Articles Posted in Work Accidents

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No one is immune from on-the-job injury. It occurs in virtually every type of workplace and to a wide range of workers. 

Still, we know there are certain risk factors that increase the chances of it. For example, we know the construction industry has one of the highest rates of occupational injury compared to other types of jobs. We also know young workers are often injured more often than their more experienced counterparts. So too are Hispanic workers, particularly migrant workers who may not be able to understand or speak English fluently, and are often relegated to dangerous, labor-intensive posts with inadequate supervision.

When all three of these risk factors are combined, the risk shoots up exponentially.

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A man who was severely injured after a building collapsed on him at a Florida construction site was awarded $64.5 million by a jury in Hillsborough County recently.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, plaintiff in Matthews v. Mosaic Fertilizer, LLC was injured in 2009 when a building under construction collapsed on him – all 11,000 pounds of it. It crushed his legs, his pelvis and his internal organs.

He was just 25 at the time of the incident.

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Curtis v. Lemna – Third-Party Lawsuits Against Co-Workers May be Barred

Florida employees injured on-the-job should enjoy workers’ compensation coverage, so long as the injury happened during or arose in the course of employment. There is no required proof of negligence or fault, and workers should be compensated fairly quickly. The trade-off is workers can’t then turn around and file a lawsuit against their employer.

There are, however, some instances wherein workers can file third-party lawsuits where other companies or individuals were responsible. But there are limitations. Typically, one can’t sue a co-worker who caused an injury so long as the co-worker was acting in the course of employment. This can be a little more complicated on a multi-employer site. Florida Statute 440.10 holds that when general and sub-contractors working together with other sub-contractors, they are considered to be engaged in a common enterprise and will be immune from claims of workplace negligence, so long as the sub-contractor or general contractor purchased workers’ compensation insurance.

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A recent decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court not only affirmed previous rulings allowing undocumented workers to obtain workers’ compensation benefits, but also held the employer – not the worker – bears the burden of proving a worker’s loss of earning power was a result of his non-citizenship status, as opposed to his injury.

Our Fort Lauderdale work injury lawyers recognize this ruling echoes other decision in Florida courts that protect injured, undocumented workers. Those decisions include Cenvill Development Corp. v. Candelo (Fla. 1st DCA, 1985) and, more recently, HDV Const. Systems, Inc. v. Aragon (Fla. 1st DCA, 2011).

In the Aragon case, a man working as a framer for a construction firm fell 30 feet on the job, sustaining numerous fractures to his foot and forearm. His fall required him to undergo extensive treatment, including the implantation of a spinal cord stimulator. Even so, his injuries were permanent, and included constant pain, nerve damage and discoloration. Doctors determined he should be restricted to sedentary work, which meant he was no longer eligible to work in construction, manufacturing or farming.
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Cell phone distracted driving policies help employers keep employees safe and also protect bottom lines, according to the National Safety Council (NSC). Some employers have realized the dangers of cell phone use while driving and are taking action by passing policies to prevent cell phone distracted driving.

In fact, this is becoming the norm as it is nearly impossible for an employer to claim ignorance of the risks driving distraction plays in the road — particularly if employees are required to stay in touch while on the road for work. Motor vehicle crashes are the No. 1 cause of workplace death and No. 1 cause of death for people
ages 1 to 35, accounting for about 40,000 deaths each year in the United States. Beyond concern for the safety of employees, crashes are also costly to employers. An on-the-job crash costs an employer more than $24,000, rising to more than $125,000 if the crash involves injury. All employers face ongoing liability, insurance, productivity and absenteeism costs.

Our car accident attorneys in Miramar understand that many drivers think they can handle distracted driving. They think that they’re skilled enough behind the wheel to handle tasks other than driving. And they couldn’t be farther from the truth. Distracted driving is any non-driving activity a motorist engages in that has the potential to distract him or her from the primary task of driving. Stressful jobs, busy lifestyles and technology advances are just a few of the reasons why individuals may engage in distracted driving activities. When motorists engage in distracted driving — it increases the likelihood of motor vehicle incidents and crashes.
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A local worker was severely injury and rushed to the hospital after being struck by a collapsing beam on a construction site in a Fort Lauderdale fall accident. According to CBS Miami, it happened at the construction site at 109 S. Gordon Road. Workers there were constructing a two-story home at the time of the accident.

The injured worker was pouring concrete when the board that he was using to stand on gave way. On scene, there were Fort Lauderdale firefighters. The man fell close to 30 feet. He was transported to the Broward Health Medical Center.

