Negligence and Liability in a Factory Accident
In spite of the inherent risks associated with products being produced in industrial settings, we like to think that modern workplaces are safe for employees. Recent decades have seen significant progress for workplace safety, thanks to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) as well as other industry-specific organizations.
The risks still exist, however, and our factory accident lawyer has the experience that injured workers need if they have been hurt on the job at a factory. There have been high-profile cases about companies cutting corners on safety or simply not enforcing certain safety regulations, resulting in catastrophic results for the workers.
For example, take the coal mine explosion at The Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia. After the explosion resulted in 29 deaths, the Mine Safety and Health Administration released a report summarizing its investigation. Their findings resulted in 369 safety violations being issued to Massey Energy, the company operating the mine. These violations held the company directly responsible for the blast and the deaths it caused. The citations from MSHA amounted to about $10.8 million; nevertheless, the criminal liability charges brought by the U.S. Attorney’s Office led to a $209 million settlement. Don Blankenship, who was at the time the CEO of Massey Energy, was finally convicted of conspiring to willfully violate safety standards.
The Risks Factory Workers Face from a Threat of Factory Accidents
According to a 2021 article published online by Legal Jobs, over 2 million workers around the world get injured on the job every year. Even as workplace injuries declined in 2019, a grim picture emerged when it came to fatal work accidents: 5,333 fatal work accidents happened in 2019. This represents an increase of 2% from 2018. According to official statistics, fatalities have increased since 2010. The states with the highest number of workplace fatalities for 2019 were Texas (608) and California (451).
But not all accidents result in fatalities. In the United States alone, there were 2.7 million nonfatal work-related illnesses and injuries reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2020.
While these numbers have slowly decreased over the years, they still take a tremendous toll on workers everywhere.
Our Factory Accident Lawyer Answers Your Questions
If you or someone you know has been injured while working at a factory, you have the right to learn about your legal options and what benefits you are entitled to. Read on to get answers to some of the most frequently asked questions you might have for our factory accident lawyer.
Are all employers required to offer workers’ compensation benefits?
No, workers’ compensation insurance is not required for private employers in Texas. The employer must inform employees and post a workplace notice with the insurance company’s information if they choose to offer workers’ compensation benefits.
Can I sue my employer for work-related injuries at a factory?
If you are injured on the job, you cannot sue your employer for a workplace injury if you are covered by workers’ compensation. There are, however, a few exceptions to this rule. For example, if you are injured while operating heavy equipment like a punch-press, if you are forced to work while you are exposed to asbestos, or if you work on a ship, you may be able to sue your employer. In addition, if a third party is involved, you can sue them.
What do I do if my employer doesn’t offer workers’ compensation?
Some employers might opt for a private occupational injury plan (e.g. an “OCIP”) instead of a workers’ compensation plan. At the start of your employment, you should have been made aware of any plan in effect, as well as how workers should give notice of their injuries (usually within 24 hours), how to appeal the claim (varies depending on the carrier) and which doctors are in the network.
How do I file a claim after a factory accident?
If your employer offers workers’ compensation and you’ve been injured on the job in a factory, you should report any injuries to your employer within 30 days of the date on which the injury or accident occurred. If you don’t do this within that time frame, you might lose your right to any workers’ compensation benefits. You then need to complete the claim form (DWC Form-041) to the Texas Department of Insurance, Workers’ Compensation Division, within a year from the date the injury occurred. Those forms can be found here.
Who can help me with the claim process?
Initially, the Office of Injured Employee Counsel should be able to help guide you through the claim process. You have the right to hire a workers’ compensation attorney for help with any stage of filing a workers’ compensation claim, including but not limited to the review, case hearing, appeals panel, and judicial review.
If my factory accident claim is denied, can I appeal?
Yes. By filing a petition no later than 45 days after receiving the final decision, you may appeal the decision to the district or county court in the county where you live.
Can I get fired for filing a claim?
No, it is illegal for an employer to fire an employee on this basis. However, if you are being punished for filing a workers’ compensation claim, you might be able to take legal action against your employer. Contact your factory injury lawyer for more guidance with this if you feel you might need to take legal action.
What if a loved one gets fatally injured in a factory accident?
You might be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits if one of your family members dies due to a work-related accident or disease. The purpose of death benefits is to compensate certain family members who had been financially supported by the deceased employee. State-specific eligibility requirements vary, but death benefits are usually available to family members of the deceased employee who lived with the deceased employee and depended on them for financial support. Some states provide benefits for relatives of deceased employees who were only partially dependent on them.
The rules for determining who qualifies as a dependent may differ according to the employee’s relationship and state law. Usually, children under 18 are considered dependents, as well as older children who have mental or physical disabilities that might keep them from being able to work. Some states also extend eligibility to children over 18 who are enrolled in qualified educational or vocational programs (up to 21 or 25 years of age).
