Getting Help After Suffering a Catastrophic Workplace Accident
December 31, 2022
Workers across the country are vulnerable to all types of accidents and injuries. When workplace accidents rise to a catastrophic level, they have severe consequences for the injured worker and the worker’s family. The devastating injuries and loss that workers and their families can suffer as the result of a catastrophic accident often include serious emotional trauma and financial strain that lasts long after the accident happened.
Catastrophic workplace accident cases can be complex and involve Workers’ Compensation claims as well as personal injury and potential third-party lawsuits against equipment manufacturers, contractors, and property owners. It is critical to consult with an experienced Workers’ Compensation lawyer who can effectively handle all aspects of your case.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) defines a catastrophic accident as an event that results in death or serious physical harm. Accidents are considered to be catastrophic when they happen suddenly and without warning, leaving people with life-changing impacts and long-term consequences.
While workplace accidents can happen in any industry, certain kinds of workers are more likely to encounter hazardous situations than others. Construction workers, miners, factory workers, truck drivers, transportation employees, and workers in the fishing and forestry industries are susceptible to catastrophic accidents and injuries on the job.
If you experience a catastrophic workplace accident, the first thing you should do is seek medical assistance and treatment. You should then notify your employer of the accident and prepare to file a Workers’ Compensation claim.
Workers’ Compensation is a no-fault insurance system for employees who are injured or who become ill at work. Workers’ Compensation benefits can include medical expenses, income replacement, and death benefits. You may be also able to file a personal injury lawsuit against one or more third parties after a catastrophic workplace accident. Consulting with an experienced attorney before taking any legal action is essential.
A lawyer will help handle your Workers’ Compensation claim as well as any personal injury lawsuits against manufacturers, distributers, and retailers of defective products, or against other drivers if vehicles were involved in the accident. It is critical to have a skilled attorney help you navigate what can be a complex legal process involving multiple claims.
What Are Common Types of Catastrophic Workplace Accidents?
Catastrophic workplace accidents can happen in a number of ways, including:
- Heavy moving or falling objects hit a worker.
- Part of a worker’s body gets pinched or crushed in equipment.
- Workers are injured in a major fire or explosion.
- Workers suffer severe or fatal injuries in motor vehicle accidents.
- A worker falls a great distance from equipment or in between platforms.
- Workers suffer from overexertion.
- Workers are exposed to toxic fumes or chemicals.
What Are Typical Catastrophic Work-Related Injuries?
Catastrophic injuries are injuries that are profound and have long-term effects. These injuries usually involve the head, the spine, or the brain and can cause temporary or permanent disability, disfigurement, or death. Catastrophic injuries are often the result of devastating accidents that happen on the job.
Common catastrophic workplace accident injuries include:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs): TBIs are often caused by a forceful blow or jolt to the head or body and can lead to bruising, bleeding, and permanent brain damage. Those who have TBIs can suffer significant cognitive issues, memory loss, speech problems, seizures, fluid buildup, blood clots, stroke, coma, or brain death.
- Spinal cord injuries: A spinal cord injury occurs when any part of the spinal cord becomes damaged. Many of these types of catastrophic injuries are the result of serious motor vehicle crashes. Spinal cord injuries often lead to partial or complete paralysis and are typically permanent.
- Blunt abdominal trauma: Blunt trauma to the abdominal can lead to serious organ damage and internal bleeding. Blunt trauma injuries are often the result of heavy moving objects, motor vehicle accidents, or serious falls. These can be very dangerous and deadly injuries, and they may not be immediately apparent after the workplace accident.
- Severe burn injuries: Not only are burn injuries extremely painful, but they also often require extensive medical treatment, hospitalization, and surgeries. Contact with fire and flames, heat from an explosion, and hot grease or other liquids can lead to severe burns and permanent disfigurement, disability, and mental anguish.
- Amputations: Losing a limb is one of the most common and devastating types of injuries caused by catastrophic workplace accidents. Workers who suffer an amputation often need expensive prosthetics, home modifications, physical and occupational therapy, medical equipment, and ongoing treatment to manage chronic pain.
- Eye injuries: Eye injuries can occur from chemical splashes, sharp foreign objects, fires, and explosions. When an eye injury leads to partial or total blindness, it drastically affects the worker’s ability to perform daily functions, earn a living, and enjoy their usual activities.
- Crush injuries: A crush injury occurs when extreme force or pressure is put on a body part. This type of injury commonly happens when part of the body is squeezed between two heavy objects. Crush injuries cause severe bleeding, bruising, fractures, lacerations, and nerve, tissue, and blood vessel damage.
- Neurological damage: Neurological damage involves injury to the nerves and nervous system. Symptoms from this kind of injury can widely range from headaches and nausea to difficulties speaking and maintaining balance. Neurological damage is often the result of crush injuries, blunt force trauma, and motor vehicle crashes.
- Mental trauma: Catastrophic injuries can take years to recover from and significantly impact a person’s mental health. Those who have been injured in catastrophic workplace accidents can suffer from loss of enjoyment of life, anxiety, depression, and isolation from family and friends. This can require continuous treatment and a variety of therapies.
- Wrongful death: When a worker sustains fatal injuries as the result of a catastrophic workplace accident, the worker’s loved ones may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit with the guidance of an experienced attorney.
What Types of Benefits May Be Available?
A Workers’ Compensation lawyer may be able to help you recover the following if you or a loved one has experienced a catastrophic workplace accident:
- Emergency medical and hospital expenses.
- Current and future medical bills.
- Rehabilitation and therapies.
- Medical equipment and devices.
- Lost wages and diminished earning capacity.
- Home renovation costs to accommodate wheelchairs and medical equipment.
- Ongoing care costs.
We Handle Catastrophic Workplace Accident Cases
Galfand Berger LLP has a longstanding history of helping workers and their families secure some of the highest financial awards in catastrophic workplace accident cases:
- $5 million recovery for fatal railcar work accident. Our client was the family of a worker who was fatally injured when a 1,800 pound paper roll fell on him from a railcar delivering bulk paper rolls. We were able to obtain a $5 million recovery on behalf of our client to help compensate for their devasting loss.
- $10 million recovery for construction site accident. Our client was a 40-year-old construction framer who fell from the second floor of a house, resulting in multiple skull fractures and a severe TBI. He suffered for more than three years before his eventual death, during which he could not speak, feed himself, move on his own, or be a father to his two teenaged children. We filed claims against multiple parties alleging that the defendants failed to provide proper fall protection, violated their own policies and procedures, and violated OSHA guardrail mandates. Our legal team argued that our client’s catastrophic injuries were preventable, and the fall should never have occurred. We successfully recovered $10 million on behalf of our client.
Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP Help Workers and Their Families After Catastrophic Workplace Accidents
The claims process can be lengthy and stressful in catastrophic workplace accident cases, but our dedicated Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP will see your case through from start to finish. For a free initial consultation, call us at 800-222-USWA (8792) or fill out our online form. Located in Philadelphia, Reading, Bethlehem, and Lancaster, Pennsylvania, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey, including Allentown and Harrisburg.