What is a Workers’ Compensation Lawsuit?
A workers’ compensation lawsuit is a rare type of legal action. Workers’ compensation is insurance that employers hold in order to pay benefits to employees hurt on the job. Workers’ compensation covers medical expenses, disability payments, and lost wages.
If you suffer injuries or become sick because of working conditions, you file a claim with the insurance company for benefits. Being covered by workers’ compensation insurance means that you give up the right to sue an employer for damages, with some exceptions.
When Can I File a Lawsuit Over a Workplace Injury?
There are a few instances in which you may be able to file a lawsuit against your employer or someone else after an injury or illness at work:
- Your employer does not have workers’ compensation.
With a few exceptions, employers are required by law to have workers’ compensation insurance policies. If you get hurt at work and find out your employer did not have the insurance, you can file a lawsuit against them to sue for damages.
- Your employer intentionally caused harm.
You may be able to sue your employer in the case of an intentional tort. You must show that they intended to hurt you. Examples of intentional torts include assault, battery, false imprisonment, fraud, defamation, invasion of privacy, and intentional inflection of emotional distress.
- A third party is negligent in the incident.
If you can show a third party caused or contributed to the work accident, you may be able to sue them for damages. For example, you may have used a piece of equipment or a tool at work that proved defective and triggered the accident that injured you. The manufacturer may be liable for resulting damages.
How Do I File a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
To file a claim, start by reporting the accident and injury to your employer. They are responsible for providing you with all the information you need to make a claim. They should give you information about your rights, the steps to take, and the correct paperwork.
Complete the claims paperwork and submit it to your employer for filing with the insurance company. You will then wait to get a decision on benefits. If the insurance company denies your benefits or does not offer enough, you can appeal. At this stage, you may need to consider other legal options. Find a workers’ compensation lawyer to help you take those next steps.
How Do I File a Workers’ Compensation Lawsuit?
If you are filing an actual lawsuit against a third party or against an employer in one of the exceptions that allow for it, work with a lawyer experienced in these cases. It can get complicated, and without that expert guidance, you may not get a good result.
- File a complaint. The first step your lawyer will take to make a lawsuit official is to file a complaint. This notifies the defendants of the suit and outlines the allegations you are making against them.
- Investigate the incident. Your lawyer will then investigate what happened and collect evidence to prove negligence or intentional harm. Your employer’s or the third party’s legal team will do the same, trying to disprove negligence.
- Discovery. Each legal team can then hold depositions to get expert and witness testimony and share information.
- Negotiate a settlement. If your case is strong, the other side is likely to be ready to negotiate at this point. They have seen the evidence and will probably not want to risk going to trial. Your lawyer will negotiate to get you a fair settlement.
- Go to court. If you cannot agree on a settlement, you can take the case to trial. Your lawyer will present evidence and bring witnesses and experts in front of the jury. They then decide if the defendants owe you damages.
Proving Fault and Negligence
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, which means you do not have to show your employer was negligent in any way to get benefits. If you file a lawsuit, you must prove negligence or intentional harm. Your lawyer can help you make a case by investigating and gathering evidence.
What Can I Recover in Damages?
Your lawyer can estimate the amount of damages you can expect if you file a lawsuit or the benefits you may receive from a workers’ compensation claim. The benefits from a workers’ compensation claim take into account:
- Your medical expenses related to the accident
- Future estimated medical expenses and ongoing care costs
- Degree of permanent disability
- Lost wages
If you file a lawsuit over a workplace injury, you may also be able to recover non-economic damages. These are costs associated with the pain, suffering, and emotional harm caused by the incident. Some states limit how much you can recover, while others do not.
A workers’ compensation claim may be simple and straightforward. If it is complicated or if you are denied benefits, legal action may be necessary to get what you are owed. Rely on an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer to get you through this difficult process.