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Unions Address Coronavirus Safety Concerns

Unions are stepping up to protect workers from harm during the coronavirus pandemic with health and safety measures, paid sick leave, and job security.

Unions Take Aim at Workplace Coronavirus Safety

The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of unions by giving workers a collective voice to speak out about hazards in the workplace. During the pandemic, many union workers have benefited from enhanced work-related safety measures, paid sick time, added premium pay, and a voice in work-share arrangements and furlough terms to ensure job preservation.

Unions are expressing concerns about workplace safety for members across the country. While unions with large memberships and adequate resources are making a positive impact on workplace safety measures, unions with low funds are not able to organize large safety campaigns. Unions with inadequate resources are facing unpaid union dues and worker layoffs. The hotel and restaurant industry has been especially hard-hit during the pandemic. Of the millions of workers filing for unemployment during the coronavirus pandemic, more than half are workers in the hospitality, restaurant, and retail sectors. Thousands of service-industry workers have filed claims with workers’ comp lawyers to address injuries and job safety.

With the spread of COVID-19 and a significant rise in injuries and deaths, many employers face high rates of absenteeism caused by illness and workers’ fears of contracting the virus in the workplace. Trade unions are diligently working with union employers to ensure that ill workers do not return to work out of misguided loyalty to their employers and/or colleagues or from fear of losing their jobs. Unions are also reminding employers that they will still be covered by the Working Time Regulations, so working employees are not pressured to work long hours and excessive overtime to compensate for ill absentee workers.

For decades, unions and workers’ rights advocates have fought for workplace reforms that protect the health and safety of American workers. The COVID-19 pandemic has shined a national spotlight on U.S. labor laws that fail to protect American workers. With millions of workers now facing the possibility of coronavirus illness and death, the country has seen a significant rise in COVID-19 work-related injury claims and lawsuits filed with workers’ comp lawyers. Workers in service industries, especially low-wage workers, are significantly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. These workers tragically make up a large proportion of the people who have lost their lives to COVID-19.

How to Find the Best Accident Attorney in Nevada

When someone else’s negligence causes serious injuries, hiring the best accident attorneys can mean the difference between collecting compensation for damages or walking away with a big financial burden.

Finding the Best Nevada Accident Attorney

When injured in an accident, finding an accident attorney for legal representation may be a difficult task, especially if the injury victim has no previous experience with a lawyer. Vehicle crashes, slip and falls, and workplace accidents can result in serious physical injuries. Accident victims often suffer debilitating injuries that result in high medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and emotional distress. The best accident attorneys with knowledge and experience in personal injury lawsuits are essential.

Before selecting an attorney to handle a case, it is wise to investigate a variety of factors that will impact the outcome of the case, as well as the client/attorney relationship:

Legal Experience

A law firm’s legal experience is a good indicator of a successful practice. A firm with a long history is likely to have more experience with successful lawsuits and satisfied clients. Whether the firm is small or large, it’s important to know which attorney will be assigned to the case. The person conducting the original client interview may not be the same person representing the case in court.

Experience with Personal Injury Law

When pursuing a Nevada legal claim for injuries, it’s essential to hire the best accident attorneys with experience in handling personal injury lawsuits. An attorney with minimal experience should be avoided. If a case proceeds to trial, the court will require proper documents, accurate information, witness statements and/or court testimony, and an attorney with knowledge of Nevada accident and injury laws.

Negotiation Skills

An attorney with good negotiation skills is an asset since 95% of personal injury cases settle out of court. Car accidents usually involve auto insurance companies with complex coverage terms that put limits and restrictions on injury claims. Many insurers offer low settlement payments to avoid big losses and close a case quickly without going to trial. 

Payments and Fees

Before hiring a Nevada accident attorney, potential clients should make sure expected payment and fee structures are explained and understood in a written agreement. While some of the best accident attorneys charge flat fees for their services, others may charge for hourly expenses.

Were You Hurt on Private Property? Money Damages May Be Available

Commercial and residential property owners have a legal responsibility to ensure the safety of guests on their property, or they may be held liable for personal injuries that occur.

Property Owners Can Be Held Liable

If a person is injured on private property that belongs to another person, he/she may be able to file a civil lawsuit with a personal injury lawyer to recover damages for injuries. These types of injuries fall under premises liability laws that dictate the legal responsibility of a property owner or property manager.

Commercial Property Owners

Business owners are held to a high standard of care for people on their property. They are required to keep property in a reasonably safe condition to prevent accidents and injuries to employees and customers. Regular inspections of the property are required to check for and repair unsafe conditions.

Owners must provide safe walkways, well-maintained flooring, stairs with non-slip treads and secure handrails, and well-lit spaces. If there are known damages on the property that can cause injuries, owners must post signs warning of danger. Henderson personal injury lawyers see a large number of premises liability lawsuits filed against owners of hotels, casinos, and restaurants in high-tourist areas.

Residential Property Owners

Under Nevada premises liability laws, homeowners have a lower standard of care than business owners. Private property visitors are classified as Invitees, Licensees, and Trespassers:

  • Invitees – Invitees are people who are invited to the property by the homeowner for business purposes. Invitees are owed the highest duty of care under the law.
  • Licensees – Licensees are people who are permitted on the property for non-business purposes, such as friends and social guests. Homeowners must warn guests of dangerous property conditions, but they are not required to make special safety provisions.
  • Trespassers – Trespassers are people who are intruding on the property without permission. Under the law, homeowners have no responsibility to protect the safety of trespassers.

Some of the most common Nevada premises liability claims involve slip-and-fall lawsuits against hotels and casinos. Plaintiffs who win premises liability lawsuits may be entitled to compensatory damages for medical bills, lost wages, loss of future earnings, and pain and suffering. If the property owner’s lack of reasonable care is particularly egregious, the court can also order the property owner to pay punitive damages to the injured party, which can be considerably greater than compensatory damages.

Injured in a Hit and Run Crash?

Injuries from a hit and run accident can leave the victim without recourse, unless certain steps are taken after the crash to identify the driver.

Taking Steps After a Hit and Run Crash

In every state, it’s illegal to leave the scene of a car accident, except when a person needs immediate medical attention. However, hit and run accidents happen frequently leaving drivers stranded with costs of property damages and medical bills. When involved in a hit and run crash, taking certain steps after the accident can ensure a better outcome.

Write Down Information on the Fleeing Vehicle

If possible, write down information on the car that fled the scene including the make and model of the car, the color of the car, the license plate number, and any distinguishing features or damages. Note any damages caused to the fleeing car and the direction the car was headed when it fled.

Call the Police

Whether hit and run accidents result in minor damages or serious injuries, calling the police is imperative. When police arrive at the scene, file a police report noting a hit and run accident and get the officer’s name and badge number. The police report is a key factor in any personal injury case.

Gather Information from Witnesses

If there are witnesses at the scene, gather information including their name, contact information, and what they witnessed. Recording a video or audio clip of witness testimony on a smartphone can be helpful when filing a claim or lawsuit with a car accident lawyer.

Take Pictures/Videos

While waiting for police, take pictures or videos of the accident scene including images of the car’s license plate, damages to the car, skid marks on the road, and damages to nearby objects. The insurance company will request accident details. Recording a recollection of the accident events on a smartphone can validate details at a later date, if a personal injury case is filed with a Henderson car accident lawyer.

Seek Medical Attention

Seeking immediate medical attention after the crash is essential, because the insurance company and the car accident lawyer will require medical records to show proof of injuries. Whether injuries are minor or severe, medical records are essential. In addition, some serious injuries such as internal bleeding, spinal cord damage, and head trauma don’t show up right away, so it’s important to be examined as soon as possible by a physician.

Mask, Social Distancing Disputes Are Putting Workers at Risk

Customers refusing to wear masks and practice social distancing measures are creating dangers in the workplace. Employees are put at risk for COVID-19 infections, as well as personal injuries from unruly customers who refuse to take safety precautions.

Safety Disputes in the Workplace

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a major toll on businesses across the country with mandated closures, loss of employees, and loss of revenues. As businesses begin to slowly reopen under strict safety guidelines, many are now facing a new problem with angry customers who are refusing to wear masks and practice social distancing measures. In retail establishments like department stores and restaurants where workers interact with customers, workers are facing belligerent customers who are acting out with aggressive tactics like yelling and screaming, damaging merchandise, and physical fights.

Currently, more than 40 states have enacted orders that mandate wearing face masks in public places. On June 24, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak mandated that all Nevada residents and visitors must wear face coverings while in public spaces including hotels, casinos, and private businesses to slow the spread of COVID-19. The state’s largest economic resource, the gaming industry, was among the first to adopt a universal requirement for masks in all casinos. In Nevada, especially in high tourist areas, Henderson workers comp lawyers have seen a large number of claims and lawsuits related to workplace-related COVID-19 illnesses where employees have direct contact with customers.

