workplace injury

What Happens if a Third Party is Responsible for my Workplace Injury?

When someone gets hurt at work, their first recourse is usually to file a workers’ comp claim for their injuries. There are some exceptions to this, however. For example, if your employer does not carry workers’ compensation insurance and the workplace accident happened because of your employer’s negligence, you can sue them directly.

In states like West Virginia, there is also the possibility of filing a deliberate intent claim against your employer, even if they have workers’ comp coverage. Deliberate intent claims are extremely complicated, and they require a very high burden of proof, so this legal avenue should only be considered after consulting with an attorney who has in-depth experience successfully pursuing cases like these.

A more likely avenue for recovering compensation becomes available if a third-party shares responsibility for a workplace injury. Workers’ compensation laws do not prevent you from filing a personal injury lawsuit directly against a responsible party, and you may be able to collect damages over and above what workers’ comp offers.

When Would a Third-Party be Responsible for a Workplace Injury?

Third-party liability in workplace accidents is far more common than most people realize. A typical worker faces all types of dangers on the job each day, and of course, some industries are far more hazardous than others. The risks at work are not limited to hazards that are created by an employer’s negligence, there are numerous other parties that could be negligent as well.

Here are some examples of parties (other than an employer) who could be responsible for a workplace accident:

Contractors/Subcontractors

In many workplaces, there are contractors and subcontractors that are performing tasks alongside or nearby employees. This is particularly common on construction sites, in coal mines, oil drilling sites, and several other industries. If one of these individuals were to cause a workplace injury, they could be held directly liable.

Vehicle Drivers

For those who work in the transportation industry, on construction job sites, and other industries in which workers do a lot of driving, motor vehicle accidents are common. If a vehicle accident happens at work and it is caused by another driver or someone else that is not connected with your employer, then a claim can be filed directly against the responsible party.

Product Makers

Workplace accidents and injuries are frequently caused by defective or dangerous products. This is particularly true in industries where large pieces of equipment and heavy machinery is typically used. Examples include construction, manufacturing, coal and oil, and many others. When a faulty product causes a workplace injury, it may be possible to file a product liability claim against the manufacturer, supplier, or distributor of the product.

Property Owners

If someone is doing work off-site on a property other than their employer, they must rely on the owner or the caretaker of the property to keep it safe and free of known hazards. Unfortunately, property owners do not always take the steps necessary to make sure those who are working there are in a safe environment. If their negligence were to result in an injury to a worker, this could be the basis for a premises liability claim against those responsible.

What Types of Damages Can I Recover with a Third-Party Liability Claim?

A third-party liability claim is a personal injury action that allows an injured party to recover damages not only for direct monetary losses such as medical bills and lost wages, but also for noneconomic losses such as pain-and-suffering, emotional distress, and diminished quality of life. In some rare cases, you might also be able to recover punitive damages if the actions that resulted in your injury were especially egregious.

The ability to recover damages far beyond what would be available with workers’ comp is one of the major advantages in filing a third-party liability claim. That said, you will also have the burden of proof to show that the responsible party was negligent. Proving negligence can be extremely complicated, which is why you should always work with a lawyer who knows how to win cases like these.

Injured at Work in West Virginia? Contact Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C. for Assistance

If you were hurt in a West Virginia workplace, you might have legal options beyond just a workers’ compensation claim. In many of these types of cases, there might be a valid third-party liability claim. The best place to start is to get in touch with the attorneys at Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C. for a free consultation.

We will meet with you to thoroughly assess your case and advise you of your legal rights and options, so you can make the most informed decision on how you wish to proceed. Message us online or call our office today at (800) 497-0234 or (800) 296-6979 to schedule your complementary consultation with a member of our legal team. We look forward to serving you!

construction accident lawyers

The Dangers of Structural Collapses during Demolition Work

Recently, one worker lost his life, and another was injured in a structural collapse at a closed power plant in Mason County, WV. The workers were in the process of dismantling the plant and salvaging materials from it when the structure collapsed prematurely. Unfortunately, this was far from an isolated incident – it is one of many tragic events that happen frequently at workplaces in West Virginia and throughout the country.

