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Does race affect the likelihood of a workplace injury?

An attorney that focuses on workers’ compensation claims knows that there is no guarantee that an employer’s insurance provider will fully make an injured worker whole. Disagreements may arise about the scope of rehabilitative treatments or other benefits requested by an injured employee.

For foreign-born workers, there may be even more difficulties. According to a 2013 federal study, such workers may be more at risk of workplace injuries due to their unfamiliarity with American safety guidelines. The study also found a racially disparate impact: Hispanics suffered fatal workplace accidents more often than workers in other racial groups.

Such workers may also have more difficulty in negotiating with employers. Workers’ compensation benefits are often received in exchange for an agreement not to bring a personal injury lawsuit against an employer. In other words, those insurance benefits become an injured worker's sole remedy in some instances. If a worker did not receive adequate compensation for his or her lost wages, medical costs and long-term care needs, there may be limited options.

For that reason, it is important to consult with a workers’ compensation attorney after a workplace accident. Before waiving away your right to sue, it is important to understand your options. Under state law, the Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Commission is the agency that will hear a worker’s dispute with his or her employer over workers’ compensation benefits. From a temporary disability to partial or total permanent disability, an attorney can work with injured workers to get the benefits they deserve and help them return to work or get back to their normal lifestyle, to the greatest extent possible.

Source: The New York Times, “Injury Statistics by Race Go Uncollected,” Jay Root, Oct. 9, 2014

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