Can I Sue My Employer for Workers’ Compensation?
On-the-job accidents can happen in any occupation or workplace. As a result, you can be left with a serious and potentially debilitating injury or illness that requires extensive and ongoing medical care while preventing you from working or performing certain tasks on your job. In many cases, filing a claim for workers’ compensation benefits in South Carolina can be your only option for covering medical expenses and receiving a portion of lost wages.
It’s important to understand that filing for workers’ compensation is not the same as filing a lawsuit against your employer. In fact, there are certain situations in which an employer may not have workers’ compensation insurance in place or there are extenuating circumstances involved that allow for a lawsuit.
At Stewart Law Offices, our dedicated workplace injury lawyers can review the details of your case and explain all your options for pursuing compensation. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.
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When You Can Sue Outside of Workers’ Compensation
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), nearly 150,000 workers throughout the Carolinas suffer some type of on-the-job accident each year. While some cases of job-related injuries or illnesses may be relatively minor, resulting in only a day or two off work, others are more serious and can have long-term impacts on both your health and your family’s financial security.
When these types of incidents happen, workers’ compensation can provide a safety net. These benefits are intended to provide the medical attention you need while covering a portion of lost wages you suffer as you recover. However, although this type of coverage is generally required by law, some employers fail to secure workers’ compensation insurance. If this is the case, suing your employer for injury may be an option.
Situations in which you also may be entitled to compensation through a lawsuit include:
- Injuries due to defective products: When injuries occur as the result of product defects in tools, machinery, office equipment, or other supplies you use in the course of your job, you may be entitled to file a claim against the manufacturer.
- Injuries or illnesses caused by exposure to toxic substances: If your employer fails to take the proper precautions in terms of safety and regulations concerning hazardous substances in the workplace, they can be held legally liable for any injuries or illnesses that occur as a result.
- Injuries caused by a third party: If you are injured as the result of the actions of a third party, such as a subcontractor or supplier, you may be entitled to compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. This includes unintentional accidents, injuries caused by another’s negligence, and acts of violence, such as an assault.
When Can You Sue Your Employer for an Injury in Addition to Filing for Workers’ Compensation?
On-the-job injuries and illnesses can impact your ability to work now and years into the future, preventing you from providing for yourself and your loved ones. Medical costs alone can add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars, in addition to your lost wages and benefits. In these situations, it is vitally important to fight for the maximum amount you are entitled to in a claim.
Even when you are pursuing a workers’ compensation claim, you may still be able to file a personal injury lawsuit as well. The following offers several common reasons why you might want to pursue this course of action:
- Your employer has insufficient workers’ compensation insurance or no workers’ compensation insurance. The North Carolina Industrial Commission requires all employers with more than three employees to obtain workers’ compensation insurance. South Carolina has similar requirements in place. Unfortunately, there are cases where employers fail to meet these requirements or the amount of coverage they do have is not enough to cover your damages.
- Your employer intentionally hurt you. When an employer takes actions that intentionally put you in harm’s way, they can be held legally responsible. While workers’ compensation benefits can provide for your medical expenses and a portion of lost wages, there are additional types of damages you may be entitled to through a civil lawsuit.
Compensation Available Through a Lawsuit
Under the South Carolina Statutes, pursuing a workers’ compensation claim can entitle you to a variety of benefits. However, there are limits in regards to the amounts you may be entitled to receive and how long you can continue to collect on your claim. If the circumstances allow, filing a personal injury lawsuit may offer additional damages you would otherwise be unable to obtain. These include:
- Future medical expenses: Based on your injuries and your prognosis for recovery, you may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses you are likely to incur in the future, which includes diagnostic testing, treatment, medications, and physical therapy.
- Full compensation for lost income and benefits: Workers’ compensation only covers a portion of lost wages, and often for a certain amount of time. Through a personal injury claim, you can pursue payment for all of your lost income. If you suffer injuries that have the potential to develop into long-term disabilities, you could be entitled to compensation for future losses in income you are likely to incur.
- Pain and suffering: While workers’ compensation benefits do not entitle you to claim compensation for the mental anguish and loss of enjoyment of life that you or your family suffer due to your injuries, these types of damages can be pursued in a personal injury claim.
- Punitive damages: If the actions of an employer, manufacturer, or third party were particularly willful and negligent, you may be entitled to additional compensation in an amount meant to punish the at-fault party involved.
How Our Workplace Injury Attorneys Can Help You
You may be wondering, “Do I have a case to sue my employer?” At Stewart Law Offices, we offer a free consultation to discuss your situation and the options that may be available. You can count on our more than 25 years of experience representing clients throughout South Carolina to provide the trusted legal guidance and professional representation you need. Please call or contact our workplace injury attorneys online and request an appointment today.