Accidents at work are common in certain industries that require use of heavy machinery or working at dangerous heights, but workers in any industry are at risk of a common workplace accident: the all-too-common slip and fall.
Slip and fall accidents at work are different from falls from heights or trips over objects. Similar to these other types of falls, slip and falls involve a loss of balance, but slip and falls are differentiated by a lack of adequate traction between the accident victim’s feet and the walking surface.
What Hazards Are Associated with Slip and Fall Accidents at Work?
Slips are caused by slick, wet, or sloping surfaces. Footwear can play a role as well. Some slips are caused by workers not taking their time or paying close enough attention to the walking surface as they cross a precarious stretch of wet or slippery terrain.
Conditions that cause slip and fall hazards include:
- Puddled water
- Icy or snowy surfaces
- Greasy surfaces
- Dust or debris that causes a loss of traction
- Uneven or slick flooring such as vinyl or tile
- Sloped ramps or other surfaces without slip resistance
- Loose area rugs or floor mats that lack sufficient grip with the floor underneath
- Lack of adequate lighting
How Common Are Slip and Fall Accidents in Work Settings?
According to the fifth edition of the Industrial Safety & Occupational Heath Markets, employees slipping on slick floors account for 85 percent of Workers’ Compensation claims. The Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded that 22 percent of slip and fall accidents caused workers to miss more than a month of work.
How Should I Handle a Slip and Fall Accident at Work?
If you are hurt in a slip and fall accident at work, there are a few steps you must take to protect your rights. These include the following:
- Seek medical attention. If the injury is severe, you should not waste any time getting the medical attention you need. However, if your injuries are not life threatening, you may be required to go to a specific doctor required by your employer’s Workers’ Compensation policy.
- Tell your supervisor. Assuming your injury allows, your first action after a slip and fall accident at work should be to notify your manager or representative of the company so that you can be sure you are following the protocols for the company’s Workers’ Compensation process.
- Secure evidence. If possible, obtain evidence to prove what happened in the accident. It may be difficult to take this step immediately after being hurt, but it can be invaluable if your account of events is challenged. Take photos of the conditions that caused your accident. Record the names of witnesses to the event and get statements from them if possible.
- File a claim by the deadline. One of the most important things to do after a work accident is to file your Workers’ Compensation claim within the window allowed before the deadline.
- Talk with a lawyer. If you feel overwhelmed by the process or distrustful that the compensation will cover the care you need for your injuries, you may want to discuss your options with a lawyer well versed in employment law. A lawyer will be able to ensure that your paperwork gets filed correctly and on time. They can represent your interests in an appeal if your claim is denied, and they can advise you about the possibility of bringing suit against your employer, which may be necessary even if your claim is accepted, if the offered payout does not adequately cover the care your injury requires.
What Happens if My Claim Precipitates a Lawsuit?
Receiving benefits through Workers’ Compensation does not involve any liability on the part of either the employee or the employer. The benefit offers protections on both sides.
However, there are times when the settlement offer does not cover the full extent of the worker’s injuries. When this happens, the worker must decide if they are going to accept the offer as presented or if they are going to take things further.
The most important factor when it comes to this decision is whether the employer bears any liability for the accident. This question involves whether the employer knew or should have known about the hazard that caused the accident and whether the employer took action to address it.
What Additional Benefits Are Involved in a Lawsuit?
If your accident qualifies to be addressed through the courts, meaning employer liability is at play, you may be entitled to additional damages over and above what should be covered by a Workers’ Compensation claim, namely payments for medical bills and lost wages caused by the accident as well as possible benefits related to work training.
A personal injury suit, by contrast, can provide additional recoveries including how the injury affects your life outside of work, which may include compensation for pain and suffering.
What Can Employers Do to Prevent Slip and Fall Accidents?
Employers must take steps to reduce the likelihood of slip and fall accidents in the workplace. Some effective ways to address the possibility of this type of accident is to ensure that employees are properly trained in how to cautiously deal with slippery walking surfaces. In many industrial settings, employers can mandate that employees wear proper footwear.
However, the best way for employers to do their part to protect employees from slip and fall accidents on the job is to keep a clean and safe workplace by providing a well-lit worksite and addressing hazards like spills, greasy surfaces, and icy walkways right away.
New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Kotlar, Hernandez & Cohen, LLC Represent Workers after Slip and Fall Work Accidents
If you were suffered injuries in a slip and fall accident at work, you should be covered by your employer’s Workers’ Compensation policy. The New Jersey Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Kotlar, Hernandez & Cohen, LLC can help you understand the procedures for filing your claim and support an appeal or lawsuit of your claim if it is denied or the settlement offer is insufficient. Call us at 856-751-7676 or contact us online for a free consultation. Our offices are in Mount Laurel, Cherry Hill, Trenton, and Vineland, New Jersey; and Trevose, Pennsylvania. We serve clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania.