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Category Archives: Workers Compensation


landscaping

Can I Receive Workers’ Compensation for My Landscaping Injury?

Delaware law requires employers to carry Workers’ Compensation insurance. Whether you work for a small landscaping company or a large one, your employer must protect you and your coworkers with Workers’ Compensation insurance.

The purpose of Workers’ Compensation is to cover your medical costs if you suffer a work-related injury or illness. It also will pay for two-thirds of your lost wages if you miss more than three days of work. It even provides injured workers with payouts for catastrophic injuries, like an amputated finger or hand.

In return, your employer is protected against possible legal liability for any work-related injuries or illnesses that you might sustain, which helps your employer to stay in business while ensuring you can return if you choose to do so after healing and regaining your strength to work.

Independent Contractors Could Be Excluded from Workers’ Compensation

If you work in the landscaping field, you might have to be an independent contractor instead of a designated employee to obtain a job. It is better to be an employee than it is an independent contractor because employers are supposed to protect laborers with Workers’ Compensation insurance. An independent contractor generally is not eligible for Workers’ Compensation benefits, but there are exceptions to that rule.

Landscaping companies typically maintain significant control over the work duties of independent contractors. Annually filing a 1099 form on your income taxes shows you consistently perform work duties for the same business entity.

Exercising control over your work, regular pay, and filing a 1099 tax form every tax season could enable you to file for and obtain Workers’ Compensation benefits when needed.

Landscaping is Dangerous Seasonal Work

Landscaping requires working with power equipment and performing a variety of labor-intensive tasks that can be dangerous. A lawnmower, weedwhacker, or woodchipper can cause serious injuries and possibly death.

Working in the rain could cause you to slip, fall, and strike your head on a hard surface. You could suffer a serious back injury due to heavy lifting. A heavy object could fall and strike you down. There are many ways in which you could suffer an injury while performing landscaping work, including coming into contact with poisonous plants.

If you are allergic to poison oak, sumac, or ivy, your body might have an adverse reaction while performing landscaping work. Even the hot sun could cause you to suffer from heatstroke and physical exhaustion. You also have to travel from one client’s location to another. That puts you at risk of an auto accident.

Landscaping Workers Are Especially Vulnerable

Landscaping work makes you much more vulnerable to injuries than most other occupations. Landscaping includes installing and maintaining lawns, trees shrubs, and landscaping features at homes and commercial properties.

The National Safety Council (NSC) says the landscaping workers suffer many common injuries. They include:

  • Amputated body parts
  • Broken and fractured bones
  • Concussions and other traumatic brain injuries
  • Heatstroke
  • Neck or back strains

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says the fatality rate among landscapers is more than 25 per every 100,000 workers. The national average is just 3.8 fatalities per 100,000 workers across all industries.

The BLS says the most dangerous landscaping worker jobs and their average fatality rates per 100,000 workers are tree trimmers and pruners, who average nearly 180 deaths per 100,000, followed by pesticide handlers with more than 15 deaths, and groundskeeping and landscaping laborers with an average of 10.1 deaths per 100,000.

How Do Most Landscaping Fatalities Happen?

The BLS says incidents involving transportation account for the most fatalities in the landscaping industry. Workers have to travel from one location to another and obtain materials and supplies.

Vehicular accidents cause nearly 3.5 deaths per 100,000 workers. That is slightly ahead of the average of nearly three deaths due to contact with objects or equipment.

Falls from elevated positions average about two deaths per 100,000 workers, and exposure to harmful substances causes an average of 1.69 deaths. Overexertion and bodily reaction to the often hot and humid conditions also claim 1.45 lives per 100,000 workers.

Those numbers add up to a very dangerous profession in which injuries are common and deaths always are a possibility.

How to Minimize Your Risk of Injury or Illness?

Landscapers often perform a variety of tasks that require great care to prevent injuries from occurring. Cutting, pruning, and edging equipment can be very dangerous.

Wearing eye protection, steel-toed boots, and gloves can help to protect against minor injuries. Using safety guards helps to protect against serious injuries. It also helps to wear bright and highly visible clothing, such as a reflective safety vest, and long pants to protect against cuts and scrapes.

You should keep all power equipment maintained and in good working order. Sharpening various cutting edges will help to reduce the amount of force needed to do your work properly.

You also should take the time to read the safety manuals and proper operating procedures for the power tools, hand tools, and other equipment that enables you to do your job. That will help you to better understand the dangers each poses and how to use them safely.

If you do suffer an injury while landscaping, obtaining medical attention is the top priority. You will need to notify your employer as soon as possible and describe the events that led to your work injury.

If you are an employee on the company payroll, Workers’ Compensation insurance should pay for your injuries. If you are a contractor who is paid regularly and file a 1099 form with your taxes, you also should be eligible for Workers’ Compensation benefits.

The insurer might deny your claim, but an experienced work injury attorney could help to uphold your rights.

Experienced Wilmington Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Help to Uphold the Rights of the Injured

The Wilmington Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow can help you uphold your rights as an injured worker. You can call 302-427-9500 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation at our law office in Wilmington, Delaware. We also have offices in Bear, Milford, and Lewes. We serve clients throughout the state.

chemical burn

Chemical Burn Injuries at the Workplace

Chemical burns are one of the most severe types of work injuries. They cause just as much injury to the flesh and muscles as burns from fire or heat, but because the burns are caused by chemicals, there are other issues relating to treatment and the healing process. Even though the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has strict protocols, regulations, and procedures that employees and employers are required to follow in working with and handling chemicals, there are still hundreds of employees seriously injured by chemical burns every year. 

Chemical burns can be so serious that they often cause significant disability and require an extensive healing process. This is why it is very important to make sure that if there is a work-related chemical burn, the injured employee is receiving all of the Workers’ Compensation benefits that they are entitled to. The best way to ensure this is to hire a skilled and knowledgeable Workers’ Compensation attorney to make sure everything is done correctly and that the injured employee is fully Compensated

What Worker’s Compensation Benefits Am I Entitled To?