Escalating Violence Puts Workers at Risk

Mandated safety regulations have resulted in businesses and employees becoming enforcers of COVID-19 safety within the workplace. Many workers are being injured by violent customers who are asked to put on their masks and practice social distancing. News reports and social media posts are filled with violent outbursts by customers who refuse to follow safety protocols.

Restaurant and grocery store workers are increasingly bearing the brunt of opposition to angry and violent customers who refuse to wear a mask in public. In Colorado, a Waffle House employee was shot and wounded by an angry customer when he was refused service because he would not put on a face mask in the restaurant. In Oklahoma City, a customer opened fire on McDonald’s workers who told her the restaurant was currently closed.

Retail store workers have experienced a number of violent attacks from angry customers over mask and social distancing disputes. At a South Florida Walmart, an angry customer pulled a gun on another customer over a mask dispute. In another Walmart location, a customer was arrested for assaulting a police officer with his car after being asked to leave the store because he refused to put on a mask. In Flint, Michigan, a Family Dollar security guard was shot and killed after telling a customer that her child had to wear a mask to enter the store, per a statewide order. Another Michigan incident left a 77-year-old customer dead after he was shot by another customer who refused to put on a mask.

Walmart recently announced its official policy requiring all shoppers to wear masks after a number of violent disputes occurred in their stores. Since then, a number of other retailers including CVS, Target, Kohl’s, and Kroger have followed suit. To protect workers, the National Retail Federation is urging all retail establishments to set their own mask and social distancing policies, rather than waiting for federal and state agencies to issue mandates.

For many people, wearing a face mask and practicing social distancing has become a political issue linked to infringement on personal rights, rather than COVID-19 safety protocols. However, employees who deal with retail customers should not bear the burden of enforcing store safety measures at the risk of their own personal safety.

Rising Injury Claims and Lawsuits

In the wake of COVID-19 safety disputes in businesses, Henderson workers’ comp lawyers have witnessed a rise in workers’ compensation claims and personal injury lawsuits around the country. Companies that assume the responsibility of training their employees to take specific actions in the event of customer violence could face liability for injuries caused by violent customers. To maximize employee safety, it is not advisable for employers to conduct de-escalation training programs for workers. Businesses that can’t afford regular security guards should consult local law enforcement agencies for assistance.

To prevent employee injuries, deaths, and rising lawsuits, employees should not be forced to confront angry customers over masks and social distancing disputes, or feel like it’s part of their job to enforce COVID-19 safety regulations. OSHA encourages employers to develop and implement violence prevention programs. Employees should not attempt to apprehend resistant customers, block customers from entering or exiting the store, or attempt to physically force customers to leave. This is likely to escalate an aggressive or violent situation and put the employee at higher risk for serious injuries, even death.

Major Types of Head Injuries

Head injuries sustained by a blow to the head often result in damage to the brain and skull causing tissue damage, skull fractures, hemorrhages, severe swelling, and death.

Serious Head Injuries

A sudden or severe blow to the head often results in injuries to the brain. Major types of head injuries are commonly seen in victims of motor vehicle crashes, falls from heights or onto hard surfaces, sports-related accidents, and physical assaults. Depending on the severity of impact, head injuries can have life-altering consequences.

Diffuse Axonal Injury

A diffuse axonal injury is a brain injury that doesn’t cause bleeding, but does damage brain cells. Although a diffuse axonal injury is not outwardly visible like some forms of brain injury, it’s one of the most dangerous types of head injuries, often leading to permanent brain damage and/or death.

Concussion

A concussion, a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI), occurs when the brain strikes the inside of the skull, usually due to a sudden change in movement. Car crashes and sports-related accidents are common causes of concussion due to sudden jerking motions or impact of the head with hard objects. Generally, concussion injuries are temporary, but repeated concussions can lead to permanent brain damage.

Skull Fracture

A skull fracture is a break to the cranial bone, also known as the skull. Since the skull has no bone marrow, it’s very hard and difficult to fracture. However, when it does, it’s unable to absorb the impact which makes brain damage much more likely. There is only one major cause of a skull fracture – an impact or a blow to the head that’s hard enough to break the cranial bone. 

Coup-Contrecoup

A coup-contrecoup injury occurs when the brain jerks suddenly within the skull. The impact causes the brain to strike both sides of the skull, causing considerable damage to both sides of the brain. In Nevada, Henderson’s best accident attorneys often see coup-contrecoup head injuries to victims of rollover vehicle accidents that are extremely violent or forceful. Injuries often cause bleeding or swelling in the brain, seizures, and memory loss.

