Businesses are required, by law, to carry Workers’ Compensation insurance to provide no-fault financial compensation to workers. With Workers’ Comp, no matter how an accident happens on the job, an injured worker can file a claim, even if their own negligence contributed to the accident.
If you’ve been injured on the job and you’re not sure if you should file a Workers’ Comp claim or pursue a lawsuit, consider the following 5 points:
1. Do your injuries require extensive compensation?
While Workers’ Compensation will cover some medical expenses and lost wages, it won’t cover everything. It’s inevitable that you’ll lose money while your injury heals, but severe injuries can take a bigger toll on your bank account.
If you don’t think you’ll get enough compensation from a Workers’ Comp claim, you can try pursuing a lawsuit directly against your employer.
2. You can hire a Workers’ Compensation attorney
You don’t have to file a lawsuit on your own to recover proper compensation for your injuries. Also, you’re not stuck with a low settlement offer. You have another option: to contact a Workers’ Compensation lawyer to negotiate with the Workers’ Compensation insurance company.
Unfortunately, legitimate Workers’ Compensation claims are frequently denied and many claims are severely undervalued. A Workers’ Comp lawyer will fight to reverse your denial or assess your settlement offer to make sure your case is treated fairly. A good lawyer will also fight claim denials for indirect injuries like repetitive motion injuries and diseases that develop over time.
3. Are your injuries minor?
If your injuries can be quickly treated as an outpatient and you require no further medical attention, you probably don’t need to consider filing a personal injury lawsuit against your employer. Workers’ Compensation should adequately cover your medical expenses and time off work. If you don’t need to take time off work to heal, you’re in an even better position to pursue a Workers’ Comp claim over a lawsuit.
However, before determining your injuries are minor, consult with a doctor to make sure. If there’s any chance you sustained injury to your internal organs, it’s a good idea to get yourself thoroughly checked out. You don’t want to misjudge your injuries and end up with huge medical bills later on.
4. Are you able to continue working without issue?
If your injury doesn’t prevent you from working and your Workers’ Comp claim covers your medical expenses, you don’t need to file a lawsuit. Lawsuits are best for situations where an injured worker has extensive medical bills and can’t work for a period of time.
For example, say you were driving on the clock to deliver product to another location when a car hit you and you suffered a broken ankle, whiplash, and internal injuries. You’re going to be out of work for at least several months and you’ll have extensive medical bills. In this case, a lawsuit makes complete sense.
If you’re treated in the emergency room for a broken finger and sent home, you’re probably better off pursuing a Workers’ Comp claim. Although, only a lawyer can tell you the best course of action.
Although a broken finger should heal within a few weeks, complications are a possibility, especially if you delay treatment. Finger fractures can be serious and when healed wrong, might cause a lifetime of pain.
Always consult with a doctor before deciding your injuries are minor and consult with a lawyer before accepting any kind of settlement. If you develop complications after accepting a settlement, you will have already lost your right to sue.
5. Is your employer unwilling to change?
A lawsuit might be your best option if your injury was the result of gross negligence by your employer and you want to force them to improve conditions. For instance, say you work at a machinery plant and one of the machines has a dangerously sharp edge that is supposed to be smooth. Say you injured yourself on this machine. If your employer knows about this sharp edge and refuses to fix it, a lawsuit could force them to fix it. You probably won’t want to keep working there, but at least future employees will be a little safer.
Your lawyer knows best
Although it’s great to get all the information and try to assess your situation, it’s best to consult a lawyer before making any decisions.
Image credit: Settlement via Tero Vesalainen/Shutterstock