When you work on a construction site, you know that there are plenty of dangers all around. A single slip is all it takes for you to end up injured and unable to work for a considerable length of time. You have every reasonable expectation that workers' compensation benefits will soon kick in and provide you with the necessary medical benefits you need to obtain treatment for your injuries and a cash benefit that will provide you with a replacement income. Why, then, should you talk to a personal injury attorney, as well?
Workers' Compensation Benefits Do Not Cover Everything
Worker's compensation is a no-fault system. Neither the negligence of the employer nor the employee matters. With few exceptions, the injured worker is automatically entitled to medical benefits for their injuries. They do not have to file a lawsuit to get that coverage.
In exchange, however, the financial recovery an injured employee can obtain through workers' compensation is quite limited. If they are unable to work for a while, they will receive a partial replacement income (but certainly not their full check). They get nothing for their pain and suffering.
A personal injury lawsuit can often provide compensation that goes well beyond the limits of what can be gained through workers' comp.
A Third-Party Lawsuit May or May Not Be Possible
Workers' compensation is an injured worker's exclusive remedy against their employer, but that does not prevent an injured worker from looking into a third-party who has liability. Particularly in the construction industry, workplace injuries are often tied to the negligence of someone other than the worker's employer.
Consider, for example, the following situations where someone other than your employer may be wholly or partially responsible for your injuries:
- You're working on a road crew and a passing driver hits you with their vehicle
- You're operating a piece of heavy machinery and it breaks down due to poor maintenance
- You're working with a precision tool of some kind and it falls apart in your hand due to poor construction
- A subcontractor leaves tools or materials in a dangerous area, causing you to fall
In all of those situations, you would essentially be leaving money and benefits on the table if you didn't pursue a personal injury claim against the liable party.
Workers' compensation is a necessary fail-safe for injured workers. Most of the time, it's sufficient. When someone is seriously injured, however, it may not be enough to provide for all of their needs and the needs of their family. If you were injured while working, talk to a personal injury attorney about your situation to learn if you have a viable third-party claim.