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Common Workplace Injuries in New York and Your Rights

Should You Hire a Workers' Compensation Lawyer After a Work Injury

If you’ve had an accident at work, you’re one of millions of Americans in the same boat. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported more than 2.8 million nonfatal injuries in 2022, and nearly 5,500 workers lost their lives across all sectors. Most of us don’t expect to be included in those statistics, but when we are, strong legal representation can help.

Below, learn about some common workplace injuries in New York from a workers’ comp lawyer in Queens.

The Most Common Workplace Injuries

Slips, ladder accidents, repetitive stress injuries, and car accidents are just a few common causes of workplace injuries. Let’s look at these injuries and what causes them in more detail.

Slips, Trips, and Falls

Slips, trips, and falls are incredibly common across industries, making them a leading cause of workers’ comp claims. This type of accident can happen due to:

  • Poor lighting
  • Inadequate footwear
  • Slippery sidewalks and floors
  • Loose carpeting
  • Uneven walking surfaces

Ladder accidents also fall into this category. In 2020, the BLS reported 161 fatal ladder accidents and 22,710 nonfatal accidents where a ladder was the primary source of injury. Common causes of ladder accidents include:

  • Using damaged ladders
  • Standing on the top rung of a ladder
  • Carrying heavy equipment up ladders
  • Losing one’s balance
  • Failing to stabilize a ladder properly
  • Using a ladder not rated for one’s weight

Accidents Involving Motor Vehicles

Transportation incidents are the leading cause of workplace fatalities in New York (there were 61 fatal vehicle-related incidents in 2022). If your employer requires you to drive a vehicle to make deliveries or pick up goods, you’re at risk of a work-related car accident.

To claim workers’ compensation for a car accident, you must be able to prove the accident happened in the course of your work. Car accidents that happen while you are driving to or from work typically don’t qualify for benefits.

Struck-By Incidents

This common type of injury happens when equipment, machinery, or a vehicle collides with a worker. Such accidents can lead to head injuries, broken bones, organ damage, and death.

Employees should undergo comprehensive safety training and wear adequate personal protective equipment to avoid such injuries.

Caught-Between Incidents

Employees working at construction sites, farms, and factories are particularly at risk for caught-between accidents. Workers can become wedged between heavy equipment or have their hands caught in a piece of machinery. Many of these accidents are severely disabling and sometimes deadly.

Repetitive Stress Injuries

Repetitive stress injuries may not be fatal, but they can be incredibly painful, requiring employees to take many days off work to recover. They’re also among the most common workplace injuries. In 2021, 9% of U.S. adults reported experiencing a repetitive stress injury in the past three months, and of those, 44% had to limit their normal activities for at least 24 hours.

Repetitive stress injuries occur from performing the same action, such as lifting, bending, or typing, over and over again without proper breaks. They are common in construction and agriculture, but office workers are equally at risk.

Thankfully, these injuries are fairly easy to prevent. Workers who must perform repetitive motions should be allowed to take breaks to stretch as needed. They should also request assistance when required to lift any object over 50 pounds.

Explosions and Fires

Fires and explosions may not be as common as some other incidents on this list, but the outcome can be devastating when they happen. Flames and smoke can kill workers in minutes, and explosions can send objects hurtling toward employees at fatal speeds. Even if workers are not directly caught in the blast, they can suffer injuries from inhaling toxic fumes.

Electrocutions

Those who work in the utility, repair, and construction industries are at a higher risk of electrocution injuries. Loose wires, ungrounded electrical connections, and defective equipment are common causes of workplace electrocutions.

Many electrocution accidents are fatal. Although electricity fatalities have decreased drastically since the 1980s, deaths have hovered at an average of 150 per year over the past decade. 

Exposure to Toxic Chemicals

Exposure to toxic substances can cause burns, blindness, skin irritation, and poisoning. Toxic fumes can also do long-term damage over months or years. There have been cases of workers developing cancer and other maladies due to decades of exposure to toxic substances.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends the following tips to prevent accidents when working with toxic substances:

  • Substitute with safer alternatives when possible
  • Enclose or isolate processes
  • Use fume hoods and proper ventilation
  • Use wet methods to reduce the generation of dust particles
  • Wear proper protective gear, including clothing, shoes, gloves, eye protection, and masks

Workplace Violence

Workplace violence is more common than you might expect. In 2020, there were nearly 400 fatalities related to workplace violence, as well as more than 37,000 nonfatal injuries resulting from intentional injury by another person.

Workplace violence can come at the hands of an outsider, such as a robber, or another employee. Examples include:

  • A robber strikes or shoots an employee while demanding money from the cash register
  • An employee becomes angry at their boss and attacks them
  • An argument between coworkers turns physical
  • An irate customer attacks an employee

Workers’ Compensation May Cover the Cost of Your Injuries

If you’ve been hurt on the job, your primary recourse will be workers’ compensation benefits. Workers’ comp covers all medical bills related to the incident, including ambulance transportation, emergency care, medication, and physical therapy.

Benefits also pay a percentage of your lost wages if you take more than seven days off work to recover. The rate at which workers’ comp pays benefits depends on your level of disability. Starting in 2024, the minimum benefit will be $275 per week. The current maximum benefit is $1,145.23 per week. 

Additionally, workers’ comp pays benefits to surviving family members of an employee who perished due to a workplace injury. These benefits include a portion of the deceased’s weekly wage, as well as funeral and burial costs.

How a New York Workers’ Comp Lawyer Can Help

Do you need an attorney to file a workers’ comp claim? While it’s possible to file a claim yourself, denials are not uncommon. This may happen if your employer says you sustained an injury outside of work or a medical examiner disagrees with your reported disability level.

Our attorneys are highly experienced at reversing workers’ comp carrier denials. They can:

  • Fully document your accident and related injuries
  • Handle every detail of your claim so you can relax and focus on recovery
  • Manage all paperwork for your case so you don’t miss a thing
  • Represent you at all hearings before the Workers’ Compensation Board

An attorney can also determine whether it’s possible to file a lawsuit against a third party. You can’t sue your employer if they offer workers’ comp, but if a third party contributed to or caused your workplace accident, you may be able to file a separate claim against them. An attorney can advise you on how suing a third party may affect your workers’ compensation case.

Injured at Work? We’ll Fight for Your Rights

Do you need a witness for a workplace accident? Not necessarily, but if the cause of your injuries is unclear, a witness can be very helpful. Our attorneys can speak to potential witnesses to uncover the truth behind your workplace accident.

Now that you’ve learned about these common workplace injuries, we welcome you to reach out to us at Pyrros, Serres & Rupwani. Call (718) 626-7730 for a free case evaluation now.

About The Author

Michael Serres, ESQ.

Michael Serres, ESQ.

Michael Serres, ESQ. is a reputed Workers’ Compensation Lawyer in Astoria, Queens, NY. He graduated from St. John’s University School of Law in 1989. Mr. Serres was admitted to practice law in New York State in 1990 and is admitted in the Federal District Courts for the Southern and the Eastern Districts of New York. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Workers’ Compensation Bar Association and is currently serving on the Board of Directors of the Queens County Bar Association.

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