When you’re hurt at work, usually you are protected by workers’
compensation laws. These laws require your employer to carry insurance
that protects you in case you get injured to the point where you’re
unable to come back to work. They cover your medical bills and part of
your lost wages, and don’t require you to prove fault.
In some cases, however, you might get injured by a coworker in a circumstance
that isn’t directly related to, or in the course of your job. In
such circumstances, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit
against that coworker. Read about what happens when you’re hurt
by a coworker, when you can file a lawsuit, and why you should always
hire a qualified injury attorney for help.
When You’re Hurt by a Coworker
Normally, even if you’re hurt by a coworker, you’ll be covered
by workers’ compensation laws. Consider, for example, if you’re
at work and a fellow employee spills coffee on the floor in the hallway.
You’re headed to the bathroom and you slip and fall, getting an
injury. Since this injury occurred during the normal course of your workday
while you’re on the clock, you could file for workers’ compensation
for your injuries.
Worker’s comp covers your medical bills and a portion of your lost
wages. Under current laws, simply by accepting a job where you’re
covered by this insurance (which is almost all jobs), you forfeit your
ability to sue your employer for further damages.
When It Doesn’t Apply
There are certain specific circumstances, however, in which workers’
comp doesn’t apply. If the accident occurs while you’re on
your own time—such as on your lunch hour—you won’t necessarily
be able to file a compensation claim.
Likewise, if you’re engaged in behavior that’s not sanctioned
by the job—goofing off or if your fellow worker assaults you, for
example—you can seek other avenues to collect damages. In these
cases, you might be able to file a personal injury claim against the worker
who hurt you.
What Can I Collect?
Again, workers’ compensation only allows you to recover your medical
bills and a portion of your lost wages while you’re off work. Under
a standard injury case, you can collect far more in damages, including
medical bills, full lost wages, lost future earning potential, reduced
quality of life, emotional trauma, pain and suffering, damage to personal
relationships and more.
However, getting these damages requires taking the right approach. You’ll
need not only to prove that the injury doesn’t fall under worker’s
compensation coverage, but that your coworker was negligent, causing you
damage, or deliberately attempted to harm you.