An on-the-job injury is extremely common. In fact, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that in 2016 alone, there were approximately 2.9 million non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported by private industry employers. Workers who are injured on the job often require medical care, ongoing treatment, and time off of work. In some cases, workers’ injuries may be so severe that they are unable to return to work for many months or years, or perhaps even permanently.
If you have been injured while working, you may have questions about what your options are for recovering compensation for your lost wages, medical expenses, and even pain and suffering. You may also be wondering whether or not you should file a workers’ compensation claim, or a lawsuit. Here’s an overview of what you should know–
Workers’ Compensation Claims after a Workplace Injury
In the majority of cases, workers who are injured while working should file a workers’ compensation claim for damages. Indeed, if your employer carries workers’ compensation insurance and you were injured while performing a work-related task, workers’ compensation insurance will be your primary form of coverage. While the rules for workers’ compensation vary on state-by-state basis, most workers’ compensation insurance programs provide compensation for all of a workers’ necessary medical expenses, compensate workers for a portion of their lost wages, and do not provide compensation for noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Can I File a Lawsuit?
The rules regarding filing a civil action against your employer if you have suffered an on-the-job injury are complicated, and most of the time, if you are covered by workers’ compensation insurance (which is a type of no-fault insurance coverage), you will be barred from filing a civil action for compensation. If your employer does not carry workers’ compensation insurance, on the other hand, a lawsuit may be possible.
A lawsuit may also be an option in the event that you have a third-party liability claim. This means that rather than holding your employer liable for your injuries–remember, you cannot do this if you’re recovering workers’ compensation insurance benefits–you file a lawsuit against the negligent third party responsible for your injury. For example, if you are harmed at work by a defective piece of equipment–such as a ladder with a rung that snaps when weight is applied to it–then you may be able to file a third-party liability suit against the manufacturer of the ladder. The party who sold the ladder may also be liable if they knew of the defect, yet distributed it regardless.
Filing a lawsuit vs. a workers’ compensation claim has both benefits and drawbacks. Remember, the workers’ compensation insurance system is a no-fault system, which means that you do not have to prove the fault of anyone involved in order to recover compensation, nor will you be barred from compensation if you contributed to your accident. On the other hand, a lawsuit is entirely based on fault, and if you file a lawsuit, you will need to collect and organize evidence that holds that your injuries would not have occurred but for the actions of the defendant.
On the other hand, a benefit of a third-party liability suit is that in addition to the full extent of your medical expenses (also available in a workers’ compensation claim), you can also recover benefits for the full value of your lost wages and future lost wages (most workers’ compensation programs provide wage replacement benefits at an approximate rate of 66 ⅔ percent of the injured worker’s wage prior to the accident), and compensation for noneconomic losses like pain and suffering. In other words, you may be able to recover hundreds or thousands of dollars more in damages by filing a lawsuit vs. a workers’ compensation claim.
Want to Learn More? Get Your Case Reviewed by an experienced Attorney Today
We know that if you have been injured on the job, you probably have a lot of questions about what steps to take next. In order to determine which option is best for you–filing a workers’ compensation claim, a lawsuit, or both–you should meet with a skilled lawyer near you and request a free case evaluation.
At the law offices of Napoli Shkolnik PLLC, we have experienced lawyers in law offices across the country who are ready to review your case and provide you with the legal guidance you’re looking for. Please fill out the online form on our website to get more information today.