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Workplace Accidents Archives - The Law Office of WT Johnson Blog

This March, Practice Workplace Eye Safety Awareness

By The Law Office of WT Johnson on March 2, 2015

Most people rely heavily on their vision to carry out their work, to navigate their workplace and home, and to carry out various errands and hobbies. However, the eyes are delicate organs, and even minor damage to them can easily reduce or even destroy the ability to see clearly.

Every day, about 2,000 people suffer some kind of eye injury at work in the United States, according to Oregon State University researchers. These injuries may be caused by chemical exposure, flying objects, tools, particles in the air, or events like being struck by an object or person. Read the rest »

Posted in: Workplace Accidents

Texas Colleges Receive $400,000 in Safety Education Grants

By The Law Office of WT Johnson on February 25, 2015

Texas Mutual Insurance Company recently announced an award of grant funding to four Texas colleges, according to an Insurance News Net press release. The funding will go to pay for free workplace safety courses for employees, employers, and interested members of the public. In total, the grants equal $400,000.

The courses will be taught by the risk management institutes at the four colleges that received funding: Kilgore College, Midland College, Del Mar College, and College of the Mainland. The funds represent an ongoing effort by the insurance company, which has awarded nearly $4 million in similar grants since 1999. About 30,000 students have already attended previous grant-funded safety courses, according to Insurance News Net. Read the rest »

Posted in: Workplace Accidents

Three Ways to Reduce Workplace Slip and Fall Accidents

By The Law Office of WT Johnson on February 16, 2015

Texas workers lose hundreds of productive hours each year through accidental injuries. Many of these injuries can be prevented when employers and employees work together to make the workplace safer.

Since slip and fall accidents are one of the most common causes of workplace injuries, experienced Texas injury lawyers encourage workplaces large and small to look for ways to reduce the risk of a slip, trip, or fall. Here are three tips for reducing the risk of a slip and fall accident causing injury and decreasing productivity in your workplace: Read the rest »

Posted in: Workplace Accidents

Texas Department of Workers’ Compensation Seeks Presenters for “Texas Safety Summit”

By The Law Office of WT Johnson on November 5, 2014

The Texas Department of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) 19th Annual Workplace Safety and Health Conference, also known as the “Texas Safety Summit,” will be held May 19-21 in Austin, Texas. Concerned workers, employers and other experienced individuals are invited to submit proposals for presentations to be given at the summit.

Experienced Texas workplace injury attorneys recognize that events like the Texas Safety Summit offer a unique opportunity for employers, employees and safety professionals to gather and share information on how to make Texas workplaces safer. Presentations for the Summit should focus on helping employers reduce injuries and associated costs through workplace safety measures and effective return-to-work programs. Read the rest »

Posted in: Workplace Accidents

What Does Workers Compensation Cover?

By The Law Office of WT Johnson on June 6, 2014

Workers compensation is a benefit program offered to employees of a company, in which the employees and/or their families can file for claims to illnesses, injuries, and even death, if they occurred while they are at work.

Workers compensation is aimed to ensure that the employees are protected in the event of an accident – to be properly compensated and to be able to take care of their injuries, without having to file a case against the employer. However, it should be noted that not all kinds of injuries are covered by this program. Here are some examples.

Work related injuries

The bulk of claims for workers compensation are centered on injuries that happened while on the job. State laws differ with the definition of ‘work-related,’ but generally they include:

  • Injuries sustained at the workplace
  • Injuries sustained within the scope of employment (while doing tasks related to the job)
  • Injuries sustained at work-sponsored events
  • Injuries sustained during horseplay, without the proper supervision

In some cases, workers compensation also covers injuries that were sustained because of the worker’s own negligence. So long as he or she is within the clock, then it is possible to file for a claim.

However, it does not usually include injuries due to self-harm, intoxication, or those that happened because the worker violated a company rule or the law.

Repetitive motion injuries

There are work related injuries that are also caused by repetitive motions, which include:

  • Cumulative trauma disorders or CTDs
  • Repetitive stress injuries or RSIs
  • Repeated motion injuries or RMIs

These are usually caused by, or worsen because of working conditions. These are likely to be covered by workers compensation.

Professional athletes have filed and won workers compensation claims for cumulative trauma, which can range from joint trauma to head injuries.

Occupational illnesses

Some kinds of jobs have illnesses and diseases that are associated with them, due to the working conditions and environment. An example of this is the black lung disease, common in coal miners, and mesothelioma for those in the asbestos industry.