Demolition work is the most dangerous job in the construction industry, which itself is an industry that has one of the highest workplace injury rates. And the untimely death of the worker at the old Mason County power plant is a stark reminder of just how hazardous demolition jobs can be.

What Causes Structural Collapses during Construction Work?

There are several reasons why building structures collapse during construction or demolition work. Some of the most common include:

  • Poor Structural Integrity: When a building or structure has a proper foundation, there is the promise that the weight of the building can be supported, and that the integrity of the structure will be protected. When there is poor structural integrity, there is a much greater likelihood of a collapse.
  • Too Much Weight/Overload: In some situations, more weight is placed upon a structure than it can handle. This most often occurs when heavy equipment or machinery is placed on a structure during the process of building or dismantling it. An adequately sound structure is one that can hold up under reasonable use, but every structure has its limits, and too much weight can cause it to reach a breaking point.
  • Bad Engineering/Design Flaws: Sometimes, poor structural integrity could be traced back to poor engineering and/or flaws in the design. Structural engineers sometimes make mistakes and perform incorrect calculations. If designs are not checked and double checked for potential flaws, their implementation on a construction project can result in a structural failure.
  • Use of Inferior Materials: Some contractors and firms try to cut corners and save money by using substandard building materials. Using poor quality materials will cause the structure to degrade prematurely over time, vastly increasing the risk of a collapse.
  • Negligent Maintenance/Deterioration: Lack of proper maintenance will lead to important things being missed, needed repairs not being made, and accelerated deterioration possibly to the point of a collapse.
  • Structural Damage: Various types of events can cause irreparable damage to a building structure, sometimes to the point where it collapses. For example, if someone crashes a large vehicle into a building, it can cause a partial or total structural collapse. The best-known modern example of this was when both towers of the World Trade Center in NYC were struck and brought down by hijacked airplanes on September 11, 2001.
  • Soil Erosion: The erosion of soil underneath a structure (either by man-made or natural causes) can create a sinkhole, which could result in a structural collapse.
  • Inadequate Safety Measures: When a company that is overseeing the construction, renovation, or demolition of a building does not strictly adhere to government safety standards and best practices, it puts their workers in danger and increases the likelihood of a collapse.

The Unique Hazards of Deconstruction and Demolition Work

As we talked about earlier, deconstruction and demolition are the most dangerous types of construction work. One major reason is that contracting companies may not fully understand the structural principles of the building they are working on. So, going back to the Mason County power plant where a structural collapse caused a fatal injury, the workers were deconstructing, dismantling, and removing components and contents of the building for salvage.

This is common practice with decommissioned power plants as these materials can be recovered for resale, recycling, or reuse. But when an employee is required to work inside the building to deconstruct various materials that may still have value, they might end up removing something that is essential to support the structure. Removing certain equipment could also lead to dangerous explosions, which could cause structural damage and injure workers.

Before undertaking these types of deconstruction and demolition projects, it is incumbent upon those in charge to take every step necessary to thoroughly examine the structural elements of the building to make sure that the integrity of the structure is not compromised and workers are not needlessly put at risk. They may not be able to earn as much profit on the salvaging of materials, but it is high time these companies began putting people before profits.

Suffered a Workplace Injury in West Virginia? Contact Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C. for Assistance

A collapsing structure is one of the most hazardous types of construction-related events, and as we saw with the recent power plant incident, the results can be catastrophic. If you or a loved one got injured in a structural collapse or suffered any other type of workplace injury, Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C. is here to help! Message us online or call our office today at (800) 497-0234 or (800) 296-6979 for a free consultation with a member of our legal team. We look forward to serving you!

What are the Most Dangerous Jobs in America?

For many Americans, the idea of a “bad day at work” might be something along the lines of having to deal with difficult customers, getting reprimanded by their supervisor, or getting stuck in traffic on their way to or from the office. In most occupations, the idea of getting injured at work is usually far from their minds. Although it can happen, and it often does, a workplace injury is usually something that they think “happens to somebody else”.