If you have been seriously injured at work due to a chemical burn and it has prevented you from doing your time of injury job, you are entitled to workers’ comp benefits. First, all of your medical bills in relation to the work injury and its treatment will be covered by the Workers’ Compensation insurance company. Second, if you lose time from work and lose wages, you will be entitled to Workers’ Compensation wage benefits. Every week that you are off of work due to your work injury, you are entitled to 2/3 of your average weekly gross wages, up to a maximum amount that is set yearly. “Gross wages” refers to the wages that you receive before taxes are taken out. The current maximum wage benefit you can receive, regardless of how much money you made pre-injury, is $797.96, for the year 2021-2022. This maximum weekly benefit amount will be updated in July 2022.

You could receive this wage check for every week that you are off work due to restrictions caused by the chemical burn work injury. If you were to return to work on limited duty based upon the physical restrictions, and you are earning less than your pre-injury average weekly gross wages, then you will be entitled to a partial wage check every week that you were on limited duty and not receiving your full pre-injury wages. 

Another type of workers’ comp benefit that an injured employee might see if they suffered from a chemical burn is disfigurement benefits. If an employee suffers scarring caused by work, they can get a set amount of wage benefits even if the scarring does not prevent them from working. In order to receive scarring and disfigurement benefits under the Delaware code the disfigurement must be visible and offensive when the body is clothed normally. This benefit may be paid out for up to 150 weeks, depending on the severity of the disfiguring injury. The amount you will be paid is two-thirds of your average weekly gross wages.

What Can a Workers’ Compensation Attorney Do For You?

With many work-related injuries, your employer and the Workers’ Compensation insurance company will often act like they have your best interest in mind. However, in many cases this is not the case. The Workers’ Compensation adjuster is not your friend. If they spot any way to manipulate the claim in order to deny your benefits or to pay you less benefits, they will take that opportunity. That is their job that they get paid to do. The best way to prevent this is to make sure that you have a skilled and competent Workers’ Compensation lawyer on your side fighting for your rights. A good Workers’ Compensation attorney will be able to do the following:

  • Be a conduit between you and the Workers’ Compensation insurance company so that you do not have to deal with phone calls and meetings and conversations with people that do not have your best interest in mind;
  • Make sure that all of your work-related injury medical bills are being properly submitted to the Workers’ Compensation insurance company for payment and resolve any issues that may arise if there is a problem;
  • Make sure that you are being paid the correct weekly wage benefits and that the Workers’ Compensation adjuster is performing the correct calculations. If the workers’ comp adjuster fails to pay you the correct amount and refuses to fix the problem, your attorney will file a claim and have the issue resolved by a judge;
  • If there is a dispute on the claim, your Delaware workers’ comp lawyer would be able to file the necessary petitions to get the claim in front of the Workers’ Compensation judge in order to make a decision and get the dispute resolved. Your lawyer will be able to gather all of the evidence and present witness testimony, including evidence and testimony from your medical doctor, that supports your work injury; and
  • If and when the time comes, your workers’ comp lawyer will be able to negotiate a lump sum settlement amount with the Workers’ Compensation insurance company and their adjuster. A lump sum settlement is not appropriate for every Delaware Workers’ Comp case, but if you and your lawyer decide it is best for you, your lawyer can begin negotiating a settlement that is in your best interest. 

The New Castle Work Injury Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Have Been Helping Delaware Employee Obtain Full and Just Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Over 30 Years

If you have suffered from a serious work-related chemical burn, you are entitled to Workers’ Compensation benefits. The New Castle work injury lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow have been fighting for the rights of injured Delaware employees for over 30 years. Call us today at 302-834-8484 or fill out our online form for a free consultation. With offices in all three counties of Delaware, we service clients throughout the state.

construction slip and fall

Slip and Fall Accidents at Construction Sites 

Construction sites can be cluttered, busy, and have lots of potential dangers for workers. Slip and fall accidents are common causes of injuries at construction sites. According to the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) slip and fall accidents account for about a third of all reported worker injuries at construction sites. They also account for about 40 percent of construction site fatalities. 

OSHA says 320 construction workers died from injuries suffered in slip and fall accidents in 2018, or nearly one death every day. 

OSHA says construction workers who suffer injuries from slip and fall accidents miss more work than when hurt by other injury accidents. The average slip and fall accident causes a construction worker to miss 50 percent more time from work than other workplace accident injuries. 

Two Types of Construction Site Slip and Fall Accidents

The nature of construction work creates two general types of slip and fall accidents at construction sites: “same-level falls” and “falling to a lower level.” 

Falling on the same level commonly occurs outside of construction worksites as well as within them. If you ever slipped and fell while shopping in a grocery store or while trying to negotiate an icy section of a walkway, that is a same-level fall. 

Many construction sites also experience falls from one level to another. Falling to a lower level can be much more dangerous than a same-level fall. It happens often when workers are elevated on scaffolding to accomplish their jobs. 

Same-level falls could result in serious injuries, including death. Falling to a lower level increases the chances of suffering catastrophic injuries and death.

How Slip and Fall Accidents Commonly Happen at Construction Sites

The potential exposure to weather, scattered equipment, and debris makes workers at construction sites especially vulnerable to slip and fall accidents. The higher up the slip occurs, the more injurious the fall could become. 

Fortunately, it is possible to identify and correct common sources of slip and fall accidents at construction sites. Among conditions that commonly cause the accidents are:

  • Damaged or broken handrails
  • Exposed electrical cords and wiring
  • Lack of safety equipment and training
  • Uneven surfaces
  • Wet and slippery surfaces

Electrical cords and exposed electrical wiring pose a constant danger of slipping or tripping that leads to falling. Many construction tools require electricity or lighting to use. So electrical cords and wiring are ever-present and readily capable of causing a slip and fall accident. 

Workers who use scaffolding might lose their balance when a handrail or a poorly-secured plank becomes unstable. An uneven surface on scaffolding, the ground, or inside the structure that is under construction could cause a slip and fall accident. 

