If you have been injured on the job, an experienced work injury lawyer can help you understand what options you have for pursuing compensation.
Workers’ compensation is a system designed to protect victims of work-related injuries through their recovery. The benefits will typically cover medical bills and part of their lost wages. In Missouri, most employers are required by law to carry workers’ comp insurance, but some of them (like companies with less than five employees or those who work with independent contractors) are not required to be covered.
Many injured workers wonder if they can sue their employer and file for workers’ compensation. It’s important to understand that filing a claim for workers’ compensation generally eliminates your right to file a civil lawsuit against your employer.
Understanding Workers’ Compensation
It’s safer to go with a workers’ compensation claim rather than a lawsuit in many cases. The advantage of being covered by this system is that your case will be over relatively quickly, and you can start collecting benefits or receive compensation soon after the incident. In a civil lawsuit, you might have to wait for long processing of your file, complicated legal proceedings, and higher risks of getting less than you asked for.
The disadvantage of workers’ compensation, compared to a lawsuit, is that you can only get your medical expenses and lost wages covered, but not other damages, such as pain and suffering. Depending on your case, you might prefer to file a lawsuit instead.
When You May Consider Filing a Lawsuit
If you want to go further in your claim for compensation, filing a civil lawsuit against your employer can be the better solution. Two of the most plausible reasons why this is a better idea are: your employer doesn’t carry workers’ comp insurance or is underinsured, and your employer has intentionally done something that put your health or your life in danger.
You will generally be covered in a workers’ comp file even if the accident leading to the injuries was your own fault.
When You Can Pursue Both
As with anything in life, there are a few exceptions.
You can sue a third-party while on workers’ comp if, for example, the negligence of a co-worker, business partner, distributor, doctor, or inspector put you in danger and affected your health.
How an Experienced Attorney Can Help
In summary, under most circumstances, you cannot file a civil lawsuit if you already filed a workers’ compensation claim. In most cases, it would actually be an impractical course of action. However, if your case has any particularities that would get you significant compensation for pain and suffering, or if a third-party has caused your work accident, it is important to discuss this with an experienced attorney to understand what your options are and ensure your legal rights are protected after a work accident.
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