Practice Areas / Workers Compensation
I Was Hurt at Work, What Are My Legal Rights
We Answer your questions about the law
A work-related injury can be devastating not just to the injured employee but also to their dependents. These injuries may result in mounting medical bills and loss of wages as you recuperate. You may even lose your job and the ability to earn income as a result of a permanent disability from the injuries sustained in the accident.
Workers’ compensation laws were created to help ease the financial burden on employees that are injured while on the job. Injured employees can enjoy a variety of benefits including medical benefits and loss of wages. It is therefore important for injured employees to know and protect their rights after a work-related injury.
What are my rights?
Employees that are injured in a work-related accident are protected by workers’ compensation laws. These laws vary from state to state and so do the rights afforded injured employees. The procedures to safeguard these rights also vary widely.
However, injured workers generally have the following rights:
The right to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits
If you were injured while on the job, you have the right to claim workers’ compensation benefits. Workers’ compensation provides a wide variety of benefits depending on your state and the nature of your injury. Workers’ compensation often covers medical care, loss of income and temporary disability benefits. If your spouse was injured on the job and died as a result, you can claim death benefits.
You may be in a position to claim workers’ compensation benefits irrespective of where the fault for the accident lies.
The right to sue your employer for negligence
If the accident that resulted in your injuries occurred while you were on the job, you have the right to sue your employer under personal injury law. However, you should note the statute of limitations in your state for personal injury lawsuits.
If you decide to file a personal injury lawsuit against your employer, it is important to seek the guidance of an experienced personal injury attorney to ensure your legal rights are protected while seeking compensation for your injury. Hiring a personal injury attorney will help to increase your chances of filing a successful claim.
Taking legal action can help you get compensation for medical bills, loss of wages, permanent disability, pain and suffering and much more. However, unlike workers’ compensation claims, you will have to prove that your employer was at fault to be successful with your personal injury claim.
The right to collect social security disability benefits
If your work-related injury causes restrictions that keep you from returning to work or limit the type of work you can perform, you may be eligible to seek social security disability benefits. These are federal benefits that help to ease the financial burden on injured workers whose injuries have resulted in mental or physical impairment. You will need to show that the impairment makes it impossible for you to perform substantial work. You will also only be able to apply for these benefits if your impairment has lasted or is expected to last for more than 12 months.
The right to legal representation
The process of making a workers’ compensation claim is designed to be simple and straightforward. This is to ensure that employees can file a claim without the need for professional legal assistance. However, many injured workers find that their cases soon become complex. Insurance companies and employers use all kinds of tricks to either downplay your injuries and pay a low compensation or deny your claim altogether.
An experienced attorney will know how best to approach insurance companies and employers that are countering your claim. They know the tricks these entities use and will be able to counter them. Hiring an experienced workers’ compensation attorney is the best way to safeguard your rights.
The right to sue third parties
There are instances where employers may not be directly responsible for injuries. For example, if you were using a faulty piece of equipment and ended up getting involved an accident, you may be eligible to file a personal injury claim against the manufacturer of the equipment. Your claim will help to reimburse you for medical expenses, lost wages and other related expenses. You can also pursue non-economic damages such as pain and suffering.
The right to file a complaint with Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA)
Accidents in workplaces are often the result of poor conditions, negligence by management or safety mishaps. If you have been injured in the workplace and believe that your injury was the result of poor conditions, safety mishaps or negligence, you can file a complaint with OSHA. These complaints are confidential. OSHA may inspect your workplace to determine whether it is a safe environment for employees. Your report could help to improve the conditions at your work place and prevent further accidents from occurring.
Keep your rights in mind and consult a workers’ compensation attorney to ensure they are protected.