How Do I Prove that My Injury Is Work-Related?January 14, 2022
If you suffered an injury while on the job, you may be entitled to financial compensation by filing a Workers’ Compensation claim. Oftentimes, injuries can occur while workers are on the job at their work site. However, employees can also suffer work-related injuries if they are not physically at work but they are carrying out their job responsibilities. When it comes to pursuing financial compensation for your injury, Workers’ Compensation claims are different from personal injury claims associated with other types of accidents such as car accidents or slip and fall accidents. Unlike personal injury claims, where you must prove that your injury was caused by the negligence of another person, it is not necessary to prove that your employer’s negligence caused your injury. You must simply be able to prove that the injury met the arising out of employment and occurring during the course of employment (AOE/COE) requirement. A skilled Workers’ Compensation lawyer can assist you with the claims process and ensure that you receive the compensation for which you are entitled.
What Are Examples of Common Workplace Accidents?
There are a wide range of accidents that can occur in the workplace, depending on the environment in which you work. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), approximately 20 percent of all work-related fatalities occur in the construction industry from exposure to what is known as the Fatal Four accidents, which include falls, getting struck by an object, electrocution, and getting caught between objects. However, even the office environment poses certain risks for accidents that can cause a range of injuries. The following are examples of the most common workplace accidents in the United States:
- Car accidents: For many workers, driving is part of their job, whether it involves delivering equipment, driving a truck, or operating a tractor at a construction site. If part of your job responsibilities includes driving, you may be exposed to negligent drivers, inclement weather, and faulty equipment. If you are injured in a car accident while you are on the job, your injuries will likely be covered by Workers’ Compensation.
- Slip and falls: These accidents are caused by a range of factors, including wet slippery floors, debris or uneven walking surfaces, and poorly lit work areas. Most slip and fall accidents are preventable if employers take the necessary steps to identify potential hazards and ensure that the issues are addressed.
- Falls from heights: This is a leading cause of fatal injuries in the construction industry because of falls from ladders, scaffolding, and other raised platforms. OSHA requires fall protection for all workers who use certain types of equipment or who work at or above certain heights.
- Electrocution: Exposed wires, faulty electrical outlets, and exposure to power lines are just a few hazards that can cause serious electrocution accidents. These can be prevented if employers provide the necessary training and equipment and ensure that potential hazards are identified and eliminated.
- Overexertion: If part of your job involves pulling, lifting, pushing, holding, or carrying heavy objects, it can cause an overexertion injury. These injuries can be caused by a single event, or from months or years of strenuous activity. These accidents can be prevented with the proper training and personal protective equipment (PPE).
- Entanglement: If you work with heavy machinery, loose clothing, jewelry, hair, or shoelaces can get caught in the gears, rollers, and other parts of the machine. These accidents can cause devastating injuries, including amputations. In severe cases, the injuries can be fatal. Always use extreme caution when working with machinery and use the appropriate PPE.
- Repetitive motion: These types of accidents are caused by excessive repetition of certain types of tasks, including typing on a computer and working on an assembly line. Using the correct ergonomic equipment and taking regular breaks can prevent these types of accidents.
- Violence: Unfortunately, minor disputes between workers can escalate if the dispute is not resolved in a productive way. In extreme cases, the situation can become violent and result in serious injuries.
What Types of Injuries Do Workplace Accidents Cause?
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), the following are the top three work-related injuries that cause missed days of work:
- Exposure to harmful substances or environments: These include exposure to infectious diseases such as COVID-19, as well as exposure to electricity, radiation, extreme temperatures, oxygen deficiency, and traumatic or stressful events.
- Overexertion or bodily reaction: These include non-impact injuries caused by pushing, lifting, carrying, or throwing, and repetitive motion injuries that cause stress or stain on a part of the body.
- Slips, falls and trips: These include slips and falls on the same level; falls from ladders, scaffolding, roofs, or other elevated surfaces; and jumping to a lower level.
How Do I Know if My Injury Is Work Related?
In most cases, you will not be required to prove that your injury was work related to collect compensation, provided you are an employee, your employer carries Workers’ Compensation insurance, and you meet the deadline for filing a claim. However, certain types of injuries may make the Workers’ Compensation claims process more challenging, in which case, you may need to prove that the injury was indeed work related. The following are examples of situations that can make the claims process more complicated and require you to provide proof that the injury is work related:
- Lunch breaks: Injuries that occur when you are on your lunch break are not generally covered. For example, if you trip and injure your ankle on your way to a restaurant during your lunch hour, it is unlikely that Workers’ Compensation will cover the injury, unless your boss sent you to pick up lunch for the staff. However, if you were injured while having lunch in an employee cafeteria, the injury will likely be covered by Workers’ Compensation.
- Company events: Injuries that occur while attending company-sponsored events such as parties, picnics, or sporting events are generally considered work related, unless it is made clear that attendance at these events is not mandatory.
- Travel: According to the so-called coming-and-going rule, injuries that occur during a commute to and from work are not covered by Workers’ Compensation. There are exceptions to the rule, including accidents that occur when driving a company car, during business travel, while running errands for an employer, or if you are required to drive your own car for business use.
- Misconduct: Even if you broke safety protocols, your injury will likely be covered by Workers’ Compensation, since injuries are generally covered regardless of fault. However, there are exceptions to this rule. For example, if you were drunk or under the influence of drugs when you were injured, or you were trying to intentionally hurt yourself or another employee, Workers’ Compensation will not cover the resulting injuries.
- Illnesses, cumulative or stress-related conditions: Although Workers’ Compensation generally covers these conditions, it can be difficult to prove that they are work related, particularly in cases involving infectious diseases such as COVID-19.
What Evidence Do I Need to Prove that My Injury Is Work Related?
To have a successful Workers’ Compensation claim, even if it is clear that the injury is work related, it is in your best interest to collect as much evidence as possible. If you employer questions whether the injury was actually work related, or if the circumstances of the injury fall into one of the gray areas, collecting the following evidence will help prove your claim and secure the benefits to which you are entitled:
- Injury report: One of the first things you must do after you have been injured at work is to report the injury to your employer. He or she should provide you with the necessary forms to fill out, which will be valuable when documenting that the injury occurred while you were on the job.
- Medical reports: It is extremely important that you seek immediate medical attention for your injury. Your health care provider’s assessment of your injury, his or her recommended treatment protocol, and the cause of the injury will provide valuable proof that the injury is work related.
- Witness statements: If there were co-workers present when you were injured, ask if they would be willing to provide an official statement about the accident and confirm that the injury was work related.
- Security footage: If there are surveillance cameras that captured the accident, request a copy of the footage. This will provide extremely valuable evidence that the accident occurred while you were carrying out your regular work responsibilities, and that the injury was work related.
Baltimore Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Represent Victims of Work-Related Injuries
If you suffered a serious work-related injury or illness while on the job, you are urged to contact the Baltimore Workers’ Compensation lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton at your earliest convenience. Our dedicated legal team will assist you with the process of gathering evidence that will help prove that the injury is work related and ensure that you receive the maximum financial benefits for which you are entitled. We will continue to fight for you until you are completely satisfied. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 844-556-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.