If you have been injured in a recent workplace accident in Morgantown, you probably have questions about who is responsible and how you can recover financial compensation. At Robinette Legal Group, we have years of experience representing injured workers in Morgantown and throughout West Virginia. We understand exactly how to handle these cases and meet clients’ needs.
Find out how we can help you with a work injury claim today. We offer free consultations and operate on a contingency fee basis, meaning you will only pay our fees if we win.
Why You Need to Hire a Work Accident Attorney
Going up against your employer, an insurance company or another powerful defendant is difficult if you are unrepresented. Insurance companies often try to use tactics to devalue claims and avoid full payouts, such as wrongfully denying valid claims. An attorney can help you combat these tactics and fight for maximum financial compensation for your present and future losses. In addition, with a lawyer by your side, you can focus fully on healing from your injuries rather than dealing with the stress of the legal process.
What Are the Most Common Work Accidents in Morgantown?
A work accident can refer to any incident that gave you an injury or illness while performing the duties and tasks related to your occupation. Work accidents can take place on work property, such as in an office or on the factory floor, as well as outside of the office. The most common incidents and injuries in your workplace will depend on your industry and the type of work.
In general, however, the following work accidents send the most employees to hospitals in Morgantown each year:
- Industrial equipment accidents
- Defective Equipment
- Chemical spills
- Construction accidents
- Pipeline construction accidents
- Electrical hazards and electrocutions
- Exposure to toxic or hazardous substances
- Mining accidents
- Oil and gas rig accidents
- Pipeline explosions
- Slip, trip, and fall accidents
- Ladder or scaffold fall accidents
- Power Plant accidents
- Lineman and power line accidents
- Pipefitter Injuries
- Road construction accidents
Work-related accidents can cause serious injuries such as muscle strain, bone fractures, lacerations, traumatic brain injuries, back and spinal cord injuries, disk herniation, internal injuries, serious illnesses like silicosis, loss of sight or vision, and permanent disability. Wrongful death from a workplace accident is one of the most tragic outcomes for a family.
What Are Your Options for Compensation?
In 1911, a few states passed worker’s compensation laws. Before this time, if you were injured or killed on the job, that was just too bad for you and your family. It was nearly impossible to get any money from the employer to help with medical bills, lost wages, and future treatment. The only option that a family had was to show in court that the employer knowingly placed that employee in a dangerous situation or condition. In the legal world, we call that “deliberate intent.” The worker’s compensation system reform in West Virginia has recreated the situation where a worker’s only recourse for adequate compensation for himself/herself and their family is to again prove in court that they were deliberately and knowingly exposed to a dangerous condition.
Companies print volumes of safety manuals while at the same time laying off workers and making cuts to the workforce while increasing the demand for production. This situation often forces workers to technically break a rule when they are just trying to keep up with the demands of the pace of work. Fewer people are pushed to work harder and faster in order to keep their jobs. After management has invested a lot in machinery, the way to recoup that investment is by producing as quickly as possible and selling as much as possible, causing life-changing accidental injuries and deaths in that workplace.
The word accident implies that the event was not predictable or preventable, but this is rarely true in the workplace. If people are working in a dangerous environment like a mine, and the workers are pressured to produce more with less training, injury and death is the likely result. When workers are paid to move faster and work harder than is safe, you cannot blame human error for the resulting tragedies.
Human error and mistakes will always factor into catastrophic events, but excellent design can eliminate the dangerous conditions that buffer the effects of human error and put human life above efficiency and profit.
People do things that are not optimal because they are trapped in situations where they do not know or have the tools they need to do differently and are blamed for circumstances beyond their control.
Poor design, incorrect installation, faulty maintenance, lack of organization, safety violations, and bad management in complex settings are the preconditions of catastrophic work accidents.
When employers blame the workers for their injuries, they neglect to take responsibility for the unsafe working conditions and change the workplace environment to anticipate mistakes that will lead to catastrophic injury to fragile human bodies. This tension between continually increasing production and profits vs. workplace safety is ever-present in the industrial workplace.
Recovering financial compensation for a work accident can allow your family to pay off medical bills, make up for lost wages, and move forward. It is important to fully understand all of your legal options for financial compensation before saying yes to a deal or settlement. Once you accept a settlement, you generally cannot reopen your case or renegotiate for a better value.
The three main options for financial recovery after a work accident in Morgantown, West Virginia are:
- Workers’ compensation claim. The workers’ compensation system gives employees in Morgantown, WV an outlet for recovery that does not require proof of fault. You do not have to establish your employer’s negligence to receive benefits through workers’ compensation.
- Liability suit against your employer. If you believe your employer is to blame for your accident or injury, a liability lawsuit against the company could result in greater compensation than workers’ comp. With this option, however, it is up to you or your lawyer to prove that your employer is liable.
- Third-party lawsuit. If someone other than your employer carelessly or recklessly caused your work accident, you may be able to recover through both workers’ compensation and a third-party liability lawsuit.
The recovery option that is right for you depends on the circumstances of your accident. You can review all of your options in more detail with an experienced workplace accident attorney in Morgantown for more information.
What Damages Are Recoverable?
The legal term for financial compensation is damages. When determining the value of your case, you must analyze the costs you have already accumulated, as well as your foreseeable expenditures. You must also take into account the available damages based on the recovery option chosen.
A Morgantown, West Virginia workers’ compensation claim can pay the following benefits:
- Full medical coverage
- Two-thirds of lost wages, up to the state’s cap
- Temporary or permanent disability benefits
- Death benefits
A personal injury lawsuit, on the other hand, can reimburse you for:
- Full medical coverage
- 100 percent of your lost wages
- Lost future capacity to earn
- Disability benefits
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental trauma or emotional distress
- Lost quality of life
- Death benefits
- Punitive damages
A personal injury lawsuit has the potential to compensate you better than a workers’ compensation claim. This is why it is important to discuss all of your legal options with an attorney before accepting a settlement. The value of your work accident claim will depend on many different factors, including the severity of your injuries, your prognosis for recovery, and your income level.
What Is the Statute of Limitations?
A statute of limitations is an important law you need to know if you plan on filing a work injury lawsuit in West Virginia. This law imposes a strict deadline on your ability to file an injury claim. In West Virginia, all claimants have no more than two years from their accidents to file personal injury lawsuits.
If you plan on filing a workers’ compensation claim, you must notify your employer of the accident within 30 days. Then, you have six months from the date of your accident to submit a workers’ comp claim. This deadline extends to three years from the date of your injury or illness diagnosis, if this is after the date of the accident, or three years from the last exposure to a hazard that caused an illness.
With only a few exceptions, if you miss your statute of limitations in West Virginia, the courts will refuse to hear your case and you will give up your right to recover. Contact a work accident lawyer in Morgantown as soon as possible to meet your time limit.
Work Accident Deaths in West Virginia and United States Statistics
Were You Injured in a Work Accident? We Can Help
If you are struggling with an injury or illness that you suffered at work, the right lawyer can help. Our attorneys at Robinette Legal Group have decades of experience. Call Today: 304.594.1800.