If you’ve been working for more than a few years, you’re probably aware of the term “workplace injury”. On paper, this seems like a pretty straightforward thing: as the name suggests, it’s an injury that occurs in the workplace, right? While that is technically correct, there are a lot of other, more complicated factors that come into play with workplace injuries. What if the injury occurred while you weren’t working? Do you need a lawyer? These questions and many more will be answered in this post, so keep reading to learn more.
The simple answer is yes. Your company may try to convince you not to get a lawyer, but that could lead to you being taken advantage of, and not getting what you deserve. Lawyers will be able to inform you of your options and guide you through the process from beginning to end. It’s always a good idea to get a lawyer who specializes in personal injury cases, as workplace injuries fall under this umbrella term. Law firms such as Lamber Goodnow can advise you on what path will be best for your specific situation. You may also find this list of personal injury resources useful.
Yes, yes, yes . . . and yes. If you ever obtain an injury at work, even if it’s something minor, you should never dismiss it. Instead, report it to your superior as soon as possible. This part is important, as injuries that are reported much later than they occurred can lead to various issues. If possible, you need to get some form of a written statement to them as well. It’s also a good idea to get a medical report, just in case. Of course, the types of reports you need to fill in will be dependent on the case. If, for example, you were injured directly by someone else – like in the case of an assault – you’d need to fill out a police report as well.
First, we need to clarify that there are two major categories of workplace injuries: those that can heal, and those that can’t. The ways that these are handled are very different. Some injuries may require medical attention, but then you’ll be able to recover and return to your normal life.
Other times, however, these injuries can lead to disabilities – which means you’ll likely have ongoing medical expenses, and you won’t be able to do everything you could before the injury. It is often in cases like these where businesses offer a settlement. This means they offer you a lump sum of money, and in return, you can’t sue them or hold them responsible for your disability. Businesses often opt for this because it’s beneficial for them, but you’ll need to talk to your lawyer and financial advisor to see if it’s the best option for you.
In most cases, your employer will have to pay for your medical expenses if you’re injured at work. It’s a good idea to thoroughly read through your employment contract, as this will likely have the details of what the company is willing to do in the case of a workplace injury. In some cases, employers may dig in their heels and refuse to cover medical expenses. Hopefully, you have a lawyer who can help you with this. Ideally, your lawyer would liaise with them and they will realize that it would be in everyone’s interest to avoid going to court and to rather just pay for your medical bills. If they are really stubborn, you may have no other choice than to take them to court. Keep in mind that this will be an additional expense for you as well, and it could be a while before you get any money they may owe you.
If you’ve ever done a high-risk activity, such as bungee jumping or rock-climbing, you may recall that you had to sign a form beforehand saying that you won’t hold the company responsible for any injury or death that should occur while you are partaking in this activity; this is known as an indemnity agreement. Very often, businesses will include such a clause in their contracts, especially if it’s a high-risk job. So, what does this mean for you? Does it mean that you aren’t a candidate for financial compensation? The truth is that it will depend on every individual case. If, however, you can prove that your injury occurred because of someone else’s negligence, you may stand a higher chance of getting financial compensation.
If we had to get into the specifics of everything that could count as a workplace injury, we’d be here forever. What you do need to know, though, is that if there’s anything that links your injury to your work, you may have a workplace injury case. This means that if you got injured at a work event, such as a year-end function, you may have a case, even if you weren’t actually at work when the injury took place. Of course, these types of cases are much harder to prove than a straightforward case – such as someone falling off a ladder or getting injured due to workplace safety hazards.
Proof is vital when it comes to workplace injuries. Again, if it’s minor, you may feel the urge to skip this, but you shouldn’t – you never know if complications could arise. Gathering proof of your injury is especially important if things go further; like if you go to court or try to get money from the company. You should try and get statements from anyone who witnessed the accident. Keep a copy of any medical reports on the injury, and document your injury over time with photographs. You may also want to take photographs of the scene (for example, if a broken ladder led to your injury, you should have proof of that).