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workers compensation attorney in west virginia

5 Common Reasons Workers’ Compensations Claims Are Denied

Workers’ compensation is a system that is set up to protect workers who sustain an injury or illness that is related to their job. In West Virginia, nearly all employers are required to maintain workers’ comp coverage for their employees. There are some exceptions; such as casual employers with fewer than three employees, agricultural employers with five or fewer workers, churches, employers of domestic services, and a few others.

Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, which means that qualified employees are supposed to receive benefits through their employer’s policy no matter who was at fault for the injury.  This is supposed to benefit both employees and employers, because in exchange for no-fault compensation, employees are usually unable to file a personal injury lawsuit against their employer.

Workers’ compensation is supposed to provide access to the benefits an injured worker needs without having to go to the trouble of proving negligence against their employer. In theory, this should make it much easier for workers to access these benefits. In practice, unfortunately, it usually does not work out this way.

The employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company makes the initial determination on whether or not a work-related injury is approved or denied. The claims process is unnecessarily complicated and confusing, and insurance companies frequently deny workers’ claims. Sometimes, they might deny a claim for a valid reason, but oftentimes, there is no good reason for the denial at all.

Insurance companies can save untold amounts of money each year by denying workers’ compensation claims, and when they do this, their hope is that the injured worker will just take their word for it that the denial is valid and move on with their lives. And many frustrated workers do just that.

If you have been denied workers’ comp benefits, this is not necessarily the final word. Before you accept what the insurance company is saying, speak with a skilled and knowledgeable workers’ compensation lawyer about your claim. We may be able to help you appeal your claim and get you the benefits you deserve.

Common Reasons for Workers’ Compensation Claim Denials

There are several reasons a workers’ comp claim may be denied, here are five of the most common:

  1. The Injury Did Not Happen at Work

In order to receive workers’ compensation benefits, your injury or illness must result from the duties you perform during the course of your employment. So, one reason a workers’ comp claim is often denied is because the injury did not happen at work, or at least that is what your employer says. There can be a lot of gray area with this type of issue, however. 

For example, let’s say you were clocked out for lunch and your boss gives you money and asks you to go pick up food for you and the rest of your coworkers. While on the way to the restaurant, you are injured in a motor vehicle accident. In this case, benefits might get denied by the insurer because you were “off the clock” at the time of the injury. However, even though you were clocked out, you were still performing work related duties, because you were instructed by your boss to make this trip.

  • The Injury or Illness Resulted from a Preexisting Condition

There might be a question about the origin of your illness or injury. For example, you may say that you suffered a herniated disc in your back after lifting a 100-pound box at work. But the insurance company might say that you already had a back injury before you picked up that box, because you had been going to the chiropractor before that regularly for maintenance adjustments. This is another one of these gray areas where the insurance company may very well come down on the side of denying the claim, even though you may have sufficient medical evidence to show that lifting the box at work caused the herniated disc.

  • The Injury was Not Reported in a Timely Manner

Every state has certain deadlines for reporting a work-related injury. In West Virginia, you are supposed to report your injury to your employer as soon as possible. But as with many other workers’ comp-related issues, things are not always this simple. For example, many injuries occur over an extended period of time; such as repetitive stress injuries and occupational illnesses. For this reason, it may take time for you to discover these injuries and take appropriate actions. But again, insurance companies will be more than happy to deny a claim if they can find a reason to say that you did not report your injury in a timely manner.

  • You Failed to Seek Immediate Medical Treatment for the Injury

Along the same lines as the previous point, maybe you felt pain in your lower back after picking up that 100-pound box, but you decided to try to tough it out – hoping the pain would eventually go away.  But after a few days, you realized that something was seriously wrong, and you needed to get medical help.  In this type of situation, an insurance company might claim that you were faking the injury or that it was not as serious as you said it was because you did not get treated for it right away. They might also question the origin of the injury because you waited so long to get treated, or they might say that you did not do enough to mitigate the extent of your injuries.

  • You Were Intoxicated at the Time of the Injury

Employers have a few legitimate reasons for denying workers’ comp benefits for a work-related injury. One of these is if you were injured while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. That said, employers in West Virginia are not allowed to test employees arbitrarily for drugs and alcohol after every work-related accident. Under OSHA guidelines, an employer is only allowed to perform such tests when there is “a reasonable possibility that drug use by the reporting employee was a contributing factor to the reported injury or illness.”

