Experiencing a slip and fall at work can be a frightening ordeal. Not only can the injury itself be painful and debilitating, but it can sideline you from being able to support yourself and your family. A skilled Indianapolis workers’ compensation attorney can help you win the benefits you need and deserve. Find out why so many Indianapolis clients trust Attorney Randall Sevenish to handle their slip and fall workers’ compensation cases.
What Are Common Work-Related Slip and Fall Hazards?
Despite laws and regulations obligating employers to keep their job sites reasonably free of dangerous conditions, there are a number of ways employees can be hurt. These are some of the most common work-related slip and fall dangers:
- Wet or slick floors: Spilled substances such as water and grease can make floors slippery and unsafe. The employer is responsible for making sure these spills are cleaned up in a reasonable amount of time.
- Lack of adequate warning signs: If a hazard (such as a wet floor) cannot be remedied right away, the area should be closed off with a warning sign. Signs should also be used in other areas where slips, trips, and falls may occur.
- Uneven flooring: Cracked, broken, and otherwise uneven flooring can easily cause a fall. Settling foundations are typically to blame for this, and should be fixed as soon as possible.
- Potholes in the parking lot: When employees walk across a parking lot from their vehicles to work, they shouldn’t worry about getting injured. But potholes, which can develop and grow fairly quickly, may cause them injury.
- Poor lighting: Interior and exterior areas, like hallways and parking lots, should be well-lit so workers can see where they’re going. Failing to abide by this basic safety requirement increases the chances that an employee will become injured.
- Broken stairs, steps, and handrails: If your work typically involves climbing stairs and steps, you naturally assume these are safe and that handrails can guide you. But cracks, uneven spots, and defective or absent handrails can cause a fall.
- Exposed cables: Be especially mindful of trip hazards if your workplace commonly has exposed cables. Although this condition may be a necessary part of the job, measures should be taken to warn employees and minimize the risk.
How Can Employers Prevent a Slip and Fall?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to maintain a safe working environment for their employees. Because slips and falls are relatively common sources of worker injury, employers should be especially mindful of preventing them. These are a few ways they can do so:
- Understand how their workplaces can become unsafe (like the ways mentioned above), inspect the workplace regularly, and correct these conditions
- Pay close attention to poor lighting, cracked and uneven walking surfaces, and defective handrails, which can arise with little to no warning and injure employees
- Conduct daily housekeeping of the job site, including with the aid of employees or outside parties like cleaning businesses
- Promptly isolate any dangerous areas by using signage and restricted access (e.g. by roping an area off) and distribute slip and fall signs throughout the workplace that can be quickly set up in the event of a sudden danger
- Make sure employees wear proper footwear, especially shoes with good tread if the workplace is prone to slippery floors
- Establish, enforce, and train employees to observe workplace safety rules that prohibit unsafe behaviors
- Plan ahead and make sure job sites have the proper equipment to prevent falls, such as the right type of ladder, harnesses, and personal fall arrest systems (PFAS)
Can You Collect Workers’ Compensation for a Slip and Fall at Work?
Most employees who sustain slip and fall accidents can file a workers’ compensation claim to cover their medical bills and a portion of their lost wages. If a doctor instructs the injured employee to take time away from work to recover, the employer’s workers’ compensation insurer should pay at least two-thirds of the employee’s average weekly wages.
Because workers’ compensation is not a fault-based system, it is not necessary to prove employer negligence. An injured worker can recover even if his or her own negligence contributed to the accident.
There is an exception if the worker intentionally causes his or her own accident. In the state of Indiana, this may include a situation in which the employee showed “disregard for probable consequences.” However, just because an employer or insurer accuses the worker of intentionally causing their own injury doesn’t make it true, so check with an Indianapolis workers’ compensation attorney if your claim has been denied.
Is It Possible to File a Claim Against a Third Party?
Filing for slip and fall workers’ compensation should be your first step after suffering an injury, and it should be done as soon as possible so you can begin collecting benefits. But there are cases in which third parties can separately be held accountable for causing a workplace injury, such as:
- Defective equipment and products: for example, the manufacturer of a defective ladder can be held liable for causing a worker to slip, fall, and get hurt.
- Premises liability: if a worker is hurt while on someone else’s property (not the employer’s), he or she may be able to file a claim with the owner’s premises liability insurer.
- Automobile accidents: when driving is part of the job and a negligent third-party, like a drunk driver, causes injury, a claim can be pursued against that party and their insurance company.
- Cases not covered by workers’ compensation: an example is a construction subcontractor (hired by a contractor to work for another company) who is injured in a job site accident because the property owner failed to fix or warn about hazards on the property.
These are handled as third-party personal injury lawsuits, not workers’ compensation cases. Attorney Randall Sevenish can represent you in these matters as well.
Schedule Your Consultation to Protect Your Right to Workers’ Compensation
Have you experienced a slip and fall at work? Even if you believe you’ve suffered only minor injuries, or that you weren’t hurt at all, it’s important for you to explore your legal options. Your medical condition could worsen or become evident in a short matter of time and keep you from doing your job. Contact Indianapolis workers’ compensation firm Sevenish Law Firm to get started today.