Houston Work Injury Attorneys
Houston Work Accident Lawyers in Texas & Nationwide
Approximately 4 million workplace injuries and illnesses were reported in 2007, with 14 industries accounting for 1.8 million of those, according to the Department of Labor. Workplace injuries have been on the decline since the inception of the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses report in 2002. To reduce workplace injury, the Department of Labor oversees the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, Mine Safety and Health Administration, and the Employment Standards Administration's Wage and Hour Division. These agencies are tasked with reducing workplace injury by implementing rules and regulations meant to protect workers.
If you or a loved one was hurt in an accident at their job, first things first: we're sorry this happened to you. The road ahead might be long and difficult, and we know it’s hard to face the future right now. Unfortunately, the tragedy isn’t over. You’re part of a process, whether or not you know it. Your employer is likely already at work to prevent you from filing a lawsuit or figuring out a way to weaken your case. They may tell you it’s not personal, but if you’ve been with your company for a long time, it’ll certainly feel that way. Here’s what you need to do.
Even the Scales: Turn to an Experienced Texas Work Injury & Death Law Firm
If you have suffered an industrial accident, you need to take action now to protect your rights. In some cases, the first few hours can be the most critical. Companies immediately go into cover-up mode and use all of their resources to uncover any evidence that will help them avoid responsibility. For example, companies send investigators to the site of the accident right after it happens. Their mission is to take pictures, interview witnesses, and collect all evidence that may show the accident was not caused by any inappropriate or negligent action on the part of the victim's employer—even if that's not the whole story.
Getting your own Houston work accident attorney means you have your advocate on the scene. We work immediately to gather evidence for your case, interview managers and other workers, and take steps vital for your case.
Why You Can’t Wait Until You’ve Recovered
Without a qualified attorney, the victim could lose the ability to secure compensation by the time he or she has checked out of a hospital. Once the evidence is collected and shown in a light that benefits the company, it becomes difficult to protect the worker's rights. A victim's best chance of recovering money is to hire an attorney as soon as possible. If the victim is too ill to contact an attorney, a loved one should do it for them.
Why the rush?
Work Injury Attorney Jason Itkin explains:
"If the company is sending investigators to work right away, and their goal is to prove you got hurt through no fault of their own, you need someone at the scene of the accident at the same time, working to find the evidence of what really caused your injuries."
Our work accident attorneys at Arnold & Itkin have the resources necessary to investigate any accident properly. If you have had a workplace accident, don't wait until you are feeling better to speak to a lawyer—contact a Houston workplace accident lawyer online or at (888) 493-1629.
Compassionate Legal Representation from Texas Work Death Attorneys
Although the incidence of workplace wrongful death has been falling at a steady pace, it, unfortunately, remains one of the most dangerous places for the average adult. In addition to injury and illness, there is also the danger of workplace wrongful death in which a worker is killed due to the negligence by the employer or workplace owner.
Below are a few of the most startling statistics:
- In 2012, 4,628 workers were killed on the job in the United States.
- 50,000 died from occupational diseases, resulting in a loss of an average of 150 workers each day.
- Over the past 4 years, the job fatality rate has remained fairly steady, at 3.4 deaths per 100,000 workers.
- North Dakota had the highest fatality rate in the nation of 17.7 per 100,000 workers.
- Massachusetts had the lowest rate of workplace wrongful deaths, at 1.4 per 100,000 workers.
- Workplace violence is also a growing problem, seriously injuring 24,610 workers and killing 803 in 2012.
- The most violated OSHA standard in 2013 was related to fall protection in the construction industry.
Losing a family member is an overwhelming experience that comes with both emotional and financial loss, especially if it turns out that death is due to negligence and could have been avoided. We at Arnold & Itkin work hard to make sure our clients know their options and receive the maximum compensation possible while handling each case with care to ensure families experience as little hassle as possible.
Read more about workplace fatality statistics in the U.S.
Common Work Accidents in Texas
- Offshore accidents
- Oil drilling accidents
- Chemical plant explosions
- Construction accidents
- Hospital accidents
- Work vehicle accidents
- Ladder accidents
- Scaffolding accidents
- Workplace falls
- Accidents during evacuation
Falls in the Workplace
Falls are considered one of the most common causes of serious workplace accidents each year. That is why it is the employer's responsibility to prevent employees from falling off any platforms or elevated workstations that could cause serious accidents. Employees that work in manual labor jobs, construction jobs, or industrial workspaces are also at risk of falling into holes in the floors and walls where they are working.
One of the most common types of falls is from a ladder, including those used in construction, electrical work, and other occupations.
