If you have been injured at work or become ill as a result of your working conditions, it is quite often possible to file a personal injury claim against your employer. These claims can be really helpful for covering your medical expenses or for helping to keep you afloat while you adjust to life after your injuries.
Making personal injury claims against your employer is also something that has a lot of anxiety attached to it. A lot of people don’t know how to go about it, if their case qualifies for a claim or if they are likely to suffer consequences at work as a result of having made a claim.
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Let’s take a look at some of the most common queries that people have around making a personal injury claim against their employer.
Statute of limitations
Every state has its own statute of limitations on filing personal injury claims against employers. A statute of limitations is a strict time deadline for filing your claim; if you attempt to file a claim after the statute of limitations has passed, it will nearly always be dismissed.
For personal injury claims, the time for the statute of limitations begins on the day that you were injured. Depending on which state you live in, you will have between one and six years to make your claim.
An exception to the statute of limitations is the discovery rule, where someone couldn’t reasonably have known that they were injured or that their employer was the cause of their injury until after the standard statute of limitations.
An example of this is when workers develop lung cancer twenty years after having worked in an environment containing asbestos. They didn’t know that they had been injured at the time, and so the time on the statute of limitations would be counted from when they discovered that they had lung cancer.
Injury at work doesn’t always mean you have a case
Just because you were injured at work doesn’t necessarily mean that you will have a case for personal injury. You can only claim for personal injury against your employer if they were the ones at fault, not if the injury can be proved to be your fault.
Some of the reasons that you might be able to hold your employer accountable are:
- If they failed to provide adequate safety equipment for working in an unsafe environment (like in the asbestos example above)
- If they failed to provide you with training to carry out your job
- If an injury occurred as a result of unsafe handling or storage of equipment
- If you were assaulted in the workplace
- If your injury occurred as a result of negligence
- If your employer broke employment law
It can be difficult to know whether or not your case is eligible for compensation. The best way to check is to speak with a qualified personal injury attorney in your area, who will be well placed to advise you. Check https://www.brownandcrouppen.com/ for more details.
If you have become injured at work, then you are eligible to file a workers’ compensation claim. Workers’ compensation claims differ to personal injury lawsuits because you do not have to prove that your employer was at fault to be eligible.
Workers compensation is a government-backed insurance system that is designed to protect employees, and it will cover things like:
- Medical treatments like visits to the doctor, surgery, prescriptions, etc.
- Ongoing occupational or physical therapy
- Lost wages resulting in the time off from the injury, and also to protect you against future lost earnings
The caveat with making a workers compensation claim is that generally, you will waive your right to sue your employer for personal injury by accepting them, so it’s worth thinking about which option is the right one for you.
Protection for employees taking legal action or claiming workers comp
If you are a contracted employee, there will be information within your contract regarding your rights if you claim workers’ compensation or file a suit against your employer. If you are an at will employee, then your employer is able to terminate your contract at any time, as long as the reason isn’t illegal.
In general, it is not permitted for your employer to terminate your contract because you have made a claim. This is known as a retaliatory termination. That being said, it’s very difficult to prove that this is what has happened if your employer were to terminate your employment. If you believe that your termination was in retaliation to your workers’ comp claim or lawsuit, then you will need evidence to back this up before taking legal action.
If your injury is life-changing
If you are injured to such an extent that you are unable to carry out your job in the way that you used to, then your employer is obligated to make reasonable accommodations for you in order to allow you to continue working.
Accommodations that an employer might make are things like:
- Installing ramps to allow wheelchair access
- Modifying the layout of a workspace to make it more easily accessible, for example, by widening walkways
- Ensuring that computer software is accessible
- Providing software to help employees to carry out their work, such as reader software
- Modifying company policy to allow access, for example, by allowing service animals onto company property
- Allowing flexible work schedules to allow the employee to attend medical appointments
If you decide to make a personal injury claim, the most common way it is resolved is through a settlement. A settlement is an amount of money that is offered to close the case before it is taken to trial.
Settlement payments will be made out of your employer’s insurance policy and will be based on the severity of the injury or illness sustained and the level of culpability of the employer. Settlements can be more cost-effective than going to court, but it is worth checking your individual settlement offer with a legal professional to ensure that it is fair.