A lawyer once said to me that people often ask him if they can get sued for something. He said his response is always the same, “Yes.” The point is that you can sue, or get sued, for anything at all. The more important question is whether it makes sense to file the suit in the first place. Let’s take a look at how this applies to work-related injuries.
When Should You Consider a Lawsuit?
Pretty much everybody has a job. All those same people also know that getting hurt at work means several things. First, it can be a painful experience. Second, it might keep you out of work for a long time. And finally, you could end up receiving a major pay cut.
According to CA Workers’ Compensation Attorney, a Los Angeles workers’ comp attorney, if you have been hurt on the job, workers’ comp is the most likely source of help for you. Even so, you may find yourself in a scenario where suing is the best possible outcome.
All that said, it is worth taking a looking what is usually involved in such lawsuits. We will take a look at the situations when they’re appropriate and their outcomes. These are often varied, but there exist some usual suspects that you can expect in most cases.
Three Alternatives to Workers’ Comp
If you get injured at work, your first thought is most likely to seek the help of workers’ compensation. And you would be right in thinking this. Your employer should have an insurance policy that provides for such situations. Most state laws make it mandatory.
Sometimes employers do not have these policies. If so, you can file a suit in civil court. You may also receive compensation from your particular state’s government.
In still other situations, your specific injury needs a different kind of redress. According to Nolo, in general there are three scenarios that fit this description:
- There are injuries and illnesses that result from a defective product. In these cases, there is a chance you could file a product liability action. The manufacturer would likely be at fault and thus responsible to pay. In these situations, it may also be the case that the party at fault is your employer.
- In a similar fashion, substances that are toxic can cause illness or injury. Again, you may be able to file a toxic tort lawsuit. The manufacturer of the substance may or may not be your employer here.
- It is unfortunate, but some workplace injuries occur because of deliberate action. In other words, someone actively tried to hurt you. If this is your situation, you can sue via a personal injury lawsuit. This might be against your employer or someone else that works with you at your job.
Outside of these, Nolo says that certain states provide protections beyond workers’ comp. Injury resulting from sexual harassment, mendacity, or “gross negligence” also may apply. Again, this will all depend on your particular state’s laws.
As you can see, there are plenty of situations where workers’ comp is not the only source of reimbursement. Within each of the above three scenarios, there are countless possibilities. Making sure you know which one you fall under is key to your success.
How Do I File a Lawsuit Against My Employer?
Let’s say you do find that you are entitled to compensation outside workers’ comp. What do you actually do to file such a claim against your boss or employer?
First, you will need to hire a lawyer. Find one that knows your specific area of injury or illness well. You will also want to make sure that he or she has a history of winning cases that are like yours.
Once you have done the research and decided on which attorney to hire, much of the work is then done. By that, I mean the lawyer will be doing most of the heavy lifting. You will need to provide any documentation that you have related to the event in question.
That said, Nolo makes an important point. It is quite “difficult to prove that your employer meant to hurt you”. Keep this in mind during your lawsuit process. Proving someone was aware that their “actions (or failure to act) would result in injury” is very hard.
There Are Many Resources to Help You
There is a lot of good information on these subjects. Whether it’s workers’ compensation or workplace lawsuits, many resources exist.
The United States Department of Labor is a great place to start, especially if you are a federal employee. To be more specific, check your own state’s labor department website. They should have all the details you need to get started.
Second, there are lots of videos from groups and lawyers explaining the ins and outs of workers’ comp. Citizens General has a one-minute animated video that does a great job at explaining how it works.
Beyond all this, I must recommend that you speak to an attorney about your situation to get the best results. If you end up filing a claim, you will want a professional to do it anyway. It will not hurt to go ahead and get a great start.