For many of us, the prospect of being injured at work isn’t just problematic—it’s downright terrifying. We have been brought up with a strong work ethic that doesn’t allow for many days off or downshifts in our workload. But once injured, all of that goes away. Now the fear becomes whether or not we will be able to pay our medical bills or provide for our families. It doesn’t have to be that way, however. If you are injured on the job due to the negligence of others, then you are entitled to restitution to compensate you for your bills, lost wages, and possibly pain and suffering.
Negligence is not always an open-and-shut case. If a janitor has just spilled a bucket of mop water and you slip and fall, it would only be considered negligent if the janitor did not place a “Wet Floor” sign out to warn you. If they do follow regulations and requirements and you ignored them, then you are the one who has been careless. The fall and resulting injuries are your responsibility (http://www.gerlinglaw.com/blog/negligence-workplace/). However, if the janitor was never given “Wet Floor” signs to put out, then that becomes a much larger issue. Here, then, are the basics of what every worker should know about workplace negligence.
The Four Types of Negligent Behavior
There are generally four main types of issues that may constitute negligent behavior in the workplace (http://blogs.findlaw.com/injured/2013/11/4-potential-ways-to-prove-employer-negligence.html). These include:
- Negligent hiring—When an employer hires a new employee, the employer must make sure that this new hire is actually qualified to do the work that is required. The employer also has a mandate to keep his or her employee’s safe. That is why they conduct background checks, be it an actual formal check with law enforcement or just an informal call to references and previous employers. As an example, an employer would be considered negligent if he failed to do a background check on a new hire only to later find out that this employee was fired from a previous job for assaulting a co-worker. If this person is hired and then assaults another co-worker, then the employer could be held liable for this assault.
- Negligent training—Once an employee has been hired, it is the responsibility of the employer to ensure that he goes through proper training for the job. If you are hired, for instance, to work in a deli, then the owner should train you on how to use the meat slicer. If he did not and you slice your finger or have a similar accident, then the employer would be responsible. Similarly, if you worked on a construction site and were not trained how to properly use equipment, then you could injure others and then they could hold the employer responsible for their injuries.
- Negligent supervision—Once an employee has been hired and trained, he or she must still need to be properly supervised. Failure to do so is negligent supervision. If a worker, for instance, threatens another employee and is not disciplined properly, and then he assaults the threatened party, then the employer can be held responsible for injuries inflicted in the assault. An employer should know exactly what is going on in his or her business and take steps to handle potential issues before they become serious problems.
- Negligent retention—The final area is negligent retention. If an employee is properly hired, trained, and supervised, but still displays worrisome, violent or careless behavior in the workplace, then it is the responsibility of the employer to protect his other employees by terminating the “bad apple.” If an employee has a repeated history of sexually harassing co-workers and is not terminated, then the employer can be found responsible under the concept of negligent retention.
How to Prove a Negligence Claim
Most courts follow a four-point test to determine if an employee has been injured in the workplace as a result of negligence (https://www.wolfandpravato.com/workplace-negligence/). These include:
- Duty of care—The court will want to know if the employer owed a “duty of care” to the employee. Any employer owes his workers a safe working environment governed by reasonable regulations such as those defined by OSHA.
- Breach of duty—Once the plaintiff has established that he was owed a duty of care, he must show how the employer violated or breached that duty. The court here will want to know if the breach of duty was “reasonable.” In other words, could the employer have foreseen the potential danger, such as an employer who runs a fast food restaurant being able to foresee that an untrained employee should not operate a deep fryer.
- Injury—If an employer has an unsafe working environment, a suit still can’t be brought if no one is injured. They can be reported for failing to follow safety guidelines. But if you wish to actually bring a legal claim, then the plaintiff has to actually have an injury.
- Causation—It isn’t enough to have an injury. An employee has to show that the injury was caused by the employer’s breach of duty. If the employee’s injury was not directly caused by the employer’s actions, then the court will side with the defendant.
Workplace injuries can be debilitating and can make it very difficult for you to provide for your family. The attorneys at Wolf & Pravato are experienced at helping those injured in such a manner to gain the compensation they deserve. Contact them today for a free consultation to review your situation and case.