Seeking Compensation for On-The-Job Injuries — Wyoming Job Site Accidents Lawyer
When an employee suffers a worksite injury or occupational illness, he or she often needs hospitalization and medical care. Given the high cost of health care, the specter of these medical expenses during a period that a person is unable to work can be extremely stressful. Fortunately, the Wyoming workers compensation system provides important financial benefits that can alleviate these financial hardships. In some cases, Wyoming Workplace Injury Attorney George L. Arnold also might pursue a personal injury lawsuit against parties other than an injured worker’s employer.
The goal at the Arnold Law Offices, PLLC, is to guide you through the procedures, paperwork, medical evaluations, hearing and appeals involved in the workers compensation process to ease your stress so you can obtain the fullest recovery and get back to work. In the event you suffer a work-related injury that causes partial or total permanent disability, we will guide through both the workers compensation system, and in some cases a personal injury lawsuit, to protect your standard of living and financial security.
Remedies for Workplace Accidents in Wyoming
If you are injured in a workplace accident or through exposure to a toxic substance that causes an occupational injury, the workers compensation system provides an exclusive remedy against your employer. This system for compensating injured workers provides a good news-bad new scenario. On the one hand, the workers compensation system provides benefits on a “no-fault” basis, which means that an employee does not need to establish the fault of his or her employer. In fact, an employee injured on-the-job typically can recover workers compensation benefits even if the employee was at-fault in causing the accident subject to some narrow exceptions. Because the process of gathering and presenting evidence to establish fault is not necessary, the workers compensation system offers a fast and efficient way to obtain free medical care, limited income replacement and other benefits.
The bad news associated with a workers compensation claim is that the amount of recovery and scope of compensable forms of loss are far more limited than in a personal injury lawsuit. Benefits under the workers compensation system do not include categories of damages like pain and suffering and punitive damages. These types of damages often comprise the largest portion of a civil verdict or settlement. Even when workers compensation benefits provide for losses that are compensable in a personal injury lawsuit, such as lost income, the extent of the amount provided is typically less.
Wyoming Workplace Injury Law Firm of Arnold Law Offices may be able to overcome the limitations on workers compensation benefits by filing a third part lawsuit. While the workers compensation system constitutes the exclusive remedy against an employer for a worksite injury, compensation also can be sought against third parties in a personal injury claim. In a construction accident, for example, third parties who might be subject to civil liability for damages include but are not limited to the project owner, general contractor, sub-contractors, architects, material supply companies and equipment rental companies among others.
Frequently Asked Questions – Job-Related Injuries
Can my employer make me take a drug test if I am injured while performing my job duties?
While ordinary negligence by an employee will not preclude eligibility for workers compensation benefits, an employee may be disqualified if alcohol or drug intoxication at work contributes to an accident. Employers can and typically do require an employee to immediately submit to drug testing following a workplace accident.
What types of benefits am I entitled to if I am injured at work?
While the benefits an individual claimant receives will depend on the circumstance of his or her case, benefits may include the following:
Free Medical Care
- Temporary Disability Benefits (i.e. partial income replacement)
- Permanent Disability Benefits (based on degree of permanent disability at point of maximum medical improvement
- Death Benefit
- Vocational Rehabilitation
Do I have a workers compensation claim if I was injured in a car accident on my way home from work? Workplace injuries are covered under the workers compensation system if they occur within the “course and scope of employment.” Generally, the commute to and from work does not fall within this criteria, but this issue is often a subject of dispute. If you stopped at the bank to make a deposit for your company at the end of the day or the printers to pick up brochures on the way into work, the claim might be covered. The issue of whether an injury occurred within the course and scope of employment can be a complicated issue that should be evaluated by an experienced Wyoming Workplace Accident Lawyer.
If you or someone you know has been injured by exposure to a worksite accident, hazardous substance or repetitive motion, the employee might have a right to workers compensation benefits and/or personal injury damages.
Representing Individuals Injured by Unsafe Truck Drivers and Indifferent Trucking Companies – Wyoming Tractor-Trailer Accident Lawyer
When a fully loaded 80,000 pound tractor-trailer collides with a passenger car that weighs a mere 3,000 pounds, the carnage can be catastrophic. Because of the massive weight differential between these vehicles, trucking accidents are more likely to result in catastrophic injuries like traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), spinal cord injuries (SCIs), internal organ damage, severe burns and even fatalities. When fatigued drivers are motivated by unrealistic shipping schedules, occupants of the other vehicle face a disproportionate risk of suffering life-altering injuries. Approximately 72 percent of individuals who die in tractor-trailer crashes are the occupant of the other vehicle.
