Unionized workers sustain the majority of work-related injuries because they often work in the most hazardous of work environments.
These labor unions include:
Union Iron Workers
Commercial Workers Union
Electrical Workers Union
Industrial Workers of the World
Plumbers & Fitters Union
United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners
Appliance Repairman Arlington Texas
Occupational Hazards magazine annually honors the nation’s safest companies. Winning companies are those that have “developed a culture where safety and health are important values that help shape how work is planned and carried out, “ the editor has said. “As a result, these companies have benefited in both human terms and financially through reduced accident costs and improved productivity.” Unions help to achieve these results for the workers they serve to protect. However, workplace accidents and injuries are still an unfortunate fact of life for many employees.
Lung disease. Work site toxins. Radioactive dust. Asbestos. Defective products. Just how safe is your work area? Do you know about the hazards at your worksite? Are you certain that all proper precautions are being taken?
Recent numbers from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health show:
5,524 occupational fatalities occurred in 2002
5.2 million non-fatal injuries and illnesses occurred in 2001 in the private sector alone
The estimated direct costs for occupational injuries and illnesses reached $40.1 billion in 1999, with over $200 billion of indirect costs.
The Workers’ Compensation system was designed to ensure that employers provide insurance to financially assist employees who become injured or disabled on the job. Employers who fail to insure are liable for both criminal and civil offenses.
For a limited number of weeks, this “no fault” insurance provides a portion of a worker’s pay based on their weekly wages and state averages. Dependants of employees killed in work-related accidents are also eligible for benefits. In exchange for employer provided Workers’ Compensation “protection”, you sacrifice your right to file suit against co-workers and employers for negligence. However, you can file a civil suit against a third party if your injury is the fault of someone other than yourself, a coworker or your immediate employer. You may be able to recoup not only medical expenses and wages, you may also receive civil damages that include pain and suffering, past/present/future lost income, medical bills and other damages.
Employee supplemental benefits are determined by several factors including your average weekly wage (AWW), state average weekly wage, and your degree of disability. The following are general guidelines under which you are eligible to receive Workers’ Compensation:
Temporary total disability – 60% of average weekly wage (AWW) prior to injury for up to 156 weeks.
Partial disability – 60% of the difference between the AWW prior to injury and the weekly wage earning capacity after injury. Maximum benefit period is 260 weeks, but may be extended to 520 weeks.
Permanent and total incapacity – payments equal 2/3 of AWW after temporary and partial payments have been exhausted.
Death benefits for dependents – widows or widowers who remain unmarried shall receive 2/3 of the worker’s AWW, but not more than the state’s AWW. Six dollars per week will be provided for each child under 18. Burial expenses are also available.
Subsequent injury – a previously injured employee who has received compensation and has returned to work for two months or more and is subsequently reinjured is eligible to receive compensation.
If you have been injured at work, require medical care and have been unable to earn your full wages for five or more days, you are entitled to Workers’ Compensation payments.
Unfortunately, it is not always easy to obtain benefits. There are several circumstances where it is particularly important that you contact an attorney for assistance.
An employer has denied that you were injured while on the job,
You have been refused medical treatment,
You have received a Notice of Denial from the insurance company,
Compensation was promised but has not materialized,
You are without income,
An employer or insurance company has requested your deposition,
Your employer does not carry compensation insurance,
A third party has caused your accident.
Only experienced counsel can advise you of the appropriate course of action to increase the probability of winning your claim. Your attorney can also provide information on the ways that claims can be settled including arbitration, mediation, and collective bargaining. Again, a competent attorney will develop a strategy to ensure the best results in your claim. It is important to remember that if you retain an attorney because you have been denied benefits or face a change in benefits, that law states that the majority of attorneys’ fees will be paid by the Workers’ Compensation Insurer.