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Newburgh New York Workers' Compensation Law Blog

The causes and costs of injuries in the workplace

As workplace safety evolves, industries evolve and the economy evolves, so do the costs and causes of workplace injury. Not so long ago, millions of American workers were regularly exposed to toxic substances and dangerous equipment in the workplace. Now, the law seeks to protect workers from such hazards. However, the efforts that have been made to ensure worker safety have not yet achieved the ultimate goal of eliminating preventable workplace accidents. As a result, workers across the nation continue to sustain serious injury at work each and every day.

For 15 years, the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety has compiled a workplace safety index which ranks the top causes and costs of serious injuries which occur in the workplace but do not result in death. It is vitally important that employers and regulators pay attention to this list in addition to the annual rankings of fatal injuries.

Are independent contractors eligible for workers' compensation?

We frequently write about the benefits of workers’ compensation. This system generally allows injured workers to bypass legal proceedings and unnecessary red tape when seeking proper compensation for their work-related injuries. However, not all workers are eligible for workers’ compensation. Depending on the laws in whatever state workers are employed in, compensation eligibility laws may vary. In addition, not every worker is classified in such a way that he or she is eligible to receive these benefits in the event of work-related illness or injury.

For example, independent contractors are not often eligible for workers’ compensation. It is important for any independent contractor injured on the job to seek the guidance of an experienced attorney because his or her unique circumstances may allow for coverage. However, the general classification of independent contractors does not allow for coverage and benefits.

Why workplace safety is profitable

The average American worker is invested in his or her safety at work. It is also safe to say that the average American employer is invested in his or her workers’ workplace safety. However, not all employers invest enough time, resources and intention into ensuring that workers remain safe while on the job.

The fact that every worker is legally entitled to a safe workplace is the most compelling argument that employers encounter when questioning whether they should invest in preventing workplace accidents. However, a lesser but additionally compelling argument holds that investing in workplace safety is profitable.

Do I have to be seriously injured to receive workers' comp?

If you have been injured while at work and you are well enough to be reading this blog post, perhaps you feel truly lucky. Perhaps co-workers of yours perished in the same accident that led to your injuries. Or perhaps you are simply aware that the injuries you have suffered could have been much, much worse if the circumstances surrounding your accident had been only a little bit different. Maybe you are indeed very lucky. But your “luck” should not minimize in any way the harm you have suffered.

If you have been injured or made ill due to your working conditions or a work-related accident, you likely qualify for workers’ compensation. In general, you need not be injured in a serious or debilitating way in order to qualify for these benefits. Certainly, you wouldn’t apply for benefits after sustaining a paper cut while trying to fix a copier. However, even relatively minor legitimate injuries requiring medical treatment may qualify you for these benefits.

Will workers' comp affect my ability to obtain Medicare?

When applying for workers’ compensation benefits, it is important to understand the ways in which receiving these benefits may affect other benefits that you may depend on. While you may or may not think of them this way, workers’ compensation benefits are essentially a form of insurance. Medicare is another form of insurance. As a result, obtaining workers’ compensation benefits may affect the ways in which you use Medicare.

Because both workers’ compensation and Medicare both function as insurance, they are subject to specific coordination of benefit guidelines and rules. These rules essentially structure which benefit will serve a primary function and which will serve a secondary function. Generally, workers’ compensation will function as the primary source of benefits for the treatment of any injury or illness sustained while the recipient was on the job.

Why you may need to consult a workers' compensation lawyer

If you have been injured while on the job, it may benefit you to speak with a workers’ compensation attorney. The workers’ compensation system was created in part to unburden the court system and workers themselves from the stress of lawsuits tied to work-related injuries and illnesses. In theory, workers are meant to receive workers’ compensation benefits after suffering an injury at work and are meant to do so without having to navigate a great deal of red tape.

In general, the workers’ compensation system was designed to be a “no fault” system. Therefore, you neither need to prove that your employer was at fault for your injury nor that you were not at fault for your injury before securing benefits. Unfortunately, the workers’ compensation system is imperfect. As a result, many workers are improperly denied access to the benefits they deserve or are compelled to weather delays, red tape and trips to court, even though the system itself was partially created to eliminate the need for these things.

Fatal accident occurred in uninspected chemical plant

When tragedy strikes, one of the first questions that people ask in its wake is “Why?” The urge to understand why something horrible has occurred is deeply human. Not only do we want to make sense of tragedy, we want to internalize information in ways that will allow us to prevent similar tragedies from occurring in the future. Unfortunately, it seems that when it comes to work safety, Americans are failing to internalize the lessons of tragedies that have occurred before.

Too often, the media reports that fatal accidents have occurred on worksites that have not been adequately inspected. Over the past several years alone, numerous explosions and other fatal incidents have occurred at uninspected plants. And yet, inspection rates are not increasing to a level that allows for the general prevention of similar fatal accidents.

Thinking about seasonal worker safety

‘Tis the season to hire holiday and winter-related seasonal workers. Across the nation, retailers, outdoor-based employers including ski slope operators and other seasonal businesses are hiring temporary and seasonal workers. Seasonal and temporary work can be enjoyable, rewarding and lucrative. However, it is vitally important that all employers of seasonal workers focus on safety as their new employees begin training and ultimately begin working.

We frequently write about the need for adequate and proper safety training for all workers. No matter what kind of job one is employed to do, the risk of workplace accidents is real. Thankfully, with proper safety training and other necessary safety precautions, the vast majority of preventable accidents can be avoided.

Dozens of construction workers hurt at Freedom Tower

New York City’s Freedom Tower, built on the site of the former World Trade Center, is now open. For many of us who remember the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and survivors of that terrible day, the construction of this new skyscraper is a symbol of the United States enduring and thriving despite the threat of terrorism.

But another legacy of the Freedom Tower may be a series of dangerous construction accidents that cause serious injury to dozens of workers. The Daily News reports that there were 34 cases of serious worker injury during the years of construction on the World Trade Center site that were not reported to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Gun range workers risk toxic exposure

We frequently write about the dangers that workers in high-risk industries face every day on the job. It is important to discuss these dangers and ways to mitigate them. However, it is also important to discuss little-known dangers that workers may be facing on a regular basis even if they do not work in high-risk industries such as commercial trucking, construction and commercial fishing.

For example, it has recently become apparent that individuals who work at gun ranges face a toxic exposure risk simply by showing up to work. When gun ranges are not properly cleaned and maintained, they can place both workers and customers at risk of lead poisoning. As many workers may be unfamiliar with lead poisoning symptoms, it is possible to become poisoned and to remain unfamiliar with what is causing illness.

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