Workplace negligence cases are difficult to launch against an employer, as state compensation programs typically eliminate an employee’s ability to file such claims. In general, when a person is hired by a company, they sign away their right to file a claim in return for guaranteed compensation for medical expenses and lost wages. However, this compensation is often lacking if a person has suffered long-term injuries, and such compensation doesn’t even cover pain or suffering. That’s why victims are encouraged to review all of their legal options when hurt, as a claim may be the only way to pay for severe injuries.
WHEN CAN HURT EMPLOYEES PURSUE WORKPLACE NEGLIGENCE CASES?
There are some special instances when a victim can involve other parties in a lawsuit, or even an employer in a couple circumstances. A common injury claim involves a manufacturer or designer of a defective piece of industrial equipment. If a manufacturer sells a piece of equipment to a company, knowing that the equipment could be unsafe in some applications, they may face liability if someone is hurt. In general, the hurt employee must have been using the equipment properly at the time of an accident. For example, an employee is arranging sheets of metal under a punch machine for cutting. The worker lets their foot off of the operating pedal so that they can safely place their hand under the punch. However, the pedal sticks and the punch slams into their hand, breaking several fingers. The victim may be able to bring a defective product claim against the manufacturer as a result.
Employees who are harmed by a hazardous substance, like asbestos or silica, may be able to bring a claim against the manufacturer of the substance. Also, if the victim was using safety equipment at the time and the equipment failed to do its job, the victim can also bring a claim against them.
In some instances, workplace negligence cases can involve an employer. If an employer’s intentional or egregious misconduct were responsible for an accident, the employer will need to compensate the victim. For example, a construction laborer is forced to fix a stretch of scaffolding up high, but the employer refuses to provide the laborer with fall protection, even though the condition of the scaffolding is poor. Such gross misconduct may expose the employer to liability.
In Texas, and only in Texas, an employer may opt out of the state compensation program. While most companies still choose to participate, the number of opt-outs is increasing. If someone is hurt on the job and their employer has opted out of the program, the victim can sue the employer directly for damages. This means that a victim will have to prove the employer’s wrongdoing, but it also means that a victim can possibly secure a higher settlement, as there is no cap on damages.
These claims are complex affairs and should be managed by an attorney experienced in taking on powerful institutions. This will ensure the victim’s rights are protected as the claim is handled.