It is also possible to file for a claim if because of the conditions allowed by the workplace; the worker gets exposed to elements that result in illnesses. A waiter who is diagnosed with lung cancer can file for workers compensation because the restaurant he works for allows smokers. The cancer, if attributable to the secondhand smoke that the waiter inhales, can be a solid ground to be compensated. Of course, the circumstances will change if the waiter himself smokes.

So long as the disease is documented and diagnosed, then it is likely to be covered by workers compensation.

Death on the Job

Survivors of an employee who loses his or her job due to work can also claim for workers compensation. Filing a claim for workers compensation saves everyone the trouble of having to sue for wrongful death to get compensated.

If you are looking for a competent personal injury lawyer, then contact W.T. Johnson to schedule an appointment.

Posted in: Workplace Accidents

$8.6M Verdict Against CSX For Retired Employee With Cancer

By The Law Office of WT Johnson on January 8, 2014

Personal Injury AttorneyRailroads are an important part of American life and the employees of railroads contend with difficult and dangerous conditions to keep the trains and their cargo moving across the country. In Texas alone, there are more than 10,000 miles of track and almost 20,000 employees of many different rail lines, according to the Association of American Railroads.

The Tennessee Court of Appeals just awarded Winston Payne $8.6 million for cancer he developed after retiring from a long career with CSX. Payne had been a trainman and switchman from 1962 until 2002. In 2005, he was diagnosed with lung cancer. He underwent many rounds of chemotherapy and radiation treatments. In 2007, Payne filed a lawsuit against CSX alleging they were negligent in exposing him to asbestos, diesel fumes, and radioactive materials. He also alleged CSX was guilty of negligence per se because they had violated several statutes and regulations regarding the safety of employees. Payne had also smoked from 1962 until 1988, about 26 years. Payne died on February 24, 2010; his widow substituted as a plaintiff for the appeal.

The jury trial took ten days, and they returned a verdict in Mr. Payne’s favor. They had been given jury instructions that were very specific to the elements necessary for finding negligence, and regulations for determining if the regulations had been violated. A condensed version of the jury instructions and their written response follows:

1. Was the defendant negligent? Yes
2. If, yes, did the negligence cause in whole or part the harm he suffered? Yes
3. If negligent, was the defendant negligent with regard to:
Asbestos? Yes
Diesel? Yes
Radiation? Yes
4. Did the defendant violate the Locomotive Inspection Act? Yes
Concerning Asbestos? Yes
Concerning Diesel Fumes? Yes
Concerning Radioactive Materials? Yes
5. If yes, was the plaintiff negligent with regard to the harm he suffered? Yes
6. If yes, what percent did the plaintiff’s negligence cause the harm he suffered? 62 percent
7. The amount you find without deduction for the plaintiff’s part: $8.6 million

The judge read the jury instructions aloud, and the jury foreman responded. That should have concluded the case. However, the judge made additional comments to the foreman regarding a legal conflict between the answer the jury gave in question “4”, and the percent the plaintiff caused harmed to himself by smoking. The jury again left the court and returned with the following correction: 3.2 million at 100 percent.

Question “4” and the 3 parts of question “4”, ask about the Locomotive Inspection Act. When the jury agreed that CSX had violated the Locomotive Inspection Act, which is a statute, CSX was guilty of negligence per se, which is automatically negligent. By violating the statute, CSX broke the law, which could have criminal penalties associated with it. The statute was written to set a standard of care, by violating the statute, CSX automatically failed to uphold their duty to care for their employee.

This was the break CSX needed to ask the court of a new trial. The judge agreed that the jury verdict would be set aside, and a new trial was needed. A new trial date was set with a new judge, who excluded all of the expert witnesses’ testimony from the first trial. Then he granted CSX summary judgment and dismissed the case altogether.

Tennessee Court Of Appeals Looked At Three Questions

1. Did the first lower court err by further instructing the jury, and by permitting further debate?
The Appeals court found that the jury instructions were acceptable under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA). This act was conceived in the late 1800’s when thousands of railroad workers were being injured and some killed. FELA was enacted by Congress in 1908 to provide compensation for railroad workers and their families when the railroad is liable for injury or death due to negligence. It was broadly written to encourage railroads to take steps to prevent injury to their employees.

