The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recently released numbers from 2021 proving that workplace fatalities are not decreasing—they are actually getting worse. If you were injured or if your loved one was killed in a workplace accident, talk to the Delaware workers’ compensation attorneys at Silverman, McDonald, & Friedman in Newark, Wilmington, and Seaford today.
Despite there being hundreds of OSHA regulations in place to keep employees and their workplace environment safe, companies are still reporting significant numbers of worker fatalities. Those who work in warehouses or with heavy machinery are at a greater risk given that their job encompasses working directly with dangerous equipment.
Unfortunately, transportation incidents have become the number one cause of workplace fatalities overall—and it is clear that something needs to be done to change the continued projected increase.
Fatal transportation incidents are on the rise
The BLS reported that overall fatal work injuries increased 8.9% from 2020 to 2021, from 4,746 to 5,190 fatalities. They also reported that, in 2021, a worker died every hour and 41 minutes from a job-related injury. To top it off, transportation incidents were found to be the number one cause of death for employees by a long shot four years in a row. There was even an 11.5% increase in these types of fatalities, with a total of 1,982 fatal injuries. Transportation incidents made up 38.2% of all work-related fatalities in 2021 alone.
Many people think of slips, trips, and falls when they think of workers’ compensation claims, and these were the second most common workplace fatalities. However, slips, trips, and falls still only contributed to 5.6% of the total yearly fatalities, making these significantly less dire than accidents involving transportation.
What is considered a “transportation incident?”
Judging by its name, you may assume that the only things which qualify as a transportation incident are driving vehicles; but that is not the case. Transportation incidents encompass any accident where some type of vehicle caused the primary impact which led to injury or fatality, whether the person who received the impact was driving it or not. This can include:
- Driving a vehicle, like a car, truck, or bus
- Operating heavy machinery, like a forklift
- Transporting employees or clients
- Making work-related deliveries
- Being struck by a work vehicle or heavy machinery
That means that if one employee was stacking boxes in a warehouse as another employee was driving by on a forklift and accidentally ran the other employee over, this would be considered a transportation incident. Or if a truck driver hit a pothole on the highway which caused the truck to run off the road; this would fall into that same category.
What causes so many transportation accidents and incidents?
The BLS reported that drivers, sales workers, and truck drivers were in the top occupational category for these transportation fatalities. Some reasons why transportation accidents may happen are:
- Distractions – While driving a car or any type of vehicle, texting, talking on the phone, or chatting with other passengers can lead to less attention on the road. Even if the phone call is hands-free and your eyes are still on the road as you are talking to other people in the car, your mind may not be totally focused on what is happening in front of you.
- Reckless driving – Driving above the speed limit, tailgating, and unsafely changing lanes are all ways people drive recklessly. Each one of these can lead to an accident on their own, but especially if you are doing more than one at a time.
- Manufacturer defects – Whether in a car or operating another type of machinery, it can malfunction and be unable to work properly. This can lead to an accident and really hurt the person operating it along with anyone nearby.
- Blind spots – Cars are equipped with mirrors, cameras, and sensors to eliminate blind spots as much as possible, but not every car has the latest technology—and not every piece of heavy machinery has the luxury. Plus, nothing is foolproof. It is important to recognize where blind spots are so you can always check them before making a move that could hurt someone.
- Fatigue – For those who work long hours or drive for long periods of time, fatigue can easily take over. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) even found that staying awake for 17 hours is similar to having a 0.05% blood-alcohol concentration (BAC). In this case, driving while drowsy is like driving while buzzed, and it can definitely lead to more accidents.
Can I be compensated if I was hurt in a Delaware workplace transportation incident?
If you are an employee who was hurt in a Delaware workplace transportation accident, then you may qualify for compensation for your injuries. Medical treatments are expensive and those bills add up fast. Do not try to handle a case as serious as this on your own. Filing a workers’ compensation claim in Delaware is not a seamless process, and insurance companies will do their best to either not pay or minimize your payout for their own financial gain. You need to work with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney so you can get coverage for:
- Past and future lost wages
- Medical bills
- Long-term treatment
- Permanent disability
Even if your loved one died while on the job in a Delaware transportation accident, you still may qualify for compensation for workers’ compensation benefits to help with the cost of funeral expenses.
If your workers’ compensation claim was denied, it may feel like you have nowhere left to turn. However, you can appeal this denial with the help of an experienced team of attorneys on your side from Silverman, McDonald & Friedman. To schedule a free consultation for your Delaware workers’ compensation case, call our office or submit our contact form. We have offices in Wilmington, Newark, and Seaford.
Attorney Jeffrey S. Friedman joined Silverman, McDonald & Friedman in 2001. He graduated from Widener University School of Law, and is admitted to practice law in Delaware and Pennsylvania, and in several Federal Circuit courts. He areas of concentration include auto accident and workers’ compensation cases. Read more about Attorney Friedman here.