Workers’ comp exists to protect workers who are injured on the job, regardless of how they got those injuries. If you slip on a wet floor and break your arm, workers’ comp should cover all the expenses you face, such as your hospital bills, physical therapy, and even your lost wages.
But is it always a good idea to file a workers’ comp claim?
The Limitations of Workers’ Comp
Workers’ comp is beneficial for most people who get hurt on the job, but there are a few important limitations. For starters, your claim can be delayed or complicated by variables beyond your control. If the paperwork isn’t managed properly, or if your employer or your employer’s insurance company doesn’t want to process the claim for some reason, they might make it harder for you to get the compensation you deserve.
Your workers’ comp claim may also be denied. There are several reasons why this can occur. For example, if the insurer believes that your injury was self-inflicted, or if it occurred during your commute to work, they may deny your claim. If you’re suspected of drinking alcohol or consuming drugs prior to the injury, your claim may also be denied. If your claim is denied, you may have to fight an extensive legal battle to try and get compensation for your injury.
More importantly, by filing a workers’ comp claim, you’ll be waiving any possibility of filing a personal injury lawsuit against your employer.
When Is a Personal Injury Suit Better?
If you file a personal injury lawsuit against your employer, you’ll be fighting for much of the same compensation you’d get in a workers’ comp claim. You’ll be entitled to compensation for your medical costs, including short-term and long-term care, as well as lost wages due to the incident.
However, with a personal injury suit, you may also be entitled to win damages for your pain and suffering – which can add up to a lot of extra money.
In some cases, filing a personal injury lawsuit can also give you a sense of justice – and help you make positive changes to your workplace environment. For example, if you feel that your injury was the result of a supervisor’s lack of commitment to safety, or if your safety complaints were neglected in the moments leading up to your injury, this lawsuit could punish your employer and motivate them to become more cognizant of employee safety.
Factors to Consider
There are several factors to consider when evaluating whether you want to file a personal injury lawsuit against your employer, such as:
· The severity of your injuries. How badly were you injured? If you got a simple cut that needed a couple of stitches, a lawsuit may not be worth the hassle. If you’re paralyzed from the waist down, appropriate compensation may be a higher priority.
· Your subjective pain and suffering. You’ll also need to keep your subjective pain and suffering in mind. How much has this injury affected you and the way you live your life? Will this continue to impact you for years to come?
· The factors leading to your injury. How did you become injured? Was it a simple accident, or was there a gross violation of safety procedure? Was someone else’s negligence the cause of your accident? If so, a lawsuit may be more valuable to you.
· Your desire for justice/improvements. How much do you want to mete out justice? Do you want to push for your employers to improve?
Talking to a Lawyer
After experiencing a workplace injury, your top priorities should be getting to safety, getting immediate medical attention (if necessary), and filing a report with your immediate supervisor. Most workplaces have policies and procedures in place for when an employee suffers an injury; make sure you follow these as closely as possible.
However, before beginning to sign workers’ compensation paperwork, it’s a good idea to talk to a lawyer. Get a feel for the nature of your injury and your potential case. Talk about the workers’ comp and personal injury lawsuit options and make your decision for yourself. In most cases, personal injury attorneys offer a free initial consultation – so you have nothing to lose by doing this. And in most areas, you’ll have at least a few days to file a workers’ comp claim before you forfeit your right to do so.
Workers’ comp is a fantastic option for many people injured on the job each year. In fact, there are millions of workers’ comp claims every year. However, filing a workers’ comp claim may not be the best move for you or for the future of your workplace. Make sure you talk to a lawyer before making your final decision.