Waste Workers Risk Their Lives to Haul Our Garbage

Angel Reyes III Workplace Accidents

The next time you take your garbage can to the street, you might take a moment to consider risks sanitation workers face each day.

A recent New York Times article shed light on the dangers that sanitation workers face in their daily duties. The terrible death endured by the man in the article is more common than you might think.

Waste workers have been facing on-the-job dangers across the country for decades. In fact, the hazards of this essential work was the inspiration for a waste worker strike in 1968 in Memphis. That walkout was sparked by the deaths of two sanitation workers, Echol Cole and Robert Walker. Both men were crushed by the hydraulic press of their garbage truck.

Decades later, similar accidents are still occurring, such as the tragedy in New York City in 2013. The investigation for the above incident showed that the conditions were not much different from those in Tennessee 50 years ago. Conditions are especially tough for privately employed waste workers who collect garbage from city businesses every evening. Workers employed by the city’s Department of Sanitation collect trash from houses, and they enjoy healthcare benefits and other union protections. They also have base pay of $69,000.

Workers for private sanitation companies are worse off. They may be paid only $80 per shift and have no overtime or healthcare. There also are times when one evening route can make dozens or even more than 100 stops, making workers rush through their tasks. This can cause lack of attention to safety. More than 60% of private sanitation workers in the New York area earn less than $35,000. For such low pay, private waste workers represented more than 80% of waste worker deaths in 2016. In New York, city sanitation trucks have not caused a worker’s death in four years, but private garbage trucks killed seven waste workers last year alone.

One might think that conditions for sanitation workers would be vastly improved from the height of the Civil Rights era. But here we are, 50 years later, and waste workers still risk and sometimes lose their lives to haul our garbage.

Have you lost a loved one in a work related accident?

Fortunately, you may have legal recourse. When poor work conditions are a factor in a serious injury or death, you or your loved ones can pursue civil legal action for damages that include pain and suffering, lost wages, and medical bills. The workplace accident attorneys at Reyes Browne Reilley will review your case at no cost to determine whether there is a possibility of financial recovery. Posted in: Workplace Accidents

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Increased On-the-Job Fatalities for Latinos

Angel Reyes III Workplace Accidents

In 2017 more than 6,400 American workers suffered fatal injuries. Of these incidents, Latinos made up 19 percent of all fatal occupational injuries in the United States. While there are inherent risks on construction and extraction sites, Latino workers also face a bigger dilemma because they’re not fully aware of the rights and resources afforded to them through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and workers’ compensation, respectively.

Work Safety: An Uphill Battle for Latino Workers

According to a recent analysis by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Latino workers over-populate some of the country’s most dangerous industries. In fact, nearly one in three workers in the construction and natural resource extraction industries is Latino. This is a 23.7 percent increase since 2015.

Safety challenges Latino workers face on-the-job:

  • Many non-English-speaking Latino workers are especially vulnerable to injuries if they can’t read safety instructions or communicate effectively with their supervisors.
  • Employers choose whether or not to report workers’ injuries to OSHA. Therefore, OSHA may be in the dark about the injuries and safety issues on job sites.
  • More and more Latino workers are employed as contractors for smaller companies who are focused on efficiency often at the expense of worker safety.

There are additional challenges that ultimately affect worker safety, too. They include:

  • Undocumented Latino workers who are injured on-the-job are fearful of employer retaliation.
  • Some Latino workers don’t want to risk missing a paycheck by taking time off from work because of their injuries.

Workers’ Compensation: Every Injured Worker’s Right

We understand that there is a certain level of loyalty to our employers, and often that feeling is accompanied by feelings of guilt in bringing forth legal action on employers who provide us with our paychecks. However, employers also have a responsibility to their employees – they must follow safety regulations and do their best to prevent workplace accidents. When these responsibilities are neglected, workers have the right to seek legal recourse.

The attorneys at Reyes Browne Reilley provide a compassionate, unbiased source of support to injured workers. Our team advocates for our clients’ best interests and handles all aspects of the workers’ compensation claims process including, but not limited to the following:

  • completing all injury-related reports and filing a workers’ compensation claim.
  • handling all commutations and negotiations with the other side.
  • gathering and presenting evidence.
  • identifying alternative sources of income for the claimant.
  • and gathering witness testimony.

Our firm offers free legal consultations to injured workers, in English and Spanish. Our team of DFW worker’s compensation attorneys is standing by to help evaluate the situation and explore how we can help get you the compensation you deserve. Call or contact us today at 214-526-7900 to schedule your appointment.

Are Employers Responsible for Car Accidents Caused by Their Employees?

Angel Reyes III Auto Accidents, Workplace Accidents

When a driver is involved in car accidents, after seeking any necessary medical attention, it is natural to start thinking about the costs that are going to be associated with the accident if there are any injuries or property damage involved. When the negligent driver involved is driving a company car, it is possible the driver’s employer may be responsible for the driver’s actions.

