Houston Work Accident Lawyers
Helping Workers in Houston, Throughout Texas & Nationwide
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 Attorney
If you have suffered an industrial accident, you need to take action now to protect your legal rights. In some cases, the first few hours can be some of 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 attorney means you have your own advocate on the scene. Our team works 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 checks 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 at 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? 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 attorneys at Arnold & Itkin have the resources necessary to properly investigate any accident. 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.
Common Work Accidents
- 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 work stations that could cause serious accidents. Employees that work in manual labor jobs, construction jobs, or industrial work spaces 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 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.
Roof falls can also be prevented if workers:
- Don't disconnect their lifelines.
- Never work around unprotected openings or skylights.
- 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 guard rails when necessary.
Preventing Falls in the Workplace
In an effort 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 detailed 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, where employees can quickly leave the building. The OSHA even has requirements for these exit routes in order 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 an 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.
The 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.
- Exit discharges must lead directly outside to a street, a walkway, or another area with access to the outdoors.
- The exit 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 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 requires to rooms that hold over 50 people in them.
- All exit routs 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 become 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 guard rails if a fall hazard and cannot have a dead end longer than 20 feet.
Rules About the Exits of Buildings
- No highly flammable decorations or furniture near exit
- Signs posted to direct employees to the emergency exit
- Exits cannot be obstructed by items, locks, or barriers
- 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
Workplace Wrongful Death Statistics
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 man and woman. In addition to injury and illness, there is also the danger of workplace wrongful death in which a worker is killed as a result of 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 from hazardous working conditions.
- Over the past 4 years, the job fatality rate largely has been unchanged, with a rate of 3.4 deaths per 100,000 workers.
- North Dakota had the highest fatality rate in the nation of 17.7 per 100,000 workers.
- The state with the lowest workplace wrongful deaths was Massachusetts with a rate of 1.4 per 100,000 workers.
- Workplace violence is also a growing problem, causing 24,610 serious injuries and killing 803 workers in 2012.
- The most violated OSHA standard violated 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 the 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.
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 the 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 may 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 commonly result in 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 undercompensated 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.
To learn more, do not hesitate to contact Arnold & Itkin LLP today. You can reach us at (888) 493-1629 or by filling out our simple online form. Speak with us in a free consultation as soon as possible.