Do I Have a Work Injury Claim?
Workers’ Compensation Might Not be the Answer
Employers aren’t protected from other lawsuits because of workers’ compensation. In certain circumstances, it could be best for an injured worker to bypass the workers’ compensation system and, under the guidance of a workers’ compensation lawyer, sue the employer for the full range of damages. Suing an employer can result in more money awarded to the injured employee because:
- Punitive damages can be awarded
- Money can be awarded for pain and suffering
- An employee injured by a defective product or toxic substance can sue the manufacturer
When to Sue Your Employer
Some common circumstances under which an employee may sue her employer include:
- The employer’s failure to carry workers’ compensation insurance
- The employer’s failure to take reasonable measures to prevent dangerous factor (such as using faulty equipment or improperly training or failing to train employees on equipment)
- The employer’s failure to deal with workplace harassment or violence
- The employer’s failure to notify newly hired employees of workers’ compensation benefits
- The employer’s failure to provide injured employees with claim forms within 24 hours of being notified of the injury
- The employer’s intentional or reckless action directly caused the employee’s injury
- The employer’s decision to take payroll deductions out of the worker’s earnings to pay for the workers’ compensation insurance
Having a workers’ compensation claim denied doesn’t mean you are allowed to file suit against your employer. Instead, the next step would be filing an appeal with the Worker’s Compensation Appeals Board. The appeals process is complex, and having an attorney can help ensure a strong case.
Seek Compensation from Another Company
Generally speaking, Indiana employees are only supposed to use workers’ compensation to recover damages. If your employer is not the one at fault, however, you may be able to seek compensation from another company. Here are a few examples:
- You’re a construction worker and you get injured at a site due to unsafe conditions. You would not sue your employer, but rather the company that owns the unsafe site.
- Your company is on the tenth floor of a building and you take the elevator every day. One evening, as the elevator is slowing so you can get off at the ground floor and go home, the elevator drops into the basement and crashes, injuring you severely. You would sue the company that owns the building, not your employer.
- A catering company caters an event for you at work. They neglect to label their food properly, and you have a severe allergic reaction. You would sue the catering company, not your employer.