Why you should hire an attorney who is experienced in the right area of law
If you’re hurt at work, you may need to file a workers’ compensation claim to obtain money for medical bills and lost wages. However, in certain cases, it may also be possible to file a third-party personal injury lawsuit depending on the cause of your injuries.
Let’s take a closer look at the differences between workers’ compensation and personal injury cases, and which type you should pursue.
What is workers’ compensation?
The workers’ compensation system was created to allow employees to process injury claims in a timely manner. One reason why these claims take less time to process is because there is no need to prove that someone else was negligent in allowing an accident to occur.
In exchange for getting paid faster, workers give up their ability to sue for pain and suffering or other punitive damages. Instead, an injured employee has his or her medical bills and lost wages paid for by an insurance company.
What is a personal injury case?
A personal injury case is a civil lawsuit that you file against another party who caused your pain or suffering. Unlike a workers’ compensation proceeding, it is necessary to show that another party was negligent in causing the accident that caused the injuries. It is also necessary to show that the accident resulted in financial losses due to another person or entity’s lack of care toward you.
If you win a personal injury case, it is possible to seek damages for emotional pain and suffering as well as actual damages incurred such as medical expenses and lost wages.
Can you file a personal injury claim after being hurt at work?
In most cases, you will be limited to filing a workers’ compensation claim after being hurt at work. However, there are certain exceptions to that rule.
For example, if you are hurt because of your employer’s gross negligence, that could make it a personal injury matter. Gross negligence could occur, for example, if you were required to climb without a harness or required to work in a small space with no ventilation system.
Extreme negligence on the part of a supplier or other party associated with your employer may also turn a workers’ compensation case into a personal injury case. Let’s say that your employer always made safety a top priority while on the job, which meant that you always wore a harness while working at heights. However, if it snapped because it wasn’t designed correctly, the manufacturer of that product could be liable for damages.
Can an employer become a party to a personal injury case?
If you were hurt in an accident caused by someone driving a company vehicle when the crash occurred, the employer may be a defendant in a personal injury lawsuit. In some cases, this is because a company is likely to have greater financial resources than an individual employee from which to settle a case.
Therefore, an attorney may suggest including the employer in a lawsuit if it was negligent in some way. This could be the case if the attorney knew that a driver had been in a previous accident or drove while impaired. Of course, it will need to be established that the person who caused the crash was using the company vehicle for the company’s benefit. Otherwise, the company’s liability could be limited or nonexistent.
Which attorney should I hire?
It is generally a good idea to speak with an experienced attorney if you’re considering filing a workers’ compensation claim. This is because legal counsel can ensure that your case is proceeding in a timely manner and that your employer doesn’t violate your rights. For instance, an employer generally cannot terminate you or cut off payments because you don’t return to work before you’re cleared to do so.
If you have been hurt for any reason, the first thing you should do is seek treatment. Once your condition has been stabilized, report the injury to your employer or to the relevant authorities. Finally, speak with an attorney who can help you determine the best way to resolve the matter in a favorable manner.