If you are injured while working, you might assume that your employer’s workers’ compensation coverage will cover all associated expenses. In most states, the law mandates that (1) employers carry workers’ compensation coverage for the benefit of their workers and (2) workers file claims with their employers’ insurance carriers instead of filing a workers’ compensation lawsuit.
In some cases, however, the employers and their insurance carriers will attempt to dispute or deny workers’ legitimate compensation claims. In other cases, third parties whose actions contributed to the workplace injury accident may also hold liability. Finally, some employees may also have the legal ground to file a claim against their employer if their employer threatens to retaliate or does retaliate against them for filing a workers’ compensation claim.
Personal Injury vs. Workers’ Compensation
In personal injury cases, the plaintiffs have the burden to show that the defendants owed them a duty of care and breached it. They must also show that the breaches caused the injuries and that the plaintiffs suffered harm as a result. Workers’ compensation claimants do not have to prove that their employers were negligent. Workers who are eligible for workers’ compensation may file claims for benefits regardless of whether they were partially at fault for their injury accidents. In exchange for being able to file claims for workers’ compensation, employees are unable to file personal injury lawsuits against their employers. There are specific instances in which a lawsuit may be needed, however.
Third-Party Liability for Worksite Injuries
Some workplace accidents are at least partially caused by third parties. For example, construction sites often involve multiple subcontractor companies. If a worker is injured by a party at a worksite that is not his or her employer because of the negligence of that party, the worker may be able to file a workers’ compensation claim with his or her employer as well as a personal injury lawsuit against the third party. This might help maximize the damages that the injured worker recovers. Third-party liability may also exist if a worker is injured by a defective product while performing the tasks of his or her job or a worker is involved in an accident that is caused by another driver while the worker is traveling as a part of his or her normal work duties.
When Workers’ Compensation Claims Are Wrongfully Denied or Terminated
Normally people who are injured at work pursue their workers’ compensation claims through an administrative process rather than through the court system. You must exhaust the administrative process completely before you can appeal a denial of benefits and have taken the steps necessary to try to reach a settlement. An administrative board or a court that is specially designated to handle workers’ compensation cases hears the appeal.
If you exhaust all of the procedural requirements for disputed workers’ compensation claims, you may then seek a legal remedy through the civil court system according to the laws of your state. At this stage, it is important that you consult a workers’ compensation lawyer to learn about your rights.
When Employers Retaliate Against Employees for Filing Workers’ Compensation Claims
Some employers engage in retaliatory actions against employees who file claims for benefits through workers’ compensation. If your employer retaliates against you by implementing an adverse job action, you may have the basis for filing a retaliation or wrongful termination claim. Retaliatory actions are prohibited when employers use them in reaction to an employee engaging in lawfully protected conduct, including filing workers’ compensation claims. Forbidden retaliation may include such measures as demotions, terminations, or any other negative job action.