Can you get workers’ compensation for a workplace slip, trip and fall?
Whether you work outdoors or in an office, your employer is obligated to provide information, training and equipment to help keep you and your coworkers safe. In North Carolina and throughout the country, most employers are required to purchase workers’ compensation insurance, which provides benefits to employees who suffer on-the-job injuries.
Workplace slips and falls are among the most common types of injuries that occur.
What to do after a slip, trip or fall at work
If you’re on the clock and walking through a construction zone, you might suffer a slip and fall accident if dangerous equipment was left lying around or there was some other obstruction or debris in your path. Inside an office building, you could trip over an electrical cord or slip and fall on a wet surface or because you stumbled on a piece of rumpled carpet.
Any of these situations can result in minor to severe injuries. The following list shows helpful steps to take in the immediate aftermath of workplace slip and fall accident:
- Seek medical attention.
- Report your injury to your employer.
- Photograph your injuries.
- Photograph the area where the injuries took place.
- File a workers’ compensation claim, if needed.
When you seek medical treatment after tripping or falling at work, it creates written documentation of the incident that may be useful to you down the line. This would be especially true in a case where you file a workers’ comp claim and your employer or an insurance agency tries to deny it.
North Carolina laws protect employers against civil litigation
Your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance is set up to provide benefits if you suffer an on-the-job injury. This compensation may help pay medical bills. It can also provide funds to make ends meet at home if you have to take time off during recovery and are losing wages.
What if your injury was caused by your employer’s negligence?
In most cases, North Carolina law prohibits you from suing your employer after a workplace accident that resulted in injury. However, there are some exceptions to the rule.
For instance, if your employer failed to purchase the required workers’ compensation insurance, then you might be able to file a civil claim against them. Another exception might be if your employer committed an intentional reckless act or act of violence that resulted in your injuries.
Third-party slip and fall injury claims
In most cases, your employer is protected by workers’ compensation laws against personal injury lawsuits.
But what if another party’s negligence was responsible for your injury—someone who was neither your employer nor coworker?
In this case, you might have grounds for filing a third-party personal injury claim in a civil court against the person or business responsible for your injuries. Such a claim would be separate from your workers’ compensation claim.
It sometimes happens that the court will order you to reimburse your workers’ comp benefits if the compensation awarded to you in a personal injury claim exceeds the amount of workers’ comp benefits you’ve collected.
Common work-related slip and fall injuries
You don’t have to hit the ground to suffer an injury after slipping on a wet floor or tripping over an object in the workplace. Your body might be jarred forward and back or side-to-side, resulting in whiplash or muscle strain.
In addition to these injuries, the following list shows other types of injury that are common in a slip and fall incident:
- Ankle sprain
- Herniated disc or another spinal injury
- Broken bone
- Concussion or fractured skull
- Pulled muscles
- Torn tendons
It’s possible to suffer more than 1 injury as a result of a single slip and fall incident. Several injuries may cause severe physical pain for days, even weeks following a workplace accident.
If you’ve injured your neck or spine, you might experience a prickling feeling or tingling or numbness in an extremity.
A brain injury, such as a concussion or fractured skull, may not be immediately apparent. Such injuries often include symptoms such as dizziness, confusion, cognitive impairment, vision problems, trouble sleeping or mood swings.
It’s always best to report new symptoms to your primary care physician or to visit the nearest emergency room. Licensed medical care providers know which types of tests to perform to rule out traumatic brain injury or internal organ damage—both of which may occur in a slip and fall accident.
Recovering from a workplace slip and fall accident
Recovery from a slip and fall incident can be a long, arduous process. Filing a workers’ comp claim can be stressful, and legal problems may arise if your claim is denied. It’s helpful to seek additional support from an experienced workers’ compensation law attorney who can protect your rights and ensure that you receive any and all benefits or compensation you deserve.