OSHA says many workers can avoid ladder accidents if they:
- Choose the right ladder for the job.
- Don't place ladders on uneven footing.
- Don't stand on guardrails.
- Don't climb scaffolding cross-braces.
- Don't use ladders on top of the scaffolding.
- Always face the ladder when climbing.
- Ensure that the ladder is secure.
- Don't overreach when on the ladder.
- Don't stand on the top step of the ladder.
- Maintain three points of contact.
- Ensure stable footing.
- Inspect ladders before use.
Another significant danger in construction, roofing, solar energy installation, and a variety of other occupations is the threat of a roof fall. Injuries in such a fall can be severe and life-threatening.
Roof falls can also be prevented if workers:
- Don't disconnect their lifelines.
- Never work around unprotected openings.
- Don't use defective equipment.
- Inspect all equipment before use.
- Cover all holes or openings.
- Ensure that their harnesses fit.
- Wear harnesses at all times.
- Use guardrails when necessary.
Preventing Falls in the Workplace
To prevent falls in the workplace, OSHA has created suggestions for employers to follow:
- Employers should make sure to guard every floor hole where a worker could walk with boards, floor covers, or rails.
- Employers should provide a guardrail and toe-board around open-sided platforms, floors or runways four feet or higher off the ground.
- Employers should provide guardrails in any locations where a worker could fall into a dangerous machine or piece of equipment.
- Employers should provide fall protection equipment like harnesses, safety nets, stair railings, or handrails when necessary.
- Employers should train workers about job hazards in their native language when possible.
- Employers should keep their floors clean and provide personal protective equipment when necessary at no additional cost for workers.
Accidents During Evacuation
In the event of an emergency, do you know where the exits are in your building? Is there space and paths for you to follow so that you could exit from your office space in a short amount of time? Unfortunately, too many workplaces break fire code or fail to provide employees with a specific drill about how to exit the building should a natural disaster, a fire, or another incident occur. Every single building is required to have an exit route. OSHA even has requirements for these exit routes to keep workers extra safe.
Exit Route Requirements
Exit routes are supposed to be a continuous and unobstructed path of exit travel that can be reached from any location within the office space. An exit route must have exit access, an exit that is separated from other areas to provide a protected way of travel, and exit discharge. The exit discharge is the part of the route that least directly outside to a street, walkway, refuge area, or open space with access to the outside.
OSHA and other government agencies have created requirements for exit routes that must be followed:
- All exit routes must be permanent parts of the workplace.
- Exits must lead directly outside to a street, a walkway, or another area with access to the outdoors.
- The discharge area must be large enough to accommodate the building occupants using the exit route.
- Multilevel buildings must have stairs that lead to an exit that is clearly marked so those using the stairwell will not miss it.
- All exit route doors must remain unlocked from the inside so workers can quickly get to them.
- All exit route doors must be free of any alarms or devices that would restrict the use of the door if overhead alarms fail.
- All side hinged doors in buildings must connect rooms to exit routes. These doors must swing outward in the direction of exit travel so they don't block people that are running out. This requirement only refers to rooms that hold over 50 people in them.
- All exit routes must support the maximum occupant load for each floor served.
- The exit route may not decrease in the direction of exit route travel in a way that would cause the route to becoming jammed.
- All exit route ceilings must be 7 feet, 6 inches high. An exit access must be 28 inches wide at all points. Outdoor exit routes must have guardrails if needed and cannot have a dead end longer than 20 feet.
Rules About the Exits of Buildings
- No highly flammable decorations or furniture near the exit
- Signs posted to direct employees to the emergency exit
- Items, locks, or barriers can not obstruct exits
- Exits cannot direct employees to a high hazard area
- Exits should have lighting
- Non-exit doors along the pathway should be marked
- Exits must exist even during construction
- Buildings should have emergency alarm systems
Most Common Types of Workplace Injuries
The workplace can extremely be a dangerous place, even when that workplace is just an office. Whether you work in a warehouse, an oil rig, or a cubicle, you could be susceptible to suffering serious injuries while on the job. According to OSHA, 4,679 workers were killed on the job in 2014, and thousands more suffered serious injuries. These are serious numbers that demonstrate how dangerous the workplace can be for any worker.
Countless injuries plague people while on the job, including the following:
- Loss of vision
- Acoustic trauma
- Brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Loss of limb
- Broken bones
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Back injuries
What Causes Injuries on the Job?
The most common cause of workplace accidents is the carelessness, inexperience, and negligence of employers and co-workers. The negligence that leads to work injuries can take many forms.
