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Shapiro & Appleton

More Latinos Dying in Workplace Injuries in Virginia

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Abdon Urrutia was working on a commercial office construction job in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia (VA) earlier this year. He was 16 feet off the ground and was tied into a harness. He was stripping metal molds off the walls that are used to pour concrete. But one of the molds fell over and slammed into his back. This caused him a lot of pain, and when he reached the ground, his legs were numb. He had trouble walking for nearly two hours.

He eventually was able to lift himself from the floor, and his construction company just gave him eight aspirin, and he went back to work. Urrutia worked the next day as well, although he was doing lighter duty.

But he continued to have pain, and has been taking Naproxen, a powerful painkiller, for months. He lacks the health insurance needed to pay for an MRI. Later, his company had him sign documents that he didn’t realize said that he had not had a workplace injury.

Now Urrutia still has pain and gets no worker’s compensation, and he must pay hundreds of dollars for pain pills.

His case point to a larger problem in Virginia and across the US, where construction site injuries, often suffered by Latinos, go under reported. Many of these workers do not speak English and some are undocumented, so they fear that if they file a complaint, it could lead to trouble.

Most safety statistics that the US government compiles for job sites are regarding worker deaths, rather than injuries. In 2013, 797 Latinos died on the job across the US, but thousands have been injured, and many have not been reported.

The case above, unfortunately, is all too common. We often see a variety of workplace-caused injuries in our law practice in Virginia. It is very important that if you are injured on the job, you file an injury report with your supervisor immediately. Then, if you do suffer long term health effects, it is easier to obtain legal justice in a lawsuit later. In one of our recent workplace injury cases, we secured a $150,000 settlement for an Amtrak worker who slipped and fell on the job.  She wisely reported the incident right away to her company, and this helped us to win that case.

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