In some occupations, however, workplace injuries are more the norm than the exception. These are jobs in which people go to work every day knowing that there is at the very least a moderate risk that they will suffer a serious injury. Last month, CNBC published their list of the top 10 most dangerous jobs in America, based on numbers from 2018, the most recent year that we have full statistics for.

There were 5,250 workplace fatalities in 2018, which was a slight increase from the previous year. And many of these deaths were among workers from one of the following occupations:

10. Landscaping, Lawn Service, and Groundskeeping

CNBC lists first-line supervisors of landscapers, groundskeepers, and lawn service personnel as the 10th most dangerous job in the United States, with 20.2 fatalities per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers. Those in this industry spend a lot of time traveling from one jobsite to another, putting them at a higher risk of transportation-related accidents.

9. Construction and Extraction Worker Supervisors

First-line supervisors of construction and extraction workers is listed as the 9th most dangerous occupation in America, with 21 fatalities per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers. About two-thirds of those who were killed in this industry were independent contractors, and most of these fatalities were transportation-related.

8. Structural Iron and Steel Workers

Coming in at 8th on the list of the top 10 most dangerous occupations with 23.6 fatalities per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers are those who install iron and steel elements into building structures during construction. Those in this industry work regularly in high places, and slips, trips, and falls are the most common causes of death.

7. Agricultural Workers

Number 7 on the top 10 list with 24.7 fatalities per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers are farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural workers. Farmers spend a lot of time working outdoors with dangerous machinery and equipment, and some of them travel from one farm to another, putting them at risk of transportation accidents.

6. Transportation Workers

Number six on the list is transportation workers; including commercial truck drivers, company delivery drivers, and traveling sales workers. Among these occupations, there were 26 fatalities per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers, and not surprisingly, the vast majority of these fatalities resulted from transportation-related workplace accidents.

5. Waste and Recyclable Materials Collectors

Another extremely dangerous transportation-related occupation is garbage or waste collector. These workers spend a large percentage of their day with a team traveling from one location to another collecting waste and recyclable materials. They also work year-round, with some team members having to work outside under hazardous weather conditions. There were 44.3 fatalities per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers in the waste industry, making it the fifth most hazardous occupation in the US.

4. Roofers

Roofing is the most dangerous type of construction occupation and fourth most dangerous overall with 51.5 fatalities per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers. Roofers spend almost all of their time on top of residential and commercial buildings either installing or repairing roofs. They typically work multiple stories above the ground, making them highly susceptible to serious slip, trip, and fall injuries. Roofers also have to do a lot of hard physical labor, often in very uncomfortable weather conditions.

3. Airline Pilots and Flight Engineers

Pilots and flight engineers are third on the list of most dangerous occupations with 58.9 fatalities per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers. Not surprisingly, the deaths and serious injuries that occur with this group result from plane crashes, and the majority of these crashes happen in smaller private planes.

2. Fishing Workers

Fishers and other fishing workers come in at number two on the list, with 77.4 fatalities per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers. Fishers work long hours at sea doing hard, physical work, and they are also highly susceptible to slips, trips, and falls, sometimes even falling out of their boat.

1 . Logging Workers

Logging workers top the list of the most dangerous jobs in America. These workers deal with numerous risks; such as falling from high places, being hit by felled trees, and being injured by hazardous or faulty equipment. At 97.6 fatalities per 100,000 full-time workers, the fatality rate among logging workers is 28 times higher than the all-worker average of 3.5 fatalities per 100,000.

Injured in a Workplace Accident? Contact Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C. for Assistance

If you or a loved one suffered a serious workplace injury or fatality, you may be entitled to compensation over and above workers’ compensation benefits. Some accidents are caused by parties other than the employer, such as a third-party subcontractor, another driver, or the maker of a dangerous or defective product. There may also be instances when a workplace injury is caused by the deliberate actions of the employer, in which case you might be able to sue them directly.

The best place to start is to speak with the experienced workplace injury lawyers at Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C. Over the past several decades, we have helped countless workers recover the just compensation they deserve, and we are happy to provide a free consultation to take a look at your case. To learn more, message us online or call our office today at (800) 497-0234 or (800) 296-6979. We look forward to serving you!

workplace injury

How Workplace Injuries Affect Families

Each year, thousands of individuals are killed and millions more are injured on the job. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that there was a total of 5,250 work-related fatalities in 2018, up 2% from the previous year. And the fatal injury rate in the U.S. is currently 3.5 deaths for every 100,000 full-time workers.

