Written by AskTheLawyers.com™
Are You Eligible for Workers’ Compensation?
Ask a Workers’ Comp Lawyer for Legal Advice
Any worker is at risk of being hurt on the job. If you are hurt at work, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation, commonly referred to as “workers’ comp”. Workers’ comp is an insurance program employers pay for to offer financial compensation to injured workers in order to cover lost wages and medical bills as a result of workplace accidents. Workers’ comp is simpler than filing a personal injury claim in several ways, though you may be eligible for both depending on third-party involvement. The best part of workers’ comp is that the injured employee or contractor does not have to prove negligence by someone else, as is necessary when filing a personal injury claim. Common workplace injuries include falls, such as falls from ladders or falls from scaffolds, burns, broken bones, and continued stress from repeated activities.
It is important to be prompt when filing a workers’ comp claim; there are limits to how long you can wait to file a claim before your eligibility runs out. Beware of employers who offer to pay for your medical expenses. In this situation, most employers don’t properly estimate the cost of your medical treatment over time and end up being unable to pay, even if the offer was made with pure intentions. Every state has strict workers’ compensation laws to protect employees from damages that occur as a result of a workplace injury, although Texas is the only state which does not require employers to offer workers’ compensation. If you live in a state where workers’ comp benefits are insufficient to cover your damages or where workers’ comp is not required, it’s a good idea to seek legal advice and see what opportunities for compensation are available to you.
What are the Statistics on Workers’ Compensation?
Immediately after an accident occurs at work, it is essential to notify your supervisor as well as the HR department of your company. There is usually a time limit within which you must report the accident/injury or forego compensation. It is also important to contact an attorney with experience in workers’ comp cases as soon as possible after the accident. Contacting an attorney in a timely manner may provide you with more control over your choices in medical treatment.
Let’s go over some important workers’ compensation statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Social Security Administration, and the Insurance Information Institute.
- Over 5,147 employees died due to work-related injuries in 2017.
- In 2017, the construction industry was responsible for the majority of overall work-related deaths, followed by the transportation and warehouse industries.
- According to estimates from 1992 to 2016, nearly 140,000 people died from work-related injuries.
- Motor vehicle injuries are responsible for the highest average workers’ comp payouts, followed by fire and burn injuries, and slip and fall injuries.
- Laborers, truck drivers, maintenance employees, nursing assistants, repair workers, retail employees, nurses, stocking staff, construction workers, and delivery drivers are the most common employees to experience work-related injuries and illnesses.
Who is Responsible for Workplace Accidents?
First and foremost, it is the responsibility of the employer to provide safe working conditions and adequate protective equipment and protocols to their workers. However, any workplace presents inherent risks. When you file a workers’ compensation claim, you are actually filing against your employer’s insurance company. If other parties were involved, you may also be eligible to file a personal injury claim. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, several parties may be liable in your particular case. These may include:
- Another driver. A common type of workplace accident occurs in the form of vehicle collisions. If an accident occurs due to another driver’s negligent operation of their vehicle, they may be liable for damages. Negligent operation of a vehicle may include incapacitation as the result of DUI or DWAI, violation of traffic controls, falling asleep at the wheel, and having their attention diverted by distractions. In cases when there was no structural, environmental, or mechanical error at play, the driver may be held personally accountable for the crash and its resulting injuries or fatalities in addition to workers’ compensation.
- The manufacturer of a defective product/dangerous substances. If an employee is injured by a defective product or dangerous substance at work due to a manufacturing error or lack of adequate product warnings, that manufacturer may be liable for employee damages in addition to workers’ compensation.
- The general contractor. If you work in construction, you likely work with a variety of third parties. If you are injured while working on a construction site for a subcontractor, you may have a personal injury claim against the general contractor.
- The property owner. If you are injured on the job while on another person’s property, and that injury occurs due to unsafe conditions, the property owner should have or could have prevented, you may have a personal injury claim against the property owner in addition to your workers’ compensation claim.
- The employer. Although the circumstances under which you are eligible to file a personal injury claim against your employer in addition to workers’ compensation are rare, they do occur. Several elements must be true about your situation to make you eligible for a personal injury lawsuit against your employer: You must either be able to prove that your employer intentionally and directly hurt you, or that your employer does not offer or offers insufficient workers’ compensation.
Common Damages of Workplace Injuries
In addition to workers’ comp, you may be eligible to file a personal injury claim. When an accident occurs, it is important to preserve evidence at the scene, especially if a third party is involved. Evidence to aid your case may include photos, videos, witness information, and the information of any other parties involved. However, it should be noted that it is most important to file your workers’ comp claim first so you can begin to receive compensation for medical bills. Depending on the nature of you or your family member’s injuries due to a workplace accident, your lawyer may identify possible claims for:
- Medical expenses. Injuries resulting from a workplace accident may include: motor vehicle injuries; burns; slip and fall injuries; machinery injuries; strain; cumulative injuries; and, in the worst case scenario, death.
- Lost wages (or impairment of earning capacity) as a result of hospital stay-time, or, for the loved one of a workplace accident victim, the necessity to temporarily or permanently extricate themselves from work in order to provide care.
- Lifecare expenses, such as life support or ongoing medical expenses for chronic injuries.
- Vocational rehabilitation.
- Pain and suffering, for both emotional and physical distress.
- Loss of consortium (the services of a close family member) and loss of care and companionship.
- Wrongful death.
- Funeral expenses.
If you were hurt on the job or if a loved one was injured at work, you need a personal injury attorney that understands the emotional and physical toll these injuries can take and understands the complexities of these types of cases. An experienced personal injury attorney will be aggressive in seeking the compensation that you deserve.