Catastrophic workplace injuries are a nightmare for employers and employees. Such accidents include oil spills, explosions, outbreaks of diseases, or building collapses. In this situation the entire workplace is at risk and the employer has to deal with potentially bad press and liability. Any employees injured in the accident in the United States will be subject to the workers’ compensation laws of the state in which they work.
There are three major immediate considerations for an employer after a catastrophic accident. The first is that governmental entities may become involved to launch an investigation as to the cause of the accident. Compliance with any relevant federal and state laws will be determined. Employers would be advised to have accurate records of compliance to ensure that there are not any fines or issues with remaining in business. The next consideration is the public. The employer may be inundated with news stories, reporters, and public outcry. This is tricky for an employer. The best approach is honesty without making a public record of wrongdoing that could be used against you at trial. It is best to correct any inaccuracies that may be out there in the news but not to be too defensive. The final issue to consider is the issue of the loss suffered by the employees and their families. It is important for the employer to recognize and provide resources and assistance for employees and families dealing with the accident.
All of this may be overwhelming for an employer and the best recommendation is to have prepared for this type of catastrophic accident beforehand. All employers need to have an emergency plan in place and to make employees aware of the plan. OSHA has guidance for what is needed to prepare in an emergency situation. Factors include having a preferred method for reporting the accident, an evacuation procedure, a list of contacts of individuals and agencies that need immediate contact, shutdown procedures, and an assignment of rescue duties.
Even with these procedures in place, the next issue is dealing with the workers’ compensation issue. Employers still have a duty to look out for the best interests of the company but must do so in a manner that is sensitive to the accident that happened and to those who have serious injuries or lost loved ones.
Those who have suffered serious injuries from a catastrophic accident may need lifelong rehabilitation. It may be an adjustment and they need to seek immediate and recurring medical treatment for a final diagnosis of injury. They will need to cooperate not only with their own doctors but with those of the employers to get a final settlement.
This article is for general informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice. Do not rely on the above information as all cases are different and different laws apply to different cases.
Consult an attorney in your area for further guidance. If you or a loved one has been injured or experienced a death as a result of a catastrophic workplace accident, call our firm at 1-800-ASK-A-LAWYER, and we will give you a free consultation. We never charge unless we collect for you.