In most work injury cases, an employee's only option is to file a workers' compensation claim to recover losses from medical bills or missed wages. Workers' compensation provides financial relief while you recover, helping pay your bills and meet basic needs. When the workers' compensation claim is approved, the employee can collect replacement wage benefits within a couple of weeks.
However, like most things in life, there are notable exceptions when it comes to workers' compensation.
The Limits of Workers' Compensation
As of September 2022, the maximum compensation you can receive under Louisiana workers' compensation is $771 a week, or roughly 75% of the average weekly wage. This amount increases every September, so if you're reading this September 2023 or later, visit the Louisiana Workforce Commission to get an updated figure.
Workers' compensation 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 such as 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. 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.
Can You Sue Your Employer?
Here's the truth: the only time you can sue an employer for a work injury is when you can prove that 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
In our experience, serious injuries are almost always the result of serious employer negligence.
A few examples of employer negligence include the failure to:
- Mitigate serious workplace hazards
- Repair dangerous conditions
- Warn of toxic exposure
It's important to note that workers' compensation is considered an "exclusive remedy" in many states, including Louisiana, meaning that employees are generally prohibited from suing their employer for work-related injuries. But as mentioned earlier, there are exceptions. Employers are supposed to keep their workers safe. When employers act negligently, causing serious harm to their employees, a lawsuit can be possible.
In such cases, you could potentially sue your employer outside the confines of the workers' compensation system if their actions were intentional or egregiously negligent. It's not enough that your employer was merely negligent—there needs to be a deliberate intent to harm, or actions taken were so reckless that harm was almost inevitable. This could include situations where safety regulations were ignored, or proper training was not provided.
Can You Sue Your Employer for Slip and Fall?
The rules around slip and fall accidents at work are similar. Typically, employees can't sue their employers for a slip and fall accident that happens on the job. Instead, they would file a workers' compensation claim. However, if the employer's gross negligence resulted in the slip and fall, or if there were unsafe working conditions that the