Work injuries in Houston and across the U.S. are often attributed to:
When equipment is poorly manufactured, maintained, and operated, it can cause serious and fatal injuries. Some of the most dangerous equipment includes industrial, transportation, hand-held, and electrical equipment.
Falling Objects & Flying Debris
Workers at construction sites, logging sites, factories, warehouses, and shipyards frequently are injured by falling objects and flying debris that can damage eyes, ears, and the head, leading to a disability that robs a worker of his or her ability to earn a living.
Slip and Falls
A slippery or cluttered floor, poor lighting, and lack of guardrails can cause these incidents, which may occur at hospitals, construction sites, factories, ships, warehouses, stores, and drilling rigs.
Companies should regularly perform maintenance on machines and equipment at regular intervals to prevent breakdowns or emergencies. When the equipment does malfunction, action must be taken to fix the problem and eliminate the risk of injury.
Failure to Comply with Safety Regulations
All too often, employers fail to meet federal regulations that govern workplace health and safety.
Without inspecting workers and equipment, an employer is unable to identify and correct known risks of injury, such as defective ladders and scaffolds. They also would not be aware of problems with equipment such as derricks, cranes, hoists, pulleys, forklifts, and winches. Inspections can also reveal whether workers are wearing proper protective gear and operating machinery safely.
Employers must train employees on how to perform their work safely. Employees need to be fully informed of potential job hazards.
A string of injuries may be the strongest indication that a business owner or supervisor is mismanaging a workplace.
America's Most Dangerous Jobs
Past data from the Department of Labor Statistics shows the most dangerous jobs in America. You may be surprised to learn that professions that are commonly thought of to be dangerous, such as police and firefighters, are not among the top 10 in terms of yearly fatalities. As a matter of fact, transportation-related jobs accounted for over 40% of the fatalities in 2012.
Below are the top 10 most dangerous jobs in America:
- Loggers – 128.0 deaths per 100,000 workers
- Fisherman – 117.0 deaths per 100,000 workers
- Pilots & Flight Engineers – 53.4 deaths per 100,000 workers
- Roofers – 40.5 deaths per 100,000 workers
- Structural Iron & Steel Workers – 37.0 deaths per 100,000 workers
- Trash & Recyclable Material Collectors – 27.1 deaths per 100,000 workers
- Electrical Power-Line Installers & Repairmen – 23.0 deaths per 100,000 workers
- Drivers (Including Traveling Sales People) – 22.1 deaths per 100,000 workers
- Farmers, Ranchers, Agricultural Managers – 21.3 deaths per 100,000 workers
- Construction Laborers – 9.5 deaths per 100,000 workers
Working to Reduce Workplace Injuries
Workplace injury has been significantly reduced with oversight by the Department of Labor agencies.
The agencies ensure employers implement measures that reduce workplace injury, such as:
- Preventive measures such as training workers in compliance with safety standards;
- Use of high quality, well maintained equipment and machinery;
- Training workers in the safe and proper use of equipment;
- Having procedures to correct any dangerous practices to help workers avoid injury; and
- Maintaining effective emergency response measures to reduce risks of injury to workers.
Failure to meet the standards laid out by OSHA is not only illegal, but it can lead to serious injury. Improper maintenance, inadequate inspection, insufficient training and supervision, and exposure to hazardous conditions are examples of lapses in health and safety that can affect employees.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
PPE describes a broad range of clothing and equipment that protects workers from various hazards. Not only is it designed to prevent the spread of disease, but it is also designed to protect against workplace hazards like chemical, physical, electrical, mechanical, and radioactive hazards.
Examples of Personal Protective Equipment:
- Face shields
- Safety glasses or goggles
- Hard hats
- Safety shoes
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires employers to assess their environment in regards to which hazards are present and pose a threat. They must also choose which protective equipment is necessary based on their assessment. Training employees is also key to maintaining proper health and safety standards. The workers must use the equipment properly and know the benefits and limitations of PPE.
Arnold & Itkin Can Help You Fight for Maximum Compensation
We at Arnold & Itkin understand the many facets of work accidents cases. Our investigations hold the largest companies in the U.S. accountable for employee safety again and again. You may be able to recover lost income, medical costs, and punitive damages for reckless misconduct.
We cover all these areas for our clients through cases involving:
- Workers’ Compensation Claims
- Personal Injury Lawsuits
- The Jones Act
- The Longshore & Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act
- The Death on High Seas Act
- General Maritime Law
What Constitutes Employer Negligence?
If you suffered a work accident, there is a chance your employer can be held liable for negligence. This mostly has to do with whether or not the accident could have been avoided with proper safety adherence. For example, one common cause of a construction accident is a fall. OSHA requires specialized harnesses and supervision of workers at great heights for fall prevention. If a worker does fall, it may be inferred that the worker was not given proper equipment or was not properly supervised. If such was the case, the worker’s employer might be liable.
