Workers Compensation Benefit Claims Vs Civil Lawsuits

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A civil lawsuit is the result of an individual or entity bringing a non-criminal issue against another individual or entity to court for a legally binding decision. The point of workers' compensation law is to avoid the need for a civil lawsuit in determining responsibility for a work-related injury; a workers' compensation insurance provider or self-insured claims adjuster processes the injured employee's claim, providing medical care, lost wages, and vocational rehabilitation as needed, as well as any lump-sum payment for loss of use of a body part or upon death of an employee. The state laws define an employer's specific obligation as part of the compromise for employees being prohibited from bringing lawsuits for negligence against employers.

If, however, an employer has been determined to be exempt from the state's requirement to provide workers' compensation benefits, an injured employee may need to file a civil lawsuit. Such a lawsuit would seek to prove that the employer is at fault for the injury and, therefore, responsible to provide remedy to the injured employee. While workers' compensation claims are processed as being the responsibility, not fault, of the employer, a civil lawsuit examines evidence and testimony to determine the exact cause of the accident or occupational exposure and the degree of fault. Based on that information, a judge renders a decision for responsibility.

In addition to a workers' compensation claim, an employee might have cause to file a suit against a third party. If, for instance, a failed part in a ladder causes a worker to fall, the employee might file a suit for damages against the company which made the ladder. The employer might also sue the third party to recover the expenses paid to cover the workers' compensation claim.

Although rare, there are also circumstances when an employee's injuries are caused by certain practices of the employer, and civil action is warranted in addition to workers' compensation. When an employee suffers from extraordinary stress due to sexual harassment by the employer, for instance, the mental illness may be compensable as a workers' compensation benefit and the harassment issue is pursuable under the state's other civil laws as a suit against the employer.

It is frequently in the best interest of a person suffering from an on-the-job injury to seek out the assistance of an attorney in order to become fully informed of all the avenues for remedy, especially those that may exist beyond the filing of a workers' compensation insurance claim.

Workers' compensation attorneys are knowledgeable about all of the relevant workers' compensation, personal injury and employment laws and statutes in the state in which they practice, and can advise you as to your rights. They can help you get the full amount of workers' compensation to which you may be entitled, and can also advise you as to the validity of a civil claim against your employer or a third party.

Contact the Bar Association of your state, or the American Bar Association, today to find a lawyer attorney who can assist you with your workers' compensation claim and lawsuit. There are statutes of limitations, so don't delay.


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