My boss isn’t covered by Workers’ Comp. What happens if I get hurt at work?

Ohio attorney Gary Cowan discusses what to do if you’re injured at work but your employer isn’t covered by Workers’ Compensation.

 

With most employers, you have access to insurance if you’re injured on the job through a program called Workers’ Compensation.

Workers’ Compensation, or “Workers’ Comp,” is a fund that provides medical attention and treatment to employees after a job-related injury. So, what happens if you don’t have worker’s compensation available to you? Do you have any options to help pay for the harm you suffered?

No Workers’ Comp? – Three things you should know about bringing a lawsuit after a job-related injury

  1. The first thing your attorney will do is to determine whether your employer was at fault for the accident. Remember, even if your employer is not covered by Workers’ Compensation, you may still be awarded money due to their carelessness. An experienced personal injury attorney will question potential witnesses or even co-workers during an interview called a deposition to ascertain the cause of the accident and establish who was at fault.
  2. The next step will be to combat any claims made by the employer. Typically, a company will claim you were negligent in some part of your job and caused your own injury. To build a successful case, your attorney will need to prove your injury occurred due to someone else’s carelessness, rather than your own actions.
  3. Finally, your attorney will look for a way to resolve your case and bring you the compensation you deserve. Whether the fault lies with your employer, a third party or even a co-worker, a knowledgeable lawyer will research all possible methods of recovery through each insurance company and the various policies. By exploring all options, your attorney can help you recover costs related to your injuries – such as medical bills, lost wages and other expenses that you’ve incurred, including any future medical care you may need.

To learn more about personal injury law, I encourage you to watch the video above and to explore our educational website at http://www.elkandelk.com. If you have legal questions, please call us at 1-800-ELK-OHIO. I welcome your call.

Gary Cowan

Keeping an Eye on Workplace Injuries and Illness

Work place safety.
Photo: Geoffrey Whiteway

An important part of staying current on employment law is analyzing the annual release of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). We now have the latest numbers for 2012 and the news overall is good. The total rate of workplace injuries and illnesses is down by a small but statistically significant amount.

In 2012, there were nearly three million nonfatal workplace illnesses and injuries reported by private industry employers. The BLS reported that “no private industry experienced an increase in the rate of injuries and illnesses in 2012.” What is significant and worrisome is that more than half of the nearly three million injury and illness cases were of a serious nature and involved days away from work, transfer, or restriction.

The difference in rates between injury and illness is huge. More than 94.8 percent of 30 million total incidents are classified “injuries,” while only 5.2 percent are reported as workplace illness. Workplace injuries can lead to legal action where the victim seeks help from an employment attorney.

The report highlights risks related to specific industries:

  • Among service-providing industry sectors, transportation and warehousing had the highest rate of injuries and illnesses
  • Workers experienced sprains and strains in transportation and warehousing at a rate 2.5 times the rate for all industries
  • Transportation incidents occurred at a rate more than 5 times the rate for all industries
  • The mining industry had the highest median days away from work, at 21 days

Staying abreast of these statistics helps government and regulatory bodies to spot trends or risk factors for workers. For employment attorneys, it helps to identify areas of concern for clients and areas where employers or industry organizations may be falling short.

 

Sources:

http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/osh.pdf

https://www.osha.gov/oshstats/work.html

http://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/cwc/work-related-injuries-illnesses-and-fatalities-in-manufacturing-and-construction.pdf

OSHA: Is Your Boss Keeping You Safe?

SafetyThe Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA) was enacted by Congress in 1970. It governs workplace safety in both the private sector and the United States federal government. The Act’s main goal is to ensure that employers maintain a safe working environment for their employees. A personal injury attorney can help you file an OSHA claim if you are injured in a workplace accident or exposed to unsafe working conditions.

One of the most important parts of OSHA is the general duty clause. This clause imposes three duties upon employers:

  1. Maintain conditions and/or utilize practices that are reasonably necessary to protect employees on the job.
  2. Be familiar with the safety standards applicable to their business establishments.
  3. Regulate and promote employee use of the appropriate safety equipment.

If you think your employer has breached one of these 3 duties, and you were injured on the job, you should schedule a consultation with an injury attorney.

OSHA also created the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, which ensures that employers nationwide comply with the provisions set forth in OSHA. This involves creating and enacting workplace safety regulations, inspecting workplaces and employers to ensure that they comply with those regulations, and imposing sanctions on employers who violate OSHA provisions.

An average of 13 Americans are killed on the job every single day of the year. In addition, tens of thousands die every year from workplace disease and nearly 4 million workers each year are seriously injured on the job. A personal injury attorney can represent employees who have been injured or become ill while working. The process generally involves filing a claim through the Occupational Health and Safety Administration and resolving that claim through settlement negotiations or a trial.

Whistleblower Claims

Employees who report violations of various workplace safety laws are protected from employer retaliation by OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program. Persons filing whistleblower claims, usually receive about 15-25 percent of any recovered damages, but that amount may be higher or lower depending on specific circumstances.

The statute of limitations on such claims can be as little as 30 days. Therefore, in order to preserve your claim, it is important to contact a qualified attorney and file a claim with OSHA as soon as possible.

Dangers of Metalworking Fluids

apr_article3

Metalworking fluids (MWFs) are used as coolants, lubricants and to remove metal particles during industrial machining and grinding operations. According to the CDC, over 1 million workers are regularly exposed to MWFs through skin contact or by breathing the mists and aerosols.

