Pipefitters perform the critical role of setting up and maintaining pipe systems in different industries. Pipefitters work at construction and industrial worksites installing and maintaining pipes that are used in heating, cooling and processing systems. The services of pipefitters are needed in any type of construction project, be it commercial or residential buildings. In addition, pipefitters are also an integral part of projects involving utility companies, gas and oil plants, chemical companies as well as heating and cooling projects.
However, the environment in which pipefitters work leaves them vulnerable to accidents that could result in life-changing injuries and disabilities. If you are a pipefitter who has been injured on the job, you may have a number of different avenues to seek compensation for your damages and losses. The experienced West Virginia work accident lawyers at the Robinette Legal Group can help protect your legal rights and secure maximum compensation for your losses.
Common Causes of Pipefitter Accidents and Injuries
Pipefitters are exposed to hazards that stem from their own jobs. In addition, they also face risks as they operate in a work site with other laborers and equipment. Here are some of the most common hazards pipefitters face on the job:
Falls: Like many workers in construction and industrial worksites, pipefitters have to work from heights as they install piping systems. As a result, they could fall from ladders, scaffolds and other surfaces. There is a heightened risk of falling when workers are not provided with fall protection devices such as harnesses, safety nets, guardrails etc.
Falling objects: Pipefitters are often required to work with heavy machinery, power tools and other types of objects and equipment. Therefore, they are at risk of being struck by objects or debris at the work site. These types of incidents could result in serious and traumatic injuries.
Equipment-related hazards: Pipefitters also often skilled at welding because the job usually involves installing, assembling and repairing mechanical piping systems. A pipefitter who is also a welder will be able to fabricate, construct and produce metal structures and equipment as well. As a result of working with such complex machines and tools, pipefitters are often exposed to related injuries that could result in lacerations, burns and other serious trauma.
Toxic exposure: Some pipefitters, depending on the type of job, must work with chemicals and hazardous materials that could cause fires or explosions. Inhaling these toxic gases or being exposed to dangerous chemicals could also result in serious injuries.
Struck-by accidents: Because pipefitters work around cranes and forklifts, there is an increased risk of being hit by these vehicles or getting struck by loads that are dropped by these vehicles. Pipefitters could also be hit by trucks or other types of vehicles that get in and out of worksites.
Trench accidents: Pipefitters may also be required to install piping systems underground, which might require them to step into trenches or excavation sites. When trenches are not constructed properly or when they don’t have adequate support, there is a danger of a trench collapse. Workers could become buried inside and suffer catastrophic or fatal injuries.
Injuries Suffered in Pipefitter Accidents
Pipefitters are susceptible to a number of different types of injuries that could keep them away from work for weeks or even months. In cases where a worker has suffered a catastrophic injury, the pipefitter may never be able to return to work or make a livelihood. Some of the common injuries suffered in pipefitter accidents include:
- Head injuries or traumatic brain injuries
- Neck or back injuries (injuries to the spinal cord and/or vertebrae)
- Electrocution or electrical shock injuries
- Broken bones or multiple fractures
- Amputations (loss of limbs)
- Loss of hearing or vision
- Internal organ damage
Can Injured Pipefitters File a Lawsuit?
If you are a pipefitter who suffered injuries on the job, you may be able to seek workers’ compensation benefits from your employer. In West Virginia, workers’ compensation insurance helps pay medical expenses relating to your workplace injury and a portion of your missed wages. You may also be able to receive disability payments if you are not able to return to work.
However, workers’ comp benefits are often extremely inadequate when it comes to compensating workers who have suffered major injuries that have cost them their health and livelihood. In many of these cases, in addition to workers’ comp, injured workers may also be able to file a separate personal injury lawsuit or third party claim against a party other than their employer.
Examples of third parties may include construction companies, general contractors, sub-contractors, property owners or managers or manufacturers of defective products. For example, if a pipefitter was injured by defective welding equipment, then he or she might be able to file a product defect lawsuit against the manufacturer of the faulty equipment in addition to seeking workers’ comp benefits.
What is Your Injury Claim Worth?
The value or worth of your work injury claim will depend on the nature and severity of your injuries and the degree of negligence on the part of the defendant. For example, if you suffered a major injury that kept you from work and may prevent you from working in the future, you may be eligible for a larger settlement than someone who might not have suffered such severe injuries.
Your work injury settlement might also be higher if you suffered a catastrophic injury such as a spinal injury or brain injury that might require long-term rehabilitation, treatment and care. The worth of your claim could depend on the following:
- Medical expenses incurred as a result of the injury
- Income lost because of being unable to work
- Loss of earning capacity
- Pain and suffering, which refers to the physical pain and mental suffering endured by the worker
Contacting an Experienced West Virginia Work Injury Lawyer
The experienced and knowledgeable West Virginia pipefitter accident lawyers at the Robinette Legal Group understand the challenges workers and their families face in the aftermath of a traumatic workplace accident. We will fight for your rights every step of the way and help ensure that you receive fair and full compensation for your losses. Call us at (304) 594-1800 to schedule a free consultation and comprehensive case evaluation.