State laws give workers the right to file a workers’ compensation claim if they suffer an injury within the scope of their employment. These are no-fault systems that let the worker get benefits regardless of who is responsible for the accident. If a third party caused it, though, they may have grounds to file a personal injury claim.
Workers’ compensation and other legal actions following a workplace accident can become complicated. Secure legal representation from an attorney in your area to help guide you through all your options and take action that gets you benefits.
Most, but not all, companies are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Whether your employer is required to carry it and whether it covers you depends on the state where you live, the size of your employer, your job role/classification, and more.
If you are eligible, workers’ compensation provides disability benefits (usually a portion of your lost wages), medical treatment, and other benefits depending on your state.
But there are some drawbacks to the workers’ compensation system. For one, workers who receive workers’ compensation benefits generally forfeit their right to sue their employer over an injury, even if the employer was negligent and caused the injury.
Further, workers may not be entitled to compensation if:
- They sustained the injury while intoxicated or doing something outside the scope of their employment.
- They intentionally injured themselves.
Types of Injuries Eligible for Workers’ Compensation
Workers’ compensation covers most injuries sustained at work. These include obvious work-related injuries such as:
- Broken bones from slip and fall accidents
- Burns due to fires
- Chemical skin reactions from exposure to hazardous chemicals or materials
- Cuts, lacerations, and amputations due to mishaps with machinery
- Traumatic brain injuries caused by falling debris
- Eye injuries due to chemical exposure
- Back injuries from improper lifting
But workers’ compensation even covers workers who develop an illness related to an exposure at work. A common example is a worker who develops mesothelioma due to repeated exposure to asbestos. Chemical exposure at work might also increase risk of certain cancers.
Repetitive motion injuries also qualify for workers’ compensation in most states. For example, assembly line workers who perform repetitive tasks may develop carpal tunnel syndrome. Or painters who constantly reach above their head may develop shoulder injuries. These injuries do not result from a single incident, but still qualify for workers’ compensation if they are work-related.
The challenge that some workers face is proving that their injury is due to their job. Expert testimony, eyewitness statements, and other evidence can be essential to helping workers get the benefits they deserve.
Third-Party Claims for Workplace Injuries
In certain circumstances, workers may bring a third-party claim against a party other than an employer or co-worker. For example, a worker may sue the manufacturer of a machine that failed and caused the worker’s injury.
Workers must prove the third party was negligent and that negligence caused the injury and the subsequent damages, just as in any other personal injury case. But if successful, workers may recover damages that more fully compensates them for their expenses and losses.
To discuss whether you are eligible for workers’ compensation or to file a third-party claim, speak to a local workers’ compensation lawyer. Let Primerus help you find you the right workers’ compensation attorney in your area.