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After a work accident, workers' comp may not be your only option

Starting in the early years of the 20th century, the United States really began a push toward improving workplace safety. Too many workers had been maimed or killed in preventable workplace accidents and fires. In many of these incidents, management often failed to invest in even basic safety precautions because it would lower their profits.

Workplace safety really improved when the federal government eventually got involved and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration was formed. Workers' compensation programs also ensured that injured workers had the financial support they needed in order to take care of their families while healing. Sadly, many states are now shrinking their workers' compensation programs, yet certain professions remain very dangerous.

There were at least two news stories this week of fatal workplace accidents occurring in construction and manufacturing, which are two professions associated with high rates of accidents and injuries. The first story involved a man from here in Maryland who died in a construction accident at a homebuilding site in New Jersey.

He was apparently digging a drainage ditch when the 7-foot trench suddenly collapsed on top of him. Rescuing the buried worker took about two hours, and he died shortly after being pulled out.

The second story involved an employee for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in Michigan. While working alone at the factory's wastewater treatment plant, the 53-year-old man died under circumstances that have not been disclosed.

If you have been injured or have lost a loved one in a workplace accident, workers' compensation may not be your only option. Depending on the circumstances and what caused the accident, you may be able to pursue a lawsuit against the employer or a third party (such as the manufacturer of a malfunctioning piece of equipment).

Before you decide on any course of action, it can be very helpful to discuss your case with an experienced personal injury attorney.

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