Restaurant Worker Injury & Worker Compensation Lawyers
Restaurant industry workers are at risk for various injuries while on the job. Some of the most common injuries include slips and falls, burns, cuts, and carpal tunnel syndrome.
Were you injured while working in a restaurant? If so, seek legal help right away. The experienced personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC can review your case and work to get you the damages you deserve.
Contact a Chicago workers compensation lawyer at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today for immediate legal advice and schedule a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.
Successful restaurants with satisfied customers are often the result of tasty meals, the best equipment, quality ingredients, and happy workers.
The role of a restaurant employee often involves cleaning, rotating supplies, preparing food, cooking entrées, time management, and working in a safe environment. Foodservice jobs typically pay well and are usually available in local communities compared to other industries.
The employee typically works in cafeterias, bars, and fast-food restaurants in the "back of the house" where food is prepped, dishes are cleaned, and meals are served to customers in the "front of the house."
While a small restaurant might have just a single cook or chef, larger establishments will have a comprehensive food preparation team, including the chef, sous chef, prep chef, line cook, and baker.
Front and Back of the House
Some employees perform their duties in the "front of the house," where they work directly with the customer.
These jobs might include a host or hostess that greets the customer, servers (waiters and waitresses), bussers to clean dirty dishes from the table, runners bringing dishes to the customer, bartenders, and cashiers.
Based on the complexity and size of the establishment, there might also be table captains, floor managers, shift managers, and other food preparers.
To remain successful, every member of the team must monitor their attention to detail from the moment the customer arrives until the doors are locked for the evening. The cooks must ensure that their workstations and tools are meticulously clean and sanitized to avoid food poisoning and contamination.
If you or a family member was injured while working in a restaurant, you are likely entitled to workers' compensation benefits. Contact our workers' compensation attorneys for more information and a free review of your legal rights and options.
Restaurant Worker Hazards
Maintaining safety in a restaurant work environment is crucial to the health and well-being of the worker, guests, and visitors. Working in a restaurant environment can be unhealthy and dangerous, leading to lifelong personal injury.
Common hazards and dangers that could cause a restaurant injury include:
- Ergonomic Hazards – Many restaurant employees stand for extended amounts of time in a single position, usually on a hard floor, which can cause back pain, muscle fatigue, and leg/feet soreness.
- Heavy Lifting – Food inventories are typically delivered to the restaurant in large boxes and heavy food containers that should never be lifted by a single worker. Working in an unusual posture while lifting heavy objects can lead to muscle pain, nerve damage, strains, sprains, and injury to the shoulders, lower back, upper back, neck, hand, wrist, fingers, elbows, and forearms.
- Cuts and Lacerations – Chefs, line cooks, and food prep workers are susceptible to serious lacerations and cuts when using knives to perform their duties. It is essential to keep the edge of the knife razor-sharp to minimize force used on the shoulders, elbows, forearm, wrist, and fingers. Servers and dishwashers are also susceptible to cuts from broken dishware and glass. Workers should follow strict safety procedures when operating baking and slicing machines to ensure the safety guards remain in place.
- Repetitive Motion Injury – Spending months, years, and decades working in the restaurant industry can lead to repetitive motion injury, especially for those prepping food and serving tables.
- Slipping, Tripping, and Falling – A restaurant employee is often exposed to slippery and wet floors caused by a lack of housekeeping, spilled liquids, and food droppings.
- Burns – Exposure to deep fryers, hot grills, and hot grease can cause severe burns that require immediate medical treatment.
- Chemical Exposure – To maintain a sanitized environment, workers often use various maintenance and disinfecting chemicals. Any exposure to airborne fumes or direct contact with liquid chemicals on the skin could lead to serious irritation, respiratory issues, or other employee injuries.
- Biological Hazards – A restaurant employee is often exposed to various biological hazards, including parasites, viruses, and bacteria that can cause severe sickness or disease.
- Assault – Without proper security measures, workplace violence could be a real concern during a robbery or when handling unruly customers, where injured workers become helpless victims.
Not every hazard leading to a restaurant injury is obvious. Many employees work long hours under stressful situations to ensure that the customer is satisfied and the business remains successful. Also, younger workers with less experience tend to be at a greater risk for serious work-related restaurant employee injuries.
Often, inexperienced workers are more reluctant to make a demand or ask the question and often assume that they can perform a challenging task without the ability or training.
Restaurant Workers' Wages
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics for the year 2016, involving employment data of the previous year, there were 30,830 restaurant workers on the job in the Chicago, Naperville, and Arlington Heights metropolitan areas.
These statistics reveal that restaurant employees in northeastern Illinois earned $13.03 per hour, or $27,090 annually, on average. These earning wages are slightly higher than the national averages. See Chart
Injured Restaurant Workers Entitled to Workers' Compensation Benefits
While most restaurant workers who are injured on the job suffer cuts, lacerations, and injuries from slips and falls, some are fatally injured through violence at work.