CSX asserted a defense of contributory negligence by the plaintiff because he had smoked for years. FELA is very clear about contributory negligence, by stating,

“the fact that the employee may have been guilty of
contributory negligence shall not bar a recovery, but the
damages shall be diminished by the jury in proportion to the
amount of negligence attributable to such employee: Provided,
That no such employee who may be injured or killed shall be
held to have been guilty of contributory negligence in any case
where the violation by such common carrier of any statute
enacted for the safety of employees contributed to the injury or
death of such employee. 45 U.S.C.A. § 53

When the jury answered “yes” to question “4” and all of its parts, it was under the law, negligence per se and contributory negligence was no longer a consideration. Neither the plaintiff nor the defense gave the jury instruction of negligence per se, which is a matter of law. When the jury reversed their original verdict of $8.6 million to $3.2 million, roughly a 62 percent decrease, it was as if the jury nullified the language and intent of FELA.

2. Did the first lower court err by granting a new trial to CSX?
The Appeals court found that the “incompleteness” of the first trial was only in regards to the jury not being given clear instructions about negligence per se, and how, if found, it would affect competitive negligence. The first court granted a new trial based on the perceived errors of law.

3. Did the second lower court err by dismissing the complaint?
The Appeals court found that the second court erred by not allowing the evidence presented by the expert witnesses as to the causation of the plaintiff’s injuries. They were all found to be qualified by the first trial judge, and their testimony was never called into question. The order for a new trial was reversed, as was, the order granting summary judgment.

Mr. Payne did not live to see this day. However, his case has sent a message to CSX and other companies who do not take their employees health seriously. A case in Tennessee may not seem important to anyone in Texas, but the same conditions might be found in any train yard if precautions are not taken, and if Federal regulations are disregarded by the railroad.

If you have suffered an injury due to the negligence of another, contact the professionals at W.T. Johnson for legal help.

Workplace Risks: Two U.S. Teachers Killed in Two Days

By The Law Office of WT Johnson on October 25, 2013

School Bus Accident Causes InjuriesRecently graduating from college, many of my friends are considering their future careers. Some have decided to pursue the life of a teacher, but two separate situations this week have raised cause for alarm. On two different sides of the country, only one day apart, two teachers have been murdered. Teachers have difficult jobs to begin with, but the added risk to their lives seems to unfortunately be growing.

On Monday morning a horrific scene unfurled at Sparks Middle School, just outside of Reno, Nevada. A 12-year-old boy brought a gun to school and opened fire around 7:00 am. It is suspected that bullying was the cause of his actions. He first fired shots at two boys on the playground basketball court, the two victims were wounded but are now in stable condition. Upon arrival to the scene, teacher Mike Landsberry approached the boy and asked him to put the gun down. The boy then shot Landsberry and then himself, putting an end to the horrifying events. Landsberry is considered a hero for diverting the gun fire away from other children, allowing them to run for cover. Landsberry was an ex-marine who survived Afghanistan, but not the playground.

The very next day a 24-year-old teacher at a high school in Danvers, Massachusetts was reported missing. A day after Colleen Ritzer went missing, her body was found in the woods behind the school where she taught. A 14-year-old boy is now in custody, and is believed to have acted alone. Details are still being gathered in this case, but authorities have reported to have found blood in one of the second floor bathrooms of the middle school.

We live in a dangerous, unpredictable world and these two murders are heartbreaking and unnecessary. These two incidents have sparked discussions that range in topics regarding school safety. If you or a loved one is wrongfully hurt or killed while on the job, there needs to be compensation. Please contact the personal injury professionals at W.T. Johnson for your legal needs.

Florida Murderers Escape Prison with Accidental Release

By The Law Office of WT Johnson on October 21, 2013

prison-cell-interior-wt-johnsonAfter weeks of searching, authorities have detained two escaped convicts, they’re believed to have forged court documents that permitted their release. 34 year-old Joseph Jenkins has been serving a 50 year sentence since 1998 for the home invasion, armed robbery, and murder of Roscoe Pugh Jr. Jenkins was also charged with car theft in 1997, adding 5 years to his sentence. He was wrongfully released on September 27th. Charles Walker, also 34 years-old, was serving a 15 year sentence for a 1999 murder. Walker was released on October 8th under the same circumstances. Both men were released from Franklin Correctional Institution in Florida’s panhandle.

It is still unclear how the documents were created, and by whom. The documents stated that their sentences have been reduced and court orders had granted their early release. The official documents were forged, and even contained key signatures. One such signature was that of Judge Belvin Perry. The same Judge Perry affiliated with the high profile Casey Anthony murder case. Due to the widespread media attention of the case, Perry’s signature can easily be found through the internet.

