If you experience an on the job injury, you may feel that your only recourse is to file for your workers' compensation insurance benefits. While workers' compensation needs to be your first recourse, there may be other forms of compensation you are entitled to. But claiming these other forms of compensation means you may soon find yourself involved in a lawsuit with others. Because depending on the circumstances of your accident, others may be at fault. Here are a few circumstances to consider.
If Your Employer Does Not Have Workers' Compensation Insurance
In the state of California, any employer who has employees is required to purchase workers' compensation insurance. Failure to do so could result in criminal charges, substantial fines, and/or jail time.
If your employer does not have workers' compensation insurance or does not have sufficient coverage, you can file a civil lawsuit against your employer. While filing suit will be much more difficult than collecting workers' compensation benefits, a suit could actually work in your favor.
In addition to the benefits you are entitled to under workers' compensation, you will also be entitled to sue for punitive damages. Designed to punish the defendant for their bad behavior, punitive damages would be appropriate for your employer's failure to obtain workers' compensation insurance.
If You Are Injured Because of Your Employer's Egregious Conduct
Have you ever been told by your employer to disregard rules or take shortcuts put in place for your safety? Has your employer ever done something that has intentionally placed you in danger?
For example, your employer has told you to disregard using a safety switch because the switch slows down your production. If your injury occurs in a way the safety switch would have prevented, you may then be able to sue your employer outside of workers comp.
You may also be able to sue your employer even if another employee gave you a direct order to act in a way that caused your injury. For instance, using the example above, even if your line leader gave you the order to disregard the switch, you may be able to sue if you show the direct order came from your employer.
If Another Person Caused Your Injury
Depending on the type of work you do, you may interact with others who are not employees of your company. These people may include vendors, contractors, customers, or even strangers you encounter throughout your day.
If any of these outside people cause your injury, you may also be able to sue them as a third party to your accident. While you may not be able to double dip or be overpaid, you may be able to collect damages such as pain and suffering from the third party that you are not able to collect from your employer.
If You Are Injured Due to Defective Equipment
You should be able to work with confidence that the equipment you are working with is in good working order and free from manufacturer defects. Unfortunately, this may not always be true. Manufacturer defects in equipment can occur which can cause injury. If an injury happens, you may be able to sue the manufacturer of the equipment in addition to drawing benefits from your employers' workers' compensation insurance.
Personal injury cases can be very complex. Failure to identify other parties you may have a suit against will result in you leaving money that belongs to you on the table. The Law Offices of Goldberg & Ibarra are here to help you. We will review your case and help you discern what your next steps need to be. Give us a call today.