If you have been involved in an accident at work that has left you with injuries, you may be wondering what forms of recourse you have to handle the situation. The first question employees always ask is, can I sue my employer for my injuries? In order to answer this question, it is important to examine what workers’ compensation benefits are and when you are entitled to them.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits
When you have had an accident at work, most states use the workers’ compensation benefits process to offer remuneration for the injuries you have suffered. This is a non-fault compensation system, which covers most employees in the workplace when an accident happens. In the majority of U.S. states, there are laws and regulations in place to ensure all employers have arranged for coverage with a workers’ compensation insurance carrier for prospective employee accidents and injuries. This means that any medical treatment that is needed to rehabilitate an employee back to work is paid for by the employer, as well as remuneration for lost wages, partial disability, and permanent disability.
The workers’ compensation benefits system is praised for being non-fault based, which means that you do not have to prove negligence or evidence blame in the accident to receive compensation for your injuries. Compared to traditional lawsuits, a workers’ compensation claim prevents the lengthy and unpredictable process of suing your employer in court. While some evidence of injuries is required for compensation insurance companies to successfully approve your claim, it is generally much quicker and less stressful to receive coverage for medical treatment and partial or total wage compensation. This is especially true for employees who have suffered more serious injuries that keep them out of work for long periods of time or permanently. Once your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier approves your claim, you will receive these benefits within a few weeks.
The workers’ compensation benefits system is regarded in most states as an exclusive remedy for injuries suffered in the workplace. This means that under normal circumstances, you are prevented from bringing a lawsuit against your employer and you cannot sue them for other damages, such as pain, suffering or any emotional distress the accident has caused you.
Even if your employer’s insurance carrier has denied your workers’ compensation benefits claim, the normal route of appeal will not be suing them in court. If you are left unhappy with their decision, you can appeal to the responsible agency or board within the state you work in. This will involve providing evidence and hiring an attorney or licensed representative to present your case before a panel.
When You Can Sue Your Employer
For every legal rule, there are exceptions that exist. In the case of workers’ compensation benefits, there may be some individual circumstances that will allow you to sue your employer for injuries you have sustained in a work-related accident. For example, as it is mandatory by law in most states for employers to have workers’ compensation insurance in place for employee injuries, you may be able to sue them in a civil court if they do not have this insurance.
In some states, an employee can sue if they have suffered an injury due to gross negligence by their employer. This will involve making a personal injury claim where you have to prove the fault of your employer and how this negligence contributed to the injury you sustained. This will mean building a strong case with evidence about the accident, as the standard for winning damages is much higher and more complicated than it is for claiming workers’ compensation benefits. However, the advantage of suing your employer by personal injury claim means you may be awarded compensation for pain and suffering, as well as medical treatment and loss of earnings. An experienced attorney is always recommended when you are suing your employer due to the complexity of the court process.
Other circumstances where you may be able to sue your employer is by bringing a products liability lawsuit or toxic tort lawsuit against them if you are exposed to dangerous machinery or equipment that is faulty and defective or if you have been affected by a toxic substance. You may also be able to bring a personal injury lawsuit against a third party that was involved in the accident.
Before bringing a workers’ compensation claim or hiring an experienced attorney to sue your employer, it is important to check what the laws and regulations are in the state you work in. Every state has different approaches to injuries sustained at work and the compensation and entitlements you have access to will vary by location. Always find out what your rights are as an employee before bringing any injury compensation claim and seek the advice of an experienced representative or attorney if you have any questions.