Being injured on the job can be a frightening experience. Regardless of the industry, injured workers have the right to explore their various legal options for recovering damages and financial assistance. Typically, these options include workers' compensation claims, Social Security disability benefits, and personal injury claims. Understanding the differences between these legal options can help injured workers better understand their rights, their available avenues for compensation, and which option is most appropriate for them.
In simple terms, workers' compensation is a form of insurance that provides medical benefits and financial assistance to workers who suffer injuries during the course of performing a job related duty. When an employer has workers compensation insurance, they are known as a subscriber and are often protected from being sued by workers for a variety of workplace injuries and incidents. While many employees are well aware that they can file a workers' comp claim for work-related injuries, far too many are unaware of other available options.
In some cases, injured workers who are unable to work for at least one year may also be able to obtain Social Security disability benefits, which can provide them with additional financial assistance. In other situations, injured workers whose employer does not carry workers' comp insurance – referred to as nonsubscribers – may be able to pursue a traditional personal injury claim in order to recover their damages.
There are also some situations in which third parties can be held responsible for causing a workplace injury. These cases commonly arise when workers suffer injuries or illnesses caused by toxic substances manufactured and supplied by third parties – such as materials containing asbestos – or defective products that were not safe for their intended use. In these instances, injured workers may be eligible to pursue a personal injury claim against the third party. A claim will be effective when an injured employee is able to establish clear and convincing evidence that the party in question failed to uphold their legal duty to provide safe products and to keep users or consumers safe from preventable harm. Other valid reasons for filing a personal injury claim for a workplace injury may arise when a third party directly causes the workers injury.
Aside from workplace injuries involving third parties, injured workers may be able to file personal injury claims against their employer outside of the workers' compensation system when it can be shown that an employer caused intentional harm or caused harm as the direct result of a grossly negligent act. These grounds for personal injury claims will depend on a number of personal circumstances involved in a case and require the attention of an experienced attorney.
Personal injury claims filed for these reasons can potentially allow injured workers to recover larger compensation awards that fully meet their needs. Depending on the nature of a case, damages may be awarded to cover an injured worker's medical expenses and future costs of medical treatment, their lost work wages and future earnings, their pain, suffering, and emotional injuries, and possibly the emotional and financial damages sustained by their family members.
As workplace injury cases are always unique and highly personal, it is advised that injured workers and their families allow an experienced attorney to review their case and determine whether a personal injury claim is a viable option. At The Daspit Law Firm, a passionate and knowledgeable Houston personal injury lawyer is prepared to listen to your story, thoroughly analyze your situation, and inform you about the merits of your potential claim. Learn more about your rights as an injured worker and how the firm can be of assistance when holding employers liable for their failures to provide safe working environments.