The exposure to weather and the potential for liquid spills also could increase the risk of slipping and falling. So could improper use of safety equipment that is designed to protect workers against falls and other mishaps while working. Thorough training and checking on workers will help to ensure they use safety equipment properly.

How to Prevent Slip and Fall Accidents at Construction Sites

It is very important to be proactive at addressing possible workplace dangers. Regular inspection of the worksite can help to identify debris, loose handrails, and other common causes of slip and fall accidents at construction sites. 

It is important to ensure that workers are wearing work boots that enable better traction. It also is important to provide them with safety equipment and training in proper use to reduce the possibility of injuries due to slip and fall accidents. 

Workers should have access to ice melt, sand, or kitty litter that they can scatter onto icy or slippery walkways to improve traction and safety. 

Scaffolding should undergo a thorough inspection prior to the start of each work shift. Regular inspection can identify loose handrails or planks that could cause a worker to slip, trip, or fall from the scaffolding or other platforms.

If the worksite has multiple floors, workers might use lifts to get up and down. It is very important to ensure only workers who know how to operate a lift have access to the controls. Workers who do not know how to operate them are more prone to making errors that cause someone to fall. 

Whenever workers have to work up high, they should have safety harnesses that they use and prevent them from falling to the ground. Those safety harnesses will not work if the workers do not know how to use them. Training is what makes them effective.

Training and simple observation are the two best tools for reducing slip and fall injuries at construction worksites. Workers should be trained in proper safety procedures and continually reminded to ensure a high rate of compliance. 

Workers also can be trained to take a few minutes to investigate their respective work areas. If anything is amiss, it should be addressed right away. That will help to reduce the work hazards that could cause slip and fall accidents and other mishaps while on the job. 

Workers’ Compensation for Construction Site Slip and Fall Accidents

If you suffer an injury due to a slip and fall or other accident while working at a construction site, Workers’ Compensation insurance should cover your medical costs and time away from work if you miss more than three days. 

With slip and fall accidents so common at construction job sites, filing a claim should be relatively easy, but it always helps to immediately notify your supervisor either before or just after obtaining medical treatment. Your employer or the insurer might try to deny your claim in part or in whole. If so, an experienced construction accident lawyer can help you to build and file a strong claim for benefits. If a lawsuit becomes necessary, your attorney could help you to hold your employer and Workers’ Compensation insurer accountable for your injuries and damages. 

Wilmington construction accident lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow

If you suffered an injury while working at a construction site but your Workers’ Compensation claim was denied, our Wilmington construction accident lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow can help. You can call us 302-427-9500 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation at our law office in Wilmington, Delaware. With offices in all three counties of Delaware, we service clients throughout the state.

The Wilmington Construction Accident Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Help You Get the Benefits You Need.

Are Construction Workers at Risk of Power Tool Injuries?

While any worker can get injured, construction workers face some of the most serious injuries on a daily basis. The use of power tools can cause serious injuries if they malfunction or when they are not used correctly.

Unfortunately, these injuries can leave workers with serious injuries and ongoing medical needs, while also keeping them out of work and unable to earn a living. The good news is that if you have been injured at work, your employer has an insurance policy that will probably apply.

What Types of Injuries are Common with Power Tools?

There are many injuries which can occur from the misuse of a power tool or when a power tool malfunctions. Injuries range from painful but quick recovery to life-altering.

  • Laceration: Lacerations, cuts, and puncture wounds are some of the most common injuries from power tools. When a sharp object pierces the skin, it can cause a quick jolt of pain but can also lead to an infection if not properly treated.
  • Repetitive Motion: Power tools allow construction workers to perform certain tasks quickly and effectively. But those same tools used over a long period of time can cause painful damage to a worker’s muscles, tendons, ligaments, and nerves. Repetitive motion injuries are extremely painful but can heal well if caught and treated early.
  • Electrocution: On construction sites, electrocution hazards are always present. If a socket is not properly installed or if there is a faulty wire in the power tool, the worker could get an electric shock. This can cause painful burns and be permanently debilitating. Sometimes fatal, electrocution can make a worker’s heart stop and cause brain damage.
  • Tripping: Tripping is another always present hazard on construction sites. When a power tool is used, they require an outlet, but there is not always one nearby. Workers sometimes need to use long extension cords and, if not properly secured, could present tripping hazards where workers could suffer sprains, strains, and even broken bones. In the worst-case scenario, a worker could trip and fall from a height, causing serious injury or even death.
  • Eye Injuries: When using power tools, workers should wear protective eye gear. And not just workers using the power tools, but all workers nearby. Especially when using nail guns and other power tools that shoot items at high speeds, workers can instantly suffer eye injuries if they are not properly protected. This could cause permanent blindness and other types of eye damage.
  • Hearing Loss: Construction sites are noisy workplaces. It is estimated that nearly half of all construction workers suffer some level of hearing loss during their careers. Much of this hearing loss comes from power tools. These tools are very loud and often used very close to the worker’s ears. Hearing loss and other ear injuries are not life-threatening, but can be life-altering.
  • Be Crushed: One of the most devastating injuries a worker could suffer is getting crushed. Whether from large construction equipment or from a heavy power tool, when some item falls on a worker, it can cause life-threatening injuries. These could include injuries which require amputation.

Workers’ Compensation

Under Delaware law, all employers, with a few exceptions, must carry workers’ compensation insurance coverage. This insurance provides compensation to workers like you who get injured while working. It is no fault insurance, which means that you are entitled to benefits, unless you intentionally injure yourself. Even if you caused the accident, so long as you did not intend to cause yourself any harm, you would still be entitled to benefits.

To collect workers’ compensation benefits, you need to report your injury to a supervisor as soon as possible. Your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company will require a full report within a very short period of time. You cannot delay reporting this to them.

Workers’ compensation benefits only cover medical bills and lost income. So non-economic damages like pain and suffering are not included. But, depending on the circumstances of your accident, you may have other legal options to collect compensation for your injuries and your suffering.