Speak with an Experienced Workers’ Compensation Attorney in West Virginia

If you or a loved one has been denied workers’ comp benefits, this is not the time to give up.  Many denials are not legitimate, and it might be possible to successfully appeal your claim.  The appeals process is complex and challenging, however, and you need strong legal counsel by your side to increase your chances of a favorable outcome.

At Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C., we have stood up for injured workers in West Virginia for almost 50 years. We have successfully taken on giants in some of the most dominant industries in our state, and we have the experience, skills, resources, and dedication to help ensure that our clients are fully and fairly compensated for their injuries.  

Call our office today at (800) 497-0234 or (800) 296-6979 or message us online to schedule a free consultation with a member of our legal team.

logging accident lawyers

Why is Logging the Most Dangerous Job in America?

The timber industry is vital to the American economy, and everyone depends on the products that come from timber to function in the modern world. But behind this industry is a group of some of the bravest men and women in our entire workforce.

Logging is consistently listed as one of the most dangerous jobs in America. For several years, it has been listed at number one. For 2019, it fell to number two on USA Today’s list with only the fishing industry being more dangerous. 

The average annual fatal injury rate for logging workers is around 100 per 100,000 workers, and in some years, it has been significantly higher than that. This is about 20 to 30 times higher than the national average. When you consider that only fishing and aircraft pilots are even above 50 fatalities per 100,000 workers, it is clear that being a timber worker involves a level of danger that goes far beyond almost all other jobs that make the top 10 most dangerous list.

Clearly, there are many inherent risks involved with being a logger, but is the industry doing enough to protect its workers? In many respects, unfortunately, the answer to that question is “no”. All too often, timber companies put people over profits, cutting corners at the expense of their workers’ safety.

If you or a loved one was injured or killed as a timber industry worker, you need a strong legal advocate in your corner fighting hard for the just compensation you deserve.

Timber companies know that their industry is dangerous, but instead of spending their resources on worker safety, they divert many precious dollars into their legal team so they can fight the legitimate claims of their injured workers. For this reason, it is very important to have an experienced legal team of your own that is not intimidated by the industry’s vast resources, and one that has the proven ability to hold these companies fully accountable for their negligence.

Why is Logging So Dangerous?

Logging is a physically demanding job. Workers spend all day in the woods cutting up trees, often working in very high places while in a fast-paced environment. This type of job is definitely not for everyone, and not even for most people. But thankfully, there are those who embrace this type of work despite the risks.

And risks, there are many. Not only could you fall out of the tree, you could also have a tree fall down on you. And every logger knows that it is hard to control the momentum of a tree and which direction it will fall. Then there’s the equipment that is used. Chainsaws, logging machines, a lot of tools and machinery with sharp edges. Throw in other hazardous work conditions such as unstable, uneven, or rough terrain and inclement weather and you can see why logging is so dangerous.

If you don’t stay on top of everything, someone can easily get hurt. And this is where timber companies are falling short. In an industry like this, hiring qualified workers, extensively training them and properly supervising them is of the utmost importance. But like many other industries in today’s tight job market, it is hard to find good workers.

In many ways, this becomes sort of a “catch 22.” You need good workers, and an abundance of them, to help make the industry safer. But younger workers have a lot of options these days, and when they see how dangerous logging is, they often choose a different profession. The end result is fewer workers who work longer hours and are continually under an enormous amount of stress. This means less supervision and a greater likelihood of injuries and fatalities occurring.

Timber companies can help improve the situation by following all governments safety regulations, making sure all workers are trained, supervised, and using the most up-to-date safety equipment, and investing more to attract good workers to the industry and retain the quality workers they already have. 

The industry should also go a step further by pushing for more safety regulations and investing in better and safer tools and machinery for their workers to use. These types of changes can help create a less dangerous environment for logging workers, which should be everyone’s goal.

