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slip and fall in the workplaceSlips and falls in workplaces are common accidents that can cause serious injuries, including head injuries, back injuries, and broken bones. According to the National Safety Council, 244,000 workers in a single year had to take time off work due to work-related falls.

If you have suffered a fall at work, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Workers’ compensation insurance, which most employers in North Carolina are required to have, provides paid medical treatment and partial replacement of lost wages for injured full-time and part-time employees. If your employer is disputing your workers’ compensation slip-and-fall claim, a workers’ compensation lawyer can help you determine the appropriate steps to take to pursue the benefits available by law.

At Younce, Vtipil, Baznik & Banks, P.A. our legal team works closely with our clients to provide dedicated legal representation and guidance. Attorney Joseph Baznik comes from a Latin background and can communicate one-on-one with Spanish-speaking clients. Ross Weatherspoon also speaks Spanish fluently. Our legal team will be beside you every step of the way throughout the claims process. Contact us today for a free legal consultation, and let us help you seek the benefits you need to recover from a work-related fall injury.

What To Do After a Slip, Trip, or Fall at Work?

Whether you trip over a piece of machinery, slip on a wet floor, or fall from a ladder, you should take certain steps to protect your health and your rights:

  • Get medical help as soon as possible – If you sustain an injury in a slip and fall accident at work, you should seek medical treatment.
  • Report your injury to your employer – Inform your employer of the accident’s date, time, and location. You should report the workplace accident to your employer as soon as possible.
  • Obtain evidence – Take photographs of your injuries and the area where the accident occurred. Get the contact information of any witnesses.
  • Seek legal advice – Workers’ compensation is the primary insurance for workplace injuries. If your employer disputes your right to workers’ compensation benefits, consult an attorney with experience handling workers’ compensation cases. An attorney also can evaluate whether you may have a right to pursue a third-party claim if someone other than your employer created unsafe conditions that contributed to your accident. The experienced workplace injury attorneys at Younce, Vitipil, Baznik & Banks are ready to help with your claim.

How Our Workers Compensation Attorneys Can Help

Although you’re not required to have an attorney for a workplace injury case, it is in your best interest to have an attorney’s guidance if you need to appeal a benefits decision, if the employer is trying to push you back to work too soon, or negotiate a settlement. The attorneys with Younce, Vtipil, Baznik & Banks, P.A. can investigate the circumstances of your workplace accident and help you seek all the benefits you are owed.

In addition to workers’ compensation benefits, we can review the circumstances of your injury to determine if you might have the basis for pursuing a personal injury claim against someone other than your employer. This could allow you to recover additional compensation beyond that provided by workers’ comp insurance.

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Benefits You’re Entitled to After an Injury at Work

North Carolina requires nearly all employers with at least three employees to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Workers’ comp claims don’t require you to prove negligence or other liability. Instead, you are eligible for workers’ comp benefits if the accident happened while you were at work or performing work-related tasks. If you meet these conditions, you may be entitled to the following benefits:

  • Coverage for all necessary medical care related to the injury
  • Payment of two-thirds of your lost wages while you cannot work
  • Compensation for permanent impairment resulting from the accident
  • Compensation for scarring
  • Compensation for travel expenses
  • Compensation for the cost of medicine
  • Vocational rehabilitation

Statistics on Slips, Trips, and Falls in the Workplace

Consider the following statistics on slips, trips, and falls in the workplace provided by the National Floor Safety Institute:

  • Falls are the leading cause of workers’ compensation claims nationally, accounting for about 85 percent of all claims.
  • These claims cost about $70 billion annually.
  • While slip and fall accidents are not the primary cause of workplace deaths, they are the top reason for missed days at work.
  • Every year, about 600 people die because of work-related falls.

North Carolina Laws Regarding Third Parties Causing Injuries in the Workplace

If you are eligible for workers’ compensation, then you typically are prohibited from filing a lawsuit against your own employer. But multiple businesses may be active at the same business location or construction site. For example, another company or a vendor may have improperly erected scaffolding that contributes to a serious slip-and-fall accident.

If someone other than your employer or co-worker caused your accident, you may have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit and hold them financially accountable.

Statute of Limitations – Under North Carolina statute, you have three years from the date of your injury to file a personal injury lawsuit. However, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible after the accident to provide the best opportunity for the attorney to locate witnesses and preserve evidence.

The workers’ comp statute of limitations in North Carolina is a more complicated question, but suffice it to say that the absolute limit to report the claim using the appropriate form is two years.

Contributory Negligence in Slip and Fall Cases – In North Carolina, the at-fault third party may argue that you share some blame for the accident. Under this rule which applies to personal injury lawsuits, you may be ineligible for compensation if you are found to be partly at fault for the accident.

What Causes Fall Injuries at the Workplace?

Though some jobs have a higher risk for falls than others, anyone can suffer a serious injury on the job. Falls may occur because of the following:

  • Wet or oily surfaces – Any kind of leak or spill can create a slippery surface. There could be a water leak from a burst pipe, an oil spill from a heating system, or a spilled drink in the break room. Spills can happen anywhere in the workplace. Weather such as rain or snow also can cause slippery surfaces, especially around entranceways and on sidewalks.
  • Trip hazards – Loose mats or carpeting, steps at doorways, uneven flooring, cluttered walkways, and uncovered cables can cause trips.
  • Poor lighting – Employees are at risk of slip and falls in areas with inadequate lighting or where burned-out bulbs have not been replaced.
  • Faulty equipment –A damaged office chair, loose rug, or unsecured cable could also present a tripping hazard.
  • Defective handrails – Faulty, loose, or missing handrails and defective stairwells can cause employees to lose their balance and fall.

Common Injuries from Falls in the Workplace

Falls can cause severe injuries such as:

  • Broken bones – Falling on a hard surface can lead to broken bones in the legs, arms, hips, rib cage, and shoulders. All of these injuries can require long-term treatment and rehabilitation.
  • Neck injuries – Neck injuries are often caused by a slip or a fall. They can cause damage to tendons, muscles, or ligaments in the neck.
  • Spinal cord injuries – Spinal cord injuries such as herniated or slipped discs, fractured vertebrae, and pinched nerves can result from a fall. The symptoms can vary from chronic pain and reduced mobility to paralysis.
  • Concussions – This common traumatic brain injury may occur when the head hits the ground after a fall. A brief loss of consciousness may occur.
  • Cuts and lacerations – This type of injury can occur when falling onto dangerous or sharp objects such as broken glass, jagged metal, or machinery. Such injuries may cause damage to nerves and soft tissue beneath the skin.
  • Facial injuries – A blow to the front of the head can result in a fractured jaw or damage to the eyes, nose, or teeth.

When Employers Dispute Your Workers’ Comp Claim

Employers have to pay for workers’ compensation insurance. Their annual premiums may go up if they have significant claims reported. Consequently, an employer or insurance administrator may try to dispute a claim to avoid the expense. They may argue the employee:

  • Was not performing work-related tasks when the accident occurred
  • Suffered the injury after clocking out
  • Fell because of intoxication or engaging in horseplay
  • Intentionally caused the accident to get out of work
  • Was not really an employee but an independent contractor

If your employer disputes your workers’ compensation claim, contact a North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyer with Younce, Vtipil, Baznik & Banks, P.A. immediately. We can investigate the incident, collect evidence to strengthen your claim and pursue an appeal if your claim has been denied. If you were hurt at work, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Let us help you demand everything you deserve.

How to Prevent Falls in the Workplace

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides employers with guidance on preventing slips and falls in the workplace. Employers should identify all potential slip and fall hazards within their worksites. These might include wet floors, debris left on walkways, elevated surfaces that need to be adequately secured, or poor lighting.

After identifying potential slip and fall hazards, employers should take steps to mitigate them by placing signs around the worksite that indicate slippery surfaces and warning workers to use caution. Employers should also ensure that walkways are free of debris and regularly inspect all stairs, ladders, and elevated surfaces to ensure they are safe.

Employers should consider providing employees with appropriate training to increase awareness of preventing workplace slips-and-fall hazards.

Younce Vtipil Baznik & Banks personal injury law team

Get in Touch with Our Workers’ Compensation Attorneys

If you have suffered injuries from a fall at work, the attorneys at Younce, Vtipil, Baznik & Banks, P.A. are ready to help you pursue full workers’ compensation benefits. We have years of experience handling workers’ compensation claims as well as third-party lawsuits. The initial consultation is free. Let us help you pursue the benefits available to you under North Carolina law.

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