Other Legal Options

If your workplace injuries fall under your employer’s workers’ compensation benefits, you will not be able to sue your employer for additional compensation. However, you can file a third-party claim if another party contributed to your injuries.

One place to look for additional liability is the manufacturer of the power tool. Sometimes, power tools are defective and that can have disastrous consequences, leading to serious injuries for workers.

For example, if you are a construction worker using a nail gun and the nail gun malfunctions and launches debris into your eyes, it is possible that the nail gun was improperly manufactured. This means you could file a claim against the company who manufactured the nail gun and attempt to get additional compensation from that company to compensate you for your injuries and suffering.

If you are working on a construction site and a contractor leaves a power cord out which you trip over, fall, and break your leg, you may be able to file a claim against the contractor and their employer. While filing a personal injury claim may be the last thing on your mind after suffering a workplace injury, it can be a good way for you to try to collect compensation for your injuries, above and beyond the workers’ compensation benefits you may be entitled to receive.

The Wilmington Construction Accident Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Help You Get the Benefits You Need

Getting injured at work can cause serious issues not only for your ability to earn a living but also get collect compensation for your injuries. When you are injured at work, your employer’s workers’ compensation policy will apply. But that does not cover everything you may need. To determine your legal options, speak with our Wilmington construction accident lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow. Call us today at 302-427-9500 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation with our experienced team. With offices in Wilmington, Delaware, we proudly serve our neighbors across Delaware.

 

Delaware Workers' Compensation Lawyer at Rhoades & Morrow Stands Up for Clients Who Suffered an Eye Injury at Work.

How Do I Avoid Eye Injuries at Work?

Losing some or all your vision can be a traumatizing experience. Eye injuries at work are more common than most realize, but there are ways to prevent them from happening or to minimize the chances of them happening in the first place.

When you suffer an injury at work, you can collect Workers’ Compensation insurance to help pay for your medical expenses and recoup your lost salary. When your employer fails to provide that insurance, you will need to hire a Delaware Workers’ Compensation lawyer who can help you on your case.

What Steps Can I Take to Avoid Workplace Eye Injuries?

Eye injuries can occur without warning, caused by flying debris, a chemical spill, or another unforeseen accident. There are ways to avoid the potential of sustaining an eye injury. Those preventative measures include:

  • Knowing the hazards: There are certain professions that lend themselves more to risking an eye injury than others and those include manufacturing, carpentry, auto repair, electrical work, and welding. Those jobs should conduct annual safety assessments to ensure that there are no machines or other hazards that can cause a problem.
  • Protecting your eyes: While it is essential that you wear protective glasses that shield your eyes, you should also wear the proper glasses for your work environment. Look out for things such as glasses with side protection, along with special chemical-resistant goggles if you work near hazardous chemicals.
  • Inspecting protective gear: Regularly check your protective eye equipment to assure that it is still in working order. Make sure there are no cracks or scratches in the lenses, or any gaps in the seals of the glasses.
  • Using eye wash stations: All industrial sites should have eye wash stations available in case of emergency. These facilities will contain water to help flush your eye in the event of a chemical spill. They should be placed a few feet from any location where any eye-related accident could occur.

If you work in an environment where your eyes are exposed to potential hazards or eye strains, you should have your eyes evaluated on a routine basis to ensure that there are no problems. If you encounter any issues with them, you should see a doctor right away.

What Are Common Workplace Eye Hazards?

Workplace eye injuries are surprisingly common, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which says that about 20,000 eye injuries take place in the workplace each year. These injuries cost about $300 million per year in lost productivity, medical treatment, and worker compensation, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

There are a few common hazards at work that cause eye injuries, and not all of them take place in construction sites. These common hazards are:

  • Projectiles: These can include anything from dust, concrete, metal, wood, and other particles that are sent into the air by machines, or demolition.
  • Chemicals: These can be dangerous on their own, but they can become even more dangerous for the eyes when splashed, spilled, or creating fumes that can get into the eyes.
  • Radiation: This can be especially dangerous especially if it is visible light, ultraviolet radiation, heat or infrared radiation, or lasers. These can cause severe and sometimes permanent eye damage.
  • Bloodborne pathogens: If a co-worker receives a cut at work, their blood could spatter, risking the possible transfer dangerous diseases such as hepatitis, HIV, and other bloodborne pathogens.

Not all injuries will occur when working around heavy machinery or dangerous chemicals. Eye injuries can also occur in an office. If you work in front of a computer screen all day, one potential hazard for your eyes is “computer vision syndrome,” or digital eye strain. These are eye and vision-related problems that occur from excessive use of the computer, tablet, e-reader, and cell phone. On average, Americans spend about seven hours per day in front of a computer either at home or at work. To reduce the risk of these problems occurring, it is best to take frequent eye breaks by looking away from the screen routinely.

What Should I Do if I Suffered an Eye Injury at Work?

It can be a scary experience if you suffer an eye injury while at work. It is important that you seek medical help as soon as possible. Delaying any medical attention can be dangerous. You should seek medical attention especially if you suffer the following symptoms:

  • The person has obvious pain or trouble seeing
  • The person has a cut or torn eyelid
  • One eye does not move as well as the other
  • One eye protrudes compared to the other
  • The eye has an unusual pupil size or shape
  • There is blood in the clear part of the eye
  • The person has something in the eye or under the eyelid that cannot be easily removed

When you sustain an injury at work, you are entitled to collect Workers’ Compensation for your injuries. You will need to first report the accident that caused your injuries to your employers. Tell them what happened and how you were injured.

Your employer will then have 10 days to file the report with the Delaware Office of Workers’ Compensation and the company’s insurance provider. If approved, you will begin receiving benefits for your injuries seven days after you left work, although you begin accruing benefits on your third day out of work.

Workers’ Comp Insurance should pay for your past and future medical bills as well as compensate you for any lost wages you may have suffered due to your accident. You can also receive ongoing benefits if you become disabled or must experience ongoing care.

