Car, Truck and Automobile Accidents in Louisiana Workers Compensation
Frequently, employees in Louisiana are injured in car, truck, and automobile accident while on the job. Examples of such employees include:
- Commercial vehicle drivers;
- Construction workers;
- Delivery van drivers;
- Drivers and work-related passengers;
- Freight truck drivers;
- Sales personnel;
- Sanitation workers; and
- Truck drivers.
Typically, these injured employees will be covered by Louisiana workers compensation when they are injured on the road.
Accidents While Traveling To and From Work
Unfortunately, accidents that happen going to or from work from home (or commuting) generally are not covered by Louisiana workers compensation.
This general rule - sometimes called the “coming and going rule” - is so well accepted, that in order for the employee to succeed in his or her case, the employee must show that he or she falls under an exception to this rule.
But there are certainly exceptions to the “coming and going rule.” These exceptions include the following circumstances:
- If the employer pays the employee for travel time, provides a company car or reimburses the employee for travel costs.
- If the employee is injured traveling from one work site to the next.
- If the employee is injured traveling (even from home) with some duty which he must perform for the employer en route.
- If the accident happens on the employer's premises.
- If the operation of a motor vehicle is one of the employment duties of the employee.
- If the employee was injured at a dangerous place adjacent to his employer's location (also known as the threshold doctrine).
So again, an injured employee will be covered by workers compensation if the employee is injured in an accident while commuting to work, if the transportation is provided by the employer.
Also, if the employer is paying the travel expenses, then the employee is covered by workers compensation.
Even if the employer simply intended to reimburse the employee for his travel or to provide gasoline, the employee is still covered by workers compensation.
Travel Accidents Between Places of Work Or While Performing Job Duties
An injured employee will be covered by workers compensation if the employee is injured in an accident while following orders or performing the employee's duties, even if the accident occurred away from the employer's premises. This includes accidents when the employee is traveling between places of work.
In fact, it does not matter if the work being done at the time of accident was not within the scope of the employee's job, so long as it was being performed pursuant to the orders of the employer (or the employer's re[presentative).
So if a supervisor at work instructs an employee to do something, and the employee is injured doing it, then the employee is covered by Louisiana workers compensation.
An Employee Injured in a Work-Related Automobile Accident May Also Have a Personal Injury Claim
As noted above, an employee injured in a work-related automobile accident will be covered by workers compensation in Louisiana.
So, if an employee is injured in a work-related car accident, workers' compensation will be the primary source of insurance for medical and wage-loss benefits.
However, the injured employee may also have a separate personal injury claim against a third party (another driver) for additional compensation.
Most importantly, the injured employee may be able to recover money for pain and suffering from the other driver, in addition to the workers compensation benefits from the worker's employer.
It does not matter who is at fault in order to recover the workers' compensation benefits, but in order for the injured employee to recover pain and suffering money from the other driver, then the injured employee must prove that the other driver was at fault.
Catastrophic Work-Related Injuries
Catastrophic injuries result in lifetime consequences.
Catastrophic injuries can drastically impact the quality of life of an injured employee, and perhaps even shorten his or her life.
However, if an employee is injured in a catastrophic work-related accident, then the injured employee may be entitled to receive lifetime benefits.
Common work-related catastrophic injuries at the workplace include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Brain injuries
- Burn injuries
- Permanent scarring
- Internal organ injuries
- Loss of hearing
- Loss of limbs
- Loss of vision
- Neurological disorders
- Severe or multiple fractures
- Spine, neck and back injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
One Time Lump Sum Payments for Catastrophic Injuries in Louisiana Workers Compensation
For certain catastrophic injuries, the injured worker is entitled to a lump sum payment of $50,000.00.
The following catastrophic injuries qualify for this payment:
- Paraplegia or quadriplegia;
- The total anatomical loss of both hands, or both arms, or both feet, or both legs, or both eyes, or one hand and one foot, or any two thereof; and
- Third degree burns of forty percent or more of the total body surface.
This payment - which is due within one year of the accident - is not subject to any credit or reduction due to other workers compensation benefits paid to the injured employee.
