A workplace injury changes everything. You may not be able to participate in your favorite activities or even take a long walk anymore. Your injuries may be so painful and disabling that they prevent you from earning a living. As medical bills begin filling your mailbox, you wonder why filing a claim is more complicated than it should be. If the personal injury claim process leaves you feeling frustrated and even a little bit angry, a West Virginia workplace accident attorney provides the legal help and support you need.
A West Virginia Workplace Accident Attorney Who Works As Hard As You Do
West Virginia workers are tough, and they do some of the hardest jobs in America. They mine coal and work in construction. Some drill for oil and others transport raw materials all over the country. Because they work so hard, they sustain some of the harshest injuries. If an accident stops you from doing the hard work that pays your bills, West Virginia work injury attorneys fight to recover all of the damages you deserve.
Common Types of Workplace Accidents in West Virginia
When you work in a challenging environment, each day you deal with the potential for injuries. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) investigates serious and fatal workplace accidents. They also respond to workplace complaints where a potential hazard exists. When employers leave a hazardous condition uncorrected, they sometimes contribute to serious injuries. In 2020, the most frequently-cited OSHA violations were:
- Fall protection (construction)
- Hazard communication
- Respiratory protection
- Scaffolding (construction)
- Ladders (construction)
- Control of hazardous energy
- Powered industrial trucks
- Fall protection training
- Eye and face protection
- Machinery and machine guarding
Most accidents that occur in a work environment are preventable. Failure to uphold proper safety standards increases the likelihood of suffering a workplace injury. Some of the most common work accidents in West Virginia include:
- Vehicle accidents
- Heavy machinery accidents
- Contact with hazardous materials and chemicals
- Animal attacks
Common Types of Workplace Accident Injuries
The Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks workplace injuries and fatalities. Their most recent reports include these West Virginia workplace injury statistics:
- Total (estimated) workplace illnesses and injuries in 2020: 15,600
- Total workplace fatalities in 2020: 47
– Transportation: 17
– Exposure to harmful substances or environment: 7
– Contact with objects and equipment: 10
– Violence by a person or animal: 8
– Other incident: 5
Workplace incidents occur in all types of work environments and under a variety of circumstances. They often cause these common workplace injuries:
- Oil and gas accident injuries
- Truck accident injuries
- Chemical and harmful substance exposure
- Lung damage and inhalation injuries due to asbestos, silica, and other substances
- Neck and back injuries
- Defective product injuries
- Hearing loss
- Fall-related injuries
- Overexertion injuries
- Repetitive motion injuries
- Car accident injuries
- Injuries due to violence (from humans and animals)
What Should You Do if You’re Injured on the Job?
Your employer is responsible for your medical bills, wage losses, and other expenses, but it’s up to you to initiate your claim. You must report it to your employer. Usually, your company human resources representative or claim administrator submits an employer’s report to the appropriate carrier.
- When you sustain an injury, report it to your employer as quickly as possible.
- Seek medical treatment immediately.
- Find out who will be handling your claim and contact them.
- Ask any questions you have about their claim process and find out what you need to do.
- Speak with an experienced employee injury lawyer who can advise you of best practices and ensure that your rights are protected.
- If you’re disabled, find out when the insurer will begin sending disability payments.
- Submit any requested paperwork as soon as possible.
- Respond to the insurance company’s phone calls and written correspondence.
What Type of Compensation Is Available to Injured Workers?
The insurance company handling your claim pays benefits based on West Virginia’s Workers’ Compensation Code. Benefits include:
- Medical care: physicians, surgeons, hospitalizations, physical and occupational therapists, etc.
- Dental expenses
- Mileage benefits for medical travel
- Rehabilitation expenses
- Wage benefits
- Temporary and total disability benefits
- Wrongful death benefits for dependents
- Funeral and burial expenses
Who Is Ineligible for Workers’ Compensation in West Virginia?
Workers’ compensation benefits are provided to those who work for employers who are legally obligated to pay taxes into the Workers’ Compensation Fund. West Virginia Code §23-2-1 explains which employees are covered by worker’s compensation and which employers are exempt from contributing. Exempt employers may opt to contribute to this fund in order to provide their employees with these benefits. Some of the employers that are exempt under this code include:
- Employers of domestic workers
- Volunteer police and rescue services
- Agricultural employers with fewer than six full-time employees
- Professional sports teams
What Can You Do to Bolster Your Claim?
Once you begin dealing with the insurance company, your employer expects you to recover and go back to work. If you can’t fulfill your job duties, you should ensure that you have enough information available to support your case.
- Find out the names of any coworkers who witnessed your accident.
- Keep all of your medical appointments and fill your prescriptions. If you’re not maintaining your treatment schedule, the insurance company will assume that you’ve recovered.
- Make sure your doctor understands and treats all of your accident-related medical issues.
- Cooperate with the insurance company and comply with their requests.
- Consult with a work accident lawyer to learn more about your legal rights.
When you’re seriously injured, you shouldn’t have to worry about claim-handling issues. If you’re dealing with a tough workers’ compensation claims adjuster, you need a West Virginia workplace accident attorney looking out for your legal rights.
You May Have Other Claim Resources Available
West Virginia workers perform a wide variety of high-risk occupations. If you sustained an injury in certain occupations, you may have access to additional benefits. If you worked with asbestos, silica, coal dust, and other harmful substances, years often pass between your exposure and your injury manifestation. These programs provide assistance when you prove your injury.
Black Lung Programs
If you earn your living as a coal miner, coal dust sometimes causes pneumoconiosis, also known as black lung. The West Virginia Legislature established the Occupational Pneumoconiosis Board to provide benefits for coal workers with this condition. The Division of Coal Mine Workers’ Compensation also handles benefits payable under the Black Lung Benefits Act. Pneumoconiosis also occurs after exposure to aluminum, barium, graphite, mica, talc, and other substances, but only rarely.
Asbestos Fund Claims
If you were exposed to asbestos in your workplace, it takes years for mesothelioma, asbestosis, and other lung conditions to manifest. Workers with asbestos began filing claims over 50 years ago. U.S. federal courts eventually resolved the coverage and bankruptcy issues and established a settlement fund.
Due to problems with fraud, inappropriate claims, and other issues, the West Virginia Legislature passed the Asbestos and Silica Claim Priority Act. While you can still make a claim, you must prove that you have a legitimate, serious injury.
Energy Industry Claims
The Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act authorizes medical and other benefits for Department of Energy (DOE) employees. It also accepts claims from some DOE vendors, contractors, subcontractors, uranium miners, and others who worked at covered facilities. Some workers have developed radiogenic cancer, chronic beryllium disease, chronic silicosis, and other diseases.
The most recent statistics show that 830 West Virginia workers and/or their survivors submitted 1,560 claims. These claim statistics reflect a high denial rate. An industrial accident lawyer can assist you with the process and increase your chance of success.
How Can a Virginia Workplace Accident Attorney Help You?
Whether you have a catastrophic injury or a long-term disease, a workplace injury attorney can provide valuable legal services. Work accident attorneys understand your rights and they know your benefit entitlements.
- Attorneys review and present your claim information and supporting documentation to help you avoid potential claim pitfalls.
- They intervene with workers’ compensation insurers and resolve claim issues on your behalf.
- If an insurer denies your claim, attorneys handle your appeal process.
- They work hard to recover the compensation you deserve.
A dedicated lawyer understands how stressful it can be to file a claim and speak to insurance adjusters when you are recovering from an illness or injury. Let us show you how we can help you by scheduling a free case review.