Your Workplace Injury: Winning Fair Compensation By Understanding Who Else Could Be Responsible

By Zachariah Hansen

If you’ve ever been hurt while working, you probably know about workers’ compensation (WC), which is designed to help cover medical expenses and lost wages. But WC often fails to cover the financial and personal losses you experience after an injury at work. Sometimes, there could be someone else — a third party — who was negligent and also responsible for your injury. Identifying them can mean the difference between just getting by and truly being compensated for your lost wages, medical expenses, pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life.

Understanding Responsibility When Injured at the Workplace

Imagine slipping on an unmarked wet floor at work, a piece of equipment failing, an employee for another company creating a hazard, or the incident happening on property that your employer doesn’t own. In all of these cases, another contractor, a product manufacturer, or property owner might be liable for negligence in addition to your workers’ compensation claim.

All of these other parties have a duty to act in a safe and reasonable manner, If they don’t, and you’re injured as a result, they could be legally responsible to compensate you. For property owners, this duty isn’t just limited to the physical area of the property; it can extend to adjacent areas if their lack of maintenance causes injury.

The Role of Companies that Hire Your Employer

Often, your employer might be a contractor hired by another company. If that company had control over the work environment and that control—or lack of it—contributed to your injury, they could be held responsible for negligence. For instance, if they insisted on using a particular method of work or piece of equipment that resulted in your injury, they might be liable. This is crucial to understand because it’s not just about who signs your paycheck; it’s also about who had a hand in being negligent and creating the hazardous conditions that led to yourinjury.

Investigating Other Involved Parties

Your job might involve interacting with various other companies or individuals who don’t employ you directly. If their actions—or inactions—played a part in your injury, they might be liable. This can include a broad range of situations, like a contractor who negligently leaves dangerous equipment around which you trip over and get hurt, or a supplier who provides defective materials that fail and cause injury.

All of these examples of third-party negligence lawsuits can result in you or your loved one winning fair and just compensation.

Looking Beyond the Obvious: Your Employer’s Potential Direct Liability

It’s a common belief that your employer can’t be sued outside of WC. However, there are several exceptions where your employer can be held directly liable and you can receive fair and just compensation:

  • Workplace Assaults: If your injury is the result of deliberate violence from a co-worker or supervisor, WC might not be the only avenue for justice.
  • Concealed Dangers: Say your employer knew about a toxic substance that was making you sick but didn’t tell you. In such cases of concealment, they can be taken to court.
  • Equipment without Safety Measures: If you’re injured by equipment that should have had safety features that your employer removed or didn’t install, they might be liable.
  • Employer-Produced Defective Products: If your employer makes a product that’s defective and it injures you, they could be responsible beyond WC.
  • Off-the-Clock Injuries: If you’re injured in a situation unrelated to your job duties, your employer might be liable.
  • Lack of Insurance: If your employer doesn’t carry mandatory WC insurance, they can be sued in civil court where they might face more severe financial consequences.

Don’t Settle for Less: Explore All Avenues

It’s not uncommon to feel that WC is your only option, but you have the right to pursue compensation from all responsible parties. This isn’t just about getting more money; it’s about holding all negligent parties accountable and ensuring you and your loved ones receive compensation to have the resources to recover and move on from your injury.

A Checklist for Action

Understanding how to navigate these cases can be complicated. Here’s a straightforward checklist to help you identify potential third-party defendants:

  • Determine who owns or maintains the property where you were injured.
  • Investigate the contractual details between your employer and the company that hired them.
  • Look into the actions of any other companies or individuals who were involved in your work environment.
  • Review the specific circumstances of your injury to determine if an exception to WC might apply.
  • Consult with an attorney who practices workplace injury law who can help you navigate the complexities of WC and third-party claims.

When faced with a workplace injury, it’s important to think beyond WC. By carefully examining the circumstances of your injury and the roles of those involved, you can identify additional responsible parties. Remember, WC is there to help, but it doesn’t have to be your only source of recovery. Use this guide as a starting point and seek professional legal advice to ensure you are fully compensated for your injury.

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