Workers’ compensation exists specifically to help people who get hurt in the course of employment. This is the case regardless of the cause of the injury. If you get hurt while working and the injury had anything to do with work, this insurance will kick in. If a coworker carelessly leaves a crate of paper in front of the copier and you trip and fall, hurting yourself, you can file a workers’ comp claim.
But are there circumstances where a worker causes another direct harm and can be held responsible? Yes, in some very specific circumstances, a personal injury claim could be filed against a coworker who does you harm. Learn what happens when you’re hurt by a coworker, when you can sue, and how having the services of a qualified lawyer in your corner is vital.
It’s important to note that any time an injury occurs in relation to your work-related activities while you’re on the clock, you’ll file a workers’ compensation claim instead of an injury claim. In fact, if you are eligible for workers’ comp, you cannot sue your employer for additional damages. The law is in place to provide specific protections for both workers and companies.
To collect workers’ compensation, report the injury to your manager, who will instruct you how to proceed. In general, you’ll want to be seen by a doctor, gather the names of witnesses and keep careful track of all of your doctor’s bills and medical records. You may have to defend your case if the insurance company refuses your claim, which does happen on occasion.
Hurt by a Coworker: When You Can Sue
There are, however, certain specific circumstances when you can sue after being hurt by a coworker. If, for example, you are on your own time and your coworker causes an injury you aren’t covered by worker’s comp. This can happen on your lunch break, which is usually not considered part of your paid hours.
If your fellow employee assaults you in a physical confrontation, you can sue them for personal injury. Finally, if it occurs in the course of messing around or wrestling, even friendly, and such behavior isn’t allowed in your workplace, you might be able to sue for injuries.
Unlike in a workers’ compensation case, in a personal injury case, you need to prove negligence to get a settlement. That is, you have to prove that your coworker had a duty to act responsibly in a given situation, that they failed to do so, and that failure caused you direct harm.
Knowing Which Path to Take
Sometimes the incident is in a gray area and you’re not sure which path to take. In order to know whether you should file workers’ compensation or sue for personal injury, your best bet is to hire an injury lawyer.
If this has happened to you and you live in West Virginia, call the lawyers at Bell Law. For decades we’ve helped people pursue settlements for the injuries they’ve suffered. Drop us a line today to find out how we can help you as well.