Just like every other day, you get up and go to work. You talk to your coworkers and take a couple of breaks. You do your best to complete your daily tasks and hope that you can make it out of the office on time, but just before you’re about to leave something happens and you’re injured. Maybe the machinery you were working with malfunctions. Or maybe the scaffolding you were working on wasn’t set up properly and gives out, causing you to fall and break a leg, workplace injuries happen.
Whatever the cause, suffering an injury in the workplace can be a trying situation. Not only are you now injured, but you’ll have to deal with things like doctors’ appointments and medical bills. You’ll also be introduced to the world of worker’s compensation. Most companies in the U.S. offer workers’ comp benefits to their employees in the event they are injured at work. These benefits can definitely be helpful if you’ve been injured in the workplace but, because workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, your exclusive remedy is the workers’ compensation system and you can only sue your employer in workers’ compensation court, even if the accident was their fault.
There are certain scenarios however, where you may still be able to sue your employer for their gross negligence. This may be because they do not offer workers’ compensation benefits or because your particular situation falls into a unique legal loophole that still provides you the option to file a suit. Either way, and regardless of what your employer tells you your options are, you should consider talking to one of the attorneys at Hauptman, O’Brien, Wolf & Lathrop, P.C. to find out what your case may really be worth.
When Can I Sue My Employer?
The single most important thing to remember if you are ever in a situation where you are thinking about suing your employer is: don’t do it alone. You should always speak to a lawyer before you attempt to bring any kind of legal action against the company you work for. Why? It’s simple. Most companies are prepared for this situation. They already have lawyers on their side who are prepared to fight back in the event that the company is sued by an employee.
Regardless of what the suit is about, you should know that your employer most likely does not fear a legal battle. You may know this because if they did fear a lawsuit, they probably would have been more proactive in trying to prevent any and all situations that could lead to one. Chances are that your employer is not concerned with the possibility of a lawsuit, they’re confident they’re going to win. Their lawyers will probably be highly experienced and they’ll be prepared to pull out all the stops to protect themselves. It is for this reason that you should never begin a lawsuit against your employer without the help of equally experienced Omaha workers’ compensation and personal injury lawyers.
With this in mind, let’s discuss some of the rare situations in which you may be able to file a successful civil suit against your employer as opposed to a workers’ comp suit. The first scenario where this may be possible is if you believe that your supervisor or employer intended to cause you physical harm. While this is not often the case, it can happen. If a coworker or supervisor assaulted you, caused you deliberate emotional distress, slandered your name, or purposefully invaded your privacy, you may very well have the ground for a lawsuit. These situations can cause you extreme physical and emotional harm and as such, would be classified as intentional tort.
Another situation in which you may be able to sue in civil court is if your injury was caused by the actions or negligence of as third party. If this is the case, you can file a lawsuit whether or not you are receiving workers’ compensation benefits. Most of the time, the third party that is involved is the manufacturer of the equipment or machinery that injured you. If the machinery malfunctioned, or your injury was the result of a faulty product, then the manufacturer could be held liable for damages. However, you should be aware that if you take a case like this to court and are successful, your employer may attempt to go after you on the grounds that you owe them for the money they spent on your workers’ compensation insurance.
There is one more scenario in which suing your employer in civil court may be an option, and that is if you workers’ compensation benefits were denied or taken away for no reason. This lawsuit is a valid option, but will require extensive work, both on your part and the part of your attorney. You’ll have to meet a lot of requirements and jump through a let of legal hoops in order to even make it to trial, let alone be successful. Every state deals with this particular situation differently, so consult with an Omaha workers’ compensation attorney to learn more about Nebraska’s laws and what your rights are under them.
As we’ve mentioned, if you receive workers’ compensation benefits from your employer, you’ll only have the ability to sue in civil court in a few select instances. Nebraska’s workers’ compensation law is an employee’s “exclusive remedy” if the workplace injury was both “incurred in the course of employment and arose out of employment.” But if your employer does not acquire and maintain workers’ compensation insurance, they will not fall under the exclusive remedy provision. This failure on their part can free up some options in terms of whether you are or are not able to sue them in civil court and that may provide you with an alternative for seeking financial compensation for your injuries.
When to Consult an Attorney
When you’re talking about a lawsuit against your employer, it’s important to realize that there’s at least a 50% chance that you won’t be successful. That said, there’s absolutely no harm in exploring your options and speaking to a lawyer about whether or not you have the potential for a strong case. Better to try and be unsuccessful, than to not try a case that could end up providing you with the financial means of dealing with your injury.
If you are injured in the workplace, your first step should be to document everything about the accident and put your employer on notice of the accident. It’s important to keep financial records of your medical bills, get a copy of your personal file from your employer, and try to obtain statements from any of your coworkers that witnessed the incident as it occurred. The more evidence you have the better chance you’ll stand if your case does make it to trial.
No matter whether your injuries were physical or emotional, and no matter whether they were caused directly by your employer or by a third party, contact Hauptman, O’Brien, Wolf & Lathrop, P.C. We only handle employee workers’ comp claims. Our attorneys are experienced in navigating Nebraska’s workers’ compensation laws. We’ll help to take the stress out of the situation and can even assist you by visiting you at your home or in the hospital. We also understand that this situation can bring with it financial burdens and because of that, we won’t charge you anything unless we win your case. Don’t let your employer get away with something they shouldn’t. Call us now at 402-403-0109.