Unsafe Work Environment Lawsuit
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What Is an Unsafe Work Environment?
An unsafe work environment occurs when the physical conditions of the workplace are too dangerous for an employee to perform his daily functions. The unsafe condition could affect one piece of equipment, one room, one part of the building or the entire property.
Examples of unsafe work environments include:
- Lack of heating in the winter or lack of air conditioning in the summer
- Exposed electrical wires
- Damages or dilapidated buildings
- Broken or faulty equipment
- Hazardous or toxic materials
- Inadequate safety equipment
Which Laws Cover Unsafe Work Environments?
The law that applies to your case depends on the type of unsafe condition. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA) is a federal agency that issues regulations for the workplace. OHSA is responsible for inspecting work sites, fining employers for unsafe conditions, representing workers in actions for injuries against their employers, and promulgating rules and regulations that the employer must follow to keep the workplace safe.
In addition, state labor laws may also cover workplace conditions. For instance, many states have premises liability laws that hold employers responsible for injuries that occur at the workplace. Generally the employee must prove under these workplace negligence laws that there was a dangerous condition or defect and that the employer had actual or constructive notice of the condition.
State health and safety codes will require certain levels of safety and protection in the workplace. When an employer violates the code, the courts will usually treat this as prima facie evidence of negligence liability. When an employer violates a code, an employee can use that violation in an unsafe work environment lawsuit to win the case.
Unsafe Work Environment Lawsuit
If you or a loved one has been injured at work due to unsafe working conditions, you may have a claim for negligence. You will need to prove two things:
- Your employer’s negligence
- The specific amount of the personal injury damages you suffered
- If your employer has violated a state regulation covering workplace safety, you can allege negligence under that regulation.
For instance, a state law may require that all employers of employees who perform construction work at elevated heights provide safety equipment and protection for the workers. If the employer fails to provide, for instance, a scaffold, harness, or ladder, then the employer has violated this law. The employer can be fined for violating the law, and the state’s labor agency can impose sanctions. In addition, though, an employee who was injured by a faulty scaffold can then bundle this state law into his negligence claim.
Thus the employee can allege that because it is undisputed that the employer violated the state safety code, the employer therefore acted negligently. This will allow the employee to win his liability argument. The employee will then only need to prove damages.
If there is no applicable state law, the employee can sue under common law negligence. Common law negligence occurs when a person or organization departs from the standard of conduct that a reasonably prudent person in the same circumstances would employ. This departure then results in death or injury.
Do I Need a Lawyer for an Unsafe Work Environment Lawsuit?
Unsafe work environment lawsuits are incredibly complex and can involve a multitude of technical information. In addition, there are numerous elements that you must prove to establish your claim. Your employer will have the money and resources for legal counsel and will fight your claim vigorously. You need an experienced personal injury attorney or an employment lawyer to review your case, investigate your claims, negotiate a settlement offer, and advocate for your rights at trial.
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Last Modified: 04-29-2015 03:19 PM PDT
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