Articles Posted in Workplace Injury

AMAZON-300x197Jeff Bezos can probably take credit for changing the way people shop online more than any single person. While the road to Amazon’s dominance as a retailer certainly has been fueled by a spark of ingenuity, that same road has also been filled with many strategies designed to protect the company to the detriment of its work force. While news stories have focused on Amazon fulfillment worker injuries at its numerous warehouses across the country, many Chicago area Amazon workers face other challenges. This is especially true as Amazon uses a strategy that involves treating its Flex drivers as 1099’s or independent contractors even though they are under the direction and control by Amazon.com, Inc. as to how they are required to do their jobs. For instance, Amazon uses GPS to tell the drivers where to go after the packages are picked up. Amazon has the right to control how many blocks a driver gets, which means that sometimes a driver will not get consistent work.

Many Amazon delivery drivers may be surprised to learn that Amazon.com, Inc. does not consider them to be employees. That means that Amazon Flex drivers will be told by Amazon’s lawyers that they do not have workers’ compensation benefits when they sustain a work injury. Amazon operates very much like Uber and Lyft as part of the gig economy that uses a strategy of evading the existing laws that are designed to protect workers when they are hurt on the job. This probably is not a surprise because it is a way of saving money and passing the buck to society both by not paying for work comp insurance and by pushing the costs onto local, state, and federal governments. They also operate like many delivery companies in that they tell their drivers that they are their own boss yet control they way they do their jobs from start to finish by using an app. For example, Amazon drivers must operate under a “Block.” This means that a driver must deliver a certain amount of packages in a set time based on what the company thinks that a driver should be able to accomplish. A driver is paid the same whether they complete this block in the allotted time or not.

Certainly, Amazon Flex drivers are at a higher risk of harm than most people because they are driving through many urban and suburban areas, parking, walking to doorsteps, and doing all of this through ice, snow, sleet, and rain, especially in Illinois. It comes as no surprise that Amazon delivery drivers sustain work injuries not only in major vehicle accidents, but also in slip and fall and trip and fall accidents. In the recent weeks, there have been many concerns voiced about Amazon drivers becoming infected with the Coronavirus and developing Covid-19 illness. According a a recent Seattle Times article, Amazon is telling drivers to knock with their phones, don’t sneeze on packages, and to have customers step away from their ID’s left on the ground to avoid spreading the virus. https://www.seattletimes.com/business/amazon/amazon-gives-delivery-drivers-detailed-guidance-for-working-amid-coronavirus/ Considering the recent surge in orders and Amazon increasing the hourly rate for Flex drivers, not only will there be an increase in the number of Amazon workers hurt at work and left in the cold from car crashes, but there will probably be a surge in the number of workers who fall ill with Covid-19 who are easily and rapidly replaced by Amazon. In fact, the way that Amzaon treats its workers is very close to treating them like robots. It is expected that Amazon will proceed this way until they can replace their drivers with automated vehicles and drones. Despite what Amazon’s lawyers say, Flex drivers are covered under Illinois Workers’ Compensation law.

Unfortunately, injury-causing or fatal workplace accidents too often involve an employer that cut safety corners to save time, money, or both, or that otherwise ignored its worker safety and health obligations. When that happens, the workers harmed by the accidents that ensue may have their lives forever changed (or ended) by those injuries. The law says that, when that happens, the workers or their families may be entitled to be compensated for the harm that they suffered. Be sure to contact a Chicago work injury attorney about your situation.

Back in May of 2019, an explosion at a specialty chemical plant rocked the city of Waukegan. The explosion was so massive that it was felt throughout much of Lake County. For five families, though, what they suffered was far worse than just feeling an odd rumble beneath their feet. The explosion killed four workers and very seriously injured a fifth.

And, according to an investigation performed by the Chemical Safety Board, it didn’t have to happen. The Chicago Tribune reported that the interim executive of the board declared the accident to be preventable because more complete safety “management systems could have avoided the incident.”