Delaware Workers’ Compensation Lawyer at Rhoades & Morrow Stands Up for Clients Who Suffered an Eye Injury at Work

If you experienced an eye injury at work or contracted an illness because of a work-related incident, you are eligible to collect Workers’ Compensation. Our Delaware Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow will help protect your rights and ensure that your employer and their insurance follow through on their obligations. Call 302-427-9500 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. With offices in all three counties of Delaware, we serve clients throughout the state.

 

 

Wilmington Construction Accident Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Can Fight for Your Rights After a Construction Accident.

Who Could Be Responsible for My Construction Injury?

One of the most dangerous jobs to have when it comes to workplace accidents is a construction job. The construction industry has one of the highest workplace injury rates in the country year after year.  It makes sense, too, given the vast number of ways a construction worker can get injured on the job, from minor cuts to serious injuries. Every year, there are many construction worker injuries and deaths that occur on jobsites.

Most construction workers know that when they are hurt on the job, they will get Workers’ Compensation benefits via the mandated Workers’ Compensation Insurance employers carry for such accidents.

This form of insurance, which the state of Delaware requires of almost all employers, provides wage loss benefits and coverage for medical expenses. In some cases, injured construction workers can seek more compensation for their injuries above and beyond Workers’ Compensation benefits.

Construction Industry Work-Related Injury Statistics

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) indicates that there are on average, about 5,000 work-related deaths each year in the United States. Out of those 5,000, 20 percent are in the construction industry.

That 20 percent further proves that jobs in the construction industry are some of the most dangerous. Hazards are everywhere at a construction jobsite. Nearly 60 percent of the construction industry deaths are caused by:

  • Falls.
  • Electrocution.
  • Falling objects.
  • Crane accidents.
  • Caught in-between  pieces of equipment.

Most of these claims will be covered by Workers’ Compensation insurance. However, some of these incidents will involve negligence from a third party, and the injured worker can file a lawsuit against them as well.

Difference Between Workers’ Comp and Third-Party Lawsuits

A Workers’ Compensation claim and a third-party lawsuit are two very different things. As previously said, all you get in a Workers’ Compensation claim is your medical expenses reimbursed and your wage loss compensated. The wage loss would be set at two-thirds of your average weekly gross wages when you resume work. You only receive that much until you return back to work. However, with a third-party liability lawsuit, you can seek much more compensation for your injuries.

With a third-party liability lawsuit, you can recoup any unpaid medical bills and wage loss that was not covered, but you also get to claim damages pain and suffering. The addition of these damages can add a significant amount of money that the injured worker might receive, above and beyond what they got from the Workers’ Compensation insurance claim.

Other Damages  Available in Third-Party Liability Claims

There are other types of compensation that plaintiffs in third-party liability claims may pursue. A loss of consortium claim can be filed by the spouse of the injured employee as part of the lawsuit. This sort of claim reimburses the spouse for the loss of services and comfort and care that would have been provided by the injured worker owing to the work injury.

In rare cases, an injured plaintiff can seek punitive damages from the at-fault party when their actions are outrageous, intentional, or grossly negligent. Punitive damages are designed to punish the defendant, as opposed to compensate the injured plaintiff.

Examples of Negligent Conduct by Third Parties on Construction Sites

After a construction accident, an option is to pursue Workers’ Compensation benefits. If an incident is caused by the negligence of a third-party, injured construction worker may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit.

On most large construction sites, a general contractor is in control of everything. Then there are various subcontractors on the job site doing specific tasks, such as electrical, plumbing, roofing, masonry work, scaffolding, architectural, and engineering. If any of these subcontractors did something that was negligent and caused another worker to be injured, they would be responsible for the damages to that worker.

Examples of cases where third parties were held liable to injured construction workers include:

  • Malfunctioning equipment that caused injuries.
  • Improper set up of scaffolding or using substandard materials in scaffolding causing a collapse.
  • Lack of safety devices such as fall protection devices and systems.
  • Faulty blueprints and designs by the architects, or engineers that cause walls and portions of the building to collapse.
  • Lack of proper safety rules, procedures, and controls that the general contractor should have put in place.
  • Collapsed wall or ditch constructed or fabricated by another subcontractor.
  • Lack of warning or protection against falling in unguarded holes or pits.
  • Work-related motor vehicle accidents caused by third parties.
  • One contractor being struck by heavy construction machinery that is negligence driven by another contractor.
  • Faulty wiring by the electrical contractor, causing electrocution risk.
  • Subcontractor is negligent and drops something heavy from up high.
  • Negligent exposure to toxic chemicals and substances.

Wilmington Construction Accident Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Can Fight for Your Rights After a Construction Accident

If you have been injured in a construction accident, you may have other options besides collecting Workers’ Compensation. It is possible that you may have a third-party liability claim, which may offer additional funds for pain and suffering and other damages. Our Wilmington construction accident lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow can help. We have offices in Wilmington, Bear, Milford, and Lewes, Delaware. With offices in all three counties of Delaware, we serve clients throughout the state. Call us at 302-427-9500 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

Wilmington Construction Accident Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Focus Their Practice on Representing Seriously Injured Construction Workers.

How Can Workers Avoid Foot Injuries on Construction Sites?

When you are working on a construction site, your feet are susceptible to serious injuries. You are always on your feet if you are a construction worker. Most often, the only time you sit is during lunch breaks. That is why foot safety is so important on a construction site. If an injury to your foot prevents you from standing for prolonged periods of time, then you will not be able to do your job efficiently and safely.

A foot injury may have difficulty healing if you are on your feet all the time at work. For this reason, workers with foot injuries will not be able to work in order to heal. Every time you put weight on an injured foot, you risk injuring it again and causing additional problems. Foot injuries are often painful and hard to heal because of this.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has rules in place to help prevent workplace injuries, including ones involving feet:

  • Workers must wear safety shoes when working in locations where there is a risk of slipping and falling or objects piercing the sole.
  • Protective footwear must meet ANSI Z4 or have equivalent design requirements. Impact and compression protection are provided by all ANSI-approved shoes. However, the level and sort of protection may not always be the same. Different footwear protects users in various ways. Make sure to review the label of the footwear.
  • Shoes or boots may need to have special electrical conductivity insulation or other non-conductive protective material in order to prevent electrical shock.
  • Chemical-resistant boots may be required to protect against caustic, reactive, toxic, or corrosive substances during cleaning or surface preparation.
  • Slip-resistant shoes should always be worn in any type of construction or production facility environment, but especially if the worker will have to be in icy or rainy weather conditions.

