You are entitled to Workers’ Compensation payments if you have been injured at work, require medical care and have been unable to earn your full wages for five or more days. Most workers are covered through their state law or through separate laws for federal employees, railroad workers, seafarers, longshoremen and shipyard workers.
Through their state organizations, unions fight to protect and improve workers’ compensation laws. These laws provide income and medical benefits for anyone who becomes injured or sick because of his or her job. No matter what industry you’re in, there are certain basic health and safety rights that are guaranteed to all workers. The Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act of 1970, which created OSHA under the U.S. Department of Labor, gave all workers, union and nonunion, a set of rights and responsibilities.
Under the OSH Act, employees have the right to:
- Review copies of appropriate standards, rules, regulations, and requirements that the employer is required to have available at the workplace;
- Request information from the employer on safety and health hazards in the workplace, appropriate precautions to take, and procedures to follow if the employee is involved in an accident or is exposed to toxic substances;
- Gain access to relevant employee exposure and medical records;
- Request an OSHA inspection if they believe hazardous conditions or violations of standards exist in the workplace;
- Accompany an OSHA compliance officer during the inspection tour, or have an authorized employee representative do so;
- Respond to questions from the OSHA compliance officer;
- Observe any monitoring or measuring of hazardous materials and see the resulting records, as specified under the OSH Act and required by OSHA standards;
- Review or have an authorized representative review the employer’s Log of Work-Related Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (OSHA 300) at a reasonable time and in a reasonable manner;
- Object to the timeframe set by OSHA for the employer to correct a violation by writing to the OSHA area director within 15 working days from the date the employer receives the citation;
- Submit a written request to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health for information on whether any substance in the workplace has potentially toxic effects in the concentration being used, and, if requested, have their names withheld from the employer;
- Be notified if the employer applies for a variance from an OSHA standard, and have an opportunity to testify at a variance hearing and appeal the final decision;
- Have their names withheld from their employer, by request to OSHA, if they sign and file a written complaint;
- Be advised of OSHA actions regarding a complaint, and request an informal review of any decision not to inspect the site or issue a citation; and
- File a complaint if punished or discriminated against for acting as a “whistleblower” under the OSH Act or 13 other federal statutes for which OSHA has jurisdiction, or for refusing to work when faced with imminent danger of death or serious injury and there is insufficient time for OSHA to inspect.
Union employees who suffer a work-related injury may seek assistance from their union representatives and stewards:
- Your union may help you to obtain compensation through their collective bargaining agreements (contracts) and can advise you and your lawyer on the provisions concerning such benefits.
- An attorney working with your union representative can often achieve greater benefits for you. It is to your advantage to consult both an experienced workers compensation attorney and your union steward.
- Generally, an employer does not have to hold your job open while you are unable to work due to injury. However, as a unionized employee, your union contract may place different restrictions and obligations on your employer.
- Union representatives may also have the legal right to request information from employers that might assist in your workers compensation claim including: safety records, data about toxic substances, prior workplace injuries, et al.
Only experienced Raleigh Workers’ Compensation attorneys can advise you of the appropriate course of action to increase the probability of winning your claim. Your attorney can also provide information on the ways that claims can be settled including arbitration, mediation, and collective bargaining. Again, a competent Raleigh Workers’ Compensation lawyer will develop a strategy to ensure the best results in your claim. It is important to remember that if you retain an attorney because you have been denied benefits or face a change in benefits, that law states that the majority of attorneys? fees will be paid by the Workers’ Compensation Insurer.
Our firm has total dedication to the injured worker. In order to accomplish that, we handle your claim with the following attitude:
- We stay on top of our cases and move quickly.
- We ensure our clients are receiving all benefits in a timely fashion.
- If the claim is denied, we act quickly and aggressively to obtain hearings and present the best possible claim for our client.
- If it is in our client’s best interest to settle, we move it along to obtain a maximum settlement for the client.
- We treat our injured workers with courtesy and respect, understanding our clients’ frustration with being out of work.
Nothing less than a positive, aggressive approach for our clients is acceptable in this firm!