Most workplace accidents and injuries fall under workers’ compensation insurance. Workers’ compensation, also referred to as workman’s comp, is a state-mandated insurance program that gives you compensation for job-related injuries and illnesses. The state of Indiana has strict rules regarding workers’ compensation, but if you are injured on the job, you should qualify for workers’ compensation benefits, regardless if you were at fault for the accident itself. Some employees wonder if they can sue their employer for their work-related injury. But, the answer is not a simple yes or no. Instead, to answer that question you must first understand the process of workers’ compensation – and how to determine if your case qualifies for a private lawsuit.
What Does Workers’ Compensation Cover?
Workers’ compensation is designed to compensate you for lost wages and medical costs directly related to your work-related injury. You can receive compensation for things like:
- Surgical procedures
- Rehabilitation treatments
- Medical expenses
- Other expenses related to diagnostics or treatment of your work-related injury (such as prescriptions)
- Disability payments while you are unable to work
There are some benefits to filing for workers’ compensation instead of filing a private lawsuit. Instead of dealing with the unpredictable length of a lawsuit, your workers’ compensation payments will start immediately – as long as you are eligible. Your employer will also begin immediate payments of medical costs and you could receive lost wages or permanent disability payments quickly after the injury has been reported too. The issue with workers’ compensation, however, is that you cannot recover punitive damages nor can you recover for things like pain and suffering, loss of quality of life, etc. Instead, you are tied to a percentage of your lost wages and your medical costs only.
Can I File a Lawsuit Instead?
There are limited situations that allow a private lawsuit instead of workers’ compensation. Therefore, if you are suffering a work-related injury or illness, you will want to speak with a workplace injury attorney to explore your options. Some situations that allow you to file a lawsuit include:
- The employer intentionally hurt you. In this case, you could file a lawsuit for their intentional acts. For example, your boss physically assaulted you. Carelessness, however, is not intentional. Even in the most extreme forms, a careless employer would still not be eligible for a private lawsuit – you would need to seek compensation via workers’ compensation.
- Product liability played a role in your injury. If your workplace injury was the result of a defective product, you may be able to sue the manufacturer of the product and possibly your employer (if they intentionally used a defective product). This would fall under a product liability lawsuit.
- A third party was involved in the injury. Sometimes a third party may be involved in your injury, such as a contractor. If they are a contributing factor to your injury, you may be able to sue the third party (but not your employer).
- Chemicals or hazardous wastes were involved. If your injury was the result of chemicals or hazardous waste and your employer forced you to use these products without protection, you may be able to file a lawsuit against your employer for your work-related injury or illness.
Speak with a Workplace Injury Attorney Today
The laws regarding workers’ compensation are confusing and difficult to navigate. If you are looking to sue your employer for a personal injury claim, product liability claims or simply file for workers’ compensation, you should speak with an attorney first to explore your options. Jacobs Law, LLC can assist you with your work-related injury (including construction accidents). Speak with an attorney today for a free, no obligation consultation by calling us toll-free at 317-520-9283. You can also ask a workers’ compensation question online via our contact form.