Many construction work settings require boots with toe caps and puncture-proof soles. Non-slip soles, chemical-resistant materials, insulation, or other protective features may be required in your profession. Ensure that the shoes are safe according to necessary safety standards.

What Are the Most Common Foot Injuries in the Construction Industry?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are approximately 60,000 foot injuries every year that cause employees to miss time from work. On average, these injuries cause up to five days of missed work, causing up to $600 million in lost production.

With so many bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons in the feet, there are a large number of injuries that can happen in the construction industry. The most common foot injuries in the construction industry include:

  • Broken bones.
  • Puncture wounds.
  • Amputation of toes or feet.
  • Foot sprain.
  • Burns.
  • Cuts and lacerations.
  • Hypothermia.
  • Bunions and fallen arches.
  • Electrical shock.

There is also the possibility of multiple injuries to the feet. You may see this if a worker has a catastrophic workplace accident. For example, suppose a construction worker’s foot is severely damaged by heavy machinery. If this happens, the worker will likely suffer from many different types of injuries, including broken bones, lacerations and cuts, puncture wounds, crushing injuries, or even amputation.

What Are Common Causes of Construction-Related Foot Injuries?

If you know what causes foot injuries in the construction industry, then you might be able to prevent one from happening on the job. You can put procedures, rules, and systems in place that could help prevent a foot injury from happening. The OSHA has identified six common work-related foot injuries and causes:

  • Broken bones: Crushed or broken injuries due to falling objects, moving vehicles, and being trapped or caught in between objects.
  • Puncture injuries: Punctures of the sole of the foot are caused by loose nails, sharp metal, or glass objects. Puncture wounds can easily get infected if not treated promptly. You can even get tetanus from a puncture injury.
  • Cuts and lacerations: Cuts and lacerations of the feet can be caused by chainsaws, rotary mowers, and unguarded or improperly guarded heavy machinery.
  • Burns: Foot-related burn injuries are caused by splashing molten metal, chemical spills, contact with fire, and flammable or explosive materials.
  • Electrical shock: Electrical shock is caused by static electricity, contact with sources of electricity, including exposed hot wiring or wiring that is not properly grounded.
  • Sprains: Sprains can happen in slip and fall accidents. You could slip and fall on scaffolding or from wearing improper footwear.

If you have been injured at work, you may be entitled to Workers’ Compensation benefits. It is important to report your accident and injury as soon as it happens. It is also critical to get immediate medical attention and keep your reports. This will help link your foot injury to the accident. If there is a problem with your Workers’ Compensation claim, a lawyer may be able to help. They will fight to protect your rights.

Wilmington Construction Accident Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Focus Their Practice on Representing Seriously Injured Construction Workers

If you have a severe foot injury from a workplace accident and need help with a claim, our Wilmington construction accident lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow can advise you on the next steps to take. Call us at 302-427-9500 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. We have offices in Wilmington, Bear, Milford, and Lewes, Delaware. With offices in all three counties of Delaware, we serve clients throughout the state.

Wilmington Workers' Compensation Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Help Injured Outdoor Workers Get Their Entitled Benefits.

How Can Snow Removal Crews Stay Safe in the Winter?

Snow removal crews might drive plows or other powered equipment when working. Snow removal is not an easy task, and it can be dangerous as well. Snow removal crews have to keep walkways and parking lots clear of snow and ice. Slip and fall accidents, strained backs, and pulled muscles are common afflictions for snow removal personnel. These workers are also prone to cold-related injuries, like frostbite and hypothermia. Even a snowplow driver has to contend with bad road conditions, potentially blinding snow, and reckless motorists.

Whether you drive a snowplow, use a snowblower, or shovel the snow, the following safety tips can help you stay safe at work.

Wear the Proper Gear

Snow removal crews need warm and hardy gear to fend off the cold winds and freezing outdoor temperatures. Insulated coveralls, insulated boots, warm mittens or gloves, and a good hat will help stave off the cold weather.

Removable cleats for boots can help prevent slip and fall accidents. Eye protection, face masks, and scarves help keep the neck and face protected against the cold and other work-related dangers. Workers should dress in layers and be advised on how to dress safely for snow removal.

Keep Equipment in Good Shape

Many different types of snow removal equipment help you get the job done. Like all heavy equipment, snow removal gear needs regular maintenance and occasional repairs to run safely as designed. Your employer should provide you with tools and equipment that are in good shape and properly maintained. That will help make snow removal go safely and smoothly.

If you use equipment that is poorly maintained, you have to work harder and so does the equipment. You also run the risk of suffering a work injury.

Train Workers to Safely Remove Snow

Snow removal can be a demanding task. Snow varies in weight and consistency, it could be fluffy and light or wet and heavy. Wet and heavy snow is much harder to remove than lighter snowfall. A shovelful of wet snow combined with a poor lifting technique might be enough to injure your back, neck, or another body part.

If the snow is too heavy or contains chunks of ice, a snowblower might be overmatched. If you have to repeatedly run a snowblower over the same area, that could wear out your back and strain muscles or cause injury.

Proper training will help ensure you know how to use the equipment that your employer provides. Training also helps you stay warm and safe while removing snow as efficiently as possible.

Take Breaks in Heated Areas

Working in the cold could take a toll on your body. Your employer should provide warm break areas to help keep your core body temperature at a normal level.

Watch for Coworkers Who Might Need Help

It is very important for snow removal crews to monitor each worker’s condition. If a coworker seems to be moving slowly, the cold weather might be taking a toll on their body.

Workers need to be trained to look out for signs of cold-related injuries or illnesses. If a coworker has slurred speech, is shaking or shivering, hypothermia could be the problem.

