Albuquerque Workplace Accident Attorney
The workplace is where Americans spend a good portion of their time – it is also the source of many accidents and serious injuries. If you or a loved one suffered harm on the job, you have legal options for compensation under the law. Contact the Albuquerque workplace accident attorneys at Fine Law Firm today to discuss your case in a free initial consultation.
Why Choose Us?
Albuquerque workers have been working with the Fine Law Firm for over 40 years regarding their workers’ compensation and third-party personal injury cases.
- In our years of practicing law, we have successfully represented clients, including those suffering from a workplace injury, with a 99% success rate.
- We maintain close, personal contact with our clients, treating them like family and offering candid advice whenever it is necessary.
- We always prioritize our client’s interests over our own. We will reduce our fees when necessary to ensure that our clients receive maximum compensation for their injuries, pain, and suffering.
- We operate our firm on a contingency-fee basis, so you’ll never owe any fees unless we win.
Why Do You Need a Workplace Accident Attorney?
Workplace accidents involve matters of state tort law, workers’ compensation law, and, on occasion, federal laws. An attorney will guide you through these complex issues and help determine who is liable for a workplace injury and hold them accountable. Additionally, your Albuquerque workplace accident attorney understands New Mexico employment law and will be able to negotiate with insurers on your behalf. This not only helps you attain maximum compensation for your injuries, but it also allows you to concentrate on healing.
Causes of Workplace Accidents
Workplace accidents have numerous causes since the workforce is so diverse and encompasses many industries. However, some of the most common causes of injuries in the workplace include:
- Slip and falls, whether from scaffolding or cherry pickers, down stairs or simply on a slick work surface.
- Injuries from dangerous premises, such as criminal assaults or structural collapses.
- Accidents arising from use (or misuse) of heavy machinery. A heavy machinery accident may create grounds for a product liability claim or a claim arising from a lack of instruction or supervision.
- Ergonomic injury, which can occur from lack of training regarding proper lifting technique.
- Injuries from defective or dangerous products. If a tool or piece of equipment at work doesn’t operate the way it should, this can lead to related worker injuries.
- Car accidents while using a company car or while completing work on behalf of a business.
Preventable accidents at work can cause broken bones, soft-tissue injuries, burn injuries, head and brain trauma, spinal cord injuries, and other serious types of injuries. If you aren’t sure what caused your workplace accident, we can investigate.
What Are the Most Dangerous Jobs in New Mexico?
Every workplace comes with its own injury risks and hazards. However, some industries are more dangerous than others by nature. These occupations statistically lead to higher numbers of worker injuries and deaths annually. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, construction is the deadliest industry in the U.S. In 2019, 5,333 workers total lost their lives on the job in the U.S. About 20 percent of these deaths (1,061 fatalities) were in construction.
In addition to construction, the top most dangerous jobs in Albuquerque are:
- Production, transportation and material moving
- Mining, quarrying, and gas and oil extraction
- Service occupations (health care, protective service, food preparation, sales, etc.)
- Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance
- Installation, maintenance and repair
- Educational services
- Government occupations
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 55 worker deaths in New Mexico in 2019. Transportation accidents were the most frequent cause of death (36 incidents), followed by exposure to harmful substances or environments (7), falls (5), and contact with objects and equipment (3). No matter what type of accident caused your injury or a loved one’s death, you may be entitled to financial compensation through one or more outlets.
Who Is Liable?
Determining liability (financial responsibility) in a workplace accident requires a thorough investigation into the circumstances that surround it. The liable party in a personal injury matter is typically the one most at fault for causing the accident and injury. For example, if an employer violated a safety regulation, he or she could be liable for a subsequent worker injury or death. Work injury cases can involve many different legal matters, including:
- Car insurance laws. Workplace transportation accidents deal with New Mexico’s fault insurance law, which states that the at-fault driver is who will pay for the crash.
- Product liability. A product liability case holds a manufacturer or distributor responsible for a defective or dangerous product, tool or piece of equipment that injures a worker.
- Premises liability. A premises liability claim names a property owner as a defendant for failing to maintain a safe environment for workers or contractors.
- Employment law. Work injury cases can involve several employment laws, such as state-mandated workers’ comp benefits, sexual harassment laws and timeframes for filing injury claims.
- Wrongful death. A wrongful death claim may be available to the surviving loved ones of a deceased worker in New Mexico.
A workplace accident attorney from the Fine Law Firm will be best suited to determine liability in your workplace accident while navigating the best legal course possible for your claim. A lawyer will search for multiple outlets for financial recovery to maximize your financial outcome. Filing a claim with more than one insurance carrier can result in greater financial damages for your losses.
Do I File Workers’ Comp or Pursue a Third-Party Claim?
