Workers Struck by Falling Objects in the Auto Industry
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are over 42,000 accidents involving falling objects in the workplace every year. These include only those accidents reported to the United States Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Although there may be fall protection programs in place on worksites, there may not always be prevention programs for falling tools and equipment. If you are an auto worker who has been struck and injured by a falling object on the job, you may be able to obtain workers' compensation benefits. It can be helpful to retain an experienced Chicago workers' compensation attorney to learn more about your legal options and the process of seeking coverage.Workers Struck by Falling Objects in the Auto Industry
Falling objects can cause injuries such as sprains, strains, fractures, bruises, and traumatic brain injuries. There are controls that can be set up to stop an object from falling, as well as procedural controls that involve alterations to workplace procedure so that objects won't fall. Your employer can also install guardrails and toeboards to stop objects from falling a level. Sometimes employers barricade certain zones, including areas where material is being hoisted or lifted. When work is performed near a grating, your employer might require plywood or another material to be placed over the grating to keep from permitting falling objects. An employer may have rules in place to avoiding lifting or swinging loads over workers' heads, and procedures to make sure any rigging equipment is in good working order.
Even a small falling object such as a wrench or a tape measure can cause serious harm depending on the height from which it fell. The force may be very great when an object is dropped from a great height.Claiming Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Usually, if you are hit by a falling object at work, others witness it. Even so, you should provide written notice to your employer that you were struck by a falling object. You have 45 days to provide this notice, and you should state the date and place of the accident in your notice to the employer. Your coworker observing the accident will not constitute notice to your employer. Sometimes when workers delay in giving notice, it raises an insurer's suspicion that the report is false or that the injuries were incurred somewhere other than the workplace. Insurers may set up surveillance on a claimant hoping to catch him or her on a lie. You should be aware that this is a possibility; insurers and employers sometimes use social media for surveillance purposes.
Denials of workers’ compensation benefits can occur for many different reasons. For example, if an employer thinks the injury was not work-related, the claim may be denied. Similarly, if they don't think that the injury warrants you taking time off work to recover, there may be a denial.
If you are denied workers' compensation benefits, you can submit your claim to the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission or ask for a hearing before an arbitrator. For example, in situations in which you give your employer notice that you were injured due to a falling object, where the employer or the insurer won't pay medical benefits or disability for time you couldn't work, you can file a claim. The hearing is before an arbitrator who will hear both sides of the denied claim.
Usually employers and insurers are represented by experienced attorneys at hearings. Therefore, it is in your best interest to also be represented by a knowledgeable workers’ compensation lawyer. If there are disputes about issues such as how severe an injury is, you will need to ask for a hearing, and a trial date will be set. The arbitrator then makes a determination within 60 days of the trial. When you believe the arbitrator has made a mistake, you may be able to appeal to get that decision overturned. The appeal is heard by a panel of three commissioners. If you disagree with that decision, you may have further opportunities to appeal in civil court.Consult a Skillful Workers' Compensation Attorney in Chicago
If you are a Chicago worker who was struck by a falling object in the auto industry, a workers' compensation lawyer can assess your case and help you claim benefits. At Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca, we represent injured auto workers in areas including Rockford, Aurora, Springfield, Champaign, and Quincy, as well as Cook, Adams, Champaign, Sangamon, Winnebago, and Kane Counties. Call us at 312-263-6330 or toll-free at 800-444-1525, or contact us online to learn more about your legal rights and options.