Workplace injuries can significantly disrupt lives, causing physical pain, emotional distress, and financial strain. Whether these injuries happen suddenly or develop over time, understanding your legal rights and options is crucial. At Chatham Gilder Howell Pittman, we are uniquely qualified to help you navigate the complex process following an on-the-job injury.
What Are Workplace Injuries?
Workplace injuries encompass a broad spectrum of incidents, ranging from acute accidents, such as falls, burns, or equipment malfunctions, to chronic conditions developed over time, such as repetitive strain injuries or occupational illnesses. Employees face significant risks. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, private industry employers reported 2.6 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in 2021. These injuries can result in extensive medical treatment, time off work, and long-term physical and mental health issues. Understanding the legal recourse available is vital to ensure that workers can safeguard their health, rights, and financial stability following such incidents.
Rights of an Injured Worker
An injured worker has several important rights protected by law. First and foremost, you have the right to seek immediate and appropriate medical treatment for your injuries. In addition, you have the right to file a workers’ compensation claim without fear of retaliation from your employer. This claim can cover costs related to medical treatment, rehabilitation services, and compensation for lost wages during recovery. Lastly, in cases where negligence or malfeasance is involved, you also have the right to seek legal counsel and possibly file a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible parties.
Options If You’ve Been Injured at Work
- Workers’ Compensation Claim: A workers’ compensation claim is the most common course of action following a workplace injury. These claims are designed to provide financial assistance to injured workers for medical expenses and a portion of lost wages. Importantly, workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, meaning you can generally access benefits regardless of who caused the injury. However, accepting workers’ compensation often means waiving the right to sue your employer directly for the injury.
- Personal Injury Lawsuit: If the injury at work was caused by the negligence of your employer, a co-worker, or even a third party, a personal injury lawsuit might be a viable option. Unlike workers’ compensation claims, these lawsuits require you to prove negligence or fault, but the potential compensation can be significantly larger. This can cover not only medical bills and lost wages but also non-economic damages like pain and suffering.
- Third-Party Lawsuit: A third-party lawsuit comes into play when an entity outside of your employer is responsible for your workplace injury. This could be a manufacturer of defective equipment, a non-employee who caused an accident, or a property owner whose negligence led to unsafe conditions. In these cases, you can file a lawsuit against the third party while still receiving workers’ compensation benefits from your employer. This can lead to more comprehensive compensation for your injuries.
Why Hire a Personal Injury Attorney?
Hiring a personal injury lawyer can significantly streamline the process of filing a claim and increase the likelihood of securing adequate compensation. Experienced attorneys understand the intricacies of workers’ compensation and personal injury law, are skilled in negotiating with insurance companies, and can effectively advocate for your rights in court if necessary. They work tirelessly to ensure you receive the maximum benefits owed to you, allowing you to focus on recovery rather than legal complexities.
Understanding your options after a workplace injury is crucial in securing your rights and future. If you need assistance filing a personal injury lawsuit or a third-party lawsuit, the attorneys at Chatham Gilder Howell Pittman are here to help. Our team is dedicated to providing the best possible representation and achieving the best possible outcomes for our clients. Reach out to us today and let us guide you through this challenging time.