One of the most important questions regarding your work accident claim will be whether to file a workers’ compensation claim or pursue a claim against a third party. In many instances, injured workers will turn to the workers’ compensation system as their first form of legal recourse. This no-fault system offers benefits to an injured worker in the form of medical care and lost wages. Since it is no-fault, all you have to do is file a claim with your employer to collect benefits. Workers’ comp can provide the following financial benefits:
- Reasonable and necessary medical care related to your injury or illness
- Ongoing medical needs, such as medications or physical therapy
- Indemnity benefits (also known as lost-time wages) of up to two-thirds of your average weekly wage
- Disability benefits for a long-term or permanent injury
- Certain out-of-pocket losses, such as travel (mileage reimbursement) and medical cannabis
- Death benefits for the dependents of a deceased worker
It is important to realize that collecting workers’ compensation benefits precludes you from filing a traditional tort action against your employer. This is why if you believe your employer had something to do with your work injury, you should contact an attorney about the possibility of a personal injury lawsuit before accepting a workers’ comp settlement. In some cases, filing a third-party personal injury claim will be more appropriate.
A third-party claim is brought against someone other than the employer. This may apply in a construction setting when a subcontractor’s negligence directly leads to injury. It may also apply to the negligent upkeep of a premises, the defective use of a product, and more. You may be able to recover compensation through both workers’ comp and a personal injury lawsuit if a third party caused your injuries or an exception to the rule applies to your case. An attorney will help you determine which type of workplace accident claim is most appropriate in your case.
Special Exceptions to Workers’ Compensation in New Mexico
The majority of injured employees in New Mexico recover damages through the workers’ compensation system. However, state law provides a few exceptions to the rule that can allow workers to file lawsuits outside of this program. One is if your employer does not have workers’ comp insurance. Without this insurance available, recourse for an occupational injury or illness may include a personal injury lawsuit. If your employer allowed its insurance policy to lapse or does not have enough insurance, you can file a personal injury claim instead.
Another allowance in New Mexico is the Delgado Exception. Even if your employer has workers’ comp insurance, the Delgado Exception allows you to sue your employer for an injury or the wrongful death of a loved one if the employer knowingly sent the victim into an extremely dangerous and unnecessary scenario, where serious harm or death was virtually certain. This exception earned its name from Delgado v. Phelps Dodge, a New Mexico Supreme Court case. While the Delgado Exception comes with a high burden of proof, it could give you the right to seek a remedy through an injury lawsuit.
Compensation Available in a Workplace Injury Lawsuit in New Mexico
Workers’ compensation claims and personal injury lawsuits both have pros and cons. It is generally easier to obtain financial benefits through workers’ comp in New Mexico, for example, but you could recover a higher amount of compensation with a negligence lawsuit. Carefully review all of your options with a lawyer before accepting a settlement or signing anything from an insurance company. If you have grounds to file a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit, you could recover the following types of damages:
- Past, current and future health care expenses
- Disability costs and lifestyle accommodations, including home and vehicle modifications
- 100 percent of your lost wages
- Lost future wages from the inability to return to work
- Any related property damage or losses
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional distress or psychological damage
- Lost quality or enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium
- Wrongful death damages
- Punitive damages, depending on the actions and misconduct of the defendant
The value of your work injury case depends on the severity of your injuries, the extent of your losses and many other factors. Work with an attorney at the Fine Law Firm to determine the value of your case before accepting a settlement. We will give you an accurate case evaluation. Unlike an insurance company, we want to maximize your financial recovery, not minimize the amount that you collect for an injury.
What Is Insurance Bad Faith?
After you file a workers’ compensation insurance claim in Albuquerque, you may encounter unfair, unethical or even illegal tactics used by your employer’s insurance company to avoid paying you for your work injury. This is known as insurance bad faith. It means that the insurance company is not treating your claim in a good-faith or honest attempt to reach a resolution according to state and federal laws. Instead, it is knowingly mishandling your case in an effort to save money on your payout and protect its profits.
Insurance bad faith during a workers’ comp case could take the form of a settlement offer that is too low to pay for your related losses or a valid claim that gets rejected. The insurer may also attempt to use a defense such as a pre-existing injury or the failure to mitigate your losses against you. If you run into issues obtaining fair and full financial compensation from an insurance company during a workers’ comp claim in Albuquerque, hire an attorney to help you go up against an insurance company.
Steps to Take After a Workplace Accident in Albuquerque
If you get injured in a workplace accident, there are steps that you can take to optimize your odds of receiving financial compensation for your related expenses. They include:
- Reporting the accident within 15 days. Complete the Notice of Accident Form and submit it to your employer as soon as possible.
- Seeking treatment for your injury or illness. This includes emergency medical treatment, if necessary.
- Going to an authorized health care provider based on your employer’s approved list (for non-emergencies).
- Following your doctor’s treatment plan, taking all prescribed medications as directed, and keeping records and documentation of your medical care.
- Notifying your employer when you are medically released to return to work and asking for work when you are well enough.
- Cooperating with your employer during the workers’ comp insurance process. Answer all questions asked by an insurer, but do not give more information than is necessary.
- Consulting with an attorney before settling your work injury claim. An attorney can protect your legal rights and best interests throughout the recovery process.
If you need assistance with any aspect of a claim or lawsuit after a work accident in Albuquerque, the Fine Law Firm can help.
Reach Out To Us Today
If you suffered harm in a workplace accident and believe that someone else is responsible, contact an experienced Albuquerque personal injury attorney from the Fine Law Firm and schedule a free initial consultation today.