The Aftermath of a Slip and Fall On the Job Accident
A slip and fall accident occurs when a property owner leaves a slippery surface, loose floorboard, or other exposed hazard that causes you to fall from your feet and collide with the ground. These accidents may seem minor when they happen, but they can result in catastrophic injuries. The damage of the collision with the hard floor can cause broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, neck and back injuries, and much more.
Slip and fall accidents happen in all types of workplaces, from office buildings with few apparent hazards to construction sites littered with dangerous equipment. Slick spots on the floor, debris, misplaced equipment, and uneven flooring can all cause trip and fall accidents. If you make sure to take the appropriate steps after your trip and fall accident, you can increase your legal protection and help prevent yourself from missing out on valuable compensation.
How Can a Slip and Fall Accident Happen at Work?
There are a number of hazards present at a workplace that can cause a slip and fall accident. These hazards can become an issue if there are no warnings from your employer that they are there. If you have no knowledge of a possible wet floor because there is no wet floor sign, you can unknowingly walk over it and slip. Your fall can cause a severe injury that could take you out of work for days, weeks, or months.
The following are some of the common workplace hazards that can cause a slip and fall accident:
- Wet or slippery surfaces without a wet floor sign
- Loose tiling or floorboards
- Uneven flooring, especially flooring that has grown warped with age
- Detritus cluttering the floor, especially in areas that should remain free of trip hazards
- Cracks in the floor or sidewalk
- Uneven staircases or staircases without proper railings
- Torn carpeting
- Fresh wax, especially with no sign identifying the hazard
- Poor lighting in the area, which may make it difficult to see around you
- Cables spread across the floor
- Parking lot potholes
- Missing steps or floorboards
Slip and Fall Work Accident Injuries
If you fell at work, you can suffer a debilitating injury that changes your life for the worst. Depending on the severity of the injury, you could suffer symptoms such as intense pain, numbness, ringing in the ears, lack of mobility, etc.
The following are some common slip and fall accident injuries that can occur at work:
- Broken bones
- Traumatic brain injury
- Spinal cord injury
- Back and neck injuries
- Soft tissue injury
- Herniated disc
- Internal injuries
- Cuts, scrapes, and abrasions
If you suffered a workplace trip and fall accident, you could be entitled to compensation. Before pursuing that compensation, it's vital to know a number of steps you need to take to put your future worker's compensation claim in the best position to succeed.
What Should You Do After a Trip and Fall?
Did you suffer a trip and fall accident at work? Your first thought might include getting back on your feet and returning to your job responsibilities. After all, you have work to do and do not want to get in trouble for perceived "slacking off" or failing to complete your job duties. However, taking the right steps can help increase the odds that you will receive compensation for the full cost of your injuries.
The following are the steps you should take after a work slip and fall accident:
Step One: Seek Medical Attention for Slip and Fall Injuries
Any time you suffer workplace injuries, even if you think they are minor, you need to seek medical attention. Many companies have policies that require injured employees to seek medical attention immediately. Some companies may have a nurse on-site or request you go to an offsite clinic to examine your injuries and provide medical attention. Others may allow you to seek medical attention from your preferred provider.
Any time you trip and fall, you should see a doctor for evaluation. Immediate evaluation of your injuries can protect both you and your company. You might require ambulance transport immediately to the emergency room if you suffered serious injuries. Minor injuries may result in a trip to urgent care at the end of your business day.
When you seek medical attention, keep track of any evidence of your injuries, which may include:
- Copies of any scans or x-rays
- Your medical records, including the bill for your visit to a clinic or emergency room
- Photos of your injuries
- Any statements made by physicians who examined your injuries
Step Two: Look for and Document Evidence of Slip and Fall Hazards
What caused you to trip and fall? Many hazards can contribute to slip and fall accidents, including both things that your employer should have taken care of or things that no one could have controlled. If you know the cause of your fall, document it.
Use your camera phone to snap a quick picture. Take an up-close shot of whatever caused you to trip and fall, then take a wider-angle shot of the area as a whole. Your picture of the wider area can help prove a lack of signs or other warnings about potential hazards in the area.
By documenting the scene of the accident, you can protect yourself against an employer that lies about the circumstances that led to your injury. For example, following a slip and fall involving a wet floor, they may try to say that a wet floor sign was present on the day of the accident. You can combat any attempts to limit or prevent your compensation with photographic evidence of the contrary.
