Can I File A Lawsuit For A Workplace Fire?
In some cases, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit if a negligent third party (someone other than a co-worker or employer) was responsible for causing the fire through negligence.
For example, maybe your boss is renting your workplace from a commercial property owner. It’s up to that owner to make sure the building is safely guarded against fires. If a property owner fails to adequately maintain the building for fire safety hazards and a fire occurs, that property owner could potentially be held liable in a personal injury lawsuit.
Or maybe a customer, guest, or other non-employee started the fire. For example, let’s say a customer discarded a lit cigarette butt into flammable material which caused a fire to spread. You could potentially have grounds for a lawsuit against that individual.
Workplace fire accident cases are complex, and you’ll need to have your case reviewed by an experienced workplace accident lawyer to determine if you have sufficient grounds for a lawsuit.
What Are Some Common Workplace Fire Hazards?
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While some industries naturally have more fire hazards (firefighting, food service, and electrical work, for example), fires can happen in any workplace, residence, or any other building. Each year, workplace fires and explosions account for approximately 5,000 burn injuries.
There are certain common hazards which increase the likelihood of a fire in the workplace:
- Heavy machinery which can overheat or produce mechanical friction and static electricity.
- The use of combustible hydraulic fluids
- Improper use of heat sources, such as welding
- Industrial ovens and furnaces
- Accumulated combustible dusts in manufacturing
- Flammable gases
- Combustible materials stacked together
- Poorly installed or inadequately maintained electrical equipment (e.g. wiring, circuit breakers, transformers, etc.)
What If I’m Permanently Injured Or Disfigured?
Burn injuries often cause permanent ailments which affect victims for the rest of their lives. Workers’ compensation has two forms of benefits for disabling injuries:
Permanent Total Disability
If your doctor determines that you have a permanent total disability, you’re eligible to receive weekly payments for the rest of your life for 2/3 of your weekly wages, up until the current maximum weekly payment of $864.32. This classification is reserved for the most severe injuries, such as the loss of two limbs or both eyes.
Permanent Partial Disability
Injured workers who suffer from permanent partial disabilities may be eligible for one of three forms of workers’ compensation:
- Scheduled Awards – Scheduled loss of use awards are designated for injuries involving the loss of use of certain body parts – including the eyes, ears, arms, legs, hands, and feet. Victims of these types of injuries may receive 2/3 of average weekly wages for a set number of weeks as determined by your state’s schedule. Your maximum benefits period will be adjusted based on the percentage of function you still have left. For example, the loss of use time limit for hand injuries is 244 weeks. If you lost 50% of your hand function, you could receive these payments for 122 weeks.
- Non-scheduled Awards – Similar to schedules awards, but for body parts outside of the eyes, ears, and extremities. Examples include head, spine, and internal organ injuries. Your payout will be based on your degree of lost earning potential, as determined by a workers’ comp judge.
- Disfigurement – Scarring and disfigurement victims are eligible for an additional financial payout of up to $20,000. This award is specifically available for disfigurement in the face, head, and neck.
Will I Need A Lawyer To Help Me?
In most cases, it would be wise to at least discuss your accident with an experienced work injury lawyer. While you’re free to seek compensation on your own, it’s easy to get confused by the process and insurance companies can be difficult to deal with. Additionally, a knowledgeable lawyer can help you determine if your accident qualifies for additional compensation, such as Social Security disability benefits or a personal injury lawsuit against a negligent third party.
At Banville Law, we’d be happy to evaluate each aspect of your case for free in an initial consultation and will only ask for payment if we help you win. This way, we can help you earn the full compensation you’re entitled to, and you don’t need to worry about paying your bills.