Recovering from an injury can be expensive. In addition to paying for medical expenses, you may also have to take time off from work while you heal. If someone else caused the accident, you may be able to get money for your damages by filing a personal injury claim. If the accident happened at work, though, you may have to file a workers' compensation claim instead.
Workers' Compensation Plans
Most states require employers to provide workers' compensation insurance for employees, and federal government employees are covered by federal workers' compensation laws. Some workers, including independent contractors and outside salespeople, are not usually covered by workers' compensation. The law requires the employer to pay for medical bills, rehabilitation, and a portion of the employee's lost wages when a worker is hurt on the job. However, under workers' compensation laws, the employee can't sue the employer even if the company is at fault.
You May Still Have the Right to Sue
Under certain circumstances, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit as well as a workers compensation claim. Although you won't be able to sue your employer, the law doesn't stop you from suing the manufacturer of unsafe equipment or an employee of another company who caused an accident at your job site. Whether or not the lawsuit will be successful depends on the facts of the case.
Workers' Compensation Claims Pay Less
Workers' compensation benefits cover medical bills, rehabilitation, and part of your lost wages. Payments start promptly, within a few days of filing your claim in some states, but could take longer in others. There is no need to prove who caused the accident. In a personal injury lawsuit, on the other hand, you must be able to prove the amount of your damages and that the damages were the result of the other party's actions. If you reach a settlement or win at trial, you could recover money for medical expenses, lost wages, pain, suffering, emotional distress, and other damages. The process, however, could take as long as two years.
Laws Regulate Workplace Safety
Federal and state laws require employers to keep the workplace safe and to prevent accidents. Requirements under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) include safe storage of hazardous materials, employee training on safety, and development of safety policies. If you see unsafe conditions in the workplace, report them to your supervisor immediately. If the problem isn't corrected, contact your state's department of labor to make a complaint. You are protected against retaliation for making an OSHA complaint.
A Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help
The law surrounding personal injury at work is complicated. Plus, the facts of each case are unique. This article provides a brief, general introduction to the topic. For more detailed, specific information, please contact a personal injury lawyer.