Stephen Hasner | Workers' Compensation | June 4, 2021
According to OSHA, falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry. Falls are also a leading cause of death and injury in other industries. That means fall prevention should be a top priority at work.
Unfortunately, even with the best fall prevention equipment and safety procedures, workers may still fall at work. They may slip and fall on slick surfaces. Workers may also trip and fall over unprotected edges, cluttered walkways, damaged flooring, or other tripping hazards.
The injuries from a fall at work can be severe. Workers may sustain:
- Broken bones
- Nerve damage
- Soft tissue injuries
- Spinal cord injuries and paralysis
- Back and neck injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
If a worker is injured on the job, they may be entitled to workers’ compensation. Most employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance coverage. Even though workers’ comp is a no-fault system, the steps you take after a fall at work could impact the benefits you receive.
What Should You Do After a Fall at Work?
As soon as possible, report the fall and injury to your supervisor, manager, or boss. Your company should post the procedure for reporting workplace injuries. If you wait more than 30 days to report the fall, you could lose your workers’ compensation benefits.
Seek immediate medical attention for your injuries. Your employer should have information posted containing the name of the Workers’ Compensation Managed Care Organization that is authorized to provide medical care for workers. Alternatively, the employer may post a list of at least six doctors that you can choose from.
If you require emergency medical care, go to the emergency room. You need to ensure that you receive prompt medical care if your injury is severe.
Medical treatment for a covered workers’ comp injury is paid by the employer’s workers’ compensation carrier. However, a worker may be entitled to other workers’ compensation benefits.
Loss of Income After a Fall at Work
If your injury prevents you from working, you may receive weekly income benefits. You must be out of work for at least seven days to qualify for weekly income benefits. If you are out of work for more than 21 days, you will be compensated for the first seven days of lost time.
Your weekly income benefit is not a full reimbursement of all lost income. Generally, the employee receives two-thirds of their average weekly wage up to $675 per week. You can receive weekly income benefits for up to 400 weeks. Catastrophic injuries may qualify for lifetime benefits.
Third-Party Claims for Falls on the Job
In most cases, workers cannot sue their employers for injuries occurring on the job. The sole remedy is to file a workers’ compensation claim. However, there are cases in which the worker could have a third-party claim against another party.
For example, if your fall was caused by faulty safety harnesses or defective scaffolding, you might have a product liability claim against the device’s manufacturer. If another party intentionally caused your fall, you could sue that party for damages. Another example might be a contractor or property owner who created a hazard that directly led to your fall.
The reason for filing a third-party claim for fall injuries is to recover additional compensation for damages not covered by workers’ comp. You could receive reimbursement for all loss of income in a third-party claim. You may also receive compensation for non-economic damages, which are not covered by workers’ comp.
When Should You Contact an Attorney After a Fall at Work?
If you suspect that your fall was caused by another party or gross negligence by your employer, contact a Georgia workers’ comp attorney to discuss a third-party claim.
You may also want to consult with a workers’ comp attorney if:
- You are denied the medical treatment needed for your injury
- Your employer or the insurance provider refuses to pay medical bills
- The employer pressures you not to file a workers’ compensation claim
- Your workers’ compensation claim has been denied, and you need to file an appeal
- You do not receive your full benefits or a specific workers’ compensation benefit
If you have any questions about falls at work or other on-the-job injuries, you can talk with a workers’ compensation lawyer. You have the right to seek legal advice after an injury at work, including injuries caused by falls. You want to make sure that you understand the facts before making decisions regarding your workers’ comp claim or a lawsuit against a third party.