You may have been told that you aren’t allowed to sue your employer for work-related injuries; instead, you must file a workers’ compensation claim. While this may be true, generally speaking, there are some situations where you are allowed to pursue both a worker’s compensation claim and a personal injury claim. The reason for this is that most state workers’ compensation laws provide that workers’ comp is the “exclusive remedy” for workplace injuries. However, there are exceptions to this general rule.
If you have questions about your legal rights following a work-related accident that caused you injury, you should consider reaching out to an experienced injury lawyer to learn the best course of action for your case. At Brian D. Guralnick Injury Lawyers, our team of professionals has garnered a reputation for helping accident victims navigate the nuances of personal injury and workers’ compensation law for more than 30 years.
Workers’ Compensation Claims
When you consult with an attorney, you will learn there are some advantages and disadvantages to the workers’ compensation system. On the positive side, unless your workers’ compensation claim is denied, you can usually receive medical care and temporary disability (sometimes called “wage loss”) payments promptly after reporting a workplace injury. In the workers’ compensation system, you might not have to prove that your employer is to blame for your injury, and you won’t have to wait until the end of your case to receive compensation.
On the other hand, the workers’ compensation system limits your compensation to what is provided by workers’ compensation benefits. In other words, you will generally only collect a portion of your lost wages when you are unable to work, or you may end up earning less as a result of your injury. Additionally, workers’ compensation claims do not allow you to receive payment for your pain and suffering.
Personal Injury Lawsuits
There are also some advantages and disadvantages to filing a personal injury lawsuit. On the one hand, if you are able to obtain a fair settlement, or if you win your case in court, you have the potential to obtain compensation for every type of personal injury damages available. For instance, you may receive compensation for all your lost income, future earning capacity, and pain and suffering. An experienced injury lawyer will be able to evaluate your specific case and help guide you toward the best possible outcome for your situation.
On the downside, for work-related injuries in the personal injury setting, you will be required to prove that your employer was negligent. Even when you are ultimately successful, you will have to wait until a settlement is reached or until you win your case in court before you will receive any compensation. In the meantime, your medical bills may be piling up and you may be without a paycheck.
When can I file both a Personal Injury Lawsuit and a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
There are some circumstances in which you can pursue both a personal injury claim and a workers’ compensation claim at the same time. You should always consider hiring an injury attorney to help you evaluate the best course of action. Some of the circumstances that may be an exception to the “exclusive remedy” rule of workers’ compensation include:
- You may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit when your employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance.
- You may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit if you are the victim of workplace violence that is not covered by workers’ comp insurance. For example, if workplace violence was directed at you personally rather than merely because of your job. However, your employer generally must have known of the threat of violence against you and not taken reasonable measures to protect you from it.
You may also be able to bring a personal injury lawsuit when the person or entity who is responsible for your injuries is not your actual employer. For instance, if you were driving your car on a work assignment and were hit by another driver in the course and scope of your employment. In such a situation, you may be eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits from your employer and bring a separate personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver. Other examples include:
- If you suffered injuries while operating defective equipment, you may be able to file a product liability claim.
- If you were injured by a malfunctioning elevator in your office building, you may be able to bring a personal injury claim against the manufacturer of the elevator.
- If you became ill from exposure to toxic substances at work, you may be able to bring an action against the distributor or manufacturer of the toxic materials.
At the end of the day, when you suffer an injury as a result of a workplace incident, you should immediately report your injury to your employer and then consider reaching out to a seasoned attorney. There are deadlines for filing workers’ compensation claims, and you might lose your opportunity to claim benefits if you don’t act quickly. At Brian D. Guralnick Injury Lawyers, we understand the ins and outs of workers’ compensation and personal injury laws. We are committed to putting our clients in the best legal position possible. Call us today for a free case evaluation!
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