According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), an injury can be considered work-related if an event or exposure in the work environment either caused or contributed to it or significantly aggravated a pre-existing injury or illness. So in a nutshell, work-related injuries are those caused or made worse by accidents or conditions in the workplace.
If you got injured at work, you’re most likely eligible for workers comp benefits. But first, you need to prove that it really is a work-related injury. Claiming that you were injured at work is easy but proving it is another story.
One of the most common struggles for injured employees is proving that their injury is indeed work-related. Employers and insurance companies are known to deny workers comp claims because they deem it’s not work-related. As the injured worker, it’s your job to prove otherwise.
But how do you prove that your injury is work-related? The surest way is to hire an experienced workers compensation lawyer like Victor Malca. He’s been helping injured workers in Florida for almost three decades now. He can help you get the benefits you rightfully deserve too. Call us now for a free consultation.
What Qualifies as a Work-Related Injury?
Not all injuries sustained at work will qualify as a work-related injury. As mentioned, OSHA defines work-related injuries as those caused by accidents or conditions in the workplace. Since this definition is a little vague, there’s usually a lot of grey area when it comes to identifying an injury or illness as work-related.
For example, an employee who sees another employee getting hurt while at work and faints at the sight of blood is considered work-related. But if the incident happened outside of the employee’s working hours, it won’t count as a work-related injury.
It’s also important to note that in terms of workers compensation, most states implement a no-fault policy. Meaning, an injury is work-related if it happened while you’re at work regardless of who is at fault.
In Florida, you can claim workers comp benefits if you were injured:
- while working within the scope of your regular employment,
- while doing work-related tasks (even if it’s not at the workplace)
For example, if you were hit by a car on the way to your workplace, you may not be entitled to workers compensation. But if you were running a work-related errand at the time of the accident, it will count as work-related.
Needless to say, injuries resulting from workplace fights won’t count as work-related. It’s also usually not covered by workers compensation. This is also true for injury and illness sustained while the employee is intoxicated or under the influence of illegal substances.
How Common Are Work-Related Injuries in the US?
Statistically, about 2% of workers in the US suffer from an occupational injury every single year. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that there were over 2.7 million work-related injuries in 2020 alone, more than 4,000 of which were fatal. While the previous year recorded over 2.8 million workplace injuries with more than 5,000 cases being fatal.
The construction injury reported the most number of fatal injuries. They accounted for over 22% (1,008 people) work-related deaths. This is followed by the transportation and warehousing industry with traffic accidents being the most common cause of fatal work accidents. The BLS also estimates that, in 2019 alone, one worker dies every 99 minutes due to a work-related accident.
For nonfatal work accidents, overexertion and bodily reaction remains one of the primary culprits. It accounts for about 31% of the total non-fatal work accidents in 2019 alone. This is followed by falls, slips, and trips which comprises 27.5% of all reported non-fatal workplace injuries.
About 32% of all non-fatal accidents resulted in days away from work. The most common causes of which are musculoskeletal disorders, falling on the same level, being struck by an object, and overexertion.
Heavy truck and trailer truck drivers, nursing assistants, freight, stock and material movers, and laborers are some of the most dangerous jobs in terms of occupational injuries. They tend to suffer more work-related accidents than any other type of occupations.
The Most Common Work-Related Injuries
Workplace injuries can be categorized into three basic types: physical injury, occupational illnesses, and repetitive stress injuries.
The most common type of work-related injury, physical injuries are usually the result of a workplace accident. The most common of which are:
- slips, trips, and falls
- being hit by falling objects
- crashes and collisions
- cuts and lacerations
- walking into objects
This refers to the medical conditions that were caused by or made worse by your job. Common examples are:
- lung diseases caused by inhaling toxic fumes or dust
- skin diseases due to chemical exposure
- deafness from exposure to loud noises
- contracting contagious diseases (usually applicable to healthcare workers)
Repetitive Stress Injuries
These are the types of injuries caused by doing the same thing over and over again such as:
- carpal tunnel syndrome
- repetitive strain injury
- muscle strains
- tennis elbow
Repetitive stress injuries are common in jobs that involve routine physical work like hairdressing, typing, or working in an assembly line.
Compensation for Work-Related Injuries
If you got injured at work, you have the right to claim compensation and some time off work to recover. Your workers compensation benefits will include:
- Medical benefits. This includes payment for all necessary medical treatments and expenses such as medications, medical supplies, surgery (if any), and rehabilitative therapy (if any).
- Lost wages compensation. If you miss days from work, you can be eligible for lost wages compensation. The amount will depend on the severity of your injury and how many days you’re away from work. In Florida, you’ll only receive wage loss compensation for the first seven days if your injury extends to over 21 days.
Depending on your condition, you are also entitled up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act. This means that your employer cannot fire you during those 12 weeks.
Upon returning to work, your employer will also have to accommodate any work restrictions you might have. Provided, however, that it does not cause them undue burden.
If your employer refuses to give you these benefits or deny your workers comp claims, you have the right to take them to court.
VICTOR MALCA – Florida Workers Compensation & Social Security Disability Attorney
Victor Malca P.A. has over 27 years of litigation experience in Workers Compensation and Social Security Disability lawsuits. His experience and continued success when fighting for his clients puts him among the most trusted workers’ compensation attorney’s in Florida. He specializes in representing injured workers on compensation benefit cases and disabled individuals claiming lost social security disability benefits.
Book a free consultation today. Our unwavering advocacy for employee rights and privileges are recognized by our past clients across South Florida.
About The Author
Judy Ponio is a writer and editor for the Victor Malca Law P.A. website and blog. She enjoys helping people in need with questions about social security disability and workers compensation law. She has a passion for helping those in need and the elderly with accurate legal information that can make a positive difference in their lives.