Getting hurt at work, particularly in the mining industry, can easily become a frustrating experience. You may wonder can I sue my employer since I was hurt on the job or what if I can’t’ return to work-how will I support myself and my family? Most employers in the Mountain State are required to have Worker’s Compensation to make sure that injured employees can get the medical care and the financial subsistence they need to heal so they can return to their jobs. The idea is that there is no need to prove fault, the employee’s medical expenses are covered without question, and the injured worker receive some of their income while they recuperate before they can return to work.
But what if an employer denies Worker’s Compensation to an employee, or stops them from filing a claim? What if the injuries were preventable and the employer was negligent? A lawsuit against an employer is possible, but only under limited circumstances. It is probably worth a talk with attorney Chad Love to make sure you are fully and fairly compensated for loss of wages, medical expenses, and other related costs such as long term rehabilitation.
After The Accident
Obviously the biggest priority after an accident is getting immediate medical care and treatment for your injuries. This is essential for beginning your recovery. The next step is to notify your employer if they are not yet already aware of the accident.
Additionally, also you need to find out if your company has Worker’s Compensation Insurance, and if so, file a claim. As a rule, you will forfeit your right to sue when you accept a settlement from your employer. Unfortunately, such policies may not provide enough compensation to cover all your lost wages and possibly all your medical expenses. So make sure to discuss the situation with an experienced personal injury attorney like Chad Love before accepting a settlement.
The Mandolidis Claim
There are occasions when you may be able to file a lawsuit. West Virginia law allows employees to sue if an employer had “deliberate intent” and was negligent in putting them in a dangerous situation. These claims are called Mandolidis claims.
To successfully bring a Mandolidis claim, you must be able to prove that your employer knowingly and intentionally placed you in a dangerous situation or environment. This disregard for employee safety or another type of intentional negligence isn’t covered by Worker’s Compensation and does allow an employee to sue. A competent attorney may be able to help determine if your employer may have “knowingly and intentionally” caused you to be injured.
Proving Deliberate Intent
To show that your employer was, indeed, exercising deliberate intent, you’ll need to show:
• A dangerous or unsafe condition existed that posed a high risk of injury or death to an employee
• The employer knew about this hazardous condition and the risks it posed to your safety
• The employer put you (the employee) at risk by sending you into the unsafe environment
• The hazard violated state and/or federal safety standards or industry standards.
Worker’s Compensation policies give employers an “immunity” from employee personal injury lawsuits via common law damages or state statutes. However, when an employer caused injuries to an employee through negligence or “deliberate intent,” the immunity doesn’t apply, and an employee can sue for damages regardless of Workers Comp coverage.
Contractors, Subcontractors, And Other Third Parties
This is where things can become complicated, particularly on a job site, such as a mine or construction site.
If an employee is hurt on the job while working for an employer, but the injury was caused by someone other than the employer, a personal injury lawsuit is also possible. Because the injury wasn’t the direct result of their employer, someone else on the job site was responsible. This can include:
• Outside contractors, such as security personnel
• Equipment manufacturers (i.e., defective equipment that causes an accident)
• Other third parties responsible for specific parts of a job site, such as maintenance companies, food vendors, etc.
While your employer isn’t responsible, a third party might be and could be held liable for your injuries in much the same way as a slip and fall or a car accident. Speak with a West Virginia personal injury attorney like Chad Love before speaking to any insurance provider or other potentially responsible party. Their concern is not necessarily in your best interest.