According to the definition provided in the California Labor Code, a workplace accident is a type of injury that occurs in the workplace. It may either be specific (e.g., the result of a single specific incident or exposure that causes a disability or requires medical attention), or cumulative (e.g., a repetitive mental or physical trauma that happens over an extended period of time, which eventually causes a disability or requires medical attention).
In general, the majority of workplace accidents stem from the main functions of one’s job. For example, construction workers normally work with heavy machinery and tools. If not used properly, these can cause serious injuries. However, the term workplace accident may also refer to injuries that occur during working hours or while on the employer’s premises.
Although workers can bring a civil lawsuit against their employer to recover damages for injuries sustained at work, most work-related injury claims are resolved by filing for workers’ compensation. Whether a worker should file a civil lawsuit or for workers’ compensation will typically depend on the terms of their employment contract. This is because these agreements normally contain guidance on how to resolve disputes between a worker and their employer.
Additionally, there are also various federal and state laws that govern health and safety standards in the workplace as part of an effort to help reduce the number of workplace accidents. Such laws may be useful when determining how to obtain remedies for a work-related incident.
To learn more about workplace accidents and the legal remedies for injuries sustained on the job or job premises, you should contact a local employment lawyer for further legal guidance.
What are Some Common Examples of Workplace Accidents?
There are many different types of accidents that can happen in a workplace. While the majority of workplace accidents are directly associated with the main functions of an individual’s job (e.g., injuries related to construction work), it is also possible to recover compensation for workplace injuries that are not part of a person’s main job tasks.
Some examples of both direct and indirect injuries that may result from workplace accidents include:
- Slip, trip, or falls (e.g., slipping on substances, tripping over obstacles, falling from ladders, etc.);
- Electrocution, burns, or other injuries caused by handling wires and other equipment;
- Accidents involving hardware or tools (e.g., jackhammers, saws, etc.);
- Back injuries from lifting heavy objects;
- Repetitive stress injuries (e.g., carpal tunnel syndrome or tennis elbow);
- Injuries connected to toxic spills or chemical burns;
- Workplace violence between co-workers;
- Physical ailments and injuries caused by dehydration, fatigue, or poor lighting at work;
- Industrial diseases or respiratory illnesses from inhaling toxic chemicals or substances (e.g., asbestos); and/or
- Psychological injuries due to a hostile or difficult work environment (e.g., chronic stress, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, etc.).
In general, the injuries provided in the above list can be divided into three main categories under California law: specific events, cumulative traumas, and/or occupational diseases. Injuries that fall into the first category of workplace incidents, specific events, are those that may only happen one time, such as when a roofing contractor falls off a ladder while repairing or installing a new roof.
The second category, cumulative traumas, are injuries that occur due to extended periods of repeated movements or job duties. Examples are when a person develops carpal tunnel syndrome from typing or suffers hearing loss caused by working with very loud machinery for a long time.
The third and final category, occupational diseases, refer to injuries that stem from prolonged exposure to hazardous materials or substances at work. These include lung disease due to working with asbestos or popcorn lung caused by working with certain chemicals in a factory.
On the other hand, there are some workplace injuries that will not be considered an on the job injury. Example include self-inflicted injuries, injuries suffered while committing a crime at work, injuries that would violate company policies, and/or injuries caused by voluntary intoxication (e.g., operating heavy equipment while on prescription medications, illegal drugs, or alcohol).
Will Workers’ Compensation Cover Me for Any Workplace Accident in California?
The majority of workplace accidents and injuries are covered by the workers’ compensation system in California, which is governed by California’s Workers’ Compensation Act. Workplace compensation is for injuries that happen on the job. Thus, a worker will first need to show that they were injured on the job. Once this has been determined, they will then need to decide what type of injury they suffered (e.g., specific, cumulative, or psychological).
It is important to classify the type of injury since this will determine whether a worker can even file a claim for workers’ compensation. As previously mentioned, while an injury may occur in the workplace, it does not necessarily mean that there will be a legal remedy available for the injured party. If an injured worker can file a claim for workers’ compensation, the total amount of compensation they may receive will depend on the individual facts of each particular case.
In general, however, the amount that may be provided for a workers’ compensation claim in California will typically depend on the full cost of medical expenses they will incur to care for and treat their injuries. It will also depend on the total amount of income or earnings they will lose while they are out on recovery and waiting for their injuries to heal.
Also, if a worker’s injuries are serious enough that they result in a permanent disability, then they will receive a rating based on a state disability scale. This is so that they may have the type of benefits or the amount of funds they receive adjusted in accordance with their particular situation.
There are also some situations that may cause an employee’s workers’ compensation claim to be denied. This can happen when an employee was injured while working at a different job, if their injury is not related to the work that they do at their current job, if the employee does not require medical attention or special treatment, if the employee is able to return to work without any issues, and/or if the employee fails to file a claim on time (usually within one year).
Lastly, if an employee’s worker’s compensation claim gets denied and they believe that the claim should have been approved, they may submit an application for an appeal. Information about appeals in California can be found on the state’s website or by speaking to a local employment lawyer about their specific matter.
Do I Need a California Lawyer If I Need to File a Workplace Accident Claim?
Claims for injuries resulting from workplace accidents often involve a broad range of legal issues and may be heavily based on the facts of a particular incident. Therefore, whether you wish to file a claim for workers’ compensation or a private lawsuit, it may be in your best interest to contact a California employment lawyer for further legal advice.
An experienced employment lawyer will be able to evaluate the facts of your case and can determine which option may be better suited to your specific situation. Your lawyer can also help you gather important evidence to support your case, and can prepare and draft necessary legal documents. They will also be able to answer any questions you may have about your claim. Additionally, your lawyer will be able to represent you in court or at case-related meetings.