Injured at Work? Here’s What to Know About Suing Your Employer
Workplace injuries are more common than many people think.
In private industry, American workers suffered 2.8 million such injuries or illnesses in 2018 alone. According to the same source, a further 5,250 people suffered fatal injuries at work.
Those are startling numbers! After all, these injuries don’t just inflict physical and mental damage. They hinder your ability to get back to work and earn an income too.
Furthermore, when your body’s bruised and salary’s on the line, the whole experience of getting injured at work can feel stressful, overwhelming, and unjust. It’s little wonder that many people in this situation consider taking legal action against their employer.
However, if you’re one of them, there’s a fair amount to think about first. Want to learn more? Keep reading to discover everything you need to know about suing your employer after being injured on the job.
Workers’ Compensation Should Cover You
The first thing to know is that suing your boss might not be necessary! The workers’ compensation scheme can help out with your finances instead.
You, like any other US worker, can make a claim after getting injured and receive compensation ASAP (assuming you’re eligible). That’s good news when you’ve got medical bills to pay. Of course, it also saves you the hassle of a lawsuit, the wait for a verdict, and the heartache if it goes against you.
However, the disadvantage is that you can’t make a claim and sue your employer. It’s one or the other. Furthermore, the money you receive is limited by numerous factors; if you went to court and were successful, you’d stand to gain far more in damages.
Personal Culpability’s a Factor Though
The workers ‘compensation scheme might sound like an ideal solution. As we just noted, it means you can access those all-important funds straight-away in the aftermath of an injury. Even better, you should receive ongoing financial aid if you’re forced out of the work for some time.
That being said, you might be unable to claim if you weren’t abiding by company policy at the time of the accident. For example, imagine that a company requires its workers to wear hard-hats at work. If you chose to take yours off and were struck on the head thereafter, then you may have forfeited your right to workers’ compensation.
You Have to Prove Intent
As you can tell, taking your employer to civil court over a workplace injury isn’t so simple. In fact, the whole system has been set up to try and prevent it from happening! Nevertheless, litigation’s still an option in a number of scenarios.
The first and most serious of these is when your employer has hurt you on purpose. Imagine that your boss assaulted you or made you do something dangerous with the intention of harming you. If you can prove intent, then you can take them to court.
Even that’s easier said than done though. Proving intent (a suable offense) over negligence (a non-suable offense) can be tough.
The Employer Needs Insurance
A second route to court is when your employer doesn’t have workers’ compensation insurance. Now, having this insurance is actually a legal requirement in (almost) every state. As you know, though, not everybody does what the law tells them to!
That reality extends to some naughty employers who’d rather save some money each month than commit to their legal insurance obligation. If your employer reneged on this particular obligation and you got injured, then you can file a lawsuit and sue them for damages.
Consider Your Status
Your employment status at the time of your injury could pave the way to a court date too.
Basically, some people do work for companies without ever being employed by them in an official capacity. Think about real-estate brokers or freelance workers. They’re paid to perform tasks but, depending on their contract, might never be put ‘on the books’, as it were.
The impact of this kind of setup is two-fold. First, the worker can’t claim compensation. Second, the employer could, in theory, be sued by them if a workplace injury/illness occurred at the time.
Keep that in mind when thinking back to the incident itself. If there’s any doubt about your employment status when the injury occurred (and you want to sue the employer), then it may be worth consulting an attorney for answers.
A Good Lawyer Is Key
If the circumstances allow it and you do decide to go to court, then make sure you hire a good attorney.
With a lot on the line, you need someone with a solid grasp of the law to fight your corner. Do some research online, seek referrals from friends and family, and see here for possible options. Oh, and it’s always worth checking the state bar profile of the lawyer in question to make sure they’re legit!
From there, read online reviews about them if you can find some, and take a look at their personal website. Try to get a sense of their experience level (the more the better!), the number of cases they’re working on (more cases means less time for yours), and their particular area of expertise. Do all that and you should end up with the best attorney for the job.
What to Do When You’ve Been Injured at Work
Have you been injured at work? Well, we feel for you.
Few events in life compare in terms of suffering and distress. It’s no surprise at all that so many aggrieved people in your shoes express an interest in taking their employer to court.
As we’ve seen, though, US law dictates that your ability to do so depends on the situation. We hope this post has explained why that’s the case and highlighted the various legal factors in play. Keep this information in mind and you should be one step closer to figuring out the best way forward!
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