A workplace slip-and-fall accident can be disastrous. Not only may you be seriously injured—and incur expensive medical bills as a result—but you may also have to miss work as a result of your injury, leading to lost wages.
When you incur debt and lose income at the same time, you may be feeling scared and worried about what you will do, how you will feed your family and whether you may lose your job as a result of your current inability to return to it or as a result of being penalized for filing a workers’ compensation claim.
To help you answer all of these questions and more, our New Jersey workers’ compensation lawyers are ready to help.
Why Do Workplace Slip-and-Fall Accidents Happen?
A number of things can cause a workplace slip-and-fall accident. From debris on the ground to unsafe walking surfaces to a spill that is not cleaned up in a timely manner, the workplace can be a hazardous location. For those who work in certain industries such as construction, the risks associated with slip-and-fall accidents are even more prevalent.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), slip and falls constitute the majority of industrial accidents. OSHA reports that that these accident types cause 15 percent of all deaths among workers in the country.
OSHA has implemented walking/working surface standards to help reduce this harrowing number. Unfortunately, slip and falls occur because the walking/working surface standards are not always adhered to by employers. In some cases, a slip-and-fall accident may be caused due to third-party negligence.
A PowerPoint provided by OSHA names the following as common risk factors for slips and falls:
- Wet products or spills on smooth walking surfaces (mud, water, food)
- Dry products or spills that make walking surfaces slippery (wood, plastic, dust)
- Slick, highly polished floors
- Freshly waxed surfaces
- Transitioning from one surface to another (such as going from carpet to hardwood)
- Loose floorboards or rugs
- Shifting tiles
- Wet shoes
- Unsafe walking ramps
- Defective ladders
- Irregular surfaces (like gravel)
- Weather hazards
- Uncovered hoses, wires, extension cords and cables
- Unmarked steps
- Missing floor bricks or tiles
- Damaged and uneven walking surfaces
- Poor lighting or other environmental dangers.
The above list is not exhaustive. Other factors may increase the chances of a slip-and-fall accident occurring.
Can I File a Claim for Workers’ Compensation Insurance?
If you have been injured in a slip-and-fall accident at work, you no doubt are wondering whether you can file a workers’ compensation claim for benefits. In the event that you are legally covered under workers’ compensation due to your status as an employee and the injury occurred at work while performing work-related duties, then yes – you can file a claim and receive benefits through workers’ compensation insurance.
Benefits that you can recover, according to New Jersey Division of Workers’ Compensation include:
- Medical benefits
- Disability benefits (also known as lost wage benefits)
- Death benefits (for surviving family members).
Disability benefits are paid as either temporary disability benefits, permanent partial disability benefits or permanent total disability benefits.
Remember: Your injury must have occurred while you were working or performing a work-related task in order for you to be eligible for workers’ compensation. If you were not doing something work-related, you may not have a claim.
Can I File a Lawsuit Against My Employer?
Many people also wonder whether they are legally allowed to file a lawsuit directly against their employer in the event that they are involved in an on-the-job slip-and-fall accident that causes injuries.
Unfortunately, while it may feel as though a slip-and-fall at work warrants a lawsuit, the workers’ compensation system precludes workers from filing claims directly against their employers. Instead, they must file a claim through workers’ compensation.
However, that is not to say litigation is never needed. In fact, when workplace falls or workplace accidents would not have occurred but for the actions of a third party, then a lawsuit against the third party (not the injured worker’s employer) may be possible.
A third party is anyone who is not your employer or directly employed by your employer. For example, the property owner of the site where your slip-and-fall occurred may be considered a liable third party in a slip-and-fall at work. The manufacturer of a defective ladder (which you were climbing when you slipped and fell) is another example of a third party who may be held liable.
What Can I Recover in a Third-Party Liability Claim?
In a third-party liability claim, you would have to prove the negligence of the at-fault third party. This is very different from a workers’ compensation claim in which blame is not assessed. (Instead, benefits are paid to workers as long as they are covered under workers’ compensation and their injury occurred at work).
Negligence means that the third party acted in a manner that violated the standard of care owed to you such as failing to maintain a property in a safe condition or manufacturing a defective product. If you can prove negligence, then the third party may be held liable for all of your injuries. If this is the case, you may be able to recover compensation for all lost wages, loss of earning capacity, medical expenses, future medical expenses and even pain and suffering.
How a New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Attorney Can Help You
In some cases, you can file both a third party liability claim and a workers’ compensation claim. To provide you with counsel and advice, to help you file your claim on time and to improve your chances of your workers’ compensation claim being successful and recovering your full damages amount, it is imperative that you contact an attorney.
Call the experienced New Jersey workers’ compensation attorneys at Davis, Saperstein & Salomon, P.C., today. We are available to provide you with a free consultation. You can contact us online or by calling our office directly.