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How to Sue for a Workplace Accident

Health and money are two of most people’s biggest worries. The most effective antidote to the latter worry is stable employment; furthermore, employer-provided medical insurance is a boon both to your health and your finances. A serious injury or illness is financially devastating, both because of the unaffordable cost of healthcare and because being too sick to work cuts you off from your source of income. The situation is all the worse when your injury occurs at work. Yes, workers’ compensation insurance will pay for treating your acute injuries, and you might qualify for disability benefits, but everyone who has filed a workers’ comp claim knows that the process is not completely free of hassles. If the accident that resulted in your injuries was obviously preventable, and if your injuries are severe, then it might be a good idea to file a personal injury lawsuit against the party responsible for the cause of the accident instead of or in addition to filing a workers’ compensation claim. A Tampa personal injury attorney can help you determine the best way to get compensation for your financial losses related to an accidental injury on the job.

Personal Injury Lawsuit Basics

The law grants injured people the right to file lawsuits against individuals or companies that are legally responsible for the person, animal, thing, place, or event that caused the injury. For example, if you get injured in a car accident, you can sue the at-fault driver. If the vehicle that caused the accident was a commercial truck, you can sue the company that owns the truck. If your injuries result from an accidental fall on a slippery floor in a supermarket, you can sue the supermarket.

To win a personal injury lawsuit, you must provide strong evidence for the following claims:

  • The defendant (the person or company you are suing) had a duty of care, which is a legal responsibility not to endanger others. Places of business have a duty of care not to endanger their customers, and drivers have a duty of care to drive safely and obey traffic laws, for example.

  • The defendant failed to fulfill the duty of care, such as by speeding on a residential street or by not placing a “wet floor” sign after mopping the floor. Failing to fulfill a duty of care is also known as negligence.

  • Because of the defendant’s negligence, you suffered a preventable injury.

  • Because of the injury, you incurred financial losses.

Plaintiffs in personal injury lawsuits can request economic damages to cover medical bills and lost income. Sometimes they can also request noneconomic damages for pain and suffering. Most clients of personal injury law firms can get the money they need without going to trial. Their lawyers can either help them get an insurance settlement that covers their accident-related losses, or they can reach a settlement with the defendant before the case reaches the trial stage.

The Right to a Safe Work Environment

The law also offers employees protection against financial losses related to injuries sustained on the job. For example, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets regulations for workplace safety in many different industries. It regularly inspects workplaces, as well as investigates reports from employees about unsafe conditions at job sites. Reporting workplace safety violations to OSHA is a legally protected activity, which means that it is against the law for your employer to fire you or otherwise retaliate against you for notifying OSHA about safety hazards at your workplace.

Even if your employer adheres meticulously to OSHA safety standards, accidents happen in the ordinary course of work. Workers’ compensation laws require employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance to pay for medical treatment for employees injured on the job. In a workers’ compensation claim, you must only document the fact that the injury happened at work while you were doing your job. Proving that the injury was or was not the result of the employer’s negligence would be costly and time-consuming for all parties involved, so employer negligence is not a factor in personal injury claims.

How is a Workers’ Compensation Claim Different From a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

When you file a workers’ compensation claim, the assumption is that it is your employer’s responsibility to pay all your medical expenses for the work injury, even if you require treatment for an extended period of time. In some workers’ comp cases, the workers’ comp insurance pays for several surgeries and years of physical therapy to help the employee manage chronic pain resulting from the work injury and retrains employees for new jobs if the injury prevents them from returning to their old jobs. There is a catch, though. If you accept any money or employer-funded medical treatment for your work injury, you lose the right to sue your employer for financial losses related to the injury.

Can You Sue a Third Party for Your Work Injury if Your Employer Also Paid Your Workers’ Comp Claim?

For the most part, workers’ compensation claims cover injuries that result from everyday occurrences that happen in the workplace, such as a warehouse worker suffering from back pain as a result of decades of heavy lifting or a restaurant server tripping and falling in a dark, crowded restaurant. If some other third party negligently caused your accidental injury, however, you have the right to sue the third party, even if you also filed a workers’ comp claim. Filing a workers’ comp claim only means that you can no longer sue your employer. It does not mean that you can no longer sue anyone.

Contact the Sherer Law Firm About Workplace Injury Lawsuits

Workers’ compensation claims and negligence lawsuits are not mutually exclusive; you still have the right to sue a third party that caused your accident, just not your employer. A personal injury lawyer can help you recover compensation for the financial losses you have suffered as a result of a preventable injury at work. Contact The Sherer Law Firm in Tampa, Florida, to set up a consultation.

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