I Was Injured At Work: Can I Sue Outside Of Workers’ Comp?
Each year in this nation, workers report almost three million job-related illnesses and injuries. In the state of Texas, injured working people in most cases can obtain adequate medical care and reimbursement for their lost wages by filing a workers’ compensation claim. However, in many cases, injured workers may also pursue a personal injury claim against any third party that may have caused or contributed to an injury at the workplace.
Workers’ compensation in our state was originally created to replace lost wages and to provide medical benefits to Texas workers who are injured on the job. In exchange, injured workers typically waive their right to sue employers for negligence. Thus, employees who are injured on the job and cannot work are entitled under the law to temporary workers’ comp disability benefits. Of course, no one gets wealthy through workers’ compensation. The benefits it provides are barely sufficient to help injured workers pay their bills and meet their responsibilities during recuperation.
Workers’ compensation in this state does not pay for pain and suffering damages and does not provide for punitive damages either. Instead, workers’ comp is intended merely to cover an injured employee’s medical expenses and lost wages. However, injured workers in Texas may miss out on compensation that they deserve and that they are legally entitled to if they fail to understand their other legal rights and options.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU ARE INJURED AT WORK?
In 2015, more than 11 million of us were legally holding jobs in the state of Texas, according to data published by the Texas Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you are one of the millions legally employed in this state and you suffer a personal injury while you are on the job, obtain the medical attention you need as swiftly as possible. Then, look into the benefits that may be available to you as a result of your job-related injury.
If you are injured at your workplace in south Texas, you should also think about consulting with an experienced Edinburg personal injury attorney concerning your legal rights and options. Depending on the particulars of a work-related accident and injury, you may be able to file a personal injury claim for additional benefits. Examples include but are not limited to these scenarios:
-You may be able to file a product liability claim if you are injured by a defective product.
-You may be able to file a premises liability claim against a negligent property owner if your job-related injury did not occur on your employer’s property.
-You may be able to file a toxic tort lawsuit if you are injured by a dangerous chemical or a toxic substance.
-In rare instances, an injured employee in Texas may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit directly against the employer if an injury is caused by an employer’s egregious conduct or if the employer does not carry workers’ compensation insurance.
Any time a third party is in any way responsible for a worker’s job-related injury, that third party can be held legally accountable. Let’s say that you are at work driving a delivery van and you sustain a personal injury in a traffic collision with a negligent driver. In that situation, you probably qualify for workers’ comp benefits, and you may also be able to pursue a personal injury action against the negligent motorist. Of course, for legal advice regarding any specific case, you must arrange to speak directly with a reliable personal injury attorney.
WHAT IF DEFECTIVE EQUIPMENT OR MACHINERY CAUSES AN INJURY?
If a worker is injured by defective machinery or defective equipment used at the jobsite, that person should immediately seek workers’ compensation payments, immediately consult a personal injury lawyer regarding a product liability lawsuit, and immediately file a complaint with the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA). If a worker is injured by any piece of defective or malfunctioning machinery or equipment, the manufacturer can be held liable if the manufacturer was aware of the flaw or defect and did not adequately alert consumers of the risk.
In several lines of work, dangerous chemicals and other toxic substances can cause serious illnesses and injuries – both the acute injuries that are immediately obvious and the latent, invisible injuries that may develop into serious illnesses months or years later. Burn injuries and poisonings are among the more common acute injuries, but the latent injuries can be just as serious or more so – lung disease and cancer, for example. If you were exposed at work to a dangerous chemical or a toxic substance that caused you to become ill more than a year after the exposure, you will very much need the help of an experienced personal injury attorney.
WHAT IF THE EMPLOYER HAS NO WORKERS’ COMP INSURANCE?
In situations where a Texas employee is injured at work and an employer has no workers’ compensation insurance, the injured worker may be able to file a personal injury claim directly against the employer. And if you’re wondering, a personal injury lawsuit that prevails can offer substantially more compensation than workers’ comp offers. However, if you pursue a personal injury lawsuit, you have to prove that the employer’s conduct or action led to your injury and that the employer is legally responsible for the injury.
Of course, if you are injured in any accident, you must seek medical attention immediately. Even when you do not sense or feel pain or injury, it is absolutely imperative to be seen by a doctor at once. If you don’t see a doctor right away, a latent injury could later emerge as a serious medical condition. If you are injured in an accident at work in Edinburg or anywhere in South Texas, an experienced Edinburg personal injury attorney can help you sort out the legal complications and help you understand your legal rights and options.
After you have been injured on the job, you will not only need a good personal injury lawyer’s counsel, but you’ll also need to have some patience. Obtaining workers’ compensation payments can take some time, and a personal injury lawsuit can stretch out over a year or more. Whatever option you choose after a workplace injury, you will be looking at a lengthy process, so you will need to begin that process as quickly as possible.