Are you a victim of a workplace injury? If so, you know firsthand the difficulties and frustrations associated with trying to right a wrong and get restitution for your injuries. Even if your employer is willing to take responsibility, the process can involve navigating layers upon layers of legal paperwork that are anything but straightforward. As frustrating as it may seem, knowing what legal options are available to you is key in tackling this unfortunate situation – and while taking on such an endeavor might feel overwhelming at first glance, don’t lose hope.
This post will provide helpful tips and advice for legal options regarding workplace injuries. Read on for more information about reclaiming control over your case by understanding which moves have the greatest potential payoff.
1. Workers’ Compensation Claims
Workers’ compensation benefits employees who become injured or ill on the job. It generally covers medical expenses, lost wages, and rehabilitation costs.
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, which means the injured employee does not have to prove that the employer was negligent or at fault for the injury. However, workers’ compensation benefits are subject to specific eligibility requirements. In addition, there are limitations to workers’ compensation benefits, such as the fact that they do not cover pain and suffering.
2. Personal Injury Lawsuits
Unlike workers’ compensation, personal injury lawsuits are based on negligence, which means the injured employee must prove that the employer was at fault for the injury. In some cases, personal injury lawsuits may also involve exposure to harmful substances such as asbestos exposure, which can lead to serious and often fatal illnesses such as mesothelioma and lung cancer.
With an experienced personal injury attorney’s assistance, individuals diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness may also be eligible for compensation from an asbestos trust fund. An experienced attorney can help those exposed to asbestos understand their legal options and pursue compensation through all available means.
To be successful in a personal injury lawsuit, the injured employee must prove that the employer breached its duty to provide a safe working environment and that the breach caused the injury. The lawsuit can provide compensation for a wider range of damages than workers’ compensation, including pain and suffering. However, they are generally more complex and time-consuming than workers’ compensation claims.
3. Employer Liability
Employer liability refers to an employer’s legal responsibility for their employees’ safety and well-being. There are different types of employer liability, including negligence and intentional misconduct.
Negligence occurs when the employer fails to take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of their employees. Intentional misconduct, on the other hand, occurs when the employer intentionally causes harm to their employees. Depending on the circumstances, employees may be entitled to recover damages beyond what is available through workers’ compensation or personal injury lawsuits if an employer is found liable for a workplace injury.
4. Union grievance
A union grievance is a formal complaint filed by a union member against their employer, alleging a violation of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the union and the employer. Union grievances are common for employees to challenge workplace issues such as discipline, termination, harassment, discrimination, and other workplace policies or practices.
The collective bargaining agreement outlines the employer and union members’ rights and responsibilities. The grievance procedure is usually specified in the CBA and typically involves a series of steps that the union member must follow before the grievance is resolved. The process usually involves:
- Filing a grievance with the union: The union member must first file a formal written grievance with their representative.
- Meeting with the employer: The union representative and the employer will discuss the grievance and attempt to resolve the issue.
- Mediation or arbitration: If the employer and the union cannot resolve, the dispute may be referred to mediation or arbitration, where a neutral third party will assist in resolving the dispute.
- Possible litigation: If mediation or arbitration does not result in a satisfactory resolution, the union member may file a lawsuit against the employer.
The specific rules and procedures for filing a union grievance may vary depending on the CBA and the union’s bylaws. It’s important to consult with your union representative or an experienced attorney if you are considering filing a union grievance.
5. Third-Party Claims
Third-party claims refer to legal claims filed against someone other than the employer, such as a defective product manufacturer or a property owner who failed to maintain a safe environment. As an alternative to workers’ compensation and personal injury lawsuits, third-party claims can provide compensation for damages above and beyond what is covered by those other methods.
6. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a federal program that benefits individuals who cannot work due to a disability. SSDI is available to individuals with disabilities that are expected to last at least one year or result in death. The disability must also prevent the individual from performing any substantial gainful activity. SSDI benefits are based on the individual’s work history and earnings, and they can provide financial assistance to individuals who cannot work due to a workplace injury.
7. State Disability Insurance (SDI)
State Disability Insurance (SDI) is a program that benefits individuals who cannot work due to a disability, including workplace injuries. SDI is funded through employee payroll deductions, and the benefits are based on the individual’s earnings.
SDI is only available to individuals who meet certain eligibility requirements, such as being unable to work for at least eight days.
8. Supplemental Job Displacement Benefits (SJDB)
Supplemental Job Displacement Benefits (SJDB) are available to employees who are unable to return to their previous job due to a workplace injury. SJDB provides financial assistance for education or retraining that can help the employee find new employment. To be eligible for SJDB, the employee must have a workplace injury that resulted in permanent disability, and the employer must not offer suitable alternative employment.
9. Wrongful Death Claim
A wrongful death claim is a civil lawsuit brought by the surviving family members of a person who died due to another person or entity’s wrongful act or negligence. These claims seek restitution for the losses and damages suffered by the surviving family members.
In a wrongful death claim, the plaintiff typically needs to prove that:
- The defendant had a duty of care to the deceased person;
- The defendant breached that duty of care through an act of negligence, recklessness, or intentional action;
- The defendant’s actions caused the death of the deceased person; and
- The plaintiff suffered damages as a result of the deceased person’s death.
Damages that may be recoverable in a wrongful death claim include medical expenses, funeral expenses, loss of income and financial support, loss of companionship and consortium, and emotional distress.
Wrongful death claims can arise from various situations, including car accidents, medical malpractice, workplace accidents, defective products, and criminal acts. The laws governing wrongful death claims vary by state, and it’s important to consult with an experienced attorney in your area if you believe you may have a wrongful death claim.
10. Vocational Rehabilitation
Vocational rehabilitation is a program that provides services and support to individuals who have a disability, including workplace injuries. It aims to help the individual overcome their disability and return to work. Vocational rehabilitation services may include training, job placement assistance, and other support services.
Workplace injuries can have serious and long-lasting consequences for injured employee and their family. Fortunately, there are legal options available to individuals who have been injured in the workplace. Workers who suffer workplace injuries can obtain the support they need to recover and move forward by understanding their options and consulting with an experienced attorney.
If you have been injured in the workplace, consult an experienced lawyer with a proven track record of successful handling workplace injury cases. They can help you navigate the complex legal system and protect your rights.
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