Penetrating Head Wound

A penetrating head wound occurs when an external object penetrates the skull. Victims of high-speed car crashes and falls from heights often suffer penetrating head wounds with serious complications which can be fatal. Penetration injuries can result in heavy blood loss, bleeding from the ears, seizures, loss of consciousness, coma, and paralysis.

George Floyd Protests: When Vehicles Plow into Crowds

Protestors at George Floyd rallies around the country are being severely injured by drivers intentionally plowing vehicles into crowds.

Angry Drivers Plowing into Protestors

The Black Lives Matter movement linked to the death of George Floyd has led to thousands of protests across the country. During recent months, the racially motivated protests have been mostly peaceful, except for incidents of sporadic looting and name calling. However, some area protesters have experienced more violent behaviors by outsiders plowing into crowds with vehicles.

Minneapolis

A recent video of a peaceful protest rally in Minneapolis shows the driver of a large semi-truck plowing through a crowd on I-35 West. To avoid injuries, protesters jumped on the trailer and gathered around the truck to stop it from moving through the crowd. Luckily, protesters were not injured by the semi-truck, but the driver was injured, taken to the hospital, then arrested.

Denver

In Denver’s Golden Triangle district, a woman behind the wheel of a black SUV drove through a crowd of protesters. Videos show that one protester hopped on the hood, then fell off when the SUV accelerated. The SUV then turned around to intentionally hit the man who was knocked to the ground. The woman drove away as protesters chased the SUV on foot. The Denver Police Department is still looking for the SUV driver and the injured protestor.

Tulsa

Two protesters were recently hospitalized after a pickup truck pulling a horse trailer drove through a crowd on Interstate 244. Tulsa World News reported that police officers did not initially stop the truck when it drove into the crowd of protesters, but Highway Patrol troopers later stopped the truck and questioned the driver. According to a local minister at the protest, the driver had a gun on the dashboard and threatened protesters before driving away.

New York

In the Prospect Park area of Brooklyn, two police vehicles plowed into a crowd of peaceful protesters rallying against police brutality. The incident was captured on at least two videos, one from the air and one from the street. New York’s Mayor initially defended the police officers stating that their safety was threatened when protesters surrounded their vehicles, but later changed his opinion. Brooklyn Police are currently investigating the officers’ actions.

As George Floyd protests increase across America, disturbing videos and photos have emerged showing this horrifying trend. Many injury victims have filed injury claims with car accident lawyers in local areas.

Work Injury Cases High in Healthcare and Social Service Sectors

Healthcare workers, social services and residential treatment personnel are currently at high risk of injury in the workplace, both from those they care for and due to exposure to the new coronavirus. Work injury can result from this exposure to the new coronavirus, and from the stress related to both exposure and workplace dynamics

In the years spanning 2011-2013, between 70-74% of assaults in the workplace occurred in healthcare and social services settings. For healthcare workers, assault injuries represented about 10% of injuries that required days away from work, compared to a low 3% of all private sector employees. And, while healthcare workers account for 20% of all workplace injuries, they make up 50% of victims of workplace assaults. On-the-job risks faced by these workers are no doubt in a heightened state during the time of COVID-19.

Incidents of workplace violence given the most public media attention have historically centered on workplace homicides, with more recent attention given to negligence. While workplace homicides account for the minority of incidents, the remainder of violent incidents in the workplace often result in non-fatal, but serious injuries. Workplace setting heavily impacts the factors that put workers at risk of being victim to workplace violence. The best work injury lawyers know that registered nurses, nurse practitioners, technicians, therapists, emergency medical care personnel, physicians, pharmacists, physicians’ assistants, care providers and aides, and any support staff who come into contact with patients and clients receiving care are all at higher risk of work-related injury.

Today, exposure to viral infection naturally exacerbates organizational risk factors of workplace violence like understaffing, overcrowding, and long patient wait times. While COVID-19 lawsuits are on the rise among impacted workers, states are having to determine whether the virus qualifies as an “occupational disease” or an “ordinary disease of life.” But for healthcare, social services and care facility workers, coronavirus infection may more easily meet the criteria of an occupational illness due to how they likely contracted the disease. But more so, risk of work injury is magnified for these workers. 