If you or a family member suffers injury or the loss of a loved one in a trucking accident, the high risk of catastrophic injury makes it important to obtain the maximum possible financial recovery. Trucking accident lawsuits are not just motor vehicle accident claims involving a large vehicle. Trucking litigation raises complex and unique issues that necessitate legal representation by an experienced Wyoming Trucking Accident Attorney. Trucking accidents involve special challenges that make extensive knowledge and experience with trucking laws, customs and issues essential. Wyoming Trucking Accident Law Firm of Arnold Law Offices, PLLC, understands the special challenges associated with taking on commercial carriers and truck drivers.
Unique Characteristics of Tractor-Trailer Accident Lawsuits
Legislative and Regulatory Framework. Semi-truck injury cases require a working knowledge and understanding of the regulatory framework that will permit your Wyoming Trucking Accident Attorney to properly prepare and prosecute the case through these stages of litigation: i) the initial investigation, document production and witness identification, ii) the pleading of the correct charges in the complaint, iii) the retention of qualified expert witnesses to prepare reports about and testify concerning the violations within the regulatory framework, iv) the conduct of discovery, including successfully taking the depositions of lay and expert witnesses, v) the preparation of motions to attack the opposing expert witnesses and responses to defend the qualifications and opinions of the retained expert witnesses, vi) settlement conferences, and vii) the opening statement, direct and cross examination and summation at the jury trial.
Whether you are involved in an accident involving an 18-wheeler that operates across state lines (“interstate trucking”) or within the borders of Wyoming (“intrastate trucking”), the trucking industry is subject to an extensive regulatory scheme. These regulations establish safety standards to mitigate the risk of injury or death associated with vehicles that may weigh 25 times more than the average passenger vehicle. The basis for liability in a trucking accident lawsuit will often hinge on a violation of a trucking regulations. These regulations include:
- Hours of Service (HOS): These regulations limit a driver’s time behind the wheel and impose mandatory rest periods. Many drivers disregard these limits with the tacit approval of commercial carriers that impose overly-ambitious delivery schedules.
- Semi-Truck Maintenance: Large trucks must undergo pre-trip and post-trip inspections and regular maintenance. When proper maintenance or inspections are not conducted, tire blowouts or brake failure can result in an out of control vehicle barreling down the freeway.
- Pre-Hiring Investigation: Tractor-trailers become a lethal weapon when entrusted to drivers who are medically unfit, substance abusers or careless drivers. Trucking companies have an obligation to undertake a background investigation and to perform pre-employment drug testing to avoid hiring a driver who lacks the competence needed to safely handle these massive vehicles.
- Training and Supervision: Even if the driving record, employment history and substance abuse testing of a driver does not raise “red flags” at the time of hiring, trucking companies have an obligation to conduct ongoing training and supervision of drivers. This includes compliance with regulations regarding random drug testing. When commercial carriers fail to remove drivers from service in the wake of crashes, moving violations or failed drug tests, this failure to supervise might provide a basis for imposing liability on a trucking company.
- Distracted Driving: Although text messaging or handheld use of a cell phone is dangerous under any circumstances, the increased level of concentration and skill needed to operate a big-rig makes it especially dangerous to multi-task behind the wheel of a large truck.
- Random Drug & Alcohol Testing: While DUI laws that apply to all drivers are equally applicable to truckers, commercial drivers are subject to more stringent rules. Trucking companies are required to administer random drug and alcohol screening and to conduct such tests in the immediate aftermath of a collision. If a trucking accident is caused by a driver who is impaired by drugs or alcohol, the court may use such impairment as a basis to impose punitive damages
Special Evidentiary Issues. Trucking litigation often involves complex evidentiary issues which include the preservation of vital evidence regarding liability. Many trucking companies utilize rapid response teams that can be deployed to the scene of an accident within minutes or at least prior to the accident being cleared. These investigators begin gathering evidence, talking to witnesses and building a defense strategy immediately. If you are injured in a trucking collision, it is important to promptly retain a Wyoming Trucking Accident Law Firm that can undertake an investigation before critical evidence disappears.
The trucking industry is notorious for manipulating or destroying evidence. Although truck drivers are required to keep log books to document hours of service, inspections and maintenance, these records are so routinely manipulated that they are derisively referred to as “lie books” within the trucking industry. An experienced Wyoming Trucking Accident Lawyer must ferret out such deception by analyzing lodging receipts, full receipts, semi-truck black box data, emails, tire invoices and similar documents. When a truck is repaired and placed back into service, physical damage to the rig and black box information critical to proving how an accident occurred can be lost forever. Wyoming Trucking Accident Attorney.
Arnold Law Offices will promptly put the trucking companies on notice that such evidence must be preserved because it is the subject of litigation.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a tractor-trailer collision in Wyoming, you might have a right to financial compensation. If you have questions about your rights or options, you should call us at (307) 708-7887 to schedule a free consultation.