Employers should train their work crews to know the signs of hypothermia and other cold-related injuries and illnesses. If you see a coworker showing signs of illness or injury, you should help them get to a warm location and notify your supervisor.

What if a Worker Is Injured While Removing Snow?

A variety of injuries might occur due to snow removal work. If you are injured while removing snow, you might be eligible for Workers’ Compensation benefits. It is critical to understand how your employer classifies you. Independent contractors are less likely to be covered by Workers’ Compensation. Usually, salaried workers, such as snowplow drivers or operators, are covered by their employer’s Workers’ Compensation insurance.

If you are injured while removing snow, your doctor might require you to take time off of work to heal. In this situation, Worker’s Compensation would cover the medical costs and a portion of lost salary. It is important to know if you qualify for benefits. If you suffer an injury while removing snow, an experienced lawyer can help you explore your legal options, especially if your claim has been denied.

Wilmington Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Help Injured Outdoor Workers Get Their Entitled Benefits

If you are a part of a snowplow crew and have been injured at work, our Wilmington Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow can explain your entitled benefits. Contact us online or call us at 302-427-9500 to schedule a free consultation today. We have convenient office locations in Wilmington, Bear, Milford, and Lewes Delaware. With offices in all three counties of Delaware, we serve clients throughout the state.

musculoskeletal disorders

What Are Workplace Musculoskeletal Disorders?

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are common and account for the single largest category of workplace injuries, making up nearly 30 percent of all Workers’ Compensation costs each year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

A MSD is a long-term injury that develops over time, and it can be debilitating for a worker if it is not properly treated. These disorders can impact businesses broadly with higher health care costs, productivity, and Workers’ Compensation costs.

The BLS reports that MSDs account for 27 percent per 10,000 full-time employees, averaging 12 days of missed work per worker. The health care and social assistance fields, manufacturing, and retail trades experience the most MSDs, accounting for 50 percent of all cases in 2018.

MSDs affect movement and muscles, nerves, blood vessels, tendons, discs, and ligaments. Such injuries include:

  • Muscle strains, sprains, tears, and lower back injuries.
  • Carpel tunnel syndrome.
  • Tendonitis.
  • Rotator cuff injuries.
  • Trigger finger.
  • Tennis elbow.

Workplace design is the largest contributor to MSDs. Workers required to perform tasks outside the capabilities and limitations of their bodies increases the risk for injuries to their musculoskeletal system. Studying and evaluating the design an individual’s workstation may show that their body’s recovery system may not be able to keep up with the resulting fatigue of completing their tasks. This kind of incidence greatly increases the risk of a MSD and necessitates a change to the employee’s work environment.

How Are MSDs Caused?

According to the BLS, MSDs frequently result from activities that workers perform repetitively or from overexertion and fall into two risk categories: work-related factors and individual-related factors. 

Work-related risk factors include:

  • High task repetition: Many work activities and cycles are repetitive, particularly in the manufacturing and production field, and controlled by hourly or daily production targets. Cycle times of 30 seconds or less is considered highly repetitive. High repetition rates combined with other risk factors, such as awkward positioning and high force, can contribute greatly to MSDs.
  • Forceful exertions: Tasks requiring high force on the body require increased muscle effort and result in increased fatigue. Workers spending long periods of time performing tasks under these conditions are at greater risk for developing MSDs.
  • Awkward postures: Repetitive and sustained awkward postures puts excessive force on the body’s joints, overloading the muscles and tendons around joints. The human body’s joint system is most efficient operating closest to the joint’s mid-range of motion. When tasked repetitively for sustained periods without adequate recovery time, the joints are more susceptible to injury.

Individual-related risk factors include:

  • Poor work practices: Workers who ignore recommended safety methods and use poor work practices, body mechanics, and lifting techniques create additional stress on their body’s muscles and joints that increases fatigue and reduces their ability to recover.
  • Health habits: Poor heath habits such as smoking, obesity, drinking excessively, and other bad habits put the person at greater risk for a MSD, along with other chronic diseases.
  • Poor rest and recovery: When fatigue is greater than a worker’s recovery system, musculoskeletal imbalance is created. Workers who do not actively provide their systems with adequate rest and recovery time put themselves at higher risk.
  • Nutrition, hydration, and fitness: A significant portion of the population is actively malnourished, dehydrated, and not physically fit, making strenuous physical work increasingly more difficult. Workers with poor overall health and fitness are at a much higher risk for injury and chronic health issues.

Are MSDs Preventable?

Early diagnosis of a MSD is key. However, MSDs develop over time, so this is difficult. Workplace ergonomics programs are the most effective method to reducing the number of MSDs. 

The ergonomics process studies how people work in their daily environment, such as studying how employees who spend the majority of their shift sitting at a desk develop back injuries. Ergonomic programs in the workplace help minimize stress and injuries related with repetitive tasks, overuse of muscles, and poor posture. Important elements of an ergonomics program in the workplace include:

  • Management support: Commitment to an ergonomic process by management is essential to success with clearly defined goals, discussions with workers, responsibilities of certain staff members, and clear communication with the entire company.
  • Worker participation: Employees directly involved in assessing the workplace and creating and implementing the solutions. Workers can identify and provide information on hazards, suggestions to reduce exposure, and evaluate changes to protocol in the workplace following the process.
  • Training: Providing a training program is a key component of any ergonomic process to ensure employees are educated about ergonomics and the benefits, informed of ergonomic concerns, and the importance of reporting symptoms early. Earlier reporting can help prevent or reduce injury progression.
  • Evaluation: Corrective action procedures and evaluation are essential to assess the ergonomic process’s effectiveness, continue improvements, and long-term success.