It's important to prioritize your health ahead of getting photographic evidence. Although getting evidence can greatly help your case, you should not put evidence gathering ahead of your health. If you suffered a catastrophic injury and are in critical condition, you should seek medical attention immediately instead of taking pictures of the scene. In this case, try to convince a witness to the accident to take the pictures for you, so you can get swift medical attention and have photographic evidence of any hazards.
Step Three: Report the Accident
If you suffered a serious injury, seeking immediate medical attention should be your top priority. Your next step should be to report your accident to your superior as soon as possible. Ideally, you will report the accident as soon as possible to show your employer the severity of the injury.
According to Florida Statute 440.185, you have within 30 days after the manifestation of the injury to report the accident to your employer. Without a report in this time frame, your employer could reject a worker's compensation claim. Your employee handbook may include the proper procedure for reporting serious injuries. In some restaurants, for example, even minor burns may require medical attention and a report.
If you need to fill out an accident report or answer questions about your slip and fall, follow your workplace's procedure. Avoid implicating yourself in your trip and fall or accepting fault. Avoid making statements like "I'm fine" or "I'm not hurt," especially if you have not yet seen a medical professional.
Step Four: Hire a Slip and Fall Lawyer
Any time you suffer life-changing injuries in a slip and fall accident at work, you may need to retain a lawyer to help you decide how best to proceed. A lawyer can help you navigate the difficult world of workers' compensation and provide vital information about protecting your rights throughout your recovery. Not only that, working with a lawyer can help prevent you from making critical errors that may decrease the settlement or compensation that you receive.
What Is Worker's Compensation?
Worker's compensation insurance, which most companies must legally carry, provides compensation to employees who suffer injuries at work. Worker's compensation may also cover illnesses that occur as a result of something that happened at work. For example, it would cover an employee who inhales a dangerous substance that causes long-term sickness. In the case of a trip and fall accident, worker's compensation benefits will pay for a portion of the lost income injured employees would normally have earned if they worked during the period of their injury.
Typically, workers' compensation factors this payment according to a specific percentage of the employee's normal income—usually about two-thirds of the worker's income. Worker's compensation also pays for any medical bills the victim acquires as a result of an injury that occurred at work, as well as out-of-pocket expenses for necessary items like crutches.
Are You Eligible for Workers' Compensation Benefits?
Slips, trips, and falls are the leading cause of worker's compensation claims and lead to eight million emergency room visits every year. If you slipped and fell on the clock or while on work premises for work purposes—for example, if your fall occurred on your way into the building to start your shift or just after you clocked out—you may receive worker's compensation for your injuries.
If you tripped and fell at your workplace when you visited for personal reasons—shopping at the grocery store you work at after your shift—you will not receive worker's compensation since your injury did not occur while you were working. You are also only eligible for worker's compensation if you report the accident within the 30-day parameter set forth by Florida law.
How Will My Employer Determine If I Am Eligible for Workers' Compensation?
Most employers have clear procedures in place that help determine whether an employee receives worker's compensation benefits and for how long they will receive it. Typically, this procedure includes regular visits to a doctor selected by the employer or by the company that provides the employer's workers' compensation insurance.
The physician will evaluate the extent of your injuries, assign a percentage to your disability, and assess whether you can return to work. The physician may also issue a statement about when your injuries likely occurred. If you have injuries that could not have been caused by the type of accident alleged in your accident report, the company may deny your claim.
The company may also deny your claim for any injury you deliberately caused. A worker's compensation lawyer can help review your company's policy to help determine your eligibility.
Can You Receive Worker's Compensation Benefits If You Share Responsibility?
Note that in most cases, you may remain eligible for worker's compensation even if you chose to disregard signs or ignored warnings and policies that could have prevented your injury. Worker's compensation covers most injuries that occur at work for any reason, even if the worker bears personal fault for the accident. You are not required to prove that you did not cause your accident to receive worker's compensation insurance.
Consider this scenario: on a construction site, you chose to climb a ladder to the roof. You chose not to wear a harness or other safety gear meant to help secure you as you move across the roof. Unfortunately, you tripped, fell, and suffered injuries. You may still receive worker's compensation coverage even though your actions contributed to your injuries.
For How Long Will You Receive Workers' Compensation Benefits?
After a trip and fall accident, worker's compensation will pay a portion of your income while you remain unable to work. Most companies have a cutoff point for how long an individual can receive worker's compensation benefits. In general, after a trip and fall accident, your worker's compensation benefits will terminate once you return to work.
You may receive partial worker's compensation payments if you return to work in a limited capacity following your injuries. In some cases, returning to work may leave you ineligible for worker's compensation coverage. Carefully review your policy with a worker's compensation attorney before deciding how to handle returning to work.