Out of close to 4,000 worker fatalities in private industry in calendar year 2012, 775 (or close to 20 percent) were in construction. The number one cause of these fatalities on construction sites across the nation were falls, struck by object, electrocution and caught-in/between accidents ( These incidents have been dubbed as the “Fatal Four” and were responsible for close to 60 percent of construction worker fatalities in 2012). Getting rid of these risks would help to save close to 450 workers’ lives across the nation each and every year, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
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There are many kinds of jobs out there. One should be no safer than the other. If federal officials have anything to say about it, they’re going to make it safer for temporary workers.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), there’s a new initiative underway to protect temporary employees from workplace dangers, risks and hazards. Officials decided to announce this new initiative during OSHA’s Workers’ Memorial Day event. This is an event that’s used to recognize and pay tribute to workers who have been killed on the job and to help to renew the focus on making our nation’s workplaces safer for everyone.

OSHA officials sent out a memo to regional administrators instructing field directors to look at companies and their engagement of temporary workers. If these workers are present, they’re required to take it a step further and to make sure that the company is complying with their responsibilities under the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

Our Lauderdale work accident lawyers understand that there’s a new code in the books to keep an eye on these temporary workers and to take note when any of them are exposed to health or safety violations. In addition, OSHA inspectors will be looking to make sure that these temporary workers are getting the proper training that they require to complete each job safely. This training should be provided by the employer in a language that the worker can understand.

“Workers must be safe, whether they’ve been on the job for one day or for 25 years,” said Dr. David Michaels with OSH.

Workers’ Memorial Day is a national holiday that was observed on the 28th of April.

But the efforts don’t stop there. In addition to the new enforcement plans, officials with OSHA have started work with the American Staffing Association and different employers who use these kinds of staffing agencies. With this partnership, they’re hoping to promote better practices in working to make sure that temporary employees are safe on the job.

In the last few months, officials with OSHA have received a number of reports about temporary workers who were killed on the job. Unfortunately, many of these fatalities happened on their first day of work. And what were the most common citations resulting from these accidents? You guessed it — improper training and a lack of safety protections.

According to the latest statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), more than 10 percent of the near 5,000 people killed on the job in the U.S. in 2011 were temporary workers. That’s close to 550 fatalities.

If you’re working as a contracted worker or a temporary worker, you have the same rights as anyone else. Make sure you’re getting the proper training to complete your job safely. You need to also make sure you’ve got the proper safety equipment, too. Just because you’re not on the payroll all year, that doesn’t mean that you’re any less important.
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In a recent 5-to-4 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in favor of an airline mechanic who had been badly injured in a car accident.

Our Boca Raton injury lawyers understand the primary question was how compensation was to be divided and whether the amount he reimbursed his own insurance company after receiving third-party compensation was to be less attorneys fees.

In the end, the court ruled in favor of the mechanic, finding that attorneys’ fees should be considered when reimbursement is being figured.

The justices vacated the earlier ruling in the case, U.S. Airways, Inc. v. McCutchen. Additionally, certain technical questions were remanded back to the lower appellate court.

At the end of the day, this case is about ensuring that injured workers are not penalized for seeking experienced legal representation on issues of third-party compensation.

Here’s the crux of what happened:

Employee benefit plans usually cover a participant’s medical bills in the event of an injury, even if that injury did not occur at work and wasn’t work-related. However, in a lot of those plans, the health insurance company requires that if an individual obtains compensation from a third party for that injury, he or she has to reimburse the plan “in full.” This is called appropriate equitable relief under Section 502(a)(3) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). Basically, insurers want to make certain that injured parties aren’t being compensated twice for the same injury.

But the way these plans are written, they don’t allow for the plaintiff’s attorney fees in those third-party cases.

Here, the injured party, James McCutchen, was seriously injured in a car accident. His employee benefit plan offered about $67,000 to cover his medical expenses. Like many others, this plan required the employee to pay back those expenses out of any amount he recovered from the third party.

McCutchen filed a personal injury lawsuit and recovered $100,000 in that case. The benefit plan demanded reimbursement for the full amount – that $67,000 – without taking into account the legal fees that McCutchen had accrued. That reduced his recovery amount to less than the amount demanded – meaning he would actually be losing money in the case – about $900.

Justice Elena Kagan, in writing the opinion for the majority, said that first of all, third-party compensation usually does not come free, meaning that attorneys are needed in order to obtain those benefits. Further, the health plan agreement was silent on attorneys’ fees, meaning that either McCutchen was required to pay back every dollar he received from that third party or only the true amount of the recover, after all costs are deducted.

Because the language was ambiguous, she said, ordinary fairness would require the second interpretation. Otherwise, the injured party is actually made worse off by pursuing third-party compensation.

