, earth collapse, or explosions can occur.
At The Masters Law Firm, we represent construction workers, coal miners, workers in the gas industry, and others in dangerous industries who have been injured at work. We can help you to bring forth a claim and understand your rights regardless of the industry in which you work or the type of accident in which you’ve been involved.
Your Rights When Injured at Work
When an on-the-job accident occurs and a worker is injured, that same worker may be afraid to file a claim for compensation or hold their employer responsible, fearing employer retaliation. It is against the law for employers to retaliate against employees who exercise their legal right to file a workers’ compensation claim. If your employer has retaliated against you, call our law firm immediately for help.
When you are injured at work, you have the right to compensation. The vast majority of employers in West Virginia must carry workers’ compensation insurance per the law. Workers’ compensation insurance offers no-fault coverage to workers who are injured on the job. If you are harmed at work, you maintain the right to bring forth a claim for workers’ comp benefits. In West Virginia, a workers’ compensation injury claim or claim for death due to an injury must be filed within six months of the date of injury or death.
In addition to filing a workers’ compensation claim–which provides you with certain benefits regardless of fault and offers your employer immunity from liability–you may also have a cause of action to bring forth a third-party claim for damages. This type of legal action is a civil lawsuit against a third party whose negligence caused your injury, such as the property owner where your accident occurred (if someone other than your employer), or the driver of a vehicle that hit you or an independent contractor on your worksite. We handle these type of cases and are very experienced in seeking compensation from third parties who injure people in the workplace.
In some limited cases, an employer with workers’ compensation coverage who violates known safe work standards or specific workplace safety laws can still be sued directly in West Virginia. West Virginia Code §23-4-2 allows these types of cases, often called “deliberate intent” cases, although that description is misleading because the law does not require you to prove that an employer deliberately intended to harm you. Deliberate intent claims are very complicated, however, and there are several factors that need to be established to maintain a civil suit against an employer who causes a worker to suffer a serious compensable injury. There are also requirements that need to be met, for example obtaining certificates of merit from an expert, before you can file and maintain this type of case. We likewise handle these very complicated cases. Let us put our experience to work for you.
Types of Benefits Provided Per Workers’ Compensation Insurance
Filing a claim under your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance can yield compensation that you need to pay for some of your losses after being injured at work. Types of benefits provided by West Virginia workers’ compensation insurance include:
Medical benefits. You may seek compensation for the full value of your necessary and reasonable medical expenses. There are no deductibles for treatment for your work injury.
Temporary total disability benefits. If you are unable to work as you recover from your injury, or if you are able to work but at a lesser capacity than you were prior to the injury, you may be able to recover some wage replacement benefits.
Permanent total disability benefits. If the extent of your injury is such that you are permanently prevented from returning to any work and you meet threshold requirements for a certain amount of permanent impairment of your whole body, you can be partially compensated for lost wages going forward.
Permanent partial disability benefits. If your injury causes you to have permanent impairment to the functioning of part of your body, say for example, permanent loss of range of motion of your shoulder and arm, you can be compensated for that partial or total loss of functioning of a body part.
Vocational rehabilitation benefits. If your injury permanently prevents you from returning to your old job or a job that you have the skills to do, you can receive help in finding a different job you can do with your limitations, or receive retraining for a new job that makes you a comparable wage to what you were making before you were hurt. You can also receive partial wage replacement payment while you are looking for a new job or receiving retraining.
Death benefits. In the event that a workplace injury results in death, surviving family members may be entitled to compensation for death benefits.
It is very important when you are injured on the job to report your injury to your employer immediately. It is equally important that you timely file a Workers’ Compensation claim, in writing. Your rights to seek compensation within the Workers Compensation system and in a separate civil suit can depend upon you timely filing a Workers Compensation claim.
Call Our West Virginia Workplace Injury Lawyers Today
Being injured at work can be scary, especially when it means a disability, high medical bills, and lost wages. For assistance in understanding your rights and recovering the settlement you deserve, call The Masters Law Firm today at 304-342-3106 or toll free at 1-800-342-3106, or send us a message using the online form on our website.