Common Laws Surrounding Injuries in the Workplace
Other than the “Golden Rule” that states you should do unto others as you would have them do unto you, employers are required by law to ensure their employees’ safety and security in all circumstances, as the judgment in the stevedore case stated. Sometimes, employers go out of their way to ensure the safety of their employees, yet, accidents still happen.
Failing to provide a safe and healthy workplace to employees results in work injuries, and these Injuries vary in their danger level from broken bones, to mental health breakdowns, and severe exhaustion due to pre-existing conditions. So, how can employees get their rights when injuries happen? The law varies from one state to another when it comes into the system that helps employees with workplace injuries.
Here are some common laws in every state that you should be aware of as an employee.
It’s mandatory that every employer ensures a safe working environment for their employees to be able to carry out their job in the safest way possible. This should be taken care of considering the type of job you have in terms of the equipment, materials, and down to the tasks involved in your job description. Regular checks should also be carried to make sure of the safety of the methods that are being used. Every company owner has the responsibility of providing proper training sessions for every task for employees to avoid any dangers from happening in the future. They are required by law to give this safety training to each employee.
Knowing your rights
Sometimes, employees refrain from reporting the accident because they feel that they won’t get the compensation they deserve; they are afraid that this will affect their job, or they genuinely don’t feel ready or courageous enough to go through this whole process. These feelings should be dismissed as there are laws that protect your rights as an injured employee across all states.
While the laws for workers’ compensation varies, there are still some common laws in most states that you should be aware of:
You have options when it comes to filing a claim for your injuries. You can go to the workers' compensation court or the state industrial court.
Other than the fact that you get to choose your doctor in South Carolina, you are granted the right to doctor visits and pursuing medical treatment in every other state.
You can return to your job once your physician determines that it’s okay for you to get back to work.
If returning to your job isn’t possible, whether it’s a temporary or permanent situation, then you have the right to demand disability compensation.
If you are not happy with the decisions made by your employer, the workers' compensation court, the industrial court, or the insurance company, then you have the right to appeal that decision. You don’t have to settle for the first offer that comes your way if you are not happy with it.
You can demand the right to be represented by a lawyer throughout this whole process to ensure that you get the compensation you deserve.
Protecting your rights
The first mandatory step—and the easiest way—to protect your rights is by informing your employer of your injury. Most states require reporting the accident and the injury within a certain period of time to make sure that your rights are safe. It should be reported on the same day of the injury, or a maximum of a few days after the incident. In practice, employees sometimes aren’t able to follow this rule depending on their circumstances. Yet, it’s recommended to report the situation and the issue as fast as you possibly can.
Differences in Laws and Penalties
After reporting the accident, you need to educate yourself on the worker’s compensation laws. These laws vary from one state to another, and there are differences in the penalties that await employers who fail to purchase worker’s compensation insurance.
In New York, for example, employers are charged fines that vary from $1K up to $50K, unlike Pennsylvania, where failing to provide insurance is a third-degree felony that results in a fine of $15K and jail time that could reach up to 7 years. In other states, such as South Carolina where employees are protected by the Workers' Compensation Act, you have the right to choose the doctor that will treat your injuries. The statute of limitations explained at https://www.stewartlawoffices.net/workers-compensation-lawyer/statute-of-limitations/ states that you have up to 90 days to inform your employer of your injuries. Understanding the deadlines will make all the difference in getting what you deserve. So, if you are unsure about your rights and your responsibilities as an employee in your state, it’s important to start educating yourself on all these matters. You can seek professionals and legal help to help you understand everything that you need to know.
What if it’s a Third-Party’s fault?
On-the-job accidents aren’t always caused by negligence from employers. Sometimes, third party companies such as delivery services, building designers, or manufacturers are responsible for injuries that might happen in the workplace. In this case, it’s your right to file a claim against the responsible third-party, whether it’s an entity or a person. However, these cases are not included in the worker compensation’s legal area; it’s rather a civil lawsuit. Yet, people can still seek additional personal injury compensation when the lawsuit is concerning a work-related injury. While workers’ compensation claims usually compensate only for missed work periods’ salaries and physical damage, they usually cover medical bills as well. In personal injury damages lawsuits, the pain and suffering of the injured are taken into consideration while the compensation amount is being determined.
If you have been injured in your workplace, whether it’s because of carelessness on your employers’ part or an accident, the worker’s compensation laws of your state will protect your rights. Each and every employee must educate themselves on their rights and responsibilities according to the state they are working in. This way, you will be able to make sure that you get the compensation and the treatment you deserve.