Whether you’re in Chicago, New York or any other major city, construction work is one of the most dangerous jobs out there. Too many times, the damaging or even fatal accidents that happen to construction workers are the result of inadequate safety protections and protocols at the job site. Some accident types occur over and over, leading OSHA to declare them to be the “Fatal Four.” These four accident types – falls, being struck by objects, electrocutions and being caught in/caught between – accounted for roughly 60% of fatal construction accidents in 2017.

When that happens, you, as the loved one of a deceased worker, may be entitled to recover death benefits under the workers’ compensation system. Meeting all the requirements of the workers’ compensation process isn’t easy, so be sure to retain an experienced Chicago workers’ compensation attorney without delay.

R.L.’s case was a tragic Chicago-area example of the “Fatal Four.” R.L. died after a driver of a front loader backed up his vehicle into R.L. and pinned the worker between the front loader and a dump truck.

When you decide to pursue a personal injury lawsuit, you know there are certain forces that will work against you. Deciding whether or not to pursue your case may come down, at least in part, to making a determination about whether the potential benefits outweigh the possible risks. To best position yourself, then, it is important to eliminate as many risks as the law will allow you to knock out. Doing that, in many situations, requires an in-depth knowledge of the law. In other words, to give yourself the best possible chance of success, be sure you have knowledgeable Chicago injury counsel on your side.

As an example of knocking out certain risks, look at the case of D.R. and M.A. Both men were workers for the same railway employer. One December day in 2014, M.A. was the locomotive conductor and D.R. was the locomotive engineer on a train that collided with another train while at the railway’s yard in Joliet. The crash caused both the engineer and the conductor to suffer substantial injuries.

The men filed personal injury lawsuits against the railway, alleging that the employer failed to provide them with a safe workplace, which was a violation of the Federal Employers’ Liability’ Act (FELA.) One might expect that the cases would go forward as normal injury lawsuits, but the railway took a different a different approach. It filed multiple different counterclaims against both men. The counterclaims accused the employees of things like property damage (for failing to prevent the crash,) driving too fast, failing to observe a signal, and failing to remain alert and attentive, among other things.

Workers in many industries face a variety of risks when it comes to workplace accidents and injuries. Airport workers are no exception. Sometimes, those risks of injury are inevitable but, as a recent Baltimore Sun report reminds everyone, some regrettably are not. Too many times, the risks airport workers face are the result of inadequate safety protections provided to them. That’s true whether you’re at BWI Airport in Maryland or O’Hare Airport here in Chicago. If you are hurt while on the job at an airport, you should seek skilled Chicago workers’ compensation legal counsel about your possible options in civil court or workers’ compensation.

According to the Sun report, the Maryland Occupational Safety and Health agency recommended that a logistics entity receive citations and several thousand dollars in fines as a result of several workplace safety issues at the BWI Marshall Airport. One of the most serious violations involved work that was being done at the top of jet bridges. The investigation found that the jet bridge work was as high as 25 feet off the ground, but was done by workers who lacked proper fall protection or adequate training, the Sun reported.

That violation was considered the most serious because of its likelihood to lead to serious injury or death. Injuries from falls are among the top causes, or the #1 top cause, of worker fatalities in many areas of work.

Sleep Tips for Commercial Drivers

If you are a commercial driver or you know one, it’s important to educate yourself about drowsy driving, what helps mitigate it, and what makes it worse.

1. Get Enough Sleep Before You Drive

Your workplace injury legal action (or actions) may be very straightforward or may be highly complex. What might start out as a seemingly simple request for additional benefits based on an unanticipated need for a secondary medical procedure may possibly set off many wide-ranging legal consequences. The key is to have the skilled Illinois workplace injury counsel you need to be ready for whatever comes next.

G.B. was a worker whose injury action proved to fall into the “complex” column. In the spring of 2017, G.B. was injured while working as a forklift driver in McHenry County. The damage to the driver’s shoulder was bad enough that he required rotator cuff surgery. Later on, doctors determined that the worker needed a follow-up surgery. That led G.B. to request an adjustment of the workers’ compensation claim for benefits that he’d filed earlier.

What ensued was a web of allegations and litigation over G.B.’s claim, all triggered through no fault of the worker. As many employers, especially larger employers, do, G.B.’s employer had workers’ compensation insurance. However, G.B.’s employer allegedly covered the forklift driver’s lost wages and medical expenses after the first surgery without notifying the insurance company. According to the insurer, it only found out after G.B. sought the adjustment to his claim based on the need for a second surgery.

