The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released its preliminary report on workplace deaths in 2010. It found that 95 people were killed at West Virginia worksites, up from 54 in 2009.
In some ways, the leap sounds more problematic than it is. The 54 figure in 2009 represents the second-lowest amount of accidents on record, while the 95 figure is inflated by the explosion at Upper Big Branch mine, which killed 29 mine workers. Overall, the mining industry saw the highest number of deaths at 37. This was followed by construction industry deaths at 10. Of those killed, 94% were men, and 96% of the men were white, non-Latino males. Fire was the greatest cause of death, though that might also have been distorted by the Upper Big Branch mine accident.
While 95 deaths in 2010 is a high figure, it does not even come close to the number of workplace injuries, including serious injuries that leave a worker partially disabled. No one should have to fear coming to work every day. Yet while certain jobs carry natural dangers — like coal mining, construction, and police and firefighting — their dangers may be exacerbated by employers who ignore safety regulations in order to save money. Even a job not normally considered dangerous can be if your employer fails to keep the workplace reasonably safe.
If you are injured in a workplace accident, you have options for relief. If your employer has workers compensation insurance, you can receive fixed monthly payments for your injury until you (hopefully) recover. The bad news is that you have no choice but to accept workers compensation because the law does not allow you to elect a lawsuit instead. The good news is that you can receive payment regardless of fault, whereas you might not receive anything if you sue. In cases where your employer does not have workers compensation insurance, you could hire an experienced West Virginia personal injury lawyer and file a suit against the employer and/or a third-party manufacturer of any faulty equipment you used.
With your employer, you would argue that it had a duty to provide as safe a work environment as reasonably possible. Your employer breached that duty by failing to follow reasonable safety standards. The breach resulted in your injury and you suffered damage in the form of a broken leg, or damaged disc in your spinal column, or some other serious damage. Your argument against the third-party manufacturer would be similar, except that you would argue that the manufacturer created equipment that was either poorly designed or flawed on the assembly line, and the flaw caused your injury and bodily damage. One thing to watch out for: West Virginia has modified comparative negligence, which means that you cannot collect a monetary award unless you are less than 50% at fault.
If your loved one is killed in a workplace accident, you would file a wrongful death lawsuit, following the same steps as a personal injury lawsuit. If you are successful, you will receive a monetary award for loss of support and services, pain and suffering, medical bills, and more. Contact the Wolfe Law Firm today for more information.