Below is a small sampling of recent violence involving restaurant workers.
- Atlanta, Georgia - In November 2017, A robbery at a local restaurant ended with the death of the manager. Others had been concerned that a lack of appropriate security led to the deadly robbery. A former employee said that the restaurant security had been a significant problem that he and the deceased manager had complained about to the business owners for some time. Immediately after the incident, the security guard on duty could not provide 911 with an accurate physical address to send emergency medical responders and law enforcement officers.
- Bowie, Maryland - In January 2017, an alleged disgruntled former employee killed three workers at a local bar and grill. The incident occurred in the early morning hours, just after 2:00 AM. The alleged 40-year-old shooter who had previously worked at the Blue Sunday Bar and Grill as a bartender fled the scene after killing two employees. The third employee was transported to the local hospital, where they succumbed to their injuries. The alleged suspect was spotted near a wooded area close to his home after he had shot himself twice. He suffered non-life-threatening gunshot injuries, benefits, and food.
- Manchester, Connecticut - A 36-year-old worker at his restaurant job was shot while at work and succumbed to his injuries. Two coworkers have been charged with the man's death. Arrest warrant documents reveal that multiple witnesses told law enforcement that the alleged shooter worked there as a kitchen manager who allegedly shot the fry cook.
Staying Safe at Work
There are numerous steps that every employee and manager can take to minimize the potential risk of a workplace accident in a restaurant setting to the benefit of all workers, customers, and guests. The steps include:
- Preventing a Slip and Fall Accident - Maintaining clean floors in an uncluttered environment in treating the surface with non-resisting coatings can minimize slip and fall accidents. Using optimal cleaning supplies with slip-resistant properties and grease removal chemicals can also help, as can using "wet floor" and "caution" signs placed on the slippery surface until the area has dried.
- Wearing the Appropriate Attire - Most injuries on the job site result from inappropriate attire and malfunctioning equipment in the kitchen. Many accidents can be avoided by wearing long sleeves in the kitchen area to reduce exposure to fire and hot surfaces. Wearing skid-resistant, closed-toed shoes can also minimize falls caused by slipping on wet or slick surfaces.
- Keeping Knives Sharp - A sharp knife is far easier to control than dull knives because they require less force to function properly. Consider using knives that have secure handles with razor-sharp edges that are continually sharpened. Limit the use of electric slicers to employees who have been trained on how to use the slicing machine guard appropriately and safely.
- Preventing Fires - The restaurant should have established housekeeping rules that enforce policies that prevent kitchen fires. Some of these rules would include:
- Never leave hot stoves with heated surfaces or open flames unattended
- Ensure that every three-pronged corded appliance is plugged into the appropriate receptacle.
- Never overload an electrical outlet
- Never use equipment or appliances that generate sparks or smoke
- Never use appliances with bent prongs or frayed electrical cords
In addition to the safety measures above, the restaurant worker should store cleaning chemicals in a separate area away from any heat source or food products.
Filing a Workers' Compensation Claim
Any employee injured on the job has the legal right to seek medical attention immediately when harmed through a work-related injury. All restaurant owners, managers, and operators must provide each employee with workers' compensation benefits in the event of a work injury.
The workers' comp system provides full benefits for a work-related personal injury that covers ongoing medical expenses, lost wages, past medical bills, and ongoing medical treatment for any minor to serious injury.
However, the benefits are not automatic to injured workers, who must file a workers' compensation claim submitted to the employer's insurer.
In some cases, the workers' compensation insurance company might deny or delay payment for lost wages and medical bills due to various factors, including suspecting that the workplace injury did not actually happen on the job.
A denied or delayed payment creates a legal issue that must be addressed before the employee can receive payment for their medical bills. It is advisable to work with a workers' compensation attorney who can provide aggressive advocacy to resolve the case in these cases.
How to Obtain Compensation to Ensure Your Financial Recovery Following a Work-Related Restaurant Accident
Our lawyers help injured restaurant employees recover financial compensation through civil lawsuits and the IL Workers' Compensation Act. Call our law firm (888-424-5757) today to schedule a free consultation and discuss filing a workers' compensation claim.
Our restaurant injury attorneys can assist your family through this challenging time. Our legal team understands the complex Illinois Workers' Compensation system and can ensure that you will receive the most benefits available. Let us handle your case while you recover.
As your legal representative, our lawyers can ensure that all documents are filed in the appropriate Illinois county courthouse before the state statute of limitations expires. Additionally, our law firm can build your case, gather evidence and negotiate an out-of-court settlement on your behalf or take your lawsuit to trial.
Contact a Chicago Restaurant Workers Compensation & Injury Law Firm
Our Chicago workers' compensation law firm accepts every compensation claim through contingency fee arrangements.
Your legal fees are paid only if our attorneys successfully resolve your compensation case through a jury trial award or negotiate an out-of-court settlement on your behalf. This agreement ensures you owe us nothing if our law firm does not win!