Falls are a major cause of employee injury and death. For example, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), over a third of deaths in construction are caused by falls. Many other workers, across all industries, suffer serious and sometimes fatal consequences resulting from falls from height accidents. Injured employees are entitled to workers’ compensation, but pursuing a claim after falls can be challenging.
Having a dedicated and experienced workers’ compensation lawyer is critical to making sure you get the benefits you deserve. You can count on Nikolaus & Hohenadel, LLP, to help.
Why Workplace Falls Happen
Falling from an elevated position is particularly problematic for construction workers, but any employee can suffer one of these injuries. These are some of the most common reasons workplace falls occur:
Spilled liquids. Water, oil, and other slick substances can make an already dangerous situation worse. This is especially true if the employer has neglected to clean up these spills.
Lack of fall protection systems. OSHA regulations require certain safeguards for workers in industries at risk of falls. These may include protections such as guardrails or safety nets.
Lack of training. OSHA rules also obligate employers to train their workers on how to use fall protection systems. These systems are only as good as the training provided.
Defective ladders. Many workers, such as painters and construction laborers, routinely use ladders to do their work. A broken or otherwise defective ladder can spell catastrophe.
Tripping. Obstacles such as cables or discarded materials can make it difficult to safely walk at a heightened position. Even with fall protection systems, a tripped worker can get injured.
Standing on something unstable. A worker may need to stand on something unstable or risky, like a roof or scaffolding. The worker could fall off, or even down through, where they are standing.
Falling off equipment. Cherry pickers, hydraulic lifts, and other equipment is often used to elevate workers off the ground. The equipment may have insufficient fall protection, or could even tip over if not used properly.
Some Workers Are More Prone To Falls Than Others
No worker, even an office employee, is immune from falling. But some workers are more at risk than others. Falls from heights are commonly seen in these industries:
- Utility work
Common Injuries Suffered From Falling Accidents
A fall from any height can be serious. Obviously, the higher off the ground, the more significant the injury. Hurt workers who fall from heights typically suffer these and other problems:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Spinal cord damage
- Back and neck injuries
- Permanent disability
- Broken bones
- Internal organ damage
- Internal bleeding
You may require more than just hospitalization after a fall from height injury. Due to the seriousness of these accidents, it is likely you will be facing rehabilitation and physical therapy. This could include vocational rehabilitation, to help you reenter the workforce. You may also need adaptive medical equipment, such as a wheelchair, to assist you with simple daily tasks. Your employer should be responsible for covering these and other costs through workers’ compensation. But many workers find it difficult to get the benefits they’re entitled to.
The Challenges Of Seeking Workers’ Compensation After Falls
If you’ve been hurt in a fall from height accident, you could be eligible for workers’ compensation. Remember, workers’ compensation is a no-fault system. This means that even if you were somehow to blame for your fall accident, you could be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
Your fall injury must have occurred during the scope and course of employment. For many workers, such as those in construction and manufacturing, this is fairly easy to prove. Their jobs come with an inherent risk of falling, so fall accidents are common. Other employers may challenge their employees after they’ve suffered a fall from heights accident. As an example, they may claim the fall happened outside of the scope of employment, or that it was unrelated to their job duties.
But no injured worker should assume that their employer will automatically pay workers’ compensation benefits. No matter how obvious it is that your fall injury happened in the scope of your employment, getting the benefits you need could prove to be an uphill battle. This is where having a knowledgeable Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorney is essential.
Seeking Workers’ Compensation After Falls
It’s important that you seek medical attention right away after suffering a fall from height accident. This is true even if you think your injuries are minor or non-existent. A seemingly minor injury could get worse with time, so let a medical professional evaluate your condition. You may be required to see a physician selected by your employer for your first 90 days of treatment.
You should give timely notice of the accident to your employer to ensure you get the most compensation possible. If you give proper notice within 21 days of your fall, you may receive benefits retroactive to the date of your accident. But if you fail to file within 120 days of the injury, you won’t receive any benefits at all.
Be sure to talk to a Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorney about your accident. Your lawyer will help you through the process of claiming and receiving benefits, and make sure your legal rights are protected.
Contact Our Lancaster Workers’ Compensation Attorney
A fall is one of the most serious accidents a worker can suffer. If you or someone you love has gotten hurt on the job, you deserve compensation for your medical treatments and wage loss. But who do you turn to if your employer or the workers’ compensation insurance carrier denies your claim? Nikolaus & Hohenadel, LLP, is ready to go to work for you. We understand Pennsylvania workers’ compensation law, and we know how to get you the benefits you need and deserve. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.