DO I NEED A PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER FOR MY WORKPLACE INJURY?
WHEN SHOULD I HIRE A PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER FOR MY ON THE JOB INJURY?
A lot of clients have questions about the relationship of a personal injury case and a worker’s compensation case in California. A personal injury lawyer should be hired if you were injured in an accident. If you were injured on the job you probably realize that you can file a worker’s compensation claim. If your workplace injury was serious enough, you should hire a worker’s compensation lawyer. Clients often ask “when can I also hire a personal injury attorney if I was injured on the job?”
WHAT IS EMPLOYER NEGLIGENCE?
To figure out if you need a personal injury lawyer on your worker’s compensation injury case, you should ask who caused the injury. If your employer or a coworker was the cause of your injury, there is no need for you to hire a personal injury attorney. For cases like this, so called “employer negligence” you don’t need to hire a personal injury lawyer. All you need is a work comp lawyer to handle your work comp claim.
For example, let’s say you work in a factory and you complained to your boss that a safety guard is broken on one of the machines. The safety guard was never fixed and one day you are injured by the machine. If the cause of the injury was the missing safety guard, your employer would be negligent. In this case, there is no need for a personal injury lawyer. That is because only your employer is negligent.
It is often said that the worker’s compensation statutes in California are both a sword and a shield. Employer negligence is where the shield aspect comes to light. When a negligent party causes a personal injury, that negligent party would be liable for all damages to the person who suffered the personal injury. But if the negligent party is the employer of the victim of personal injury, the negligent party, i.e., the employer, is shielded from many elements of damages. This includes pain and suffering damages that personal injury lawyers fight for. That is why a personal injury lawyer is not needed for employer negligence cases.
DO I NEED A PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER IF THE ACCIDENT WAS MY FAULT?
Another kind of case where you don’t need a personal injury lawyer is if you were injured on the job through nobody’s fault. For example you were walking in the warehouse while carrying a box and you lost your balance and fell. This might sound like a slip and fall case that personal injury lawyer would handle but because there was no cause of your fall, you wouldn’t have a personal injury case. This is because there is no one to blame but yourself for the fall. But if this incident happened on the job you would have a worker’s compensation case. This is because the worker’s compensation system in California is designed to protect workers even if the accident was no fault. This is the so called sword aspect of the worker’s compensation system. It allows worked to be compensated for their injuries event if the employer is not negligent at all. But this kind of case also doesn’t need a personal injury lawyer.
IF A THIRD PARTY CAUSED YOUR ON THE JOB INJURIES, YOU SHOULD HIRE A PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER.
If you were on the job when you suffered personal injuries in California, you would have both a worker’s compensation case and a personal injury case. For example, you were driving a vehicle while working and a third party caused a car accident. In this kind of case, you will probably have a work comp lawyer first. You should then hire a personal injury lawyer to obtain damages from the negligent third party that are blocked by the shield aspect of the worker’s compensation system. These damages would be recoverable from the third party insurance and include pain and suffering.