Fact: If the employer was aware of any workplace violations that contributed to the accident, then the worker may be entitled to recovery beyond workers’ compensation limits.
Another cause of accidents is mechanical or equipment failure. When equipment is not properly maintained and repaired, it can decay and present a greater risk of failure. Equipment failures can cause serious accidents. Think back to the 2005 Texas City refinery explosion. Due to hundreds of safety violations and continued failure to remediate those issues, 15 workers lost their lives, and more than 170 others were hurt. The same was the case with the Williams Olefins explosion in Geismar: failure to adhere to regulations can result in disaster.
Texas Workers’ Compensation Laws
In Texas, workers must receive employment-based insurance options, although employers can choose to opt-out of workers' compensation insurance. The Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) and the Division of Workers' Compensation together regulate the workers' insurance systems.
According to these agencies, employers who opt-out of workers' compensation insurance must:
- File an annual notice with the TDI
- Display notices of non-coverage, so that all employees are properly informed
- Give a written statement of non-coverage each time that they hire a new employee.
Whatever type of employment insurance policy that you have been provided, it is important to understand your benefits. Employees may be able to recover compensation for initial medical costs, continued medical care, funeral expenses, and income benefits for workers who have lost wages. What is unfortunate is that many workers are under-compensated and unaware of it. Arnold & Itkin exists to inform workers of their rights. You may be entitled to financial compensation for long-term care and even non-economic damages such as pain and suffering. The Houston attorneys at our firm fight to help workers throughout Texas secure benefits that they and their families so badly need.
Who Is Liable for Work Accidents?
Determining liability in a workplace accident can be complex. There are usually multiple parties that could be responsible or share in responsibility for causing the accident. This makes hiring a work accident law firm that's willing to do the work required to uncover liability crucial.
While each accident is unique and subject to the facts of the particular incident, the following parties are generally investigated for liability.
OSHA guidelines mandate that employers provide workers with a reasonably safe workplace. Employers who do not meet those requirements can be held liable for any injuries that occur at the worksite.
Some of the obligations that employers have include:
- Training employees in safe work practices
- Providing employees with protective equipment
- Keeping the workplace free of hazardous materials and objects that could injure employees
- Posting warning signs near dangerous equipment or hazardous areas
For example, if a worker is injured after falling off of a piece of scaffolding and the worker was not provided proper fall protection or fall prevention equipment, the employer could be held liable for the injuries suffered by the employee.
During the investigation, it may be found that the accident was caused by defective equipment. For example, a piece of machinery that malfunctions and causes injury to the worker operating the machinery. In the case of defective equipment, the manufacturer of the product could be held liable for the injuries suffered by the employee. In some cases, the seller of the equipment could potentially be liable if there was a misrepresentation of the quality or intended use of the product.
Sometimes when workers are injured on the job, they are partially responsible for the accident that caused the injury. For example, a worker who was injured while misusing a tool or because he or she failed to follow established safety procedures could share in liability for the accident.
However, even the injured worker was partially at fault for the accident, that does not preclude him or her from filing a lawsuit or worker’s compensation claim.
Most states use something known as comparative negligence during work injury cases. Comparative negligence means that if multiple parties are responsible for the accident, they will each be responsible for covering their share of the damages to the injured worker. For example, if it is determined that the worker was 30% responsible for the accident, any compensation that is awarded to the worker will be reduced by 30%.
Work Injury FAQ
The insurance company is denying my workers’ comp claim. What can I do?
If you filed a workers’ compensation claim and the insurance company denied it, you can call the insurance adjuster to ask why. He or she should give you a detailed explanation, and in some cases, you may be able to remedy the situation fairly easily. If you aren’t getting answers, are experiencing denials, or are having other problems, you can call the Texas Division of Workers’ Compensation. If you’ve been seriously injured and are having issues with your claim, you should also consider talking to an attorney. Someone should stand up for your rights, and a skilled workers’ comp attorney will know exactly what to do.
I lost a Loved One in a work accident. Does workers’ compensation cover this?
In Texas, the family of a person who has lost his or her life in a work-related accident can seek workers’ compensation death benefits. This can cover burial and funeral costs as well as up to 75% of the wages your loved one would have earned. The family members eligible for death benefits include spouses, minor children, children under the age of 25 who are in college, dependent grandchildren or other relatives, and parents (if there are no eligible dependent family members).
Do I need to hire an attorney to handle my workers’ compensation claim?
