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Workplace Accidents, Injuries, and Lawsuits in Western Mass. (Greater Springfield Area)
Presented by Attorney Robert W. Shute, Personal Injury Lawyer
Workplace accidents, known as “workers’ compensation” cases, are different from most accidents in that you are entitled to certain benefits even if your employer was not negligent and even if the injury happened to be your own fault. But under Massachusetts law, the tradeoff is that benefits are limited. For example, you cannot sue your employer for pain and suffering. Workplace accident cases against your employer do not go to court. Rather, disputes are decided at the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents. In some circumstances, for example where you are in a car accident while performing your job duties, you may have a civil court case against the other driver and at the same time have a workers’ compensation case against your employer.
There are numerous causes for and types of workplace accidents and injuries. Some of the most common ones are: overexertion – injuries caused by excessive lifting, pushing, pulling, holding, carrying, or throwing an object; falls, on the same level or onto a lower level (such as off a ladder); injuries from bending, climbing, slipping or tripping; being struck by an object such as a falling tool; repetitive motion – such as carpal tunnel syndrome, an increasingly common problem in our automated world; being caught or compressed by equipment such as a forklift; highway accidents; electrocution; burns, heat exhaustion, or frostbite; chemical spills; on-site explosions; and being struck against an object.
Construction sites are especially dangerous workplaces, with over half a million injuries a year and the most fatalities of any private work category. A variety of heavy machinery including earth-moving vehicles, cranes, large pallets of materials and parts all pose hazards to workers. When workers disability compensation is provided, it often covers only a small percentage of the total medical and wage losses. Contractors in specialty trades – carpenters, plumbers, electricians, masons, and roofers – are exposed to these workplace dangers, as are workers in civil engineering construction and residential building construction.
The types of workplace injuries resulting from accidents runs the gamut from slight contusions (bruises) to lacerations, broken bones, concussions, back, neck, and spinal cord damage, paralysis, blindness, massive internal damage, disfigurement, loss of limbs, and of course even death.
Although the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) exists specifically to regulate workplace safety and penalize companies that violate the safety code, the administration’s resources are stretched very thin, to the extent that a worker cannot count on OSHA to provide safeguarding – even where violations have been reported. OSHA cannot inspect everywhere or everything.
Some of the ways businesses can protect workers from injury or accidents is by ensuring that surfaces are not overly slick (by cleaning up all spills and applying high traction finishes like slip-resistant treads), are free of holes or tripping hazards. Lighting should be sufficiently bright for all uses of an area. Companies can make sure that workers are trained in correct methods of lifting and maneuvering objects or packages, and see that mechanical lifters are in place to manage weights that are excessive for an average worker. They can of course ensure that all company vehicles are properly maintained and in tip-top condition. Companies can conduct periodic safety inspections of all equipment including ladders, lifters, and transports. They must make sure that all mechanical equipment operators are fully trained in the use of their machines.
Workers compensation cases can be very complex, especially when there’s a case for damages against a third party – such as the manufacturer of faulty equipment. It is essential to have a skilled attorney in your corner. Be sure to call the Law Office of Robert W. Shute if you have any questions about this process so we can go over your particular circumstances in detail. I have over 25 years of experience as a personal injury lawyer – this is my area of concentration, and I have successfully handled countless workers compensation cases. My expertise means I know every nuance of workers compensation and workplace negligence cases, and I will ensure that you get the settlement you deserve. Call me today to set up a no-obligation, free initial consultation and evaluation of your claim at either my downtown Chicopee office or, if your mobility is limited, at your own home, a hospital, or other convalescent facility. Please contact me via this website or by calling 413-592-0999.