Healthcare and social services workers face additional risk of injury through transporting patients or those with a history of violence or criminal activity. Nursing home residents aren’t the only ones carrying high risks of injury due to possible neglect and compromised immunities, nursing home and healthcare workers themselves are placed in compromising positions with lack of adequate personal protection equipment, understaffing, and frustrated family members of patients and residents affected by coronavirus.

When Hate Crimes Happen at Work

Workplace hate crimes may fall under state or federal laws that impact injury claims and damages for an injured worker.

Workplace Hate Crimes on the Rise

Hate crimes occur when a person engages in illegal behavior that’s motivated by bias against the victim’s race, ethnicity, gender or gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, or disability. Hate crimes can happen in neighborhoods, schools, outdoor venues, hotels, casinos, restaurants, retail stores, and many other places where people gather, even in the workplace.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines workplace violence as encounters or incidents that involve verbal abuse, bullying behaviors, sexual and racial harassment, threats of violence or harm, and physical attacks to workers. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, workplace violence usually falls into one of four categories:

  • The perpetrator has no known association with the worker or workplace
  • The perpetrator has a personal relationship with a worker
  • The perpetrator is a current or former employee
  • The perpetrator is a customer, guest, or patient in the workplace

Over the past few years, Nevada businesses have experienced a rise in hate crimes. Henderson workers comp lawyers have seen a jump in personal injury claims filed by workers injured by some type of workplace violence related to hate crimes. Workers with the highest rates of injuries from workplace violence include healthcare and social services workers, public transportation workers, hotel staff workers, teachers, and school employees, and office managers and personnel workers. Due to minimal protection and limited staffing, these workers face a greater risk of physical injuries from workplace violence.

According to the Government of Accountability Office (GOA), healthcare and social services workers endure the highest rate of verbal abuse attacks and physical assaults within the U.S. workforce. Most cases of hospital workplace violence involve verbal and physical assaults on doctors and nurses perpetrated by patients or their family members

Victims of Hate Crimes

When victims are targeted because of their race, ethnicity, gender or gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, or disability, the perpetrator can be charged with a hate crime under federal laws. If the hate crime involves violence, the perpetrator can be charged with a federal crime under U.S. statutes. Federal crimes that may also be considered hate crimes include aggravated assault, assault with a deadly weapon, attempted murder or first-degree murder, homicide, and sexual abuse. If a perpetrator is convicted of a federal hate crime, he/she can be sentenced to many years in prison.

Although there are numerous state and federal laws with enhanced punishments for hate crimes, there are no laws that punish “hateful speech” since Americans are protected under First Amendment Rights that allow freedom of speech. If a perpetrator is screaming racial slurs while physically assaulting the victim, their speech is evidence of a hate crime that’s racially motivated, but screaming racial slurs is not illegal.

Victim Compensation Programs

Every state offers services and programs to help violent crime victims and their families. Individuals convicted of violent hate crimes in lower courts often have an order of “restitution” included in their sentence, which makes them legally obligated to pay for the victim’s damages including:

  • Expenses for medical treatments
  • Expenses for physical therapy or rehabilitation
  • Expenses for mental health treatments
  • Expenses for prescribed medications
  • Out-of-pocket expenses related to treatments
  • Lost wages

Every state has different types of benefits, compensation limits, and deadlines to apply for aid. In Nevada, a Henderson workers comp lawyer can provide legal guidance and advice on state victim compensation programs and workers’ compensation claims for workplace hate crimes.

Nevada Hate Crime Laws

In Nevada, a crime committed against a person because of that individual’s race, color, national origin, religion, mental or physical disability, or sexual orientation, is a hate crime. Even if the perpetrator wrongly believes the victim is in one of these groups, he/she can still be charged and prosecuted for a hate crime.

While Nevada laws do not delineate hate crimes with specific penalties, the state does enhance the penalty for certain crimes which happened mainly because of the protected status of the victim. If the victim is a minority, of a different sexual orientation, or physically or emotionally disabled, penalties for a hate crime can be increased by the court.

In Nevada, a hate crime in the workplace could also be an employment discrimination case in certain circumstances. In some cases, when an employee is the victim of a workplace assault he/she may have to choose between filing a workers’ compensation case with a workers comp lawyer and filing a tort case under the so-called exclusive remedy of workers’ compensation. When a workplace hate crime case becomes complicated, a Henderson workers comp lawyer can address legal issues and provide guidance that ensures the best outcome for the employee. In general, any criminal sanction against the perpetrator will have no effect on a workers’ compensation claim.

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