The workplace is not immune to the threat of accidents and injuries. While
some professions may be inherently more dangerous due to the nature of
work performed – including construction and industrial work –
employees in all types of industries face risks of suffering harm.
If you or someone you love has been injured on the job, you have likely
heard that your only option for securing compensation is through your
employer’s workers’ compensation insurance. Although this
is often the case for workplace injuries, there are many exceptions and
many situations in which you might actually be able to pursue damages
through a personal injury claim.
As a no-fault insurance system, workers’ compensation provides workers
injured on the job with benefits such as medical treatment and wage supplementation
regardless of whether they or their employer were at fault for their injuries.
In some cases, however, accidents and injuries that occur in the workplace
or in the course of performing job-related duties arise from the negligence
of third parties who are not your direct employer. In cases where third
parties have caused injuries, workers may have the option of pursuing
legal action outside of the workers’ comp system, which can provide
significantly more compensation.
Here are a few common examples of situations where injured workers may
be able to pursue personal injury cases for work-related injuries:
Defective Products – There are numerous professions that require employees to work
with various products, tools, equipment, or even vehicles. When these
products are defectively designed, manufactured, or marketed in a way
that make them inherently unsafe for their intended use, workers who use
them can suffer preventable harm. By pursuing
product liability claims, injured workers can seek financial recoveries for damages that
resulted from defective and unsafe products, including their pain and
suffering, emotional injuries, lost wages, and medical expenses. Typically,
product liability claims are filed against the manufacturers of unsafe
products, or against distributors or retailors who made unsafe products
available to consumers and employers.
Third Party Negligence – Some work-related accidents result from the negligence of a third
party, meaning an individual or entity who is not your direct employer.
This may be the case when premises owners fail to uphold their legal duty
of taking reasonable measures to address potential hazards that could
injure contracted workers, or visitors and guests. In these situations,
workers who suffer harm on another’s property may have the right
premises liability claims. Third party negligence can also involve motor vehicle accidents
or other incidents caused by contractors and other parties that cause
accidents through negligence.
Toxic Exposure – In the course of performing work, some employees may be exposed
to harmful chemicals and substances that can cause injuries and illnesses,
including asbestos, lead, benzene, and more. In these cases, workers who
suffer immediate harm or who experience latent injuries and illnesses
that make themselves apparent after years of exposure may have the right
to sue third parties in lawsuits known as toxic torts. Commonly, these
legal actions are taken against manufacturers of toxic substances or products
that contain hazardous materials, or even against manufacturers of safety
equipment that proved ineffective in protecting workers against exposure.
In addition to pursuing civil legal action against third parties, injured
workers may have further options for seeking damages outside of the workers’
compensation system. This includes situations in which employees suffer
injuries as a result of an employer’s egregious negligence or intentional
conduct. In order for this type of claim to have merit, the employer’s
conduct must have intentionally harmed an employee (such as in a direct
assault) or have acted in such a grossly negligent or reckless manner
that it is commensurate to intentional harm.
Fighting for the Maximum Compensation Possible
When possible, a third party workplace injury case can provide substantially
more compensation to injured workers. This is because workers’ comp
only offers temporary and permanent disability benefits according to a
statutory formula. These benefits simply don’t come close to equaling
past and future lost earnings, past and future pain and suffering, and
other economic and non-economic damages potentially recoverable in a personal
injury case. Workers who suffer serious injuries may similarly qualify
for lifetime medical benefits, but such medical benefits are nowhere near
the quality of care which can be compensated for in a third party case.
The lines that segment workers’ compensation and personal injury
claims can be difficult for many to understand, especially when an injured
employee’s options for legal action and compensation depend so greatly
on the unique facts and circumstances surrounding their accident. As such,
it is important for workers who believe they might have the right to pursue
claims outside of workers’ comp to speak personally with experienced
attorneys like those at Biren Law Group.
Over the years, our Los Angeles personal injury attorneys have helped many
victims injured in the workplace protect their rights in claims filed
outside of the workers’ comp system. This is especially true in
cases involving defective products,
construction accidents, and the negligence of third parties. As some of our notable
case results show, we have recovered millions of dollars in compensation on behalf
of injured workers.
If you have questions about your unique case, legal rights, and what our
firm can do to help you following workplace injury,
contact us for a FREE consultation.