Work injury lawsuits differ from workers’ compensation as they may hold an employer liable for an employee’s workplace injury and can provide money for lost wages, medical expenses, pain and suffering. A work injury lawyer can help victims of workplace accidents cover costs of treatment, lost wages, and more.
While there are federal and state regulations in place to help protect workers from injury or falling ill due to the work environment, millions of Americans still face some kind of nonfatal work injury every year. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found 892,270 workplace injuries that resulted in lost work hours for some period of time in 2017.
Why People File Workplace Injury Lawsuits
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets certain workplace safety standards, and many states impose their own requirements on top of OSHA’s. In spite of these widespread efforts to prevent workplace injury, it still happens.
These regulations span everything from ladder safety and noise exposure to toxic material safety and protective equipment. Still, workplace accident rates have remained steady over the years instead of improving. In fact, according to recent data, 2 out of every 100 full-time employees will face some kind of nonfatal work injury.
Common Workplace Injuries
Workplace injury incidence varies widely according to the type of workplace. Construction sites see accidents like scaffolding collapses, chemical spills, or accidents involving faulty or missing protective equipment. On the other hand, manufacturing or production environments host accidents involving carcinogenic chemical or toxin exposure, equipment malfunctions and fires.
The severity of a work related injury or illness may impact a worker’s eligibility for filing a workers’ compensation claim or lawsuit. Some common types of injuries may only cause minimal damage and require no days out of work, like cuts or abrasions from operating a certain piece of equipment. Other more serious workplace accidents can result in permanent disability or even fatality.
Employers reported about 5,190 fatal workplace accidents in 2016, with the majority of these instances among workers aged 45 – 64. This data shows a 7% increase in workplace fatalities from 2015, marking the third consecutive annual increase in work-related deaths. It was also the highest fatality rate since 2010.
What to Do After a Workplace Injury
If you have suffered an injury at work, there are a number of steps you should take. They will make your employer aware of the accident and help protect any legal claim you may make to help cover medical expenses and lost wages.
First, seek medical attention. Even if your injury seems minor, like a small cut or twisting your knee, your health should always be a first priority. A quick check-in with a doctor will tell you if any treatment or diagnostics are needed. It will also help protect any associated compensation claim and document the associated medical bills. You should let the doctor know that your injury or illness is work related.
Don’t forget to report the injury. Each company will have its own specific policy and procedures in place, but most require the injured worker to report injuries to their supervisor. If possible, make sure to report the injury or illness in writing to ensure appropriate documentation. This can help prevent future accidents and improve safety measures for your fellow coworkers. Reporting the accident will also help protect your claim, as there are statutes of limitations for filing both lawsuits and workers’ compensation claims.
Seek legal help. Before signing any paperwork or filing a workers’ compensation claim, it’s important to speak with a work injury law firm about your specific case. An experienced work injury attorney can explain your legal rights and determine if a workers’ compensation claim or a lawsuit would make the most sense for your situation. Taking this step will give you the best chance at receiving all appropriate compensation and damages.
The Difference Between Workers’ Compensation and a Work Injury Lawsuit
When workers and their loved ones are considering next steps after being injured or falling ill from work, it’s important to recognize the difference between workers’ compensation and filing a work-related injury lawsuit. Talk with an experienced job injury lawyer to understand your eligibility for either type of claim based on your individual injury case.
Workers' Compensation vs. Work Injury Lawsuit
|Workers’ Compensation||Work Injury Lawsuit|
Each state has their own workers’ compensation laws and associated programs. So the processes and eligibility requirements will vary depending on where you work. For some, these programs may be more limiting in coverage and monetary rewards, as injury claims through workman’s comp typically have standard limits set by law.
On the other hand, not every workplace injury case will be eligible for a civil lawsuit. The following include some examples of cases that may fit the criteria to file a work injury lawsuit:
- The injury or illness was caused by a third party
- The accident was caused by a defective product or exposure to a toxin from a particular manufacturer
- You were injured as a result of employer’s negligence or misconduct
- Your employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance
A job injury lawyer will be able to evaluate the details of your particular case and determine if a lawsuit is right for you.
Work Injury Lawsuit Frequently Asked Questions
Workers dealing with an on-the-job injury and their loved ones may be eligible to file a work injury lawsuit. In general, there are two types of lawsuits available depending on who is filing the compensation claim.
- Personal injury lawsuit is a claim filed by the accident victim
- Wrongful death lawsuit is a claim filed by a surviving family member should the accident or work-related illness result in fatality
Do I Need a Work Injury Lawyer?
Whether pursuing a workers’ compensation claim or a work injury lawsuit, the requirements and eligibility criteria for each can differ greatly and become confusing. It’s important to work with a work injury attorney that has experience working in this practice area. Such an attorney can properly develop all of the evidence needed for your claim, as well as explain the best options for receiving the compensation you deserve.
How Much Does a Workplace Accident Lawyer Cost?
A reputable law firm will not charge you anything up front, and will even offer a free evaluation to determine your eligibility and go over details of your individual claim. This will offer you an opportunity to ask questions and better understand the legal process. You will not be required to pay your attorney a fee unless they are successful in securing compensation for your claim.
How Much Compensation Could I Receive?
Work injury compensation will vary depending on an individual’s case. Overall, settlements and verdicts will keep in mind:
- Medical care and related expenses
- Lost income, including past and future wages
- Any debts accumulated as a result of missing work
- Pain and suffering caused by the injury or illness
Depending on your individual case, other factors may also influence the total compensation for your claim. Your lawyer can explain the results of similar cases and give you an idea of what you might be able to expect from work injury lawsuit settlements.
Your lawyer will also be able to explain the difference between a work injury lawsuit settlement and a verdict. A settlement is an agreement that can be reached before the case goes to trial or may be reached before a trial’s completion. A settlement will contain a suggested compensation amount offered by the defendant in exchange for release from liability. Sometimes, the suggested amount of damages will be lower than you could receive in a verdict, but there is also no guarantee a jury will rule in your favor and provide a larger verdict.
Both settlements and verdicts are binding agreements. So it’s important to speak with your loved ones and listen to attorney recommendations before accepting a work injury settlement offer or waiting for a verdict.