If you fall at work, is it covered by workers’ compensation?
Slips, trips, and falls are common—both at home and in the workplace. In 2019, about 880 workers died in the U.S. from falls, according to the National Safety Council. In the same year, about 244,000 workers sustained serious injuries from slips and falls that kept them out of work for a few days.
In fact, falls are the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related death.
Slips and falls account for up to 1 in 5 workplace injuries, despite the fact that slips, trips and falls in the workplace are preventable if people have access to the right tools and wear appropriate protection. According to OSHA, the employer is responsible for ensuring the safety of the workplace, but not all employers adhere to these safety regulations.
Construction workers fall at a particularly high rate compared to other occupations. However, even people working in offices at seemingly “safe” jobs can still slip, fall and sustain serious injuries.
What causes slips, trips and falls in the workplace?
Slips and falls at work most commonly result from unsafe working conditions, such as:
- Uneven floor
- Spilled liquids
- Inadequate or unavailable warning signs
- Poor lighting
- Potholes on the parking lot of floor
- Exposed cables on the floor
- Broken stairs
Compensation for slip and fall injuries in Indiana
Although most people who slip and fall only sustain minor injuries, there are instances where victims suffer serious injuries such as broken bones or spine, burns, disc herniation and head trauma.
Fortunately, Indiana’s workers’ compensation system covers most employees who sustain job-related injuries. Since workers’ compensation benefits are provided regardless of fault, injured workers don’t have to go through the hassle of proving that a coworker or employer was at fault, and they can still receive compensation if their own negligence contributed to their injury.
Workers’ compensation typically covers an injured worker’s medical bills and a portion of lost wages. If a workers’ compensation doctor requires that the injured employee take off work to recover from their injury, they should receive at least two-thirds of their average weekly wage in compensation.
One of the few exceptions to workers’ compensation in Indiana is when a worker intentionally causes an accident. If the insurance company or employer can provide evidence that the victim exhibited “disregard for probable consequences,” then the claim will be denied.
Can you sue a third party?
If the slip and fall injury wasn’t caused by workplace conditions but rather by a third party (not your employer or a coworker), you may be able to sue the third party. For instance, if a ladder malfunctions and you fall and break your leg, you may be able to sue the ladder manufacturer. However, such cases are different from workers’ compensation and instead fall under personal injury law.
If you believe a third party was partially or fully responsible for your work-related injury, consult with an injury attorney who specializes in third-party liability cases.
What to do if you slip and fall at work
Immediately after being hurt in a slip, trip or fall, you should seek medical attention for your injuries.
Next, you will need to notify your employer as soon as possible. Your employer should provide you with a list of physicians that you should visit for follow-up treatment. You can choose one of the authorized physicians from the list to be your primary physician.
To claim compensation, the first step is to file Form DWC-1 (First Report of Injury) with your employer. This form, which you can download from the Worker’s Compensation Board of Indiana website, documents the time, date and cause of the accident. You don’t have to fill out the form immediately after the injury; you can first seek treatment and fill out the form later.
The workers’ compensation doctor will examine your injury and refer you to a specialist if necessary. The physician may refer you to a surgeon, orthopedic, podiatrist or neurologist, depending on the nature of your injury. If you feel that your primary physician isn’t acting in good faith, or they aren’t treating the injury with the seriousness it deserves, you can seek an opinion from another physician approved by the employer. If you choose to see an unauthorized doctor, your employer’s workers’ compensation insurer may decline to cover the medical bills.
After treatment, the primary physician will determine when you are fit to go back to work. In their diagnosis, you may have 1 of 5 conditions:
- Fit to return work
- Temporary partial disability (TPD)
- Temporary total disability (TTD)
- Permanent partial disability (PPD)
- Permanent total disability (PTD)
Some companies are willing to change or adapt your position to accommodate your light-duty restriction. If there is no such a position available or your employer is not willing to work within your restrictions, then they may have to pay disability benefits to you.
When to consult a slip and fall work injury attorney
If you slip or fall at work, are you covered by workers’ compensation?
Generally speaking, yes — and you should be eligible for benefits regardless of who was at fault. If the insurance company denies your claim or offers a low settlement amount that won’t cover all of your expenses, it’s time to consult with a work injury attorney to represent you.
If the accident that led to the workplace injury was caused by a third party, you may need a personal injury attorney to better understand your legal options.