Employers are expected to maintain a safe workplace for their employees. In many cases, an employee who is injured in the course and scope of his or her job can bring a workers' compensation claim. If the workers' compensation laws apply, employees are not able to bring civil lawsuits against their employers. In exchange for the loss of the right to sue, the employee is supposed to be able to recover benefits in a smoother process than civil litigation. Whether you proceed through the administrative workers' compensation system or bring a civil lawsuit, it can be difficult to secure compensation, and having an injury attorney fight for your rights can help improve your opportunity to receive the compensation you need. The Traverse City, Detroit, and Grand Rapids work injury lawyers at the Neumann Law Group can help people throughout Michigan, Massachusetts, and California explore their options, and we can represent you in any legal action that may be appropriate.Pursuing Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Almost all employers, particularly in Michigan, must carry workers' compensation insurance to cover employees who suffer work injuries. However, certain workers are not covered by the state workers' compensation system, such as independent contractors, federal employees, those employed by businesses with no more than three employees, and certain agricultural workers. If workers' compensation does cover your injuries, you may be entitled to benefits for medical care, wage loss, and rehabilitation services arising out of an accident or illness. You should report a work injury to your employer right away, although you have two years to file a claim under the Workers' Disability Compensation Act.
Workers' compensation benefits are awarded irrespective of fault. That means that even if you are hurt because of your own carelessness, you likely can recover benefits. However, the benefits available are limited, and they would not cover your pain and suffering due to a serious accident. The weekly payments are based on a percentage of your earnings per week and how severely you are disabled, including whether you are temporarily disabled or permanently disabled, and whether the disability is total or partial.Seeking Damages Through a Negligence Claim
If workers' compensation does not apply, you may be able to pursue compensation from anyone at fault for your job-related accident or illness by bringing a lawsuit in civil court within three years of the injury. In most cases, you can proceed under a theory of negligence. This means you would need to establish the defendant's duty of care, the defendant's breach, actual and legal causation, and actual damages. If you can successfully establish the elements applicable to your personal injury lawsuit, you may be able to recover both economic damages, such as medical bills and lost wages, and noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering.
In some cases, a work injury is due to the fault of a third party—not the employee, a coworker, or the employer. For example, a workplace accident could be the result of a defective product. When this happens, you can bring a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the product.
The doctrine of comparative negligence applies to personal injury lawsuits. This means that your own carelessness can be taken into consideration. A damages award would be reduced in proportion to your degree of fault. For example, if you are an independent contractor who goes to a job site where the property owner has failed to maintain a machine in good condition, and as a result the machine explodes, you can potentially sue the property owner. If you were expected to inspect the machine before using it, and a jury assigned you 30% of the responsibility for the accident, you still might be able to receive compensation for up to 70% of your costs and losses from the defendant.Contact a Grand Rapids, Detroit, or Traverse City Lawyer for Your Work Injury Claim
After a workplace accident or illness, you should consult an experienced Grand Rapids, Detroit, or Traverse City work injury attorney. Kelly Neumann is an award-winning personal injury and wrongful death lawyer who has consistently obtained millions of dollars for her clients. She also recently resolved a case for over $9 million. At the Neumann Law Group, we can represent workers in Flint, Detroit, Lansing, Kalamazoo, Wyoming, Saginaw, Midland, Muskegon, Holland, Ann Arbor, Warren, Dearborn, Petoskey, and throughout the Lower & Upper Peninsulas of Michigan, as well as the Boston and metro Boston areas. Neumann Law Group also represents injured individuals in the Los Angeles and Orange County areas in California. Contact us toll-free at 800-525-NEUMANN or use our online form to schedule a free appointment.