Construction Accidents in Louisiana Workers Compensation
Work-related construction accidents are very common in and around New Orleans and throughout Louisiana.
Unfortunately, not only are these work-related construction accidents common, but they can produce devastating injuries due to heavy machinery and equipment, and potential safety hazards involved at construction sites, as well as the physically demanding and dangerous work itself.
Plus the strict deadlines, large number of workers, and complex machinery and equipment, all often cause accidents and lapses in safety procedures and protocol.
For these reasons, the construction industry has a far higher rate of accidents and injuries per worker than other industries.
Common injuries at construction sites include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Back injuries
- Brain injuires
- Broken bones
- Crush injuries
- Eye injuries
- Head injuries
- Joint injuries
- Knee and ankle injuries
- Neck injuries
- Repetitive motion ijuries
- Spinal cord injuries
Common accidents at construction sites include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Electric shocks and electrocutions
- Exposure to harmful substances or environments including toxic chemicals
- Falls, slips, and trips
- Ladder accidents
- Overexertion injuries
- Physical contact with dangerous equipment or object
- Scaffolding injuries
- Transportation-related accidents
- Violence on the work site
The Fatal Four Construction Accidents
The construction industry can be so dangerous that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has coined the term “The Fatal Four” to describe the four leading causes of death for construction workers.
These fatal four construction accidents are responsible for more than half of construction worker deaths:
- Struck by object
Caught-in/between refers to incidents where construction workers have been killed when caught-in or compressed by equipment or objects, and struck, caught, or crushed in collapsing structure, equipment, or materials.
Safety Violations at Construction Sites in Louisiana
Injuries and deaths occur despite written safety manuals, safety inspections, safety checklists and weekly safety meetings.
In fact, inadequate safety equipment - such as harnesses, hard hats, and eye protection - can actually be the cause of accidents at construction sites.
The following were the top ten most frequently cited safety-related standards by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in fiscal year 2017:
- Fall protection, construction
- Hazard communication standard, general industry
- Scaffolding, general requirements, construction
- Respiratory protection, general industry
- Control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout), general industry
- Ladders, construction
- Powered industrial trucks, general industry
- Machinery and Machine Guarding, general requirements
- Fall Protection–Training Requirements
- Electrical, wiring methods, components and equipment, general industry
The dangerous nature of construction work and construction sites leaves workers exposed to serious and life-changing injuries.
For this reason, safety regulations that can prevent catastrophic injuries must be fully and properly enforced.
Importantly, under Louisiana law, if a worker has been injured due to a violation of state or federal safety regulations, then the employer can be liable for damages; this is an exception to the general rule that employees cannot sue their employers directly for their injuries (outside of workers compensation benefits).
An Injured Construction Worker May be Entitled to Additional Money on Top of Workers Compensation Benefits
Generally, an injured worker cannot sue his or her own employer for any benefits - such as pain and suffering - besides the standard workers compensation benefits under the Louisiana Workers Compensation Act.
However, if the injured worker can successfully show that a third party was negligent in causing some (or all) of the worker's injuries, then that third party can be held liable, and the injured worker can receive money from this third party - such as pain and suffering money - in addition to the standard workers compensation benefits from the employer's workers compensation insurer.
The term "third party" refers to any individual or business entity that is not the employer (or the employer's workers compensation insurer) or the employee.
Some potential third parties may be the property owners, general contractors, subcontractors, construction managers, other workers, design engineers, inspectors, equipment manufacturers and other related or involved individual or businesses.
Additionally, as noted above, under Louisiana law, if a worker has been injured due to a violation of state or federal safety regulations, then the employer can be liable for damages; this is an exception to the general rule that employees cannot sue their employers directly for their injuries (outside of workers compensation).
Lifting, Pushing and Pulling Accidents in Louisiana Workers Compensation
Lifting, pushing and pulling injuries and accidents are very common in Louisiana workers compensation.