Are There Problems That Could Prevent Me From Getting Worker's Compensation Coverage?
You suffered injuries in a slip and fall accident at work such as traumatic brain injury, broken bones, or even paralysis, depending on the severity of your fall. Your injuries occurred at work and during work hours. Could you miss out on worker's compensation anyway? Certain circumstances can actually prevent you from receiving coverage.
The following are some of the ways you could miss out on worker's compensation benefits:
- You failed to report the accident: When you first tripped and fell, you got back to your feet quickly and went on with your day as usual. Unfortunately, you noticed symptoms of traumatic brain injury days later, making it difficult to pinpoint the exact cause. While you can still receive worker's compensation coverage, you may have more trouble getting that coverage without an incident report. Any time you have an accident at work, even if you think that no injury occurred, make sure to report the incident as soon as possible. If your injuries require an immediate trip to the hospital, follow up to ensure that your supervisor filed an appropriate incident report.
- A private investigator collects evidence of you failing to follow the advice of your physician: In some cases, after a slip and fall accident, your company may hire a private investigator to evaluate your behaviors. If the investigator catches you doing things that you claim you physically cannot do—for example, cleaning out your garage and hauling heavy boxes when you claim you cannot handle heavy lifting—your benefits may stop. You may lose your worker's compensation benefits if you show evidence that your injuries caused less limitation than you claimed.
- You quit your job while still receiving benefits: If you quit your current job, you may lose eligibility for worker's compensation benefits. You may also lose benefits if you accept another job during your supposed convalescence, especially if you show intent to quit your job but appear to remain only to collect workers' compensation benefits.
- Your employer offers light duty, but you turn it down: Your employer wants to work with you to get you back to work in some capacity, often with reduced duty. You may, for example, work from home or stay on desk duty while your injuries heal. If you refuse the modifications that your company offers, you may lose your worker's compensation benefits.
- You perform unexpectedly on the functional capacity exam: The functional capacity exam shows what you can do in spite of your injuries. If the doctor in charge of your exam believes you self-limit your movements or that you showed capabilities that would allow you to return to work, you may lose your worker's compensation benefits.
You Need a Worker's Compensation Attorney After a Trip and Fall at Work
Trip and fall accidents often lead to long legal battles, as can worker's compensation claims. If you suffered injuries during a trip and fall at work, you might need a lawyer to work with you. They can assist in the legal processes necessary to prove you deserve worker's comp benefits while you recover from your slip and fall injuries.
The following are some of the ways a worker's compensation attorney can help you following your slip and fall accident:
- Fill out the complicated legal paperwork: You do not want to miss out on benefits because you filled out paperwork improperly. Letting a worker's compensation attorney do it for you can significantly reduce potential complications in your injury case.
- Represent you to your company: Often, your company will push hard to have you return to work, even before you feel ready. They may ignore your doctor's restrictions or try to push you to do things that you physically cannot do after your accident. Retaining a worker's compensation lawyer can help cut through the red tape and reduce the pressure.
- Make sure that your legal rights are protected: Did you know that you have the right to an independent medical evaluation performed by a doctor not paid by the workers' compensation fund? Do you know what funds you should receive after a serious accident at work? Your lawyer can help you better understand your rights to ensure you get the benefits you deserve and you are not exploited by an employer not sympathetic to your injuries. They can also help should you need to file a separate premises liability claim.
- Keep you updated about all the circumstances surrounding your case: An attorney can help explain the legal proceedings in a way that you understand, rather than leaving you confused and upset about what might happen next. They are an invaluable information resource, able to tell you what your rights are and what you are allowed to do following your injury.
Contact Dolman Law Group for Help With Your Slip and Fall Worker's Compensation Claim
Those that have suffered severe injuries as a result of a slip and fall accident that occurred while on the job may be eligible to receive worker's compensation that can cover the numerous damages they have suffered. Slip and fall injuries like traumatic brain injuries, back injuries, and neck injuries can inflict enough damage to cause expensive medical bills, lost wages, lost earning capacity, and pain and suffering.
Dolman Law Group provides legal advice to those that have experienced these kinds of injuries at work and specializes in maximizing the amount of compensation you can receive from a settlement. Our experienced worker's compensation attorneys can help you ensure that those responsible for providing coverage for your injuries are held accountable. Our worker's compensation lawyers have long records of successful cases that have attained fair compensation for many satisfied clients.
Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
100 SE 3rd Ave, 10th floor
Ft. Lauderdale, FL, 33394