Accidents happen. Falls, burns, breaks, and even more extensive injuries can take place on the job site. No matter what happens or how it happens, your employer’s Workers’ Compensation Insurance should be able to cover you.
However, there are other times in which you or a loved one sustained a grievous injury at a worksite in which you may wonder if you can bring an action against the employer. You may be questioning what types of situations would qualify for you to potentially sue an employer. We put together this guide to help you explore your options regarding a work injury or death.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recognizes an injury or death as work-related when an “event or exposure in the work environment caused or contributed to the injury or significantly aggravated a pre-existing injury.” The injury or death could occur in your workplace, at a remote location, or anywhere else you are performing work for your employer’s benefit.
If you are injured on the job, there are essential steps you should follow. These steps can vary state by state, so it is important for you to review your state’s specific guidelines in regards to their workplace or injury guidelines. However, you should be sure to do the following as quickly as possible in Georgia:
Report the accident to a supervisor as soon as possible and preferably in writing. Telling a coworker who isn’t your manager or supervisor isn’t enough. Waiting more than 30 days to report the injury puts you at risk of losing your opportunity to receive full benefits.
If your injury is severe and you require immediate medical attention – seek that first. Inform the doctor taking care of you that you sustained the injury from your job so that they can make a note of it to provide to your employer.
When an injury doesn’t need the immediate care of a physician, ask your employer for a list of approved doctors. Going to a medical facility that’s not approved can give your employer and insurance company a reason to deny your worker’s compensation claim.
It’s essential to complete and file the Form WC-14 with the State Board of Workers’ Compensation, provide a copy to your employer and the workers’ comp insurance company, and keep a copy for your records. These steps will help protect your rights.
In addition to a copy of Form WC-14, you should also ask your employer for a copy of the report they filed with the worker’s comp insurance. Keep these documents, along with medical records, bills, receipts, etc., in a file.
If the doctor takes you out of work or gives you work restrictions, be sure to get it in writing, keep a copy, and provide your employer a copy. If you are excused from work, it’s also essential to ask your employer how frequently you need to check in.
Ensure that your HR department (or another responsible person) has sent the first report of injury to the insurer. Request your employer to provide you with the insurance company name and telephone number of the insurer and the person handling your claim. You can speak directly with the adjuster to assure they have gotten everything they need from your employer.
In most cases in the state of Georgia, you can’t sue your employer for a workplace injury. Accepting Workers’ Compensation means you relinquish the right to sue your employer for an injury.
However, some limited conditions allow you to file a lawsuit against your employer in civil court.
It’s critical to write down as many details as possible about the accident when they are still fresh in your mind. These details can be a tremendous help to you and your attorney down the road if you have grounds for a lawsuit against your employer.
When a person dies due to a workplace injury, they often leave behind a spouse and children, who often then face financial struggles. Under Georgia’s workers’ compensation laws, those left behind are usually not allowed to sue an employer over a workplace death.
Still, they could be entitled to file a workers’ compensation claim for death benefits. These benefits include:
Although suing the employer due to a work injury and death can be tricky, there are other reasons you may be able file a lawsuit.
If an employee is killed or hurt by a defective piece on a worksite that failed to work properly, or is inherently dangerous, there could be a reason to sue.
The machine manufacturer can be held responsible if they knew of the danger and/or didn’t correctly warn the business or employees of its potential threat. In this case, the manufacturer would have to compensate the worker for medical bills, lost wages, and for their pain and suffering.
Sometimes, chemicals and other substances that workers come into contact with can cause severe injuries and illnesses.
There are two kinds of toxic injuries. Acute injuries are apparent immediately, while potential injuries may take years to appear. When a poisonous substance injures or causes the death of a worker, a lawsuit can be filed against the manufacturer of the substance and any safety equipment that proved ineffective in handling the toxic substance.
Sometimes a work injury, fatal or not, can be the result of a third party. A third party can include vendors, contractors, etc.
If a third party’s negligence or intentional actions cause an employee to get hurt or die, then there could be grounds for a lawsuit.
While getting hurt at work is common, sometimes certain grievous work injuries that bring about tremendous pain and suffering or even death can cause great stress, anxiety, and pain. If you are considering bringing an action against an employer for the pain and damages you or a loved one suffered due to a work injury, it is important that you choose an experienced attorney you can trust to have the compassion and knowledge needed help you navigate a case of such a nature to help you potentially gain the compensation you may deserve.
Speaking with an attorney with experience in workplace injuries can help you learn all your options. Here at Robert T Homlar, P.C., we specialize in helping clients who have been injured on the job navigate through the legal and worker’s comp systems to potentially bring you and your family justice for the pain and damages you suffered, and gain the compensation you may deserve.