Call Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C. for Help with Logging Injury or Death Claims

If you or someone close to you was injured or killed as a logger, you may have a right to compensation. These types of cases can be complicated, however, and there are several potential sources of compensation, depending on the state the injury occurred in and other specific circumstances. This is why you need attorneys who not only have personal injury experience, but also specific experience successfully pursuing claims on behalf of injured logging workers.

At Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C., we have stood up for timber industry workers since 1970, and we have the knowledge, skills, resources, and commitment to help ensure that our clients recover the full and fair compensation they deserve. Call our office today at (800) 497-0234 or (800) 296-6979 or message us online to schedule a free consultation with a member of our legal team.

truck accident attorney in wva

Negligence that Can Lead to a Truck Accident

Large commercial trucks are among the most dangerous vehicles on the road. An 18-wheeler that is fully loaded typically weighs upwards of 80,000 pounds or more, making it far more difficult for the driver to make narrow turns and slow down to deal with adverse conditions.  And when a semi-truck is involved in an accident, the results can be disastrous, especially if there is another vehicle involved. 

Thousands of people are killed in commercial truck accidents each year. And according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), passenger vehicle occupants account for 68% of all fatalities in these types of crashes, while big rig truck occupants account for just 17%. The remaining 15% are motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians. 

Truck accident cases are far more complex than a typical car accident case. There are numerous laws and regulations that govern the trucking industry, and there are multiple parties that could share responsibility for the accident. For this reason, it is absolutely essential for anyone who is injured in a commercial truck accident to work with an attorney who has in-depth experience with these types of cases, and a proven track record being able to successfully recover full damages.

What Kind of Negligence can Lead to a Truck Accident?

Trucking accidents are complicated events, and there are numerous potential contributing factors. Some factors are beyond human control, such as bad weather, snow, ice, etc., but most are due to some type of negligence. And as we mentioned earlier, there may also be multiple parties that were negligent in some way.

Parties that often contribute to a trucking accident include:

The Driver and/or Other Motorists

In nearly all cases, at least one of the motorists involved in the accident is liable, and this is very often the driver of the commercial vehicle. Some examples of negligence on the part of drivers that can lead to a truck accident include:

  • Drowsy or Fatigued Driving: This frequently happens in the trucking industry because of staying out on the road for too long in violation of federal Hours of Service regulations.
  • Distracted Driving: Texting while driving and other types of smartphone use that take the attention of drivers completely off of the road.
  • Impaired Driving: Driving while under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs, or some types of prescription drugs.
  • Traffic Violations: Speeding, dangerous passing maneuvers, running stop lights and stop signs, failing to yield the right-of-way, and other illegal and unsafe driving practices.

The Trucking Company

The company that employs the driver can be held liable for truck crashes because of various types of negligence that turn out to be contributing factors. These may include hiring drivers who lacked the proper experience, hiring driving who are unfit for the road (e.g., a driver with untreated sleep apnea), failure to properly train and supervise drivers, and pressuring or incentivizing drivers to violate trucking regulations. 

The Freight Shipping Company that Loaded the Truck

Some truck accidents are caused by a tractor-trailer that is overloaded (beyond legally allowed weight limits) or loaded improperly. This often happens when cargo shippers are in a hurry to get the truck loaded up and on the road. When a truck is overloaded or loaded unevenly and this contributes to an accident, the cargo or freight shipping company that was responsible for loading the truck could be held responsible.

The Truck Maintenance Company

Big rig trucks typically log thousands of miles over-the-road each month, which is far more frequent use than with a typical vehicle. This makes it absolutely critical that the truck is properly maintained and able to handle the high amount of wear and tear it is subjected to. If the party responsible for maintaining the truck failed to make a necessary repair (and this failure resulted in an accident), they may be held liable.

The Parties Responsible for a Vehicle Defect

Some commercial trucking accidents are caused by faulty vehicles or vehicle parts that malfunction in the wrong place at the wrong time. Some common examples include brand new tires that blow out while driving full speed down the highway, and defective brake lines that are unable to stop in time when the driver needs to slow down to avoid a collision. When this happens, those who are injured may be able to bring a product liability claim against the designer, manufacturer, supplier, or distributor of the defective vehicle or vehicle part.