Under the tort doctrine of respondeat superior, an employer is responsible for the actions of an employee that are done in the performance of the employee’s employment duties. This means that if an employee is driving a company car, and is negligent in its operation thereby causing an accident, the employer is considered equally liable, and can be sued to seek compensation for injuries sustained in car accidents.

When determining whether or not an employer is liable for the employee’s actions, a judge or jury looks to whether the employee was within the scope of his or her employment duties, or if the employee was performing a special errand for the employer when the accident occurred. Just because an employee is driving a company car does not mean employer liability is automatic. If the employee was supposed to be driving to a specific place and instructed to return to headquarters, but instead deviated in the opposite direction at which point the accident happened, the employer might not be found liable. If the employer is not receiving a benefit from the trip, it is not likely that liability will be shifted to the employer. Additionally, if an employee is on the way to or from work, or on a lunch break, the employer is not likely to be liable under respondeat superior.

The ability to sue the employer does not mean that the negligent driver is no longer liable. In most cases, the negligent driver who is the employee is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit. If an award is granted to the plaintiff, the employer and employee are both responsible for the award, but depending on the percentage of liability assigned to the employer, the employer may have to pay the judgment and later seek compensation from the employee.

The employer may also be liable for an employee’s actions based on other legal theories. For example if the employer is aware that the employee is a bad driver or has a history of drunk driving, and still allows him or her to drive, the employer may be liable for negligent entrustment. Similarly, an employer who expects an employee driver to drive long hours even when tired can be liable for negligence in creating a dangerous situation.

If you have been injured in a car accident, you are not always limited to the driver who caused the accident in terms of seeking compensation. You may have additional avenues to receive the compensation you deserve. Contact the Dallas personal injury attorneys at Reyes Browne Reilley for a free consultation today.

Falling Profits Affect Industry’s Safety Policies

Angel Reyes III In The News, Personal Injury, Workplace Accidents

Angel Reyes Blog - Falling Profits Affect Industry's Safety Policies

According to the Wall Street Journal, the number of workplace fatalities, those who died as a result of a job-related accident, is rising and at it’s highest level since 2008. The data shows that approximately 4700 people died from work-related accidents in 2014, the most recent year statistics were gathered, up from the 4500 or so deaths a year earlier. The largest increase in the fatality rate in terms of demographic was the death rate for female workers which almost doubled from 8% to 13% of all workplace accidents. This trend toward increasing workplace fatalities is troubling for OSHA officials who fear that increases in their safety enforcement efforts money are not having the desired effect of reducing work-related fatalities.

The article goes on to state that the death rates of many of the traditional high-risk professions, construction, agriculture, increased as well, and that one industry in particular had a very significant increase in deaths and personal injury lawsuits.

The Journal cites that the number of workers in the oil and gas industry that died in 2014 was dramatically higher than the year before. 142 oil and gas rig workers died in 2014, a 27% jump in deaths over the year before. The majority of these deaths were in the leading oil and gas producing states of Texas, Wyoming and Colorado. One reason that was cited as also changing coincidentally with the increase in deaths was the fact that over the same time period 2013-2014, the price of a barrel of oil fell perceptively.

If the trend continues, 2015 could shape up to be the most deadly year for oil and gas workers since 1993. One of the implications made in the article is that perhaps oil and gas companies are not as eager to enforce safety measures for their employees as falling income and losses in the industry mount. Given that oil prices might remain at these low levels for years to come, industry officials are fearful that the death rates for oil and gas workers could continue to increase.

Companies Re-Writing Their Workers’ Compensation Plans

Angel Reyes III In The News, Personal Injury, Workplace Accidents



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Companies Re-Writing Their Workers’ Compensation Plans

 

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Angel Reyes Blog - Companies in Texas and Oklahoma are opting out of their state's worker's compensation plans

Companies in Texas and Oklahoma are opting out of their state’s worker’s compensation plans in record numbers in an attempt to save money on insurance premiums. Rewriting the worker’s compensation policies for large companies like Walmart and Costco has afforded companies lower premiums, but in some cases it’s the injured workers themselves who are paying the price for all that savings.

 

When a company opts out of a state’s requirements for worker’s compensation, they opt to buy private insurance policies that cost a fraction of what they were paying but provide less in the way of coverage for injuries, have more restrictive terms, or do not provide legal oversight to insure that the injured person’s rights are protected in case of a dispute. These policies are great for the employer, but sometimes leave disabled workers financially destitute when they learn that they cannot afford the required medical treatment because the surgical procedure isn’t covered. Here are just a few examples of actual medical situations where injured employees were harmed by their company’s new worker’s compensation plan.

Time Limit to Report The Injury

Injuries whose symptoms don’t appear immediately after an injury. Many companies require a worker to report the injuries within 24 hours. Some debilitating back injuries start as a simple twinge that you’d hardly notice at first but the person will wake up the next day or two days later unable to move a muscle and eventually require surgery and physical therapy. If the injury wasn’t reported immediately, i.e., the day it occurred, the company may not pay for the surgery citing the time limitation to report the injury.

