Since the late 1800s, labor unions have fought hard for fundamental rights that today’s workers take for granted. Thanks to unions’ efforts, workers have fair wages, safe working conditions, and more reasonable working hours. However, being represented legally is not considered a basic right if you become hurt while on the job. Nevertheless, you do not have to face this situation alone. In fact, you do not need a lot of money to hire a lawyer.
At Williams Hart & Boundas law firm, our personal injury lawyers are ready to assist you. We have extensive experience with the complicated workers’ compensation system. We have also worked with a number of labor unions. In fact, founding partner John Eddie Williams Jr. grew up in a strong union household. So, we understand your needs and your struggles. We are uniquely suited to help you and your family obtain the compensation you need and deserve.
Types of Workplace Injuries
Houston’s economy is built upon construction, energy production, and maritime commerce. These three sectors are among the most dangerous occupations in America. There are basically two categories of job-related injuries:
Trauma Injuries: These injuries usually occur suddenly and without warning. Examples of this are work-related falls, temperature burns, and traumatic accidents.
Occupational Diseases: Are any illnesses linked with a particular occupation or industry. These conditions usually occur slowly over time. Some examples of job-related diseases are Cancer, breathing problems, and joint pain.
Time is always of the essence in legal claims. This is especially true for workers’ compensation claims. While for trauma injuries, this not a problem as the results are seen instantly. But job-related diseases often take several years to show their impact on the employee. Which by that time, the claim deadline may have passed. Thankfully a variation of the delayed discovery rule protects these victims. Job-related disease victims do not have to file claims until they know the full extent of their conditions. And have proof that the illness is a direct link to the work environment. On the same note, many people have pre-existing conditions which make them susceptible to certain work-related diseases. Full benefits are usually available in these situations, as outlined below.
In the early days of the labor union movement, workers and management hammered out the Grand Bargain. Thus, injured workers waived their rights to sue for damages in court if management provided a system of no-fault insurance. This system would pay for their lost wages and medical bills:
Lost Wages: If the victim has a temporary disability, workers’ compensation usually pays two-thirds of the victim’s average weekly wage for the duration of that disability. Permanently disabled victims are usually entitled to lump-sum payments. The amount typically depends on the nature and extent of the disability.
Medical Bills: Injury-related medical bills often exceed $100,000. In catastrophic cases, like Cancer, serious burns, or a spine injury, the medical bills could be much higher. Workers’ compensation pays these bills, along with other reasonably necessary expenses, like physical therapy.
For many years, the workers’ compensation system was a well-funded system with streamlined procedures. However, today, the system has less money than ever before. The reason for this is that companies ceaselessly complained about the high cost of insurance. As a result, the state has steadily reduced insurance premiums. Furthermore, the system has become a bloated bureaucracy that is decidedly worker-unfriendly.
So, although the benefits mentioned earlier are available, the victim will probably end up settling for less unless the victim has an excellent personal injury lawyer.
Suing Outside the System
Union workers know better than anyone else that many employers take shortcuts when it comes to cutting costs. Workers’ compensation insurance is mandatory almost everywhere except Texas. Many companies take advantage of this loophole and do not buy insurance. Other companies lie on official forms, perhaps by under-reporting the number of covered employees. Hence, the insurance company may refuse to pay.
In these situations, victims can bring negligence claims in civil court. These claimants are entitled to additional compensation for their non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Workers’ compensation is also not the exclusive remedy in all situations. For example, defective tools or other products cause many workplace injuries. Thus, the producer is strictly liable for the injuries which their defective products may cause.
Injured union workers are entitled to substantial benefits. For a confidential consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney, contact Williams Hart & Boundas law firm today. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these cases.