The thought of getting injured at the workplace can be scary. The first thing you need to determine is whether you can sue the employer or not. This depends on a variety of factors, however.
Workers’ Compensation insurance is different from one state to another in the U.S. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP) applies to federal workers and specified groups. Individuals who get injured on the job need to learn about the laws and regulations in their state.
For example, employers in Texas don’t have to mandatorily have to carry workers’ compensation insurance. This means that employees may get the bare minimum compensation or none at all. In such cases, employees can sue the employer or the third party (if involved) to get the necessary compensation.
The best way forward is to consult an injury lawyer for workplace accidents and explain your situation to him or her. Get proper advice before you take any legal action.
What to do When Injured on the Job?
- Employer Status
The first step should be to inquire if your employer has workers’ compensation coverage. This information should be available at work. Many employers post the details on notice boards. But if the details are not found, you should call your state’s labor cabinet. You can also contact an attorney immediately and ask them to handle the process on your behalf.
- Responsible Parties
The next step is to determine who is to blame for your workplace accident. How you were injured at the workplace is the core point of the case.
- Was it because of the employer’s negligence?
- Was it because of another employee or a colleague?
- Was it a safety hazard?
- Is anyone from outside the company involved in your injury? If yes, this would be a case of third-party compensation.
- Can any witnesses support you?
- Is there tangible proof that can be legally accessed as evidence?
Gather as much information as you can. The more details you have, the better when you file a case. Sometimes, the employer may be partially responsible for the injury. The decision depends on what the jury decides. However, many cases have been ruled in the employees’ favor with proof of the employer’s negligence (even if it is partial).
What to do When Employer Has Workers’ Compensation Coverage?
In most instances, you cannot sue the company if it has workers’ compensation coverage. You will receive compensation according to the said terms. All cases are different, however, and different rules may apply. Contact an attorney even if the employer is offering compensation. It is vital to discuss the case with a legal professional before agreeing to the employer’s terms, especially if the compensation is too less or doesn’t cover your expenses.
However, the employer can be sued for punitive damages if the employee dies due to workplace injury. The case will be filed by the family members. They will need to demonstrate that the injury was a result of gross negligence by the employer.
How do Negligence and Gross Negligence Differ
Gross negligence is applicable in case of an employee’s death. It implies that the employer had no regard for employees’ safety and willingly put them in danger. Gross negligence is when an employer doesn’t follow workplace health and safety regulations or doesn’t bother enough to fix issues that cause high risk for employees.
However, clear evidence is necessary to prove the employer’s gross negligence. It has a higher threshold than negligence as the situation is more complex.
What To Do When An Employer Does Not Have Workers’ Compensation Coverage?
You can straight away sue your employer if the company has not subscribed for workers’ compensation coverage. It is vital to get in touch with a lawyer at the earliest. There is a risk of evidence being removed in case of delays.
Additionally, you can file a personal injury lawsuit against the employer’s insurance company (if there’s one that provides coverage for other policies). However, it is best to sue the employer directly if the injury is due to workplace health hazards (contact with toxic substances, defective products, nonadherence to safety regulations, etc.).
In Case of Third-Party Involvement
You can also sue the third-party responsible for the injury. For example, defective equipment sent by a vendor/ supplier injured you at the workplace. Here, the equipment belongs to the supplier, and hence the lawsuit will be against them for sending a faulty piece that caused an injury.
It is overwhelming and terrifying to make the right decision when you are injured. Legal matters are always tricky and have to be handled by experts. Find a reputed personal injury attorney in your region and contact them for professional services. You will be guided the right way.