Under normal circumstances, if you suffer an on-the-job injury, you file a workers’ compensation claim through your employer’s work comp provider. The way work comp works is that you need not prove that your employer did anything wrong in order to receive compensation and benefits. The tradeoff, however, is that you can’t sue your employer directly. Nevertheless, if your injuries resulted from a hazardous work environment, you likely can sue your employer with the legal help of a catastrophic injury lawyer in Las Vegas, NV, like from Eglet Adams.
Hazardous Work Environment Definition
By definition, a hazardous work environment is any in which you cannot perform your required duties due to the existence of one or more dangerous conditions, such as the following:
- Broken equipment
- Exposed wiring
- Exposure to hazardous chemicals or materials
- Exposure to asbestos
- Inadequate protection from falls and falling objects
- Inadequate or non working warning systems
- Wet or debris-covered floors
- Failure to fix a dangerous structure
- Failure to provide adequate training
Keep in mind that the hazardous condition does not have to be on your job site. It can also be in the vehicle(s) your employer requires you to drive or at any company function your employer requires you to attend.
OSHA and State Laws
OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, promulgates federal rules and regulations applicable to most private sector employers and their workers. Many states also have their own work safety organizations that supplement OSHA regulations, often requiring a higher level of care than OSHA does.
If you work for a public sector employer, only your state’s safety laws protect you in a hazardous work environment or any other on-the-job situation. Public sector employers are exempt from OSHA.
Suing Your Employer
If you believe your injuries resulted from a hazardous workplace environment, you should consult with an experienced local personal injury attorney as soon as possible after your accident. He or she should know all the OSHA and state laws applicable to your specific type of employment and can help you determine whether or not you have a valid hazardous workplace environment complaint.
To win your lawsuit, you will need to prove not only that your employer was negligent, but also the amount of your economic and noneconomic losses as a result of your injuries. If you can prove that your employer knew about an OSHA or state hazard and failed to fix it, this serves as prima facie evidence of a hazardous workplace environment.
If you win your lawsuit, your employer will have to pay all of your economic and noneconomic damages. If the court finds that your employer’s actions in causing or failing to prevent your injuries were particularly egregious, it may award you punitive damages on top of your compensatory damages. Such damages are meant to punish your employer for such blatant disregard for its workers’ health and safety.