A personal injury accident occurs when an individual suffers some type of harm or injury, because of another person’s carelessness or disregard. Personal injuries can result in damage to an individual’s physical health, emotional health, or both.
Examples of physical injuries could include an injury to an individual’s bones, organs, external body, or in severe cases, death. Mental injuries include issues such as emotional pain and anguish that resulted from the accident.
Personal injury actions typically fall into one of three broad categories:
It is important to note that each category has a separate set of elements which must be shown by the plaintiff (i.e. injured person) in order for the plaintiff to be successful in their claim for damages.
What Should I Know About Work Environment Accidents and Injuries in General?
Many workplaces are dangerous places in which various people, whether employees or visitors, may be injured. Because of the fact that injuries naturally occur at many different workplaces, numerous companies often create an internal system to provide compensation to employees or victims of injuries sustained at their workplace.
Typically, the amount that an individual injured at a workplace can recover will depend on a variety of factors, such as whether or not they are an employee and the severity of the injury. Regardless of employment status, most injured parties will be represented by an experienced personal injury attorney who will be able to assist the injured party in dealing with the company or the company’s accident insurance provider.
Workplace accidents involving bystanders or non-employees are treated as simple personal injury matters. This means that the injured person can choose to file a lawsuit against:
- The company or owners of the premises in which they were injured;
- The company or owner’s insurance company; and
- Any other responsible party, such as a negligent employee, or manufacturer of a defective product that resulted in the injury.
In order for a plaintiff to be successful in their personal injury claim, they must prove the following elements:
- The person or company was negligent in creating an unsafe environment, or was acting intentionally;
- The negligence or intentional act is what caused the accident to occur; and
- The accident resulted in the damages that are being claimed.
In the alternative, if you are an employee who has been injured at work while you were working, workers’ compensation laws will generally apply to your case. The word generally is used as not every employer subscribes to workers’ compensation. Importantly, workers’ compensation claims for damages will be handled differently.
For example, the workers’ compensation policy will dictate the amount of damages that can be claimed, and will often immediately begin providing compensation benefits. However, if the company does not subscribe to workers’ compensation insurance, then the injured employee would have to file a normal personal injury claim.
What Are Some Unsafe Work Environment Accident Statistics
Once again, unsafe work environments can occur in inherently dangerous work environments such as an oil rig or construction site, but regular workplaces can also become unsafe work environments. Typically, when discussing unsafe work environments, many people think about factors like toxic exposure, dangerous machinery, and other industrial aspects. However, the term unsafe work environment can also include any condition that is likely to increase the risk of injury to workers or bystanders.
Workplace violations may include situations where an employee is subject to unsafe work conditions that cause them to simply overexert themselves. For example, if an employee is required to move products as part of their job description, but is not provided proper machinery to do so, this could be considered an unsafe work environment.
Such a violation can thus occur if an employer knows about the dangerous condition or practice and still fails to correct it. Both the Bureau of Labor Statistics (“BLS”) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) record statistics which reveal that workplace injuries are caused by many different unsafe work environments.
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration is a federal agency in the United States Department of Labor, which was created in 1970 with the goal of workers’ safety. In order to accomplish the goal of ensuring safe work environments, OSHA inspects workplaces for compliance with federal safety laws and safety regulations. Additionally, OSHA is also responsible for ensuring that employees are safe while at work, and have a healthy work environment.
According to OSHA’s data on construction sites, more than half of construction site deaths in 2013 resulted from:
- An accidental fall;
- Being struck by an object on the site;
- Electrocution; or
- Getting caught between or inside work equipment.
991 of the 4,693 workplace fatalities that were recorded by OSHA in 2016 occurred in the construction industry, which accounts for over 20% of the accidents reported that year. Of those 991 construction deaths:
- 384 were caused by falls;
- 93 resulted from being struck by a falling object;
- 82 were caused by electrocutions; and
- 72 were caused by being caught in-between or inside work equipment.
OSHA and BLS also record and provide data concerning nonfatal workplace accidents. In fact, BLS has published both state and national data on nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses annually for over 5 decades. The data gathered by BLS helps to improve working conditions by informing OSHA and policymakers about what injuries are occurring often, so that they can address such unsafe work environments.
Causes of nonfatal workplace injury include, but are not limited to:
- MSD (musculoskeletal disorder- i.e., strains, sprains, etc.);
- Falls, slips or trips;
- Contact with objects or equipment;
- Overexerting one’s self while lifting/lowering;
- Injuries from fire or explosion; and
- Exposure to harmful substances.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) dramatically impacted the number and rate of nonfatal injuries and illnesses in 2020. In fact, according to BLS “[t]here were 1,176,340 nonfatal injuries and illnesses that caused a private industry worker to miss at least one day of work in 2020.” This injury amount was 32.4% higher than nonfatal injuries in 2019. It is worth noting that 33.2% percent (390,020 cases) were categorized as “other diseases due to viruses not elsewhere classified, which includes reported COVID-19-pandemic related illnesses.”
Further, the occupation that accounted for most of the private industry cases involving days away from work due to nonfatal workplace injury or illness was nursing assistants. The days away from work statistics for nursing assistants increased by 68,890 cases to a total of 96,480 cases (a 249.7% increase from 2019).
Covid-19 pandemic aside, over the past 50 years, nonfatal workplace injuries have decreased significantly. BLS reported that the incidence rate of nonfatal injuries and illnesses among private industry workplaces occurred at a rate of 10.9 cases per 100 full-time equivalent workers in 1972, but only 2.8 cases per 100 full-time equivalent workers in 2018.
Fatal workplace injuries have also gone down slightly since BLS began collecting data, but only slightly. For instance, fatal workplace injuries in 1992 totalled 6,217, whereas the fatal workplace injuries totalled 5,250 in 2018.
Do I Need an Attorney for Help With an Unsafe Work Environment?
If you were involved in a workplace injury accident as a result of an unsafe work environment, it is in your best interests to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer.
An experienced personal injury attorney can help you understand your legal rights and options according to your state’s specific personal injury laws, and will also be able to represent you in court as needed. Further, an attorney can also assist you in filing a workers’ compensation claim, or a claim with OSHA.