When an accident victim is represented by an experienced personal injury law firm, these complications are taken into account from the early stages of a case. In many cases, your medical debts can be negotiated. In some cases, insurance company reimbursement may be required. Failure to properly address these issues can further harm accident victims seeking to make a recovery.
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Officials with the Broward County Sheriff’s Office are searching for answers as to why a four-story scissor lift plummeted onto a concrete dock in Port Everglades, killing two county public works employees and causing a third to suffer critical injuries.

Our Broward injury lawyers understand the workers had been making some minor repairs to the passenger gangway when the equipment collapsed.

While the Occupational Safety & Health Administration might normally be tapped to look into a tragic work accident such as this, the agency does not have jurisdiction in this matter because, per federal law, it doesn’t have jurisdiction over accidents involving public employees.

This incident speaks to a greater trend, and that is the serious problem of injuries and fatalities to longshore workers and maritime employees. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports these are among the most dangerous jobs in the country, with about 350 suffering critical injuries every year.

Longshore workers are responsible for loading and unloading cargo, repairing ships and building bridges. Harbor and dock workers most frequently suffer injuries relating to equipment and machine accidents, slips and falls and drownings.

Roughly a fifth of all shipyard deaths are the result of equipment failures. Other problems include slippery work environments, lack of protective gear for safety and a failure of employers to implement proper safety protocols.

In 2011, OSHA released a list of new standards regarding shipyard safety. those include things like minimum lighting levels, presence of trained first aid workers, motor vehicle safety and storage and handling of hazardous materials. Those rules became enforceable Aug. 2011.

Many of those who work in shipyards are covered under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, which provides compensation benefits to some 500,000 workers who suffer a disabling injury or employment-related disease that occurs in the waters off the U.S. or on adjoining ports.

Scissor lifts are most often used on construction sites, but they are also used in ship maintenance and repair. OSHA reports that the equipment can be dangerous if it’s used during bad weather or if it’s overloaded or the guard rails are removed or if the ground beneath it is unstable. The conditions on the day of the fatal Port Everglades accident were reportedly sunny and dry with low winds.

All workers on scissor lifts should be equipped with safety harnesses. The equipment shouldn’t be used at all if winds are above 28 miles per hour.

Scissor lifts have a wide variety of uses – from sporting events to musical concerts. This is the second fatal accident in Florida involving a scissor lift in the last year. Last summer, a construction worker at a West Palm Beach mall was killed after falling 20 feet to the concrete floor while removing asbestos.

According to OSHA, work-related falls are “100 percent preventable,” with proper training, safety equipment, supervision and safety protocol.
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In a recent construction accident in Pompano Beach, a backhoe sliced a natural gas line. Traffic was detoured for hours because of it, according to the Sun Sentinel.

The construction accident happened just after 4:00 p.m. and right before rush hour on N. Federal Highway. A four-block section of the area was closed off until the gas leak was contained. It reopened around 8:00 p.m. when repair crews from TECO and firefighters were able to cap the gas leak.

Our Fort Lauderdale construction accident attorneys understand that construction workers face some serious risks for accidents. There are more on-the-job accidents experienced in the construction industry than any other industry out there. Some of the most serious risks for these kinds of accidents come from fire and explosion. These can lead to some of the most devastating and catastrophic injuries, and oftentimes result in permanent disability and even death.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were close to 1,000 construction workers killed on the job in the U.S. in 2011. Many of these accidents, injuries and fatalities could be prevented with just a little more planning. It’s important not to rush just to meet a schedule or deadline demand. You need to step back, evaluate the work site and make sure that all of the proper and necessary safety precautions are being taken to protect you and your fellow coworkers.

In 2011, explosions and fires killed more than 140 workers in the U.S. These kinds of accidents account for close to 5 percent of all workplace fatalities for the year. It’s important for supervisors and workers to understand the causes of these kinds of accidents and work together to help to prevent them in the future.

Four Types of Injuries Associated with Explosions:

-Primary blast injuries. These kinds of injuries affect the lungs, ears and gastrointestinal tract.

-Secondary injuries. These are usually a result of workers being hit by flying objects projected from the blast. This can even happen when an explosion is strong enough to lift someone off the group and toss them into an object.

-Tertiary blast injuries. These are oftentimes caused by high-energy explosions. These injuries include crush injuries, burns and inhalation of toxic substances.

-Quaternary explosion injuries are all of the other injuries that occur as the result of an explosion.

These accidents and injuries can be prevented. It’s important that companies and workers understand the risks on their job site. It’s important to make sure that all chemicals are stored properly and that all underground wires and lines are mapped out before digging. All workers should be provided with the proper protective equipment and training. Remember that it’s your employer’s responsibility to make sure you’ve got all the tools you need to be safe on the job. Being aware and knowledgeable about these risks is the first, and most effective, step in protecting everyone on your job site.
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