If you've been injured while working, you may have a lot of questions, but one question to consider is whether or not you should contact an attorney. In a perfect world, you'll simply get reimbursed for the money you deserve, but the world is far from perfect, and you may be owed more money than you're getting. If you want to determine if you should contact an attorney, consider these three questions.
Does Your Employer Have Workers' Compensation Insurance?
While the exact rules and regulations vary from state to state, in most states, most businesses are legally required to have workers' compensation insurance or private insurance to pay employees for work-related injuries. Except in certain situations (intoxication, self-infliction or felony-related injuries), it doesn't matter if you were at fault, you may still qualify for workers' compensation benefits. This doesn't just benefit you. It benefits you're employer too because it protects them against a lawsuit if you do get injured while working.
If your employer is required to have workers' compensation insurance and doesn't or doesn't have sufficient workers' compensation insurance, you can file a lawsuit against your employer. You can also sue your employer if they intentionally caused your injury themselves, such as they pushed you down the stairs. Negligence, is not enough. They have to willingly, purposely injure you.
Can You File a Third-Party Claim?
In some cases, you may be allowed to file a third-party claim against someone who caused your injuries. If a defective product or toxic substance causes you injury, you can usually sue the manufacturer of the product or substance. For example, if you recently got a new desk chair, and a defect caused you to fall and hurt yourself, you could sue the chair manufacturer. Another instance in which you can file a third-party lawsuit is if you were driving for work and were injured in a car accident that wasn't your fault. You can sue the at-fault driver.
Usually, you can file a third-party claim and a workers' compensation claim. The benefit is that you get money fast from the workers' compensation because you don't have to prove anything, but if your third-party claim does get approved, you may get additional money. Workers' compensation only covers medical expenses and some lost wages. If you sue, however, you can sue for all your lost wages and pain and suffering. If you win, however, you'll probably have to refund workers' compensation because you can't get reimbursed twice for the same benefits (medical expenses, lost wages, etc.).
Are You Having Trouble Proving You Were Working During the Accident?
Workers' compensation is only designed to reimburse you for work-related injuries, such as falling off a ladder while you're changing a light bulb. If someone saw your injury, this is easy to prove, but if your injury was unwitnessed, you may have a hard time proving what happened. If this happens, you want to report the injury as soon as possible, so it doesn't look suspicious. Whether you do or don't, you may want to hire an attorney to help prove your case.
It can also be hard to prove you were working during the accident if you were driving when it occurred. Typically, if you are driving for work, such as running an errand for your boss, you are covered, but if you add a personal errand to the mix, the water gets murky, and it may be difficult to prove if the accident occurred while you were working or running your personal errand.
You don't have to go it alone. If your employer doesn't have workers' compensation, if you can file a third-party claim or if you can't prove you were working at the time of the accident, a lawyer can help. Get started today by contacting an accident attorney in your area.