There are an estimated 8.5 million injuries in the workplace each year, and the economic cost of these injuries is staggering. Estimates vary, but according to an Economic Policy Institute report that was published a few years back, workplace injuries and occupational illnesses cost the U.S. approximately $250 billion annually.

The economic costs of workplace injuries only tell part of the story, however. There is also a major human cost that is often overlooked. Workers who get injured while on the job suffer major physical and emotional pain that can go on for months or even years. And in some cases, the effects of the injury can be permanent.

Imagine the physical pain and suffering an injured worker goes through on a daily basis. Being in pain all the time means problems sleeping, trouble moving around, and difficulty or inability to do the things they once enjoyed. And the prospect of having your life turned upside down like this and not knowing if it will ever be the same is something that can seem nearly impossible to live with. These are intangible costs that are very real, and it is impossible to put a price on them.

How the Human Cost of Workplace Injuries Extends to Families

A work-related injury or occupational illness is bad enough for the individual who is suffering from it, but the costs do not end there. Families also suffer deep emotional and financial pain because of a loved one’s injury. Children tend to be hit the hardest by these types of injuries as they are forced to deal with the reality of a parent who has a medical condition that renders them unable to go to work and put food on the table.

Some of these injuries also significantly change the family dynamic by reversing various roles. For example, a parent who suffers a traumatic brain injury (TBI) might be in need of continual assistance in order to get through the day. This thrusts the spouse and children into a caregiving role, which is something many people may not be emotionally ready to deal with.

The effect of workplace injuries on families in single parent households is even more devastating. When the one parent who the children depend on for everything suddenly gets hurt, finances are even tighter, and the duty to care for the injured parent may fall squarely on the children.

How does Workers’ Compensation Help Families of Injured Workers?

When someone suffers a work-related injury, they will usually look to their employer’s workers’ compensation policy for assistance. An injured worker can receive workers’ comp benefits to cover medical expenses and a percentage of gross wages for the time missed from work. These benefits are available regardless of who was at fault for the injury.

While workers’ compensation provides much-needed financial assistance, it does not reimburse an injured worker for all of their lost wages. With less income coming in, finances are much tighter and families in this situation are forced to significantly tighten their belts. The financial difficulties may also be a source of relational strife as the family is forced to make difficult choices about what they will have to do without.

To add insult to injury (literally), employers and their insurers often make it very difficult for injured workers to access the benefits they deserve. Insurance companies always want to pay out as little as possible to those who file claims, and they make the claims process overly complicated in an effort to frustrate workers. They will also look for any way they can deny a valid claim, even if they can do it on a technicality.

Can I Sue my Employer for a Workplace Injury?

Unfortunately, an injured worker who has workers’ compensation benefits available to them usually forfeits their right to sue an employer for reimbursement of noneconomic losses such as pain-and-suffering, emotional distress, and diminished quality of life. This is not always the case, however.

For example, in West Virginia and some other states, it may be possible to file a personal injury lawsuit against an employer if it can be shown that the employer’s deliberate actions caused the injury. That said, deliberate intent cases are complicated and difficult to prove, and for this reason, it is absolutely imperative to speak with an experienced workplace injury lawyer as soon as possible if you are considering going this route.

One final note about workplace injuries. Some such injuries may be the fault of a third party, such as a subcontractor or the maker of a faulty product. If a party other than your employer caused or contributed to your injury, it may be possible to bring a lawsuit directly against them to recover damages over and above your workers’ compensation benefits.

Contact the Skilled and Knowledgeable Attorneys at Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C.

Workplace injuries take a major physical, emotional, and financial toll on victims and their families, and those who are injured often have great difficulty recovering the compensation they are entitled to. At Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C., we understand what you are going through, and we are here to help. Our attorneys have over four decades of experience standing up for injured workers in West Virginia and in other states, and we are ready to go to work for you.