The majority of states consider spouses to be dependents, regardless of their income. The spouse may not be eligible in other states if they earn over a certain amount of money, or they may have to prove that they are financially dependent regardless of how much they earn.
The eligibility of all other family members is determined by the specific circumstances and evidence in each case.
Our factory accident lawyer at Waldman Legal Group has the knowledge you can depend upon. We make sure that when family members lose a loved one due to negligence in a factory accident, they get all the compensation they deserve.
Call our factory accident attorney for help today at 713-688-4878.
Types of Factory Accidents
While some factory accidents can be catastrophic, there are countless ways a person could get injured while on the job. It’s possible for workplace accidents to happen in an office, at a construction site or in any other type of working environment. A variety of injuries can result from these accidents, including back injuries and catastrophic brain injuries. These injuries from factory accidents include — but are not limited to — the following:
Being Hit by Falling Objects
A lot of factories have high ceilings and walkways, so falling objects can turn deadly for any workers on the lower levels. If employers fail to ensure items are secured properly in the factory, workers can potentially sustain crushing or blunt force injuries due to a falling object. This issue isn’t reserved for just warehouse environments; any situation where objects might fall from shelves can be traumatic, especially if the worker unexpectedly experiences the full force of the object.
Repetitive Strain Injuries
Over the years, repetitive strain injuries have become increasingly common in the workplace, although many employers don’t seem to take them seriously. It isn’t limited to those who use keyboards regularly at work; it can also result from repeated motions of any joint. There can be serious consequences from repetitive stress injury, so it’s wise to take precautions.
Slips, Trips, and Falls
Whatever type of factory setting you work in, there’s going to be a possibility for some slippery surfaces. An employee can slip, trip, or fall for a wide variety of reasons. There might be unsafe ladders, poor facility design, or unlevel floors that can contribute to a fall. They can be particularly dangerous if a slip leads to a head injury.
Exposure to Loud Noise
The old heavy industries were a big part of industrial deafness, and while it might seem that it has disappeared, that’s not the case. Many industrial workers still work in spaces with loud noises. Moreover, industrial deafness can also result in large compensation payouts in the long run, so employers have a very strong incentive to nip this problem in the bud. Safety measures such as ear protection can help prevent this from happening to workers in factories.
Fatigue and Exhaustion
When employers require their factory employees to work long hours, workers can become exhausted. A fatigued employee is more likely to make mistakes that can cause injury to themselves or others. Factory accidents like these are never acceptable, because employers should ensure that their employees are rested and have the support they need to perform their job safely.
Cuts and Lacerations
A variety of factory equipment, and even office equipment, can leave users with painful cuts. These lacerations are most often caused by poor training, inadequate safety procedures and failure to wear proper protective gear. By providing appropriate safety equipment and putting in place the appropriate procedures (including training), employers can help prevent such accidents in factories.
Crashes or Collisions
Workplace injuries caused by crashes or impacts are also quite common. A collision involving a car, a truck or even a forklift truck on a factory floor can have seriously nasty results, whether the vehicles are big or small. Employers are responsible for ensuring that seatbelts and other safety precautions are available and used where necessary.
Inhaling Toxic Fumes
The use of chemicals in many factories poses a serious risk for workers. Lack of protective equipment can result in workers being exposed to chemicals. In some cases, disrepair in pipes and machinery can result in worker exposure to chemicals. Workers can be injured by inhaling some substances in manufacturing, so it’s crucial that employers utilize chemical safety standards with caution.
For factories to function, machinery is essential. This machinery can be just as dangerous as it is efficient. Factory workers are at risk of becoming entangled in equipment and suffering severe injuries as a result. Factory workers are also sometimes required to operate forklifts, so it’s important that employers make sure they’re properly trained before operating them.
Walking Into Objects
Maybe you’re distracted by your conversation or feeling a bit under the weather when suddenly you’re on the receiving end of a door, table, wall, or cabinet. The impact can be incredibly painful. In many cases, such accidents can be avoided by reminding employees to be vigilant and by removing unnecessary hazards from the factory floor so that people will not step on them.
Speak With Our Houston Factory Accident Lawyer About Your Workplace Incident
Work-related fatalities and injuries cost the United States billions of dollars every year, which is a staggering amount of money to imagine. At Waldman Legal, we understand how challenging it is to navigate the process of factory injuries or even fatalities. In the event that you find yourself facing a factory accident lawsuit, it is imperative that you seek professional expertise and support.
Having practiced personal injury law for more than 40 years, Steve Waldman has decades of experience helping seriously injured workers and their loved ones. If you need help, call Houston-based Waldman Legal now at 713-688-4878, or fill out the quick contact form on our website for a free and confidential consultation.