Most employees file a workers' compensation claim after suffering a workplace injury. However, there might be another option for recovering payment for injuries. Depending on the circumstances of your case, it might be possible to file a lawsuit against your employer instead. If you are unsure whether or not you should file a lawsuit, here is what you need to know.
Why Should You File a Lawsuit?
Workers' compensation is designed to provide workers with a way to receive compensation for workplace injuries, while also protecting employers from lawsuits. Although you can receive a portion of your weekly earnings through a workers' comp claim and your medical bills will be paid, you do not have the right to punitive damages.
Punitive damages are essentially a way to punish your employer for actions that were particularly reckless or negligent that led to your accident. For instance, if a supervisor threw a chemical in your face that led to an injury, his or her actions would be considered reckless and you could ask the court to award punitive damages.
You should also consider filing a lawsuit if your employer does not have workers' compensation insurance. Each state has specific guidelines that dictate whether or not the insurance is required and under which conditions. If your employer was required to have it and did not, they are not protected from lawsuits.
What Do You Have to Prove to Sue?
If you have made the decision to sue your employer, you need to understand that the case will be viewed as if it were a personal injury case. Personal injury cases have a different standard than workers' compensation.
In a workers' compensation case, an employee's actions are usually not cause for a claim to be denied. For instance, if an employee makes a mistake that leads to his or her injuries, the claim would still be paid. By contrast, in a personal injury case, your actions leading up to the accident will be scrutinized.
If it is proven that you were at least partially responsible for the accident, it could be challenging to recover compensation. It is not impossible though. Your attorney has to prove that the actions of the employer were more egregious than yours.
Workers' compensation laws are complex and vary from state to state. To learn more about your legal rights and to further explore if suing your employer is possible, consult with an experienced workers' compensation attorney, such as Gilbert, Blaszcyk & Milburn LLP.