Any workplace can be a dangerous environment. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, almost 5 million nonfatal workplace illnesses and injuries occurred in 2002, and over 5,000 fatal work injuries. Though these numbers seem to be decreasing, almost everyone is likely to suffer some type of work related injury or illness during their career.
Accidents in the workplace range from apparently minor conditions as an aching back to brain and spinal cord damage. The major causes of work-related injuries include fires and explosions; exposure to toxic chemicals or other environmental hazards; transportation accidents; slips and falls; electrocutions; machinery-related accidents; heavy object trauma; and even on-the-job assaults by co-workers or third parties.
Factories and construction sites are by no means the only location for workplace injuries to occur. Office employees are subject to a wide array of serious work-related dangers: carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive stress injuries, sick building syndrome, asbestosis, lead and mold poisoning, slips and falls, and even occupational stress.
If you have suffered a work-related injury or illness, you may be entitled to monetary damages, even in cases where injuries appeared to be minor. You can recover any medical expenses you have incurred as a result of the injury, such as doctor and hospital bills, medications, therapy, or home health care, as well as any future medical expenses. You can also recover for pain and suffering, out-of-pocket expenses, mental and emotional anguish, lost wages, benefits and other compensation. In some cases, if your spouse has been injured, you may be entitled to collect damages for the loss of pleasure or companionship as a result of those injuries. Additionally, in cases where the defendant's conduct is extreme or outrageous, you may be entitled to collect punitive damages to punish them and to prevent future misconduct.
Workplace injury cases can be incredibly complex; the primary hurdle in most cases is that an employee generally cannot sue his or her employer in court while in the course of his or her employment, as they are limited to workers' compensation solutions. Employers fight hard to keep injured employees inside the workers' compensation system and out of court. Click on one of the tabs below to review information about specific workplace types.
Only in cases where the employer knew or should have known that the workplace was unsafe can an injured employee sue the employer directly for allowing an unsafe environment to occur. Additionally, if a piece of defective machinery or equipment in the workplace has caused injury, all of the parties involved in the design, engineering, manufacture, distribution, sale, and installation of the defective machinery may be held accountable.