Although the workers’ compensation system can handle most work injury cases on its own, there are several situations where larger settlements or lawsuits are necessary. In cases where an employer, manufacturer, or third party hold responsibility for a work injury, you may be able to sue for damages. Lewis & Keller are happy to help you find a reliable Winston-Salem workers’ compensation attorney, and below are some common scenarios where you might just need one.
Many of the items, gear, and equipment we use at work are manufactured by another company, which has its own set of standards and security measures to ensure that these products do not cause harm to their consumers. Of course, the unfortunate reality of manufacturing is that occasionally a defective product will find its way into the world and bring harm to another person. If this is the case, the manufacturer is held responsible.
Two instances of this are particularly common in workers’ compensation cases: defective equipment and toxic substances. Sometimes workers are injured when the machines and gear they use routinely do not perform the way they should, leading to accidents that would have otherwise been avoided. Pedals, gears, and levers get stuck or machines overheat and explode. Other times, chemicals that workers use cause burns or poisoning. Long term exposure can cause cancer or other illnesses. These cases are subject to what is known as a “toxic tort”.
Employers have a duty to protect their workers. Of course, many workers are instead often exploited and endangered. In some states, an employer may be sued if they are guilty of “egregious and willful” misconduct, which has a variety of meanings. Whether directly endangering someone, or coercing them into working in an unsafe environment, or neglecting their duties as an employer, these cases warrant a lawsuit. In other states, however, there is a process that works through the workers’ compensation system in order to increase a worker’s benefits, avoiding a lawsuit altogether.
Some employers lack workers’ compensation insurance, and will therefore be liable for damages directly. Unfortunately there is a burden of proving the fault of the employer in both this situation and that of willful misconduct. Some states try to insure the worker in cases like these through a state-sponsored trust fund.
Third Party Liability
Who is responsible if a repairman gets into an accident while on their way to answer a house call? Is it the company, or the other driver? In some cases, it is both. Many people are injured by an unrelated party while on the clock and performing their duties. In cases such as these, it is a work injury problem as much as it is a personal injury problem. If you are assaulted by a customer, you are eligible to sue them for damages from the assault, as well as file a claim for being injured on the job.