In most work injury cases, employees only have one option for recovering losses due to lost wages or medical bills: workers’ compensation. What normally happens after an injury is a worker will file a workers’ comp claim, and upon approval they’ll be able to collect replacement wage benefits within a couple weeks. Workers’ comp provides you with some financial relief while you recover, which helps make sure you won’t lost your home or other basic needs while you’re healing.
However, like most things in life, there are notable exceptions.
The Limits of Workers’ Comp
As of 2020, the maximum compensation you can receive under Louisiana workers’ comp is $688 a week, or roughly 66% of the average weekly wage. This amount increases every September, so if you’re reading this after September 2020, visit the Louisiana Workforce Commission to get an updated figure.
Workers’ comp has nothing to do with how badly you were injured or who is at fault for the injury. That’s both its strength and its weakness: workers who made a mistake and injured themselves (and others) are still entitled to relief. It also removes the need for a trial, which means workers can get relief quickly. However, workers’ compensation runs into problems when a worker suffers a serious, life-changing injury.
The cost of an injury like a traumatic amputation, spinal cord damage, or a third-degree burn can last for a lifetime. A year or two of replacement wages won’t make up for the loss of a career, and even months of medical treatment won’t heal the loss of nerve endings, brain function, or an entire limb. When it comes to lifelong injuries, workers’ compensation won’t cut it.
When You Can Sue an Employer in Louisiana for Work Injuries
Here’s the truth: the only time you can sue an employer for a work injury is when you can prove their negligence caused your injuries.
You have a potential case if you can prove that:
- Your employer was negligent
- Your injuries were caused by their negligence
- Those injuries led to significant losses
Here’s the silver lining: in our experience, serious injuries are almost always the result of serious employer negligence. Failure to mitigate serious workplace hazards, failure to repair dangerous conditions, failure to warn of toxic exposure—these are all examples of employer negligence that often lead to lifelong injury or death. In any one of these cases, an injured worker might be able to sue their employer for their losses.
What’s the Difference Between a Work Injury Lawsuit & a Workers’ Comp Claim
Like we mentioned earlier, a workers’ comp claim has strict limits. It doesn’t provide for lifelong injuries, and the benefits of a workers’ comp claim are limited to two-thirds the average wage in Louisiana. It provides helpful relief when you have a temporary injury and need to heal up, but if you’re permanently injured, there’s not much you can do once your benefits run out.
However, a work injury lawsuit is different. A work injury lawsuit can claim specific damages you’ve suffered, like medical costs, lost future earnings, and travel costs for medical specialists. For serious injuries, you can claim pain and suffering, mental anguish, physical impairment, loss of enjoyment, and other noneconomic damages. As a result, a work injury lawsuit can provide for your lifelong needs if you’ve been permanently injured.
Noneconomic damages that a work injury suit can include are:
- Emotional pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of services
- Loss of consortium
You can only hope to bring a work injury lawsuit forward if you have an aggressive and experienced attorney. An attorney has the investigative resources to examine your accident and uncover any negligence that led to your harm. An attorney also has the knowledge and experience needed to navigate the court system and ensure your case gets heard by a jury. Your only task is to find the right attorney.
At Tony Clayton, Attorney Tony Clayton and his staff provide our clients with world-class legal representation. Born and raised in Louisiana, Mr. Clayton knows firsthand what Louisiana workers are facing in their workplaces. He knows how dangerous it can be to work offshore, or on the docks, or in the factories, plants, and warehouses. His experience and understanding has allowed him to win hundreds of millions of dollars for his clients in verdicts and settlements, including the largest single-injury verdict in Louisiana history.
If you want to know if your work injury case was caused by negligence, speak with us in a free consultation. We can discuss your legal options, talk about what happened to you, and help you understand the best path forward. Let us investigate your accident—we may be able to get you the justice you deserve and the financial support you need to move on.
Call (504) 608-3211 for your free consultation today.