Many people are injured on the job every year in California, and although some of these injuries will warrant workers' compensation, others will call for a personal injury or wrongful death claim. In cases where a worker is injured on the job because of an accident or a condition that developed over time through the performance of a certain job, workers compensation may be provided to help cover costs associated with the injury.
Other times, workers can be injured in accidents that resulted from a safety issue, equipment defect, or equipment malfunction. If it can be determined that another party's negligence caused the injury on the job, the injured worker can file a personal injury claim against the responsible party to obtain compensation for medical expenses, doctor bills, lost wages, and pain & suffering.
The common assumption concerning on the job injuries is that the only recourse available to injured employees is to file for workers' compensation. While it is true that this type of compensation has the benefit of a guaranteed payout, the amount can often be less than what would be obtained through a successful personal injury claim. Unfortunately, for most cases of injuries sustained at work, the law provides that employees do not have the option to pursue a personal injury claim against their employer and for those cases workers' compensation is the only legal remedy for injuries. However, there are several exceptions to this rule that employees in California should be aware of should they be injured at work.
The first exception to this rule is also the most rare to occur in California. If the employer failed to carry workers' compensation insurance for his or her employees, then the only recourse available to those employees is to file a legal action like any other personal injury dispute outside of the workplace. However, the rarity of these circumstances is credited to the California Labor Code, all employers are legally required to have workers' compensation insurance no matter how small their business may be. This legal requirement makes the occurrence of this exception very scarce in California.
In some instances where the employee at the work place was injured because of an employer's intentional egregious conduct, that employee may have grounds for a personal injury suit. This egregious conduct can also be known as gross negligence and means that the employer neglected his or her duty to provide a healthy and safe working environment for one or all employees. In such a claim, the employee pursuing compensation through the court will have the burden of proof like any other plaintiff in a personal injury claim. This means that the injured employee will be required to show that the employer had a direct duty to him or her, that the employer breached that duty by not exercising reasonable care and most importantly, that the breach was a direct cause of his or her injuries.
Other exceptions to being restricted to a workers' compensation claim include defective or dangerous products that caused injury. If an employee was injured by defective equipment at work, they may have grounds to pursue legal action against the manufacturer of the product through a products liability suit. However, a great distinction must be made here between a defective product and one that was improperly installed or maintained by the employer. If the injury was due to a failure in installing or maintaining the equipment, the fault lies with the employer and the injury would fall under workers' compensation. However, if the equipment was defective because of a mistake by the manufacturer in the design, execution or marketing of the product, the employee may be able to target them as the culprit for their injuries. Since the manufacturer of products used at work is not covered under the employer's insurance, they are susceptible to a products liability suit. Likewise, if the employee sustained injuries because of a toxic substance at work, they may be able to bring a suit of toxic tort against the manufacturer of that substance.
Lastly, if an employee was injured at work by a third party who is not covered under the employer's insurance, the employee has the right to pursue legal action against that individual. This would be carried out like any other civil dispute of personal injury outside of the workplace. If you are unsure whether your injuries fall into any of the above mentioned exceptions, contact a personal injury attorney in Santa Clarita and explain your situation to them. While workers' compensation payouts may be less than the maximum recovery available in a personal injury claim, a personal injury claim is not guaranteed to be successful. This emphasizes the importance of seeking professional advice concerning your situation and experienced legal representation in whichever recourse you choose. A personal injury lawyer will be able to offer valuable guidance to you in both a workers' comp claim and a personal injury claim.
All employers are required to provide workers' compensation insurance to their employees, but some employers knowingly and wrongfully classify their workers as " independent contractors" and other titles in order to avoid providing this necessary benefit. These employers can definitely be held responsible for wrongful actions against their employees. In other situations, a claim for workers' compensation benefits may be denied. Unfortunately, some employers will attempt to do everything possible in order to avoid a claim, as it could be financially damaging to them. The Santa Clarita workplace injury attorneys at our firm can fight to see that this doesn't happen to you.
Some occupations are inherently more dangerous than others. Take the field of construction, for example. Literally thousands of construction workers are injured and killed each year due to avoidable accidents. Avoidable accidents are typically considered the fault of the employer, as the employer is charged with a "duty of care" so that their employees have a safe work environment. A failure to provide the necessary safety equipment or a failure to repair property damage may warrant a claim if a worker was injured because of it.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is typically the government agency that regulates the workplace, although there are various specialized industries that may also have particular regulations that must be adhered to. According to statistics compiled by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2010, construction is the industry with the highest overall fatal occupational injuries while the agricultural industry had the highest overall fatal work injury rate (injury per 100,000 full-time workers). The transportation industry and other commercial drivers also have a high incident rate. Regardless of your industry, if you were injured on the job, consider speaking with a Santa Clarita workplace injury lawyer from our firm as soon as possible.
Some individuals in Santa Clarita hesitate to hire a lawyer after they've been injured on the job because either they feel like their injuries are not severe enough to warrant legal action, or they think they have no chance of winning. At The Law Offices of Gerald L. Marcus, we believe that every injured victim should receive proper compensation regardless of the extent of their injuries, and that party responsible for someone's injuries should be held accountable for their negligence. Our personal injury lawyers will do everything in their power to resolve your workplace injury claim to your satisfaction and will do their absolute best to obtain the maximum amount of compensation for the injuries you suffered.