Coverage limited to Two Years

Another critical unresolved issue with the new private plans is the time period within which the company will pay for treatment after an injury. Ongoing medical treatment is often needed months or years after a person initially undergoes surgery. Sometimes a related and much greater surgery is needed and companies may impose a 2 year limitation on paying benefits. Also most companies no longer pay for permanent disability or limit the amount they’ll pay for catastrophic injuries.

Frequently Occurring Injuries No Longer Covered

Certain injuries are unique to a particular industry and are no longer covered by the company’s new worker’s compensation plan. Companies are able to re-write their individual insurance plans to exclude the injuries that are most likely to occur due to the unique work environment. For example, staff or viral infection may be excluded by nursing home or medical treatment companies and repetitive motion injuries like carpel tunnel syndrome can be excluded from assembly-line companies.

These are just a sampling of the problems that workers are having in getting the treatments they need due to work-related injuries in Texas and Oklahoma. If you have been injured on the job and are having difficulty getting payment for the costs of medical treatment you need give the experienced Dallas personal injury attorneys at Reyes Browne Reilley Law Firm a call.

5 Facts about Construction Site Accidents

Angel Reyes III Personal Injury, Workplace Accidents

08152014The construction industry employs workers all over Texas. But safety conditions for workers have stagnated over the years, and workers are at risk of injuries that are often catastrophic.

1 in 5 American Workplace Fatalities Occurs in the Construction Industry

Every day, somewhere in the United States, at least two construction workers die from fatal injuries sustained in workplace accidents, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). As many as one in five work-related fatalities in the country occur in the construction industry.

Falls are the Top Cause of Fatal Injuries in Construction

The main cause of fatalities in the construction industry does not necessarily involve heavy machinery, as some might assume. Falls account for more fatal injuries in the construction industry than any other factor. Of the 796 construction deaths in the U.S. in 2013, 294 involved falls. That’s more than one-third of all deaths. Next was being struck by an object (10.3 percent of deaths), followed by electrocutions (8.9 percent) and getting caught in or between something (2.6 percent). OSHA refers to these as the construction fatal four.

In fact, fall protection in the construction industry tops the list of hazards cited by OSHA.

Construction Boom Hasn’t Led to Better Safety

The construction industry once again has picked up activity after a slowdown during the economic downturn. However, even as the industry steps up operations, there has been no corresponding increase in worker safety measures. Workers suffer serious and fatal injuries in construction site accidents that are preventable.

Texas Has One of the Highest Construction Fatality Rates in the U.S.

Texas has one of the busiest construction industries in the country and a high rate of worker fatalities. According to an analysis by the Dallas Morning News, Texas workers – in any industry – are 12 percent more likely to die on the job than workers in other states. And construction sites in Texas are 22 percent more deadly than the national average.

The state has not bothered to invest much in training programs, regular inspections and oversight and more safety equipment for workers, according to the Dallas Morning News report.

Most Construction Site Accidents are Preventable

One of the most distressing facts about construction site accidents is that so many of them are entirely preventable. For instance, fall accidents on construction sites can are preventable if employers provide fall arrest systems for all workers who work at a certain elevation. Employers also could help reduce risks to workers if they invest in training programs.

Construction workers in Texas have the right to workers’ compensation benefits when they suffer an injury. They also may have the right to file a third-party claim against manufacturers of defective products and other entities responsible for the accident. Call 214-526-7900 to speak with an experienced worker’s compensation lawyer at Reyes, Browne, Reilley or fill out our contact form to schedule a free consultation.

1 Dead, 3 Injured When Oil Platform Explodes in Gulf of Mexico

Angel Reyes III In The News, Personal Injury, Workplace Accidents

11212014The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement is investigating the cause of an oil platform explosion around 3 p.m. on November 20 that claimed the life of one worker and injured three others. Chauntra Rideaux, spokeswoman for the bureau, said the injured workers were brought to a medical facility for treatment. No word has been released on their conditions.

According to a statement from the bureau, the platform, owned by Houston-based company Fieldwood Energy, was not in production at the time of the explosion. Damage was limited to the area and there was no indication that any oil spills or leaks occurred. The platform is used to manufacture oil and natural gas and is located about 12 miles off the Louisiana coast.

Following the Deepwater Horizon explosion of 2010, oil platform safety in the Gulf of Mexico has been scrutinized heavily by authorities. Injuries suffered on offshore oil platforms are often more serious or fatal due to the time it takes for victims to be transported to medical facilities.

Oil platform workers often work for contractors rather than the platform owners and therefore should report to their employer immediately when a workplace injury occurs. Before accepting a position on an offshore platform, make sure you understand the workers’ compensation and health coverage provided by the contractor or employer you are working for. If you’ve been injured on the job, call the experienced workplace injury attorneys at Reyes Browne Reilley.

Image courtesy WWLTV