Remedies for On the Job Injuries
When a worker is injured on the job, there are many questions that quickly arise and can be answered by an experienced injury attorney. Most injured workers first ask what remedies are available to compensate them for their injuries, including how to pay medical expenses and cover lost wages.
The answer is “it depends.” The remedies available to an injured worker depend on decisions made by the worker’s employer, which are normally made far before that worker was injured. Although the answers vary by state, there are generally three categories of claims for on the job injuries: workers’ compensation claims, non-subscriber claims, and third party claims.
Workers’ Compensation Claims
Some employers decide to subscribe to workers’ compensation. If your employer made this decision, your remedies against your employer will be limited through the workers’ compensation system. You cannot bring a lawsuit against your employer, but you can claim benefits for your medical expenses and lost wages through the workers’ compensation system, regardless of fault.
An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can guide you through this process. While many worker’s compensation employers will send you to a doctor and pay you a percentage of your income while you’re restricted from work, this does not necessarily mean that you are receiving the maximum amount of benefits. If a dispute arises, you will be subjected to an administrative hearing, where the advice and representation of a lawyer can make the difference in the outcome of the administrative hearing, which ultimately effects how much in benefits you receive.
Other employers decide to opt out of workers’ compensation. If your employer made this decision, you can most likely file a claim for negligence against your employer for the actions of your employer and any coworkers that were the cause of your injury.
Many employers that do not subscribe to workers’ compensation have no-fault employee benefit plans that offer limited, capped coverage for medical expenses and lost wages, regardless of whether an employer or coworker’s fault caused the injury. This coverage may help pay the bills in the short term, but it is often not enough to compensate an employee for a serious injury that is the fault of their own employer or worker.
If the injured employee pursues a claim for negligence, the recovery can include a greater amount of compensation for medical expenses and lost wages—plus general damages for pain and suffering and mental anguish.
Third Party Claims
Regardless of your employer’s decision on subscribing to workers’ compensation, you may still have a third party claim if the negligence of a company or individual other than your own employer or coworker caused your injury. This other company or individual is called a third party. Similar to a non-subscriber claim, you can file a negligence claim against the third party for its actions that were the cause of your injury. An example of this might be a negligent driver—the third party—who caused a car wreck while you were on the job driving a company vehicle.
Some injured workers hesitate to contact an injury attorney because they either don’t want to damage their relationship with their employer or don’t think they can afford legal fees when they are facing medical expenses with little to no income.
If you’ve been injured on the job, you need to consult with an experienced injury attorney to determine your rights and the legal remedies available to you to ensure the maximum recovery for you and your family.