Preventable slip and fall accidents in the workplace account for a fair share of workers’ compensation claims. If you slip and fall at work, you can likely recover your losses through your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance , or a personal injury lawsuit. At Horton & Mendez Injury Attorneys in Wilmington, our workers’ compensation attorneys can help you understand your rights and how the law applies to your claim.
What Are Some Common Ways Someone May Slip and Fall at Work?
Construction work presents the most dangerous conditions. Laborers work at high heights and may suffer severe injuries or even death in a slip and fall accident.
Common ways someone may fall in the workplace include:
- Tripping hazards: Electrical cords, cluttered construction sites, torn carpets, loose rugs and broken tiles are possible tripping hazards.
- Lack of safety precautions: Missing handrails or poor lighting could result in a slip and fall. Not providing proper safety equipment for workers on scaffolding may lead to high-rise falls.
- Spills and leaks: Workers in the restaurant industry are commonly exposed to potential spill hazards. When left uncleaned, these conditions are a danger to workers and customers.
- Collisions: Colliding into someone at work is not typically a serious safety concern. However, something as simple as someone bumping into you on a high platform, near a hot stove or in a slippery hallway could have devastating consequences.
When seeking slip and fall-related workers’ compensation, the cause is often less important than where the accident occurred. These benefits are available in most cases, regardless of who is liable for the accident.
Common Injuries From a Slip and Fall Accident
If you slip and fall at work, suffering severe injuries, our legal team can help you understand what current and future benefits you need to cover your damages. The type of injury and level of severity makes a difference.
Some common slip and fall injuries include:
- Concussions and traumatic brain injuries
- Muscle strains and sprains
- Fractured bones
- Bruises and contusions
When injuries cause permanent disability and impact your earning capacity, you may need to fight the insurance company for adequate compensation. Sometimes employers and their insurers will push back on high-value claims. We will protect your right to workers’ comp and take on any challenges to your needs.
What Is the “Coming and Going” Rule?
North Carolina law restricts workers’ comp benefits access for people who suffer injuries while traveling to or from work. This “coming and going” rule stipulates that an injury must arise out of and “in the course of” employment to be eligible for compensation. This means it must connect directly to the scope of your job and happen while you are on the job.
The court further defines injuries that occur in the course of employment in three ways:
- The injury occurs at the job site or on the employer’s premises.
- The injury happens when the employee runs an errand for the employer.
- The employer compensates the employee for transportation or arranges transportation for them.
Exceptions to the rule
Over time, exceptions to the “coming and going” rule developed in practice:
- People traveling for work, such as a tradesperson or salesperson, would qualify because their position is not stationary.
- Someone traveling with a dual purpose, meaning doing something personal and for the boss simultaneously, still qualifies for workers’ comp.
- People driving a company vehicle to travel to and from work are also still eligible for benefits.
If you have questions about your eligibility for compensation or have a conflict with your employer or their insurer, our legal team can help.
Can You Collect Workers’ Compensation Benefits for a Slip and Fall at Work?
North Carolina law requires all businesses with three or more employees to carry workers’ compensation insurance. You can access that coverage if an accident occurs during the scope of your job. Most claims reach one of the several types of recognized settlements.
A compromise settlement agreement involves one lump-sum payment or installments in exchange for the worker waiving all rights to a workers’ comp claim. A Form 26A settlement provides permanent partial disability benefits. The insurance company will make weekly payments, and you give up your right to claim future permanent disability benefits. A Form 21 settlement is similar, but it covers temporary disability benefits.
Before accepting a settlement agreement, contact our legal team to discuss options. Some settlements are not in every worker’s best interests. As experienced attorneys, we can offer professional guidance.
The settlement approval process
All workers’ comp settlements must receive approval from the North Carolina Industrial Commission. Once you have an agreement, we can help with the administrative process. The Industrial Commission will review the documents and only approve them if everything appears fair.
When Do You Need To File a Lawsuit To Recover Damages?
Workers’ comp benefits typically do not compensate for non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering and emotional distress. Under certain circumstances, you may have the opportunity to pursue compensation through a personal injury claim rather than workers’ comp. For example, if you slip and fall at work because a party other than your employer acted carelessly or with malicious intent, you may be able to sue the party directly for damages.
North Carolina courts will sometimes bar lawsuits in work injury cases. For example, someone already receiving workers’ comp likely could not file. Some civil courts will not accept a liability lawsuit unless the conduct that led to your fall and injuries almost amounts to an intentional attempt to harm you. Our team will address all the available options for your case during your free consultation.
Our Legal Team Can Help if You Slip and Fall at Work
Many factors can complicate a slip and fall case. At Horton & Mendez Injury Attorneys, we know how insurance companies work and what it takes to get them to offer fair compensation.
If you suffered injuries caused by a slip and fall at work, we will listen to the accident details and find the most beneficial path to compensation. Contact us in Wilmington, North Carolina to schedule your free consultation with an experienced attorney today.