Both men were captured Saturday evening at 6:40pm in Panama City, Florida in the Coconut Grove Motor Inn. Earlier that day, the two convict’s families held a televised press conference to plea to the men to turn themselves in and avoid more trouble. Jenkins was on the lam for three weeks and a day, and Walker was for one week and four days. Both families claimed to have no knowledge of the planned escapes. The Walker family actually found out about the escape when a Franklin Correctional officer called them to let them know they can come pick up Charles Walker. The proper authorities were then contacted by a member of Walker’s family, beginning the manhunt.

Thankfully no one was harmed due to this slip-up. The system does have loopholes and can be manipulated by patient men. If you or someone you know is a victim of someone else’s mistake, please contact W.T. Johnson for legal counsel.

4 Common Workplace Injuries

By The Law Office of WT Johnson on September 17, 2013

4 Common Workplace InjuriesYour place of work should be where you feel safe. But in 2010, over 4,500 American workers were killed on the job while millions more suffered serious non-fatal workplace injuries. To help you stay safe while at work, here are four common workplace injuries and how you can avoid them:

  • Overexertion workplace injuries: Overexertion workplace injuries are the most common injury that occurs at work. These workplace injuries can result from constantly pulling, lifting, pushing, holding, carrying and throwing objects at work. It’s vital to have proper training and equipment at your workplace to protect you from overexertion workplace injuries.
  • Slip and fall workplace injuries: Slips and falls are the second most common cause of workplace injuries. It’s important for employers to always post caution signs if there is a slippery area on the floor, or to pick up things that could cause a slip and fall injury. Employers should also have safety guidelines posted to keep staff alert on how to maintain the workplace area to prevent slip and fall injuries.
  • Falling from heights workplace injuries: These types of workplace injuries are common at construction sites. They usually occur when someone falls off a roof, ladder or stairway. These types of slip and fall accidents can be prevented by proper training and maintenance of equipment.
  • Violent acts at work: Often people will get frustrated while at work, but sometimes they take it out on others around them. Office politics or arguments can lead to physical attacks and serious workplace injuries. It’s important to make sure every employee goes through workplace violence employee training to help employees know how to prevent these workplace injuries.

If you or your loved one were a victim of a workplace injury or fatality due to the negligence of someone else, you deserve justice and compensation. Contact the Texas workplace injury attorneys today at the Law Offices of W.T. Johnson and set-up your free, no-obligation consultation.

Posted in: Workplace Accidents

What Causes Deadly Drilling Accidents

By The Law Office of WT Johnson on December 13, 2012

The national fatality rate for gas and oil extraction workers is eight times higher than the average of all occupations. Oil accident related deaths are often gruesome. In 2007, at a drilling site in West Texas, a steel cable sliced an oil rig worker in half. Other workers have died when struck by hunks of metal sent flying when wells accidentally shot out gas and oil at high pressures.

Some of the most common causes of oil rig accidents are:

  • Pressure from management to get the job done quickly
  • Drilling operations that keep running no matter the weather conditions
  • Inexperienced workers who aren’t trained well
  • Older rigs that don’t have up-to-date safety features

Smaller drilling and well service companies were also found to have higher rates of deadly injuries. Safety expert Rick Ingram, who works for BP, said this is because smaller companies can’t afford health and safety programs and have fewer resources.

To help prevent these deaths, in 2004 the STEPS Network (South Texas Exploration and Production Safety) began work in South Texas where drilling deaths were on the rise in the Eagle Ford Shale. The challenge of the group was to change the mindset of an industry that prided itself on going after the oil and gas, regardless of the conditions.

STEPS is a way to get drilling companies of all sizes to meet monthly with OSHA, the federal safety agency. At meetings, participants do exercises such as imagining knowing that they would be killed that day in a rig accident and writing a letter to their loved one as if they were not ever coming home again.

OSHA said it is seeing results. They are hearing stories from the field about crews now refusing to take shortcuts, confident that management will stand behind them.

If you or a loved one was the victim of an oil or gas accident, the Law Office of W.T. Johnson is here to help you get the justice you deserve. Contact us today to set up your free consultation with our experienced personal injury lawyers.

Posted in: Workplace Accidents

If you would like to discuss your claim with a member of our team, don’t hesitate to call us at (214) 231-0544. We’re ready to help you, and won’t rest until you receive the settlement you deserve.

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