Can I Sue My Employer if I am Hurt on the Job in Alexandria?
Getting hurt on the job in Alexandria can be a difficult experience to undergo, particularly if you are unsure as to where to turn when it comes to being financially compensated for your injuries. In fact, when it comes to on-the-job injuries, the state of Virginia requires that most company employees be covered by workers’ compensation insurance. All states – as well as the District of Columbia – have workers’ compensation laws in place that are designed to protect employed workers who become sick, injured, killed, or hurt on the job. The employer pays the cost of this coverage by either purchasing private workers’ compensation insurance or state-sponsored insurance. Sometimes an employer will self-insure, or not take out a policy and instead set funds aside to pay benefits in the event of a workers’ compensation claim. Each state, including Virginia, has its own workers’ compensation system and its applicable rules.
Alexandria Workers’ Compensation System When Hurt on the Job
Like many other states across the nation, Virginia’s workers’ compensation structure is a no-fault system providing medical and wage benefits for injured workers. Simply put, this means that an injured worker located in Alexandria, VA is entitled to payments for lost wages, medical costs and occupational rehabilitation expenses regardless of whether or not the worker was at fault for the injury. Likewise, the injured worker need not establish the employer was at fault for the incident that resulted in harm.
Virginia workers’ compensation protects workers from several types of harm including workplace injuries, occupational diseases, and repetitive stress injuries. The types of benefits paid through the workers’ compensation system include: (1) medical benefits, (2) disability benefits, (3) rehabilitation benefits, and (4) survivors’ benefits. When a workers’ compensation claim is approved in Alexandria, VA, the employee who was injured or disabled due to an on-the-job injury receives a fixed monetary benefit. Of note, in exchange for these benefits the employee gives up the right to sue his or her employer. If an employee dies as a result of the workplace accident or illness, workers’ compensation benefits are paid to the employee’s surviving family members.
Does Workers’ Compensation Allow Me to Sue Others?
While it is true that injured workers may not sue their employers under the state’s workers’ compensation scheme, in some cases the victim may be able to pursue monetary compensation outside of the workers’ compensation system.
One legal avenue for an injured worker is to file a personal injury lawsuit under a theory of intentional torts. If the victim can establish the injury or illness was the result of the employer’s intentional acts. If the on-the-job was caused by an intentional act and resulted in physical and/or emotional injuries, you may have the right to recover compensation and pursue a lawsuit. Generally, intentional tort cases involve fraud, intentional infliction of emotional distress, assault and battery, invasion of privacy, or defamation, to name a few.
Another legal avenue for an injured worker is what is referred to as a third-party lawsuit. When the workplace injury or illness is caused by the negligent or wrongful acts of a party that is not the employer, a personal injury lawsuit may be filed against that at-fault party. Some examples of how a third-party claim may arise include injuries or illnesses resulting from toxic exposure, defective products, or the negligent acts of contractors or other parties that are not the employer that resulted in harm.
When an employer does not carry workers’ compensation, a harmed worker who has an on-the-job injury or illness may also file a lawsuit against the employer. A personal injury lawsuit would allow the victim to recover monetary compensation in civil court rather than going through the administrative process in the state’s workers’ compensation system.
Common Workplace Injuries in Alexandria
In order to qualify for workers’ compensation in Alexandria, VA the injury or illness must happen in the course of your regular employment. Of note, injuries that are the result of gradual, cumulative or repetitive movements or injuries that happen over time are not typically compensated. Likewise, injuries or illnesses that a worker suffers that would commonly occur outside of work are also not normally compensated. Examples of workplace injuries that may be approved for workers’ compensation benefits include:
- Construction site injuries;
- Forklift accidents;
- Injuries suffered from falling from ladders;
- Falls on the head, concussions or traumatic brain injuries;
- Slip and falls on wet or icy surfaces;
- Injuries caused by a doctor, nurse or other healthcare providers.
When an injured or sick worker reports the harm to an Alexandria employer, the company has the option of providing a list of three or more physicians from whom the worker may seek medical treatment. Should a list of doctors not be provided, or if the employer denies the workers’ compensation claim, the worker may seek medical treatment from a doctor of his or her choosing. That being said, it is important to keep the following in mind if you are pursuing an Alexandria, VA workers’ compensation claim:
- If the employer does offer a panel of physicians and the harmed worker chooses to seek treatment from a doctor that is not on this list, the employer will not be held responsible for payment of the medical treatment received; and
- The employer is required to offer the panel of physicians when the employee reports the work-related harm – not after the employee has started medical treatment with a doctor of his or her choosing. Once an authorized doctor is chosen as a treating physician by the employee, all reasonable and necessary treatment related to the on-the-job injury or illness will be the financial responsibility of the employer.
Seek Assistance from Workers’ Compensation Attorneys in Alexandria If You Are Hurt on the Job
If you have suffered an on-the-job injury and filed an Alexandria workers’ compensation claim, you should make sure you contact a knowledgeable attorney right away. Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to file a third-party lawsuit if another party was at-fault for your injury or illness. The Alexandria workers’ compensation lawyers at Ashcraft & Gerel, LLP can help guide you through every step of this process from the initial claim to a lawsuit.