Injured in a Commercial Trucking Accident? Contact the Experienced Attorneys at Bailey, Javins, and Carter

If you or a loved one was injured in a truck accident, you need a lawyer who knows the ins and outs of these cases and has the proven ability to hold all potentially negligent parties fully accountable. For a free consultation and case assessment with one of our experienced attorneys, call Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C. today at (800) 497-0234 or (800) 296-6979. You may also message us through our online contact form.

power linemen injury and death

What is the Death Rate for Power Linemen?

Being a power lineman is listed as one of the top 10 most dangerous jobs in America. There are approximately 21 lineman deaths per 100,000 workers. This puts electrical power line installers and repairers at #9 on the top 10 workplace fatality rate list, right behind farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural workers. 

Doing electrical work in high places carries inherent risks that those in other occupations do not face, but the fatal injury rate among power linemen/utility workers is still much higher than it should be. Utility companies are giant entities with no competition in most areas of the country. Unfortunately, this means that these organizations are far too concerned about their bottom line at the expense of the safety of the workers they employ.

If you or someone close to you was injured or killed working as a power lineman, it is very important to speak with an experienced linemen injuries and death attorney, so you fully understand your legal rights and options. Utility companies have vast resources, and they can afford to retain armies of lawyers whose job is to mitigate their losses from incidents such as lineman deaths. This is why you need a strong advocate in your corner with the proven ability to recover maximum compensation – even in highly complex cases like these.

Why is Being a Power Lineman so Dangerous?

As we touched on earlier, climbing to the top of a utility line to perform electrical work is a risky job even under the best of circumstances. Throw in days when there are high winds, severe rainstorms, ice, snow, and other inclement weather, and you can see why being a power lineman/utility worker is not for the faint of heart.

Utility companies do not help matters when they choose to put profits over people. Here are just a few ways these companies cut corners to try to save a few dollars:

Minimized Staff

The root cause of most of the problems that lead to power linemen deaths is failure to hire an adequate number of utility workers to perform the work safely. Companies tend to do this so they can keep their benefits costs to a minimum. They are willing to pay overtime to workers when needed, because they still believe they can save money this way.

What many companies fail to consider is that staffing shortages lead to numerous other costly issues. For example, when there are not enough workers, it puts undue stress on those who are working. This can often mean 60, 70, even 80 hour or more work weeks. With overburdened workloads comes the tendency to work when you are tired and not as focused and as you should be. This can lead to critical mistakes on the job, some of which can be deadly.

Inadequate Training

Another common byproduct of being short-staffed is not taking the time to properly train new workers that are hired. It literally takes years to learn everything there is to know about being a power lineman, and much of this knowledge can only be acquired by being out there on the job.  But companies need to have more comprehensive training programs that provide a strong foundation for linemen/utility workers from which to build. In far too many instances, workers are thrown out there without the proper training to do the job safely and effectively.

Lack of Adequate Supervision

Staffing problems can also show up at the managerial level. Without enough employees to properly supervise utility workers, things are far less organized than they should be, and the required safety protocols are not always followed.

Not Using Proper Safety Gear

Utilities are a highly regulated industry with numerous governing laws and regulations, many of which spell out the tools and safety equipment workers are required to use. For example, utility companies are supposed to ensure that power line workers wear burn resistant clothing and the required helmets, gloves, and shoes to help perform the job safely.

Call Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C. for Help with Power Lineman Injury or Death Claims

If you or a loved one was injured or killed working as a power lineman, there are several potential avenues from which to recover compensation. These may include a workers’ compensation claim, a product liability claim, a personal injury lawsuit against a third party, or in some cases (depending on the state the incident occurred in), a lawsuit against the utility company.

At Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C., we can meet with you to thoroughly assess your case, advise you of your legal rights, and sort through all of the options you may have. It is also important to note that we accept all personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis, so you never have to pay any upfront attorney fees. You only pay if we successfully recover compensation on your behalf.

Call our office today at (800) 497-0234 or (800) 296-6979 or message us online to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys.

industrial chemical injuries attorney

5 Common Chemical Exposure Workplace Injuries

Throughout our everyday lives, we run the risk of coming in contact with harmful substances. We may be exposed to toxic chemicals due of mold or lead paint in our homes, contamination in the water we drink, and very often, dangerous toxins in the air we breathe. 