What Are Examples of Ergonomic Changes in the Workplace?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identifies control areas companies should focus on to reduce ergonomic risks, which include:

  • Engineering controls: Worksite designs based on individual employee’s capabilities and limitations, such as redesigning the layout of a workstation with adjustable workbenches, closer placement of tools, or developing alternative ways materials and products are transported.
  • Administrative controls: The CDC recommends implementing temporary administrative measures until engineering controls are in place. Such examples of administrative controls could include shorter shifts, providing more breaks, rotating workers to different stations, and training.
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE): Providing PPE devices, such as back belts, braces, wrist splints, and similar equipment can reduce MSD risks by reducing the frequency, intensity, and duration of work tasks.

Wilmington Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Represent Clients With Work-Related MSDs

MSDs sustained in workplace activities can be painful, impact your ability to work, and cause lifelong conditions. If you sustained a musculoskeletal injury on the job, our Wilmington Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow can protect your rights. Call us today at 302-427-9500 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Wilmington, Bear, and Milford, Delaware, we serve clients throughout Middletown, Dover, Milford, Lewes, Rehoboth, Elsmere, and Seaford.

worksites

What Should I Do if I Have Been Injured on a Construction Worksite?

Given the nature of the profession, construction sites are inherently dangerous places to work. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 360,000 non-fatal work accidents per year occur at construction worksites, and over 1,000 accidents result in fatalities. In fact, over 20 percent of all job-related fatal workplace accidents occur on construction sites annually.

Construction workers contend with dangerous equipment, electricity, water, heights, hazardous materials, and inexperienced coworkers on a daily basis. The profession requires physical skill, quick reaction, and extensive knowledge and operation of complex heavy equipment and tools.

Due to the high rate of injuries on construction sites, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has enacted numerous state and federal safety regulations to protect construction workers. Every state requires that employers provide safe and healthy work environments to protect their employees. 

Despite every effort to provide a safe and healthy worksite, accidents can still occur, resulting in injuries ranging from cuts and bruises to a fatal crush or slip and fall injury.

If you are injured at work, you should be entitled to Workers’ Compensation for medical bills and lost wages. It is essential to your claim that, if you are able, take every action to preserve the events surrounding your accident.

Report the Injury

As soon as your injury occurs, notify your supervisor. Workers’ Compensation insurance requires employers file an official record of the incident, which will be used to evaluate your claim. 

If no official report of the construction accident is taken because you or a coworker fails to notify the employer, you will not be able to file a claim for compensation due to your injuries. You are also entitled to a copy of the employer’s report.

Seek Medical Care

The most important step with any workplace injury is to be evaluated and treated by a medical professional, even if you think the injury is minor. Many serious medical conditions, such as concussion or internal bruising and bleeding, do not necessarily present at the time of injury. Ignoring injuries such as these can have catastrophic consequences, and lack of medical treatment can forfeit your compensation claim.

Document Everything

If you are physically able, make a record of everything, including photographs. Document where the injury occurred, when it happened, what injured you, and how. Photograph the injuries, scene, materials or equipment involved, hazard signs or lack thereof, and anything else that may become relevant to your Workers’ Compensation claim. If the worksite has a security camera that may have recorded the accident, request a copy of the footage.

Gather Witness Statements

If you are able, take notes or audio recordings of witness statements, including names and contact information, as you or your attorney may need to speak with them later. If you are not physically able, ask a coworker to obtain this information on your behalf. 

Contact a Lawyer

Your statements and actions following a workplace injury are extremely important and can be crucial in determining the outcome of your claim. Before making any official statements to your employer or insurance companies, seek counsel from an experienced attorney. You are entitled to handle your own injury claim, keep in mind that what you do and say is irreversible and could potentially jeopardize your case. A seasoned attorney is well-versed in Workers’ Compensation laws in your state, knows your rights, and will help you obtain and compile the records and evidence you need to support your claim for compensation.

The Fatal Four

While any number of accidents can happen on a construction worksite, the OSHA identifies the four most common injury risks as the “Fatal Four:” 

  • Falls: According to OSHA, over 40 percent of construction-related deaths are the result of workers falling from ladders, roofs, cranes, scaffolding, and many other high places. Falls even from seemingly short distances can have fatal consequences, such as internal damage, brain and spinal trauma, and impact injuries.
  • Struck by objects: Along with workers falling themselves, being struck by falling objects can be equally as dangerous and fatal. Tools, materials, buckets, and the like tumbling from a roof can be deadly to workers below. The OSHA reports that brain and neck injuries sustained due to the impact of an object striking a worker account for nearly eight percent of all construction fatalities per year.
  • Electrocution: Working under overhead power lines or near electrical panels is especially dangerous should workers come in contact with the high voltage current. Electrocution causes brain damage, burns, and irreparable damage to internal organs, and it accounts for over eight percent of construction-related deaths. 
  • Caught-in or caught-between accidents: Four percent of construction site fatalities are caused by compression, which is when a worker is caught in between equipment or other large objects or crushed under collapsing structures or materials.

What Are My Rights as a Worker?

Reporting your injury protects your legal rights following a worksite accident. Most states require same day reporting but, depending on your injuries, it is understood that is not always possible. In this situation, report the accident as soon as possible.

Filing your Worker’s Compensation claim should be the next step. Doing so provides formal notice to your employer, the employer’s insurance company, and the courts. Additionally, filing your claim provides you with certain automatic protections. These may vary by state, but all include general protections, such as:

  • The right to file your claim in either the Workers’ Compensation or state industrial courts.
  • The right to seek medical evaluation and treatment, including necessary ongoing medical treatment based on your injury.
  • The right to return to your job if released by your physician.
  • If you are unable to return to work as a result of your injury, either temporarily or permanently, you have the right to disability compensation.
  • The right to appeal any decision by your employer, the insurance company, or the court if you disagree with the decisions in your case.
  • The right to hire a lawyer and have legal representation.

Wilmington Construction Accident Lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow Advocate for Those Injured on Construction Worksites

Accidents on construction sites are common and can be life-altering events. If you have been injured while working at a construction worksite, contact our Wilmington construction accident lawyers at Rhoades & Morrow. Call us at 302-427-9500 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Wilmington, Bear, and Milford, Delaware, we serve clients throughout Middletown, Dover, Milford, Lewes, Rehoboth, Elsmere, and Seaford. 

 

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