After a job site accident, you might face serious injuries. You could have medical expenses, lost wages from missed work, and many other types of damages. After a workplace injury, you may be entitled to compensation. Let’s talk about disputes after an accident at work, including when to file a workers’ compensation claim and when you may be able to sue.
What to Do After a Job Site Accident
Accidents at work happen. While they are commonly associated with potentially hazardous industries like construction, they can really happen to anyone at any time. In fact, according to OSHA, about 15 people died each day in 2019 from workplace accidents. Also in 2019, there were about 2.8 worker injuries or illnesses per 100 employees. Therefore, it’s important to remember that it can happen to you.
If you find yourself injured after a workplace incident, it’s essential to report your injury to your employer as soon as possible. Generally, you only have 30 days to inform your employer of an injury or illness from a job site accident.
Typically you should also get medical advice from a doctor for your injury, even if it doesn’t seem severe to you. Talking to a doctor can help you get recommendations for healing and recovery and may also be essential for seeking compensation from your employer for a workplace injury. There are typically two options for seeking compensation for workplace injuries: a workers’ compensation claim or suing the negligent party.
Workers’ Compensation for a Job Site Accident
Workers’ compensation is one common way to seek compensation after an accident at work. This is a type of insurance that employers use to help in case employees are injured during work. Essentially, it covers any injury as long as you’re performing work-related duties, regardless of fault. That means there’s no need to prove that your employer’s negligence led to the injury. However, the types of compensation are typically limited to medical expenses, lost wages, and partial or permanent injury. Workers’ compensation usually excludes damages like mental anguish or pain and suffering.
In Texas, public companies are required to have workers’ compensation, while it is optional for private companies. If your company has workers’ compensation insurance, typically this makes them immune to a personal injury lawsuit and you must go through the workers’ comp for a work-related injury. However, remember that you can negotiate with the insurance company for your compensation. You are also allowed to hire a personal injury lawyer to help you with your claim. Your attorney can help with everything from filing paperwork and meeting certain claim deadlines to actually negotiating with the insurance company.
What Happens if I Don’t Agree with the Workers’ Comp Offer?
It’s important to remember that there are options if you don’t agree with the decision from the workers’ compensation insurance company. There is a process for workers’ comp disputes. The first thing to do is to talk with your lawyer about your job site accident and your conversations with the insurance company. They can offer advice on how to proceed and create a strategy for disputing the workers’ comp decision.
Next, your attorney can call the insurance carrier and explain the issue and begin the resolution process. This involves a benefit review conference, which is a meeting to talk about your claim. You may resolve your dispute during this meeting, but if not, you move on to a contested case hearing. The hearing is a more formal conference with a judge from the Division of Workers’ Compensation. If you still don’t agree with the decision, then you can appeal the hearing decision. This goes to an appeals panel for a decision. If you still dispute the decision, then you can request a judicial review from the court. Your lawyer can help with each phase of this process to help you seek the compensation you need after a work-related injury.
Can I Sue for an Accident at Work?
As we mentioned, if your employer has workers’ compensation coverage, they are typically immune to personal injury lawsuits after a job site accident. However, there may be some exceptions to their immunity. Here are some situations where you may be able to file a lawsuit after an accident at work:
Intentional Job Site Accident
Typically you can sue your employer for a workplace accident if you can prove it was intentional. For example, if the owner of your company got in their car and drive directly toward you in the parking lot after an argument before purposely running you over, this might be an example of intentional injury and therefore an exemption for when you can sue your employer after a job site injury. However, keep in mind these cases can be tricky to prove, so they are pretty uncommon.
Gross Negligence Leading to a Job Site Accident from Your Employer
Another potential exception is when your job site accident arises from your employer’s gross negligence. These can also be hard to prove, but typically not as difficult as an intentional injury. Gross negligence means that your employer does something to endanger you and knows that it is likely to lead to harm or death. A common example would be a construction contractor that doesn’t provide hard hats to the crew, even though construction professionals know that hard hats are an essential piece of protective equipment for workers and that hard hats can and do save lives every day. Talk to your personal injury lawyer about the specifics of your case to see if you might have a case against your employer for gross negligence for your work-related injury.
The Job Site Accident was Caused by a 3rd Party
In some cases, your accident at work may not be your employer’s fault at all. If a third party caused your injury, then you can usually sue that party for compensation for your injuries. For instance, if a manufacturer makes a defective tool that you were using at work and that defective tool caused your injury, you can typically sue the manufacturer under product liability laws. Another example would be if you’re driving for your job and another driver hits you and causes injuries. In these cases, you would usually have a car accident case against the other driver.
Bad Faith Denials for Your Job Site Injury
Another exception to the workers’ comp rules is when they deny your claim in bad faith. This means that they deny your claim even though they know you were injured at work. This may also include providing a low compensation amount in bad faith. Usually this means they treat you unfairly or defy logic in their decisions as a way to save money. One example might be if workers’ comp denies your request for an x-ray if you suspect you broke your arm after a heavy object fell on it and you have symptoms of a broken bone. Like other exceptions, these can be difficult to prove, so it helps to have an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side for these cases.
The Law Office of Daniel D. Horowitz, III PC – Your Personal Injury Lawyer in Houston
For legal services from a seasoned attorney, choose The Law Office of Daniel D. Horowitz, III PC. Mr. Horowitz is a board-certified personal injury lawyer in Texas and helps with many types of cases, including car accident cases, job site accidents, and product liability cases. Our team has helped our clients recover over $100 million in personal injury cases. Mr. Horowitz offers nearly two decades of legal experience to help fight your personal injury case. Contact us now for a free consultation with our legal team.