Working in industrial jobs carries many risks. One of those is the risk of certain severe injuries that one might reasonably expect not to encounter while working in an office job. For example, there is a type of injury called “degloving.” According to the website healthline.com, a degloving is also called an avulsion and is “a type of severe injury that happens when the top layers of your skin and tissue are ripped from the underlying muscle, connective tissue, or bone.” This type of injury may sound grotesque and painful, but it is actually worse than that.

Many degloving injuries are life-threatening events as a result of the extensive amount of blood loss and tissue death that occurs. Even if you survive, you may have a lifetime of terrible pain. You may never be able to do the same jobs or enjoy the same hobbies as before. Your life is changed forever, so when it comes to getting the full compensation you need for the horrible harm you endured, be sure to call upon experienced Chicago injury counsel.

T.N. was a Wisconsin man who suffered this kind of horrible injury while working in Chicago. According to an NBC-2 report, T.N. was a spare parts manager for a machine company that was participating in a trade show taking place at McCormick Place in the near north side when he was hurt. At the end of the show, the manager was working to tear down the employer’s booth when a 29-ton forklift ran over his foot. In the accident, T.N. suffered a degloving injury to his left foot. The injury forced the manager to undergo multiple surgeries as medical teams worked to save the man’s foot.

As a construction worker in Illinois, workplace injuries are an unfortunate (and all too common) fact of life. When you’ve suffered an injury while working at your construction job, it can be an extraordinarily scary time. You’re hurt and may be looking at an extended absence from work. You have medical bills. You have many concerns, especially if you are a primary or sole income earner for your family. There may be much uncertainty, and one area of uncertainty may relate to insurance companies who are working to deny you compensation. Many workers find themselves facing that struggle. To make sure you are getting the compensation you deserve as a result of your construction job injury, it pays to be sure you have an aggressive and knowledgeable Chicago injury attorney on your side.

As pointed out in the paragraph above, insurers will often go to great lengths to try to escape paying claims or providing defenses in cases advanced by injured workers. Look at one recent case from Central Illinois. The injured man, M.D., was an employee of the elevator/escalator subcontractor working on a construction job at the Bloomington headquarters of a major insurance conglomerate.

According to the injured worker, he was performing tasks on an escalator when he came “into contact with 1,700 pounds of equipment … resulting in serious injury.” He claimed the reason that happened was because “unskilled workers” were allowed “to suddenly approach and engage heavy equipment, unannounced and without any training.” As a result of the substantial harm he suffered in this accident, M.D. sued. In that case, he named both the owner of the property (the insurance conglomerate) and the general contractor on the project.

A recent ruling by the Illinois Appellate Court was an important win for injured workers. The court’s opinion stated that a railroad worker’s award of lost wages could not be a sum from which the worker was required to pay taxes because the relevant tax law only required withholding on “services rendered,” and an award of lost wages, by definition, could not be money paid for the actual performance of services. Whether it is fighting against a reduction in your damages award or battling some other aspect of your injury case, make sure you have skilled Illinois injury counsel advising you and representing your interests.

The railroad worker, Rafael, was a freight conductor for a major railroad. While the conductor was working one day, Rafael’s train stopped short, and the stop threw him from his feet. The conductor suffered serious injuries to his neck and shoulder. Rafael sued under the Federal Employers Liability Act to recover compensation for the harm he had suffered in the accident. FELA is the statute that injured railroad workers must use to obtain compensation for their injuries.

The conductor sought damages for “lost wages, medical bills, loss of future earning capacity, and pain and suffering.” A jury heard Rafael’s case and concluded that he was entitled to a judgment totaling $821,000. $310,000 of that was past and future lost earnings. The damages awarded included a sum for lost wages. After the jury reached its verdict, the railroad asked the court to order a setoff, which is a type of reduction in the damages award. The employer’s argument was that the conductor owed taxes on his lost wages award under the Railroad Retirement Tax Act. The trial court refused, concluding that the law does not authorize the withholding of taxes from personal injury awards, including those awarded under FELA.