Many industries utilize Metalworking Fluids, including:

  • Automotive
  • Medical Device Manufacturing
  • Wire Manufacturing
  • Aerospace
  • Petrochemical

MWFs linked to serious injuries

Metalworking fluids may contain any number of additives, including biocides, which are used to kill bacteria. One of the most commonly used biocides is Triazine, also known as hexahydrotriazine or HHT. Once mixed with MWFs, Triazine releases formaldehyde, a known carcinogen. Formaldehyde can also speed up the formation of nitrosamines – chemical compounds that have been shown to cause cancer.

If you work or have worked with metalworking fluids, you are at risk for a wide range of debilitating health problems, such as:

  • Nasopharyngeal Cancer
  • Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis (HP)
  • Sinonasal Cancer
  • Pulmonary Edema
  • Lymphohematopoietic Cancer
  • Myeloid leukemia

Asthma and other serious respiratory conditions and cancers have also been linked to MWF exposure.

How much exposure is dangerous?

Contact with the toxins in MWFs can cause an immediate reaction, such as irritation of the skin, eyes, nose or throat. Other, more serious health issues can take years to manifest.

In 1998, The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommended a maximum exposure level of 0.4 milligrams per cubic meter of air. While some occupational exposure limits (OELs) are legally enforceable limits, others – like those for MWFs – are merely recommendations, which cannot be enforced.

Do I need a lawyer?

If you worked or are working in a machine shop, industrial plant or factory using Metalworking Fluids or Cutting Compounds and developed

  • Cancer
  • Chronic cough
  • Breathing problems
  • Leukemia

You may be entitled to money damages. Call 1-800-ELK-OHIO for a free case review today.

‘Move Over Law’ Expanded to Protect Workers

New law protects workers.Governor John Kasich signed a bill into law on December 19 to protect Ohio road crews. Introduced by Senator Tom Patton (R-Strongsville), Senate Bill 137 updates the current “Move Over Law” to include highway construction vehicles.

All motorists are now required to slow down and, if possible, move to an adjacent lane when approaching construction, maintenance and public utilities commission vehicles that are parked on the roadside with flashing, oscillating or rotating lights.

The law previously required motorists to slow down or move over only when approaching police and other emergency vehicles.

According to the Ohio Department of Transportation, since 2008, more than 600 collisions occurred between the travelling public and ODOT vehicles and equipment.

A cornerstone of ODOT’s mission is the safety of all who drive on or work on Ohio’s roads. The expanded Move Over Law is a critical step to improving the safety of our workers, who risk their lives and well-being every day to care for the excellent transportation system the citizens of Ohio have come to expect.
– Jerry Wray, ODOT Director

Although the bill took effect immediately, there will be a 90-day grace period during which violators will receive warnings rather than citations. After March 19, 2014, drivers can be cited with a minor misdemeanor. Penalties will be increased if the driver has had multiple infractions in the last year.

The bill amends sections 4511.01, 4511.04, 4511.213, and 4513.17 of the Ohio Revised Code.
To see a complete copy of the legislation, click here.

Move Over Law (as amended)

Sec. 4511.01(QQQ) “Highway maintenance vehicle” means a vehicle used in snow and ice removal or road surface maintenance, including a snow plow, traffic line striper, road sweeper, mowing machine, asphalt distributing vehicle, or other such vehicle designed for use in specific highway maintenance activities.”

Sec. 4511.213 – Approaching stationary public safety vehicle displaying emergency light.

(A) The driver of a motor vehicle, upon approaching a stationary public safety vehicle, an emergency vehicle, or a road service vehicle, vehicle used by the public utilities commission to conduct motor vehicle inspections in accordance with sections 4923.04 and 4923.06 of the Revised Code, or a highway maintenance vehicle that is displaying the appropriate visual signals by means of flashing, oscillating, or rotating lights, as prescribed in section 4513.17 of the Revised Code, shall do either of the following:

(1) If the driver of the motor vehicle is traveling on a highway that consists of at least two lanes that carry traffic in the same direction of travel as that of the driver’s motor vehicle, the driver shall proceed with due caution and, if possible and with due regard to the road, weather, and traffic conditions, shall change lanes into a lane that is not adjacent to that of the stationary public safety vehicle, an emergency vehicle, or a road service vehicle, vehicle used by the public utilities commission to conduct motor vehicle inspections in accordance with sections 4923.04 and 4923.06 of the Revised Code, or a highway maintenance vehicle.

(2) If the driver is not traveling on a highway of a type described in division (A)(1) of this section, or if the driver is traveling on a highway of that type but it is not possible to change lanes or if to do so would be unsafe, the driver shall proceed with due caution, reduce the speed of the motor vehicle, and maintain a safe speed for the road, weather, and traffic conditions.

(B) This section does not relieve the driver of a public safety vehicle, an emergency vehicle, or a road service vehicle, vehicle used by the public utilities commission to conduct motor vehicle inspections in accordance with sections 4923.04 and 4923.06 of the Revised Code, or a highway maintenance vehicle from the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of all persons and property upon the highway.

(C)  No person shall fail to drive a motor vehicle in compliance with division (A)(1) or (2) of this section when so required by division (A) of this section.

(D)       (1) Except as otherwise provided in this division, whoever violates this section is guilty of a minor misdemeanor. If, within one year of the offense, the offender previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to one predicate motor vehicle or traffic offense, whoever violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor of the fourth degree. If, within one year of the offense, the offender previously has been convicted of two or more predicate motor vehicle or traffic offenses, whoever violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor of the third degree.

(2) Notwithstanding section 2929.28 of the Revised Code, upon a finding that a person operated a motor vehicle in violation of division (C) of this section, the court, in addition to all other penalties provided by law, shall impose a fine of two times the usual amount imposed for the violation.

(2013 Ohio SB 137, 1)

 

Source:

‘Move over’ law aims to boost safety of Ohio road crewsAP/Columbus Dispatch, December 30, 2013.