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

work zone fatality

Work Zone Fatalities on the Rise in Recent Years

Although many motorists complain about it, road construction is necessary to keep our roadways safe and well-maintained. This is especially important in states like West Virginia, where heavy snowfalls during the winter combined with below freezing temperatures put a ton of wear and tear on our roads. Come springtime, potholes litter the landscape, making it much harder to travel safely around the state.

To repair our streets, roads, highways, and bridges, construction workers are forced to put in hundreds of man hours throughout the warm months. Construction zone workers have a very dangerous job. They must work with heavy machinery and equipment, hard objects, and in tight and enclosed areas where vehicles are continually passing through. To top it all off, much of this work is performed after dark when there are fewer cars on the road and less disruption to traffic.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, hundreds of construction zone workers are killed and more than 20,000 are injured in road construction accidents each year. Many of these accidents are caused by employer negligence; resulting in workers being struck by objects, caught in-between construction equipment and machinery, being backed into or run into by a construction vehicle, and similar incidents. 

A large percentage of these injuries and fatalities are also caused by driver negligence. Some common ways motorists cause work zone injuries include:

  • Speeding
  • Aggressive/reckless driving
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs
  • Distracted driving
  • Drowsy driving

In West Virginia, speeding in a construction zone is a criminal violation, which is punishable with fines of up to $200 and up to 20 days in jail. Motorists who cause construction zone accidents may face other criminal charges as well, such as reckless driving or DUI. Unfortunately, the imposition of criminal penalties does little to comfort construction zone workers who suffer serious injuries or families of construction zone workers who are killed by the actions of negligent or reckless motorists.

At Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C., our lawyers have stood up for the working people of West Virginia for several decades. When we take a case, we thoroughly investigate the accident and the circumstances that resulted in the construction zone worker’s injury or death, and we fight hard for every dollar of compensation our clients are entitled to.

These cases can be highly complex, because they could potentially involve legal action against multiple potential parties. There are several regulations and industry safety standards which govern how highway work zones are set up. These include specific rules on signage, the distance from the work where the signage and warnings begin, the specific types and locations of barriers for the work zone, and the specific distances for notice of lane changes and lane closures.

There are situations where the company setting up the work zone may have violated governing regulations and standards. In those cases, workers injured or killed may have claims not only against the driver involved in the incident, but also against the company setting up the work zone.

This is why it is extremely important to work with attorneys who have in-depth experience with these types of cases, and the proven ability to successfully explore all potential legal avenues toward recovering damages. This not only ensures that victims and their families are fully compensated, but also that all responsible parties are held fully accountable. 

What is Driving the Increase in Work Zone Injuries and Fatalities?

As our infrastructure ages, more resources are being dedicated to fixing America’s roads and bridges. This means there are a greater number of road construction projects each year in West Virginia and throughout the country. This also comes at a time when our population continues to grow, and traffic congestion continues to increase. These conditions alone put more construction zone workers at risk of injury. 

There is another factor that is making things more dangerous for those who work in construction zones – distracted driving. Motorists have always had distractions, but our increasingly digitized society makes it more difficult for drivers to stay off of their cell phones.

Texting while driving and similar activities are especially dangerous, because they distract motorists in three ways; visually, manually, and cognitively. In other words, when a motorist is texting on their smartphone, this commands their entire focus and attention, which puts themselves and those they share the roads with in greater danger.

A recent study by the Strategic Highway Research Program found that distracted drivers are 29 times more likely to be involved in a work zone collision or near collision. This comprehensive nine-year study showed that drivers who spend any length of time distracted by a cell phone call, text, or another source when they are driving through a construction zone significantly increase their risk of a collision. In 2017, there were 799 work zone fatalities nationally, the highest number recorded in a decade.

Suffered a Road Construction Zone Injury in West Virginia? Contact the Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys at Bailey, Javins, and Carter

If you or someone close to you has been injured or killed in a road construction work zone accident that was caused by the negligence or reckless actions of another party, you deserve to be fully compensated. Call Bailey, Javins, and Carter L.C.  today at (800) 497-0234 or (800) 296-6979 or message us online to schedule a free consultation and case assessment with one of our attorneys.