If you are injured at work then you will usually have to go through the workers’ compensation insurance system to get reimbursed for benefits, such as medical treatment. In almost every state, employers need to have workers’ compensation insurance, through a self-insured program or a third-party insurance company. This is necessary even if they have just one employee, but some don’t need it until they hire more employees. If your employer doesn’t carry this insurance, you do still have options if you are injured at work. You can sue the employer in court with a personal injury lawsuit.
Benefits of Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit
There are some benefits to filing a lawsuit instead of going through the workers’ compensation insurance and filing a workers’ compensation claim. With a lawsuit, you are able to seek the full amount of your damages and aren’t subject to an arbitrary cap. With workers’ comp claims, many states only pay about two-thirds of the wage loss for a limited period of time and only up to an established maximum amount. Another benefit of a lawsuit is you will be able to collect damages for emotional distress and pain and suffering caused by the injuries. You might also be able to collect punitive damages. These damages are intended to punish your employer if their bad conduct caused your injuries. Neither of these payouts are available if you are just filing a workers’ comp claim.
Disadvantages of Personal Injury Lawsuits
Even though there are some benefits to personal injury lawsuits, there are also some disadvantages. When going through the court system, it’s a much slower process. You may have received workers’ comp benefits in just a few weeks, but the courts can take months or even years before you see compensation. Workers’ comp is also a no-fault system, but in the courts, you need to prove that your employer was in fact at fault for the accident. It’s important to speak to a lawyer as soon as you can in order to make sure your lawsuit is filed within the right time frame. Otherwise, the case may be thrown out before you even begin.
Finding Out if Your Employer Has Workers’ Compensation Insurance
When you first report an injury at work, your supervisors should be giving you information about how you should file a workers’ comp claim. The employer needs to immediately notify the insurance company of your injury and give you the paperwork you need to fill out. If your employer isn’t being forthright about the insurance coverage, then your state’s workers’ comp agency could have a tool that you can use to look up the information.
Besides filing a personal injury lawsuit, there can also be other options where you can get compensation for your medical treatment and lost wages. Many states do have funds reserved for those who are injured on the job for employers that don’t have insurance. These funds are often called “uninsured employers funds.” You could be able to get your medical bills covered with this fund and also get payments for a portion of the wages lost. In order to file a claim, it’s best to check with the workers’ compensation office in your state. There are also some states that have temporary disability insurance programs where you are able to get some short-term benefits if you aren’t able to work due to an injury. If your state does have an uninsured employer fund, you will need to decide between filing a lawsuit or a claim. There are advantages and risks with each course of action.
If the insurance company or your employer goes out of business, there are still options. If your employer goes out of business, then the insurance company is still going to be responsible for paying the claim. There are also many states that have funds to pay for employees after an employer’s insurance company goes out of business.
Working with an Attorney
If your employer doesn’t carry workers’ comp insurance and you have been injured on the job, you first need to speak with an experienced personal injury or workers’ comp lawyer. A lawyer will be your best option to get the settlement you deserve, whether you are working within the workers’ comp system or you are filing a lawsuit. Even before an injury, if you learn your employer doesn’t carry workers’ comp insurance then it’s a good idea to speak with a lawyer so you can learn the rules of the state.