Legal Issues When Returning to Work Post-COVID
As people throughout the United States are getting the COVID-19 vaccine and the virus is slowing down, workplaces are opening back up again. Now, you may face legal issues when returning to work post-COVID. If you get hurt or sick at work, there could be repercussions for your employer, as you may be entitled to bring a claim against them or a third party. The only way you’ll know whether you can bring forth a claim may be if you get in touch with Heiting & Irwin, Riverside personal injury lawyers.
Heiting & Irwin have over four decades of experience assisting clients with workplace claims. We have retrieved more than $400 million for our clients, and we’ll work hard to get you the settlement that’s rightfully yours.
Contracting COVID-19 at Work
Your first question when returning back to work is likely, “What happens if I get sick with COVID-19 at work?” You may be wondering if your employer is responsible for you becoming ill and, if so, what the repercussions would be.
It is very difficult to prove where you contracted COVID-19 since it’s so contagious. You’re likely going to work, the grocery store, the coffee shop, etc., and you might live with other people who are out and about and could have contracted COVID-19 anywhere. States have thrown out COVID-19 employee lawsuits, even when workers died from the virus. California has special laws in place that favor employees (workers) in these cases.
However, this doesn’t mean you should hold your tongue if your employer is doing something wrong. For instance, they might not be providing the proper protective equipment, sanitizing workstations, or requiring customers to wear masks. Perhaps you complained about the lack of protection from your employer and they fired you for being a whistleblower.
No matter what happened, it’s worth it to get in touch with a personal injury and/or workers’ compensation lawyer to see if you have a valid case that may hold up. Right now, attorneys across the United States are going into unchartered territory with COVID-19 workplace lawsuits, and yours could end up setting a precedent.
Getting Injured on the Job
You may be returning to your physical workspace after a long hiatus of several months. Now, things are likely a lot different. You might have to keep 6 feet of distance from your coworkers, wear a mask and/or face shield at all times, and sanitize frequently. A few issues could arise when you return to work.
First, you may have forgotten best safety practices that you used to have memorized before the pandemic. Now, you have to learn them again. Additionally, you might have forgotten where certain equipment is stored. It’s kind of like you’re starting all over, and unfortunately, this could be dangerous, especially if you work in a high-risk occupation like construction. You may be more likely to get injured on the job and have to file a workers’ compensation claim.
For instance, if you’re on a construction worksite, you may not be able to hear people yelling because they’re wearing masks and face shields, which could lead to you getting injured. Or, you may have forgotten that you need to complete a safety checklist before starting work each day, and you end up getting injured. Just because your workplace is now designed to protect you and your colleagues from getting COVID-19, it doesn’t mean it’s safer in any other regard or that there is any guarantee about not getting COVID-19. Work exposures and accidents happen at all the time.
In another scenario, you may not get injured on the job because of something you or your employer did. Instead of filing a workers’ compensation claim, you might be able to file a personal injury claim. A personal injury claim would apply in a number of different scenarios.
For example, if you were working on the factory floor of a tire manufacturer and a tire blew up in your face, causing you to become injured, it could be determined that the manufacturer was responsible for producing a defective product. You might be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against them. In another example, a UPS delivery person may have thrown a package into your office without looking to see if anyone was there. That package hit you and caused an injury. You may be able to bring a lawsuit against UPS. Typically, the rule of thumb is that if a third party was involved in causing or contributing to your work injury, then you could potentially file a personal injury claim against them.
What to Do if You’re Injured on the Job
Whether you were injured on the job and you have a workers’ compensation or personal injury claim to file, there are crucial steps you need to take to ensure your case is as strong as possible.
As soon as you’re injured, collect evidence showing what happened. This could include photographs of your injuries and damage to your belongings, witness statements, video footage, and a police report if necessary. Report your injury and tell your boss what happened right away, providing as many details as possible, and file a workers’ comp claim if it applies in your situation. Get a copy of the claim for yourself, as well.
It’s critical to go to the doctor right away, even if you think your injuries are only minor. You should get checked out completely, including X-rays taken, and do any other tests your doctor suggests. For instance, your back pain could turn into a much bigger issue down the line, and you want to make sure that you have a medical record on file that shows you identified an injury and got treatment as soon as possible. Follow your doctor’s treatment plan by taking medicine they order for you and going to additional appointments if necessary.
With workers’ comp, you can handle it with the help of an experienced workers compensation lawyer. When it comes to a personal injury on the job, you should seek out legal representation right away. If the defendant’s insurance company calls you to ask you details about what happened with your accident, refer them to your personal injury lawyer.
Your lawyers will work hard to get you the non-economic and economic damages you deserve for your medical bills, loss of wages, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and more. All you have to do is provide them with details about what happened and evidence you’ve collected, and they will fight on your behalf.
Contact Heiting & Irwin Today
Heiting & Irwin are here for you. We have dealt with many workers’ compensation and personal injury cases and will work hard to get you the settlement that’s rightfully yours. Richard Irwin is a certified workers compensation specialist and James Heiting, and others in the firm, are top personal injury trial lawyers. Contact us online or call us at 951-682-6400 to initiate your case.