You are not required by law to hire an attorney to handle your workers’ compensation claim. And if your injuries were minor, you probably do not need legal counsel to get the medical care and financial support you need. If you were seriously injured, however, you could be dealing with a condition that could affect you and your ability to work for the rest of your life. You need an advocate who will not back down, even if your employer or the workers’ comp insurance company tries to delay, deny, or undervalue your claim. You’ve already been through enough; an attorney can help guide you to a successful resolution.
Do I Need to Hire a Work Injury Attorney?
Many workplace injuries are severe enough that a worker should consider filing a lawsuit to recover the compensation that they deserve. While helpful, workers' compensation does not account for the full extent of serious injuries—especially for accidents that were caused by negligence.
If you were injured at work, the company will likely launch an investigation into the cause of the accident immediately. This is done with the oversight of a team of company lawyers that are looking for ways to absolve the company of any liability so that it will not have to compensate the injured worker. That is why it is extremely important that you consult with an experienced and aggressive worksite injury lawyer as soon as possible. By having a lawyer looking out for your best interests, you can help ensure that you are afforded all of your legal rights and are compensated fairly for your injuries.
Benefits of Hiring a Texas Work Injury Lawyer
When you suffer injuries on your job, your case will likely fall under workers’ compensation. However, that doesn’t mean that is the only legal means for you to recover; in fact, you may have a third-party claim. Regardless, even figuring out the workers’ compensation process on your own can be overwhelming. With so many variables involved in every case, you want a legal professional who can represent you with confidence.
Hiring a workplace attorney means you get an advocate who:
- Understands the laws surrounding your case
- Can investigate your accident and identify liable parties
- Specifically knows how to handle workplace injury cases in Texas
- Has dedicated their time and attention to related matters
- Brings experience handling similar cases to your claim
- Can walk you through the legal process
- Makes sure your rights and best interests remain protected
- Can handle cases involving third parties
While there are plenty of personal injury lawyers out there who may claim to be qualified to handle your case, they likely focus more on handling car accidents, slip and falls, and other general cases. The work injury lawyer you need should have proven expertise taking on these types of claims not just anywhere but in Texas. From industrial jobs to construction and offshore work, they should be able to handle it all.
Make sure to discuss your case thoroughly with any potential attorneys you speak with. Ask about the previous cases they have handled. Investigate how those cases went and the type of recovery they obtained for clients. You should feel comfortable and confident in the representation you select. Their focus shouldn’t be just helping you gain money but gain physical, emotional, and financial recovery.
Work with a Legal Team That Has Recovered Billions for People Nationwide
Nearly a quarter of a million Texas workers are injured on the job each year, including hundreds of wrongful deaths. In many cases, the accidents causing these deaths and injuries could have been prevented. Often, they are the result of the negligence or reckless indifference of an employer, co-worker, or manufacturer. At Arnold & Itkin LLP, our work injury lawyers are focused on making sure that injured workers and their families are fully compensated for their pain and suffering, medical expenses, funeral costs, disability, rehabilitation, and retraining.
We have recovered billions for our clients and have been selected for inclusion in both the Super Lawyers® and Super Lawyers® Rising Stars℠ Edition. We have been named as "Top Lawyers for the People" by H Texas Magazine, and both Kurt Arnold and Jason Itkin have been invited to become members of the prestigious Inner Circle of Advocates.
Just a few of the other honors received by the firm include the following:
- Selection in the 2015 & 2016 lists of America's Elite Trial Lawyers
- Named in The Best Lawyers in America® for Admiralty & Maritime Law
- Ranked Tier 1 in Houston & Tier 2 Nationwide for Admiralty & Maritime Law by Best Law Firms®
- Members of the Million & Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum®
- Top 100 Trial Lawyers by The National Trial Lawyers
- The National Trial Lawyers: Top 40 Under 40
Injured on the Job? Give Our Texas Law Firm a Call Today: (888) 493-1629!
Throughout the years, we have used our skill, experience, and passion for reaching successful outcomes for our clients. One case resulted in a $9.6 million jury verdict for a worker injured at an industrial plant while another case was settled for $5.9 million against a southeast Texas plant. Our legal team carefully reviews cases, assess strengths and weaknesses, and maps out what we believe will be a winning strategy for our clients. We do not charge for case evaluations or any of our legal services unless we obtain a favorable result. We at Arnold & Itkin LLP aggressively and passionately represent workers and their families. If you have been injured, please do not hesitate to talk to one of our top-rated attorneys.
For a free evaluation of your case, do not hesitate to contact a Texas work injury attorney as soon as possible: (888) 493-1629. We handle complex injury and death cases nationwide.