Can I File a Lawsuit for a Workplace Injury?
Many workplace injuries are covered by the worker's compensation system. In exchange for workers' compensation benefits like medical expenses and lost wages, you give up the right to sue your employer.
However, there are situations when injured workers still have the right to file a lawsuit against their employer. There are also situations when you can file lawsuits against other entities that are liable for your injuries.
If you were injured at work, a Savannah workers’ compensation lawyer can determine if you have the right to file a lawsuit. The attorneys at Roden Law are committed to pursuing all the compensation you deserve.
When You Can Sue for an On-the-Job Injury?
You may be able to file a lawsuit against your employer or another entity if any of the following exceptions apply to your situation:
Employer Does Not Have Workers’ Compensation Insurance
Georgia workers' compensation law requires all employers with three or more workers to maintain workers’ compensation coverage. Any employer that is required to have this coverage but refuses or willfully neglects to purchase it is guilty of a misdemeanor.
Injury was Caused by a Third Party
If your injury was the result of the negligence of a third party and not your employer, you can file a lawsuit against the third party and still collect workers' compensation benefits from your employer.
This exception often applies when employees are involved in motor vehicle accidents while in the course of their employment. Victims can sue the driver who caused the crash.
This exception often comes up in construction accidents, because many of these accidents are the result of the negligence of independent contractors or subcontractors. If these entities do not employ the victim, he or she can file a lawsuit against them
Injury was Caused by a Dangerous Product or Substance
Sometimes workers are injured while using a defective product, such as machinery or safety equipment. If you can prove the defective product caused your injury, you may be able to sue the product manufacturer or designer
If you were exposed to toxic substances like benzene, silica, asbestos or radium, you may be able to sue the manufacturer of the substance or safety equipment for failing to properly protect you from it. However, such claims are often complex and may be difficult to prove, especially if there was a significant period of time between the initial exposure and the onset of symptoms.
Damages Available in Civil Lawsuits
The advantage to filing a lawsuit is that you can recover forms of compensation that are not available in a workers' compensation claim. For example, while workers’ compensation provides medical benefits and partial wage replacement, a civil lawsuit may allow you to recover compensation for pain and suffering, punitive damages, and future medical expenses.
Another advantage of filing a civil lawsuit is that there are no caps on the amount of compensation you can recover. Workers' compensation laws set limits on the different types of compensation injured workers receive.
Proving Your Personal Injury Claim
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, which means you do not need to prove the accident was caused by negligence.
However, if you file a personal injury lawsuit over your injury, your Savannah personal injury lawyer will need to prove the injury was caused by another party's negligence. You will need to establish four things to prove negligence occurred:
- The employer or third party had a duty of care – This means there was a legal duty to take reasonable steps to prevent you from suffering an injury.
- The employer or third party breached this duty – This means the employer or third party did not take reasonable steps to prevent you from suffering an injury. If you were injured in a car accident caused by failure to follow traffic laws, this could be evidence of a breach of duty of care. If you were injured by a defective product, the manufacturer may have breached a duty of care by failing to warn you about the dangers of using the product.
- This breach caused the employee to suffer an injury – You need to draw a causal link between your injury and the breach of the duty of care. In other words, you need to provide evidence that your injury would not have occurred without the breach of duty of care.
- The employee sustained damages as a result of the breach – We will need to provide evidence of the physical, financial and emotional effects of your injuries, such as medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Get Legal Help for a Workplace Injury
If you were injured at work and would like to learn more about your legal options, contact a workers’ compensation attorney in Savannah. An attorney can review the circumstances of your injury and determine if you can file a lawsuit outside the workers' compensation system.
Our services are provided on a contingency fee basis, so we only require payment if we recover damages on your claim.