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Updated April 30, 2019
If you’re injured on the job, your first step should be to explore the possibility of workers’ compensation. Assuming that your employer has workers’ compensation insurance coverage, it is always an available option. When it comes down to it, workers’ compensation coverage can be good for recovering damages; it is an immediate payment that usually covers expenses due to medical bills, lost wages, and permanent injuries or disabilities.
It is important to consider, however, that workers’ compensation does not cover everything. It is only intended to reimburse you for expenses that you sustained as a result of your injury. Workers’ comp will not help you recover, for example, any damages that resulted from pain, suffering, or trauma beyond your injury; it is intended to reduce disputes between employers and employees in the effort to avoid the courtroom. As a result, you generally cannot sue your employer or any of your coworkers for your injuries.
Before moving forward, know that deviating from workers’ compensation is very difficult—though this doesn’t mean it’s impossible. If you feel that you deserve compensation that exceeds those offered by workers’ comp, you do have other avenues to explore. The key to pursuing an alternative route is knowing the exact cause of injury.
Any of the following can be found at fault and sued outside of workers’ compensation.
As a general rule, you’re not going to be able to sue your employer. Most of the time, workers’ compensation cases are a matter of negligence on the part of the employer, and workers’ compensation is the only way you can get damages. However, there are exceptions to the rule: If an employer intentionally sets out to harm an employee, and it can be proved, then the employer can be sued.
Even if your employer can’t be sued, there might be other people at your job site that share liability. If there are other contractors working with you, and their actions end up provably causing your injury, you might have a claim against them. Large construction sites will have a safety manager whose job is to make sure that everything is safe before and while employees are working. If they have not done their job properly, there could be some compensation available on that front.
Your employer might not be at fault at all. You could have been injured by the equipment you were working with or around at the time of your accident, which could happen if you work around heavy machinery on a factory floor, especially if the machine wasn’t built properly. In cases like this, it’s possible to sue the machinery’s manufacturer, the machine’s designer, or anyone working on the machine during its construction process, such as someone who heat-treats equipment.
As a worker, you try to do everything you can to make sure that you stay safe on the job. Accidents can happen, though, especially if the proper measures aren’t taken to prevent them. If there isn’t sufficient guarding around the machine or the instructions and warnings about its use are unclear—and this led to your injury—there could be grounds to sue.
The odds are high that workers’ compensation will be the primary or only option available to you if you’ve been hurt at work. However, it never hurts to get to know the laws, rules, and regulations surrounding workers’ compensation and workplace injuries.
If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of a workplace accident, you are urged to contact the Indianapolis Workplace Accident Attorneys of Wilson Kehoe Winingham. The lawyers at WKW can help you get the compensation you deserve. Call 317.920.6400 or fill out an online contact form for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.
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