If you were injured at work, getting care and workers' compensation can be confusing. The details of your injury and your employer will affect how you pursue your claim. Whatever the situation though, a lawyer from Accident.com can help you.
The first and most important step is to ensure you aren't in any direct danger. See a doctor as soon as possible to ensure you don't have any injuries. Taking care of yourself is the priority. You shouldn't have to worry about how you'll pay your medical bills or support yourself while off work.
Workers' compensation gives employees proper coverage for certain work-injury costs. (Think wage loss and medical bills.) These benefits often stop employees from suing their employers. Workers' comp provides quick payment for an employee's injuries while decreasing litigation for an employer. However, an employer can still be liable for an employee's work-related injuries in some situations. In those cases, you could sue your employer.
That's where an attorney from Accident.com can help. They can help you figure out the best plan that'll get you the compensation you need to heal from your injury. To help you make some sense of the situation, take a look at three common conditions when a lawsuit is an option for you to pursue.
Sue Because There Isn't Workers' Compensation
Sometimes, it's not a matter of workers' comp or a lawsuit. It's that there's no workers' compensation to begin with. If that happens, you may be able to sue your employer.
Workers' comp acts as a shield for many employers. If the shield doesn't exist, an employee can make a claim against the employer.
This situation could appear if your employer doesn't purchase workers' compensation insurance (not all states require it, like Texas) or if they're supposed to be “self-insured” but aren't.
In these cases, a court may require less proof than a regular personal injury (PI) case. For a PI case, you have to prove that the other person did something wrong to cause harm. With a workers’ comp case, you don't have to prove wrongdoing. This makes the injury case easier to win. Many states like Minnesota apply these lower standards if an employee sues the employer because the employer doesn't have workers' compensation.
Talk with an attorney who's familiar with personal injury and workers’ comp claims to figure out whether this is an option for you.
Sue Your Employer for Unsafe Work Environments or Intentional Harm
In a few states like New Jersey, you can sue your employer for gross negligence. Gross negligence is a conscious decision to not use reasonable care. This incident could include the employer not providing standard safety gear or maintaining tools, thus leading to unsafe work conditions. For example, imagine you were tying down a load using company equipment. Your employer didn't make sure the company ties were safe and that equipment broke and hurt you. You then may have a case for gross negligence.
You can also sue your employer if they hurt you on purpose. This situation is called an intentional tort, but they are rare. In states like Ohio, the employer needs to have specific intent to hurt an employee. Most of the time, there's no proof that an employer wanted to hurt the employee. This missing piece makes it hard for the employee to win the case.
Lawsuits against employers are hard when they involve gross negligence or intentional torts. Plus, these laws change by state and case. A lawyer familiar with workers' comp and employer lawsuits can help you determine whether one of these claims is the best way forward.
Sue a Third Party That Caused the Injury
You may be able to make both a workers' comp claim and a claim against a third party. This happens when someone other than your employer causes your work-related injury.
For example, a truck driver could have a third-party claim after a car accident. If a random driver caused the accident, the trucker would have a third-party claim because the accident wasn't the employer's or their fault. It was the third party's doing. The truck driver would then have two claims: one for workers' comp and one against the other driver.
A defective product could also lead to two lawsuits. Imagine an employee was using a defective machine at work. The machine broke and hurt the employee. They would have a work injury claim for workers' compensation and a product liability claim against the company that made the faulty product.
An attorney familiar with these areas of law can help determine whether you can bring two claims for your injury. However, there are a few items to remember.
An injured employee can't recover the same damages from two sources. Also, workers' compensation pays for fewer expenses, but it's usually easier to recover. Third-party lawsuits, on the other hand, can be more difficult, but you can recover money for more matters. Finally, only PI lawsuits can get money for emotional harm, lasting scarring/disfigurement and other general damages.
Get in Touch With a Lawyer
Work-related injuries can be confusing to navigate. On top of taking care of your health and safety, it's important to figure out whether you should sue your employer. You don't have to do it alone. Accident.com can connect you with an experienced attorney to help you find the best path forward. Contact us today before the statute of limitations expires on your claim.