According to the C.D.C., more than 18% of nonfatal work injuries that result in missed work are slips, trips and falls. That’s more than 200,000 serious falls each year on the job in the United States.
Falls in the workplace are a serious problem for workers and employers. If you are hurt, you need to know what to do and what your rights and options are. Our Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyers at Gibbons Legal explain what you should know if you or a loved one suffered a fall at work.
What Happens If You Slip and Fall on the Job?
If you slipped and fell at work:
- You may receive workers’ compensation.
- Assumption of the risk is not a defense. In other words, your employer can’t refuse to pay benefits because your job was dangerous.
- Benefits may include paid medical care, lost income, partial and total disability benefits, specific loss, travel expenses, and death benefits.
- Negligence is not required. You are not required to prove that your employer is at fault for causing the accident.
- If you were traveling for work or away from your usual work location, you may still receive benefits. In other words, the employer doesn’t have to be directly responsible for the property or premises where the injury occurred. The key question is whether you were acting in the course and scope of your employment at the time of the slip and fall.
- If your employer or their insurer refuses to pay benefits, you can challenge the decision. You can file appeals. An attorney can represent you.
- A third-party legal claim may also be possible if another party, besides the employer, was negligent in allowing a dangerous condition that resulted in a slip and fall.
If you slipped and fell at work, you may have the right to compensation through the Pennsylvania workers’ compensation system. Your no-fault workers’ compensation benefits may cover your medical care, lost income, and other losses.
Employers may also try to deny your claim, saying that you were not in the course of your employment or that the job contained inherent risks. However, you can challenge the decision and pursue your benefits. You may have an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to represent you.
Work-Related Fall Hazards
Work-related fall hazards come in many forms. Here are some common hazards that may lead to injury:
- Broken flooring or railings, bunched up carpeting, slippery surfaces
- Faulty electrical systems that lead to shock and then a fall
- Failing to perform routine inspections or custodial tasks
- Bad lighting
- Spills that may not be cleaned up
- Structures that are not secure, scaffolding, and structure failures
- Working without required O.S.H.A. safety protocols
- Inadequate training, continuing work when dangers appear
- Positioning a ladder poorly
- Cluttered working spaces
- Working in extreme hot or cold environments
- Lack of culture of safety
Injuries coming and going from work
For stationary employees, injuries while going to or coming from work are usually not covered.
However, there are exceptions. If the person’s employment contract covers transportation, if the person has no fixed employment location, if they are away from work doing something for their employer, or if they are otherwise furthering the business of the employer, they may be covered if injured during travel. An act furthering the business of the employer must be on the express or implied order of the employer rather than just for the employee’s convenience.
See Wawa v. Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board, 659 C.D. 2001 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2011), where an injured worker received benefits while walking into the store where he was a facilities manager. Benefits were upheld because the employee was required to drive a work van to and from work and park in a certain parking lot away from the building.
Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Claims About Slip and Falls
The Baby’s Room v. W.C.A.B.
One unique example of a Pennsylvania worker’s compensation case about a slip and fall is The Baby’s Room v. W.C.A.B., 860 A.2d 200 (Pa. Cmmw. Ct. 2004). The injured worker was a furniture delivery person. After making a delivery at a residence, he was walking on the driveway. He jumped up to tap a basketball rim. The rim was wet and slippery.
The man fell backwards, striking his head. He sustained a traumatic brain injury and required a feeding tube. The man filed for workers’ compensation.
The employer denied the claim, saying that the man was not in the course of his employment at the time of the fall. The employer said the man’s work was already finished because the delivery was complete. The court disagreed because the workers had not returned the truck to the warehouse and completed their timesheet, as was customary after a delivery.
The court said that small departures from work for personal comforts or convenience, like tapping a basketball rim, do not break the scope of employment. When an employee travels for work, there is latitude when determining if an injury is compensable. Ultimately, the court affirmed the decision to award workers’ compensation benefits in the case.
Mitchell v. Holland Furnace Co.
In Mitchell v. Holland Furnace Co., 189 Pa. Super. 82 (Pa. Super. Ct. 1959), the deceased worker was a salesperson. He was at the home of a prospective customer. There, he saw some cherry trees. The property owner gave him permission to pick cherries. While doing so, the man fell from a ladder and suffered fatal injuries.
The court sustained workers’ compensation benefits, saying that the deceased person was in the course of their employment at the time of the injury. They said that a traveling salesperson usually works away from the employer’s location, and the person was brought to the property because of their work. The court further said that gaining the attention and favor of a prospective customer was a part of his job and was, at most, a slight departure from his duties.
The court affirmed the decision to award workers’ compensation benefits.
Contact Our Lawyers in Philadelphia for a Slip and Fall Accident at Work
At Gibbons Legal, we are lawyers who can represent you if you slipped and fell at work. We want you to get the compensation and benefits that you deserve. For a free consultation and strategy session, contact us today to talk about your case.