|Robert Alan Saasto, Esq.||41
Woodbury, NY 11797
Tel: 631.223.1780 | Fax: 631.223.1701
The workplace can be a very dangerous place. According to statistics from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, there were almost 5 million non-fatal workplace illnesses and injuries in 2002, and more than 5,000 fatal work injuries. Although these numbers appear to be decreasing, almost everyone is likely to suffer some type of work-related injury/illness during their working career.
Accidents in the workplace give rise to a wide
spectrum of injuries - from conditions as apparently minor as aching backs to
traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries. The principal causes of work related
injuries include fires and explosions; exposures to toxic chemicals and other
environmental hazards; work-related transportation accidents; slips and falls;
electrocutions; machinery-related accidents; traumas from contact with heavy
objects; and even on-the-job assaults by co-workers and third parties.
Workplace injuries are not limited to factories and construction sites. Even office employees are subject to a wide variety of serious work-related injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive stress injuries, sick building syndrome, asbestosis, mold and lead poisoning, slips and falls, and even occupational stress.
If you suffer a work-related injury or illness, you may be entitled to money damages, even in cases involving what may appear to be only minor injuries. You can recover any medical expenses you have had to cover as a result of the injury, such as doctor and hospital bills, medications, therapy, home health care and all other related medical expenses, as well as any future medical expenses you reasonably expect to incur. You can also recover for the physical pain and suffering you have sustained, your out of pocket expenses, your mental and emotional anguish, your lost wages, benefits and other compensation, any loss of your future earning capacity, and the future diminishment of your enjoyment of life. Additionally, in some cases, if your spouse has been injured as a result of a workplace injury or illness, you may be entitled to collect damages for the loss of pleasure or companionship you have experienced as a result of his or her injuries. And in certain extreme cases, where the wrongdoer's conduct is extreme and outrageous, you may be entitled to collect punitive damages to punish the wrongdoer and to prevent the misconduct from being repeated in the future.
Workplace-injury cases are incredibly complex, and provide many traps for the unwary. The principal problem in most workplace injury cases is that if an employee is injured while in the course of his or her employment, the employee generally may not sue the employer in court, and is limited to his or her state's workers' compensation remedies. As these remedies are typically much less favorable than those available to an injured employee in a personal injury lawsuit, employers fight hard to keep their injured employees in the workers' compensation system and out of court.
There are, however, ways to avoid the workers' compensation trap. In cases where the employer knew or should have known that the workplace was unsafe and likely to cause injury, an injured employee may be able to sue the employer directly for allowing such unsafe conditions to occur in the workplace. Additionally, if an employee is injured by a piece of defective machinery or equipment in the workplace, he or she may be able to sue all of the parties involved in the design, engineering, manufacturer, distribution, sale, and installation of the defective machinery.