After a workplace injury, it’s important to know your rights and responsibilities. If your employer has at least five employees, they must have workers’ compensation insurance to cover workplace injuries. However, claiming the benefits you’re owed isn’t always easy, and there are limitations to what you can recover.
Upon finding out that workers’ compensation only allows partial wage replacement, many accident victims have the same question: can they sue their employer? Learn more now, and to get more personalized help with your case, call Thiry & Caddell at 251-336-3627.
The Goal of the Workers’ Compensation System
When you talk about suing employers, it’s important to think about the entire purpose of the workers’ compensation system and whom it benefits. The workers’ compensation system is essentially a compromise between employers and employees.
When a workplace injury occurs, employees want guaranteed compensation while they recover; and employers don’t want to have to worry about being sued. Workers’ compensation accommodates both of those needs. Workers are guaranteed partial income replacement and medical coverage without having to prove that someone else’s negligence caused their injury. They are compensated even if the injury is a result of their own mistake.
In exchange, employers are protected from personal injury claims. A personal injury claim can easily cost a company millions of dollars, and just one employee’s injury could bankrupt a small company. Both sides give up something—employees give up the right to a personal injury claim and employers pay for workers’ compensation insurance.
What You Can and Cannot Do After a Workplace Injury
After a workplace injury, you should absolutely exercise your right to workers’ compensation by reporting your injury and filing a claim. That is the entire purpose of the workers’ compensation system, and you aren’t hurting your employer or putting your job in danger by getting the benefits you are entitled to.
Of course, employers don’t always make it easy. While they are supposed to inform workers of their rights and give them everything they need to file a workers’ comp claim, some purposely hide this information. Some go so far as to lie about a worker’s injury “qualifying” for benefits or imply that an employee’s job is at risk as a result of their injury.
What you generally cannot do after a workplace injury is file a personal injury claim against your employer. Workers’ compensation is the exclusive remedy for injuries occurring in the workplace in Alabama. Even though you can only receive very specific benefits, it is your only option.
This does not mean that you can never file a lawsuit against someone after a workplace injury. Workers’ compensation only prevents you from taking legal action against your employer and coworkers—it does not prevent you from suing a third party who is responsible for your injuries.
There are a number of scenarios in which a third-party lawsuit may be a good option for you. One common example: a car accident while you are working. If you are driving between work sites, driving to a client, or otherwise fulfilling work duties when you get hit by another car, you may be able to sue the person who hit you. While you can still recover workers’ compensation while you wait for the personal injury claim to play out, you can also seek further compensation from the other driver.
You may also be able to start a personal injury claim if you are injured by a piece of equipment in the workplace. This is only an option if the item itself is poorly designed or manufactured—not if someone uses it incorrectly and injures you. If a defective item is to blame for your injury, consider a personal injury claim.
Start Your Claim with Thiry & Caddell
The team at Thiry & Caddell is here to help you fight for the compensation you deserve. We are committed to assisting employees after they have been injured, threatened with retaliation, or prevented from seeking workers’ comp benefits. Set up a consultation with our team now—just call us at 251-336-3627 or to get started.