Workers’ compensation can help injured workers get by while they recover, but occasionally situations arise that go above and beyond what workers’ comp was designed to address. This is usually the case when an injury was caused by an unsafe working environment. When this occurs, a lawsuit against an employer for negligence or willful misconduct may be in order. Although lawsuits can be tricky, if handled properly they can also result in a bigger settlement.
Know Your Odds
Lawsuits can be particularly difficult. In fact, the workers’ compensation system was created partially because of this reason. Before the innovation of a new, more practical system, workers had to file a suit against their employer for damages, which left them with the burden of proving that their employer was at fault. This is still the case when a lawsuit is filed against an employer today.
Building a case takes time, effort, and attention to detail. This is why notes and documentation are crucial. A case may be crippled by an important detail or file being forgotten over the course of the proceedings. Document the incident, write down everything you can remember, take pictures if you can, and talk to people. Keep everything related to the case together and make multiple copies. Seemingly insignificant details may prove useful later.
Learn Tennessee’s Workers’ Compensation Laws
Each state has individual rules on handling lawsuits against an employer. Some states allow you to sue directly for “intentional or egregious” misconduct. Other states will allow you to file a special type of workers’ compensation claim and increase your benefits that way. Your lawyer will understand how your state proceeds in this matter and will present you with options accordingly. It is important to gather as much information as possible before making a decision.
Get Familiar with the OSHA
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration exists to prevent unsafe working environments. They have established careful standards that businesses must meet and have inspectors available to assist you upon request (you may remain anonymous if you wish). Although prevention is their primary goal, their services may be utilized after an injury has occurred and may improve your case. An inspection with negative results may lean the proceedings in your favor. Your lawyer will then have to prove that your employer has violated OSHA safety standards.
Perhaps one of the biggest reasons that employees do not speak out about violations is the fear of repercussions. Fortunately, OSHA has been given the ability to reinstate prior status if it is found that a worker has been punished for speaking out. They may restore previous position, pay, hours, and even compensate for wages lost.
Ask a Local Workers’ Comp Attorney
For information and legal counsel specific to Tennessee, Mitch Grissim and Associates is happy to help. Call us to learn more about what to do if you’re injured by an unsafe working environment.