Another place where individuals are frequently exposed to dangerous chemicals is in the workplace. Toxic chemical exposure can happen in virtually any workplace setting, but there are some industries in which workers are more susceptible to this hazard. These include:

  • Industrial & Manufacturing
  • Mining
  • Warehousing
  • Transportation
  • Oil and Gas
  • Construction
  • Railroad
  • Welding
  • Lumber
  • Agriculture
  • Healthcare

Many of the chemicals and other substances used frequently in these and other industries present a high risk of serious injury or death if workers are heavily exposed to them over an extended period of time. And although the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has very strict standards to prevent this from happening, injuries from toxic chemical exposure still occur regularly in workplaces in West Virginia and throughout United States. This is mostly due to negligence or in some cases even willful actions on the part of employers.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identifies the five most common substances that cause chemical exposure injuries at work. The vast majority of chemical injuries in the workplace result from exposure to one of these five toxic substances:

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless and colorless gas that is very difficult to detect and poses a major risk to workers in every industry. CO is produced every time a fossil fuel is burned, and those who are exposed to it in indoor and enclosed spaces can experience sudden illness or death.  Common symptoms of CO exposure include headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, confusion, and general weakness, and high-level exposure can lead to loss of consciousness and eventual death. Because most equipment and machinery in the workplace requires fossil fuels, millions of workers are at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Ammonia

Ammonia is also a colorless gas, but it does have a distinct odor that is familiar to many people, making it easier to detect than carbon monoxide. Exposure to ammonia can cause irritation and severe burns on the skin, and also in the eyes, mouth, throat, and lungs. Higher levels of ammonia exposure can result in death. Ammonia is commonly used in agriculture as an ingredient in fertilizer, and in food manufacturing as a refrigerant, and a large percentage of chemical exposure workplace injuries (resulting from this substance) happen in these two industries.

Chlorine

Chlorine is a diverse substance that is used as an ingredient in thousands of industrial products. Chlorine is heavier than regular air, and it tends to accumulate at the bottom of areas that have poor ventilation. Chlorine is widely used in the paper and print manufacturing industries, as well as in entertainment and recreation as a substance placed in swimming pools and water parks.  Lower level exposure to chlorine can cause irritation in the eyes, nose, and throat, and higher levels of exposure can cause coughing, difficulty breathing, chest pains, vomiting, and death.

Hydrochloric Acid

Hydrochloride acid is a clear, colorless and highly corrosive substance that derives from hydrogen chloride in water. Hydrochloric acid is widely used in the manufacturing of fertilizers, dyes, rubber, and several other products. Exposure to unsafe levels of hydrochloride acid can cause permanent damage to the eyes, skin, respiratory organs, and intestines. The corrosive nature of the substance can also cause severe chemical burns when it comes in direct contact with the skin.

Sulfuric Acid

Sulfuric acid is another highly corrosive substance that is clear, colorless, and oily. Also known as battery acid, sulfuric acid is widely used in many industries, most commonly as an essential ingredient in fertilizer and as an integral part of the petroleum refining process. When sulfuric acid comes in contact with the skin, it can cause severe chemical and thermal burns. When it comes in contact with the eyes, it can cause blindness.

Suffered a Chemical Exposure Injury in the Workplace? Contact an Experienced Attorney to Discuss your Legal Options

If you or someone close to you suffered a workplace injury due to chemical exposure or any other cause, you need strong legal counsel in your corner advocating aggressively for your rights and interests. West Virginia workplace injury cases are highly complicated, because there are several potential legal avenues that may be available. For example, your injury may be covered by workers’ compensation, but you also may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit if it was caused by a party other than your employer. In some rare cases, you may even be able to bring a personal injury action against your employer if it can be shown that your injury was caused by deliberate intent on their part.

To determine the right steps for your case, it is best to work with a seasoned attorney who thoroughly understands these areas of the law and has a successful track record with workplace injury actions. At Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C., we have been standing up for the rights of West Virginia workers for over four decades. We have handled countless claims for chemical exposure injuries and all other types of injuries in the workplace, and we fight hard to recover every dollar of compensation our clients are entitled to.

Call our office today at (800) 497-0234 or (800) 296-6979 or message us through our online contact form to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys.