What Causes Struck-By Object Accidents in the Workplace?
Workplace injuries occur throughout New Jersey every year, and they can be devastating when victims are struck by objects in the workplace. Someone who is injured may suffer from severe injuries, or they might allow pain to linger because they do not realize the severity of their situation. Employees must understand how to avoid these accidents, how to recognize their injuries, and how to report these incidents.
Although a workplace injury can bring the worker’s day to a halt, they must make certain that they do not incur further injuries because they did not take the injury seriously. Moreover, people who work in dangerous environments must have an idea of where they might face these accidents. Serious accidents are easier to avoid with self-awareness. Workers should reach out to a South Jersey workers’ compensation lawyer after an accident in the workplace. Even if the accident seems minor, it is important that workers seek legal counsel and understand their rights.
How Do Struck-By Object Accidents Occur?
Struck-by object accidents occur in industrial, commercial, and even residential locations across New Jersey. Construction workers are often in danger of being struck by objects because their worksites rise several floors above them. Construction sites are most often open when they are incomplete because the crews will close the walls as the last step of building the structure. Therefore, construction workers could be struck by falling tools, parts, and/or materials.
Struck-by object accidents can occur in residential areas when workers are remodeling homes. Roofing workers could easily be struck by items that fall from the roof. Contractors often open windows so that they can throw debris into a dumpster below. Contractors working inside homes could be struck by a lighting fixture that does not attach to the ceiling properly, or they might be injured when ceiling or roof damage causes a collapse.
Commercial and industrial facilities are often quite large, and items could fall from the ceiling at any time. If factories have large work areas, debris might fly in the air and land elsewhere. Factories with massive machines might create so much force or pressure parts could strike someone below. In pharmaceutical facilities, workers could be struck by powder and chemicals that fall from storage drums.
Wholesale and retail stores often mimic the factory look by housing items on large storage racks. Workers who are climbing ladders or stairs to reach these items could be struck by an item that falls on them as they shift other products. Moreover, stacks of these items could tip over when the worker does not realize that the boxes or products are shifting.
Who is Responsible for Struck-By Object Accidents?
Struck-by object accidents are not assigned blame when workers file a claim for workers’ compensation. The no-fault system does not require businesses to accept fault irrespective of the circumstances of the accident. Workers receiving workers’ compensation disability payments may file suit against third parties who are responsible for these accidents, and independent contractors may seek compensation from anyone who had a hand in the accident.
When filing suit for damages, the entity that caused the accident can be held liable. These accidents might involve liability issues because lawyers must look carefully at the accident to understand how it occurred. For example, vehicle manufacturers that design or sell defective vehicles can be held accountable for the accidents they cause, and businesses that do not properly store or stack items can be sued because they left those items in an unsafe place or condition.
Are Traumatic Brain Injuries Common After Struck-By Object Accidents?
Injuries caused by accidents on a worksite can range in severity, depending on how the accident occurred. At times, the victim does not realize that they suffered injuries, or they believe that they cannot report the injury because of the nature of the situation. When someone is struck-by an object, the injured worker could incur severe head injuries due to the force of the object and the distance it fell.
Most employees who suffer these injuries might work in areas where they are required to wear hardhats, but that does not mean hardhats can prevent every object from causing an injury. The sheer force of something hitting a hardhat can cause severe injuries. A traumatic brain injury caused by one of these accidents can lead to a range of symptoms, including the following:
- Speech issues
- Equilibrium issues
- Blurry vision
- Ringing in the ears
- A bad taste in the mouth
- Extreme sensitivity to sound and/or light
Although these symptoms may stun someone who experienced an accident on a worksite, they might assume that these issues are isolated and will not continue. However, that is not the case. The following are early symptoms of a traumatic brain injury:
- Momentary loss of consciousness
- A dazed feeling
- Memory issues
- A lack of focus
- Severe mood changes
As these injuries worsen, the victim could experience the following:
- Prolonged loss of consciousness
- Severe vomiting
- Convulsions and/or seizures
- Pupil dilation
- Fluid drainage from the ears and nose
- Inability to wake up
- Numbness or tingling in the extremities
- A lack of coordination
Cognitive problems include these issues:
- Severe confusion
- An agitated state
Although a traumatic brain injury is not the only injury that workers can experience, everyone must understand how they could be hurt. Noticing these symptoms early helps injured employees seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Are There Other Injuries Employees Might Suffer at Work?
The most common injuries caused when someone is struck-by an object can be severe or even hidden. Common work injuries require immediate medical attention, and someone who is incapacitated or severely hurt should be taken to the hospital as quickly as possible. Someone else on the scene should call 911 and assist EMTs when they arrive. Common workplace injuries suffered after victims are struck by an object include the following:
- Cuts or lacerations
- Broken bones
In the case of a cut, scrape, laceration, or bruise, victims may believe that they can bandage the wound and move on. Unfortunately, victims might develop infections or be unable to work because these injuries make them deeply uncomfortable. The best thing that victims can do is stop work, report their accident, and visit an approved doctor. If the laceration or burn is severe, victims or their colleagues should call 911.
Broken bones are often obvious because the victim is extremely uncomfortable, the area bruises, and the victim cannot use that joint or limb. A compound fracture can penetrate the skin, and the victim will require immediate medical attention. However, at times, broken bones may be hidden; these injuries can cause punctured lungs and make it difficult to walk, bend over, or even sleep. If the victim suffers a head injury, the force of the object might cause damage to the shoulder, the shoulder joint, or the collarbone.
Severe injuries may also include internal bleeding or organ damage. The victim should seek medical attention as these injuries can be fatal. If a co-worker appears to be faint or acting strangely, 911 should be called.
What Does Workers’ Compensation Entail?
Workers’ compensation coverage is a no-fault system that compensates workers for their injuries on the job. The insurance coverage begins the moment the victim requires medical attention, and wage loss benefits begin seven days after the victim first misses work. Because victims who are eligible for workers’ compensation must report the accident and simply accept coverage, they should speak to a lawyer when they are not receiving coverage, or the insurance company denies the claim.
Temporary partial disability. When temporary partial disability coverage is paid out as normal, the victim receives 70 percent of their average weekly salary until they are cleared to return to work by the attending doctor. Additionally, the victim will continue to receive medical coverage until they reach maximum recovery.
Temporary total disability. At times, the victim may suffer from total disability, but they may recover enough to work in their old job or train for a new job. In the case of temporary total disability, the victim might remain disabled after they reached their maximum recovery. Temporary benefits last for up to 450 weeks, and the victim may need to submit to a medical examination so that the employer or insurance company can determine if the victim can return to work.
At this time, the attending doctor will speak with the victim and review all their medical records. The doctor will assign a level of disability to the victim. Anyone who is more than 50 percent disabled will continue to receive permanent disability payments.
Permanent partial disability. If the victim needs to train for a new job, the state of New Jersey offers job training through the Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Permanent partial disability payments pay the difference between what the victim was making in their old job and what they can make now.
Partial disability payments may also take the form of a nonscheduled loss. The state of New Jersey has a chart that explains how much victims should receive for specific disabilities, from the loss of a finger to hearing loss. When these losses are paid, the insurance carrier uses the percentage of disability assigned by the doctor to make a single payment to the victim.
Permanent total disability. If the victim is totally disabled, they will receive permanent total disability coverage. The victim continues to receive 70 percent of their average weekly wages. If the victim dies, their family is entitled to death benefits.
Death benefits. This includes a $3,500 payment for burial expenses, and the spouse or children receive 70 percent of the victim’s weekly wages. Children receive these benefits until they turn 18 years old, or 23 if they are full-time students. A workers’ compensation lawyer should be consulted if it is unclear how much each member of the family should receive.
Am I Eligible for Workers’ Compensation After a Workplace Accident?
Workers are eligible for workers’ compensation when they have a full employer-employee relationship with the business. If employees are unsure of their status, they should speak to their supervisor or human resources department. A business must fund this insurance out of its own pocket. Workers who qualify for workers’ compensation must report their injuries as soon as they occur and seek medical attention from an approved doctor. Most of the time, a business will post the names and contact information for these providers throughout the office or in a central location.
If there is a sudden change in the employee’s status or if the insurance company is making it difficult to receive compensation, claiming that the victim was not performing their job duties, or was violating the law, the victim should speak to a lawyer who can argue on the victim’s behalf.
What Compensation is Available in a Lawsuit?
Lawsuits regarding workers’ compensation may arise when the insurance company is acting in bad faith. The insurance company assumes all liability for the accident from the business, and the carrier can be sued when it is not paying benefits properly. Victims should allow a lawyer time to negotiate with the insurance carrier because they may reach an agreement on a settlement.
A Section 20 settlement allows the insurance company and the lawyer to settle issues over the circumstances of the accident. The victim receives a lump-sum payment, the case cannot be reopened, and the victim cannot make any more claims for workers’ compensation regarding this injury. If the victim is injured in the same manner in the future, the business receives a credit for the money it already paid. A Section 22 settlement is slightly different. Victims who accept a Section 22 settlement can petition for additional medical care in the future, reopen the case for up to two years, and accept a lump-sum payment.
If a third-party business or entity is responsible for the accident, they can be sued under personal injury. Accident victims should review types of third-party claims with a lawyer to ensure that the proper lawsuits are filed after an accident.
Why Do I Need a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer?
A workers’ compensation lawyer can determine who caused the accident and the compensation the victim can recover. At times, a lawyer must complete a comprehensive investigation so that they can gather as much evidence as possible. Working with a lawyer gives the victim a skilled negotiator who will attempt to settle the case and receive the compensation the victim deserves. Although a settlement is a simple way to close the case, there are times when the victim may need to go to trial, and a lawyer will argue the case at trial and even appeal when needed.
South Jersey Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Pietras Saracino Smith & Meeks, LLP Help Workplace Accident Victims Recover Compensation
If you were struck by an object at work, reach out to the South Jersey workers’ compensation lawyers at Pietras Saracino Smith & Meeks, LLP. We will take the time to thoroughly document all the ways in which your injury or loss has affected your life. Call us today at 856-761-3773 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, we proudly represent workers throughout South Jersey, including Camden, Cinnaminson, Delran, Maple Shade, and Pennsauken.