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 from being on the job, millions of Americans still face some kind of nonfatal work injury every year. Millions of workplace injuries occur each year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which found at least 892,270 have resulted in a worker needing to be out of work for some period of time in 2017.
Why People File Workplace Injury Lawsuits
Workplace injuries can occur for a number of different reasons, despite training or safety measures that may be in place through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) or other state-specific requirements. While these regulations span everything from ladder safety and noise exposure to toxic exposure and protective equipment, the number of workplace accidents over the years still remains rather steady instead of demonstrating improvement.
According to recent data, nearly 3 out of every 100 full-time employees will face some kind of nonfatal work injury.
Common Workplace Injuries
Common injuries are also industry dependent. Construction sites, for instance, may see a variety of workplace accidents from scaffolding collapses, chemical spills, or even a lack of protective clothing. On the other hand, injuries in manufacturing or another type of production environment may result from exposure to chemicals or other toxins that could lead to cancer, equipment malfunctions and fires.
Injuries or illnesses because of exposure at work vary greatly in severity, which also impacts how workers may be eligible to file a workers’ compensation claim or file a lawsuit. While some of the 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, records show that across industries these 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 and 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 to make your employer aware of the accident, and also help protect any legal claim you may want to make to help cover potential medical expenses and lost wages.
First, seek medical attention. Even if your injury seems minor, like a small cut or twisting your knee while climbing down from a piece of machinery, your health should always be a first priority. Going to to the doctor to have yourself checked out and see if any treatment or diagnostics are needed will also help protect a potential future claim and ensure your medical bills are covered later. You should also make sure the doctor is aware that the injury or illness is work related.
Don’t forget to report the injury. Though each company may have its own specific policy and procedures in place, one of the first things you should do following an injury is report it to your supervisor and explain how the injury occurred. If possible, make sure to report the injury or illness in writing so everything is appropriately documented. 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 a lawsuit as well as filing a workers’ compensation claim.
Seek legal help. Before signing any paperwork or immediately 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 individual claim. Taking this step will ensure you receive all the compensation and damages that is rightfully yours.
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 manages their own workers’ compensation 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, since these types of claims have a maximum payout regardless of the specific injury or illness.
On the other hand, not every instance of a workplace injury will be eligible for a 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.
Am I Eligible for a Work Injury Lawsuit?
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 area of the law and can properly develop all of the evidence needed for your claim, as well as explain the best option for you to ensure you receive 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 case review to determine your eligibility and go over details of your individual claim. This will also 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 receiving 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 bills 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, and help determine if accepting a settlement is the right move for you. 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 work injury lawsuit settlement will be 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 your lawyers before accepting a work injury settlement offer or waiting for a verdict.