Though lifting, pushing and pulling injuries and accidents can occur in almost every type of occupation, these injuries are most common in the following professions:
- Construction workers
- Daycare and childcare workers
- Freight, stock, and material movers
- Healthcare professionals
- Hospitality industry workers
- Nurses and nursing assistants
- Plant workers
- Refinery workers
- Restaurant workers
- Trailer-truck and heavy truck drivers
- Warehouse employees
Common injuries from lifting, pushing and pulling accidents include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Back sprains and strains
- Herniated and bulging disks
- Leg strains
- Ligament or tendon tears and strains
- Muscle tearing
- Neck sprains and strains
- Nerve damage
- Pulled muscles
- Repetitive motion injuries
- Rotator cuff tears
- Shoulder impingement syndrome
- Shoulder sprains and strains
- Spinal cord strain
If an employee even thinks that he or she has been injured in a lifting, pushing or pulling accident, the injured employee should immediately report the injury to the employee or supervisor, and should seek immediate medical attention.
This is important, because in some cases, these injuries don't appear until days or weeks after the accident.
Repetitive Use (Or Overuse) Injuries in Louisiana Workers Compensation
Work-related injuries often occur in a single quick event - such as a fall, a vehicle accident, or an explosion.
However, many work-related injuries develop over time from the cumulative effect of repetitive movements or postures on the job. Such activities including tying at a keyboard, working on a factory assembly line, or hammering nails.
Even though the workers compensation insurance companies regularly try to deny them, these repetitive use injuries (injuries that develop over time from the cumulative effect of repetitive movements or postures on the job) are covered by Louisiana workers compensation.
The injured employee simply needs to be able to show that his or her work duties were to blame for the repetitive use injuries (also known as repetitive stress injuries).
The most common example of a repetitive use injury is carpal tunnel syndrome, which is a well-documented medical condition in which inflammation and pressure cause severe pain and weakness in a worker's hands and wrists.
But there are many other examples of repetitive use injuries, such as debilitating back and knee conditions that finally become too much for the worker to endure.
Who is at Risk for a Repetitive Use Injuries?
Though repetitive use injuries can occur in almost every type of occupation, these injuries are most common in the following professions:
- Agricultural and meat processing workers
- Assembly line workers
- Bus drivers
- Data entry workers
- Delivery workers
- Factory workers who use the same tools all day
- Grocery and stock clerks
- Janitors and housekeeping cleaners
- Nurses and health care aides
- Office workers who spend all day typing on computer keyboards
- Packaging workers
- Plumbers and pipe-fitters
- Postal Workers
- Shelf stackers
What Are the Symptoms of Repetitive Use Injuries?
Repetitive use injuries may involve any or all of several different symptoms in the affected part of your body, including:
- Acute pains
- General Pain
- Loss of coordination
- Loss of strength
- Reduced flexibility
- Reduced range of motion
Which are the Most Common Repetitive Use Injuries?
Some common repetitive stress injuries include the following:
- Back pain
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Chronic pain
- Cubital tunnel syndrome
- De Quervain syndrome
- Dupuytren's contracture
- Hearing loss
- Intersection syndrome
- Lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow)
- Medial epicondylitis (golfer's elbow)
- Nerve injuries
- Radial tunnel syndrome
- Raynaud's disease
- Reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome (RSDS)
- Rotator cuff injuries
- Stenosing tenosynovitis (trigger finger)
- Thoracic outlet syndrome
- Trigger finger
A repetitive use injury (also known as a repetitive stress injury or a repetitive motion injury) occurs when performing the same action over and over causes stress and strain that eventually results in injury.
So these repetitive stress injuries result from an action that would not typically be harmful to a worker's health.
For example, simply typing on a keyboard for a couple of minutes is not something that would likely cause an injury. However, when performed all day everyday, typing on a computer can eventually take a toll on the health of an employee.
Also, this fact - that repetitive stress injuries result from an action that would not typically be harmful to a worker's health - is the reason that the workers compensation insurance companies constantly try to deny repetitive use injury claims.
So in most situations, an employee suffering from a repetitive use injury should hire an experienced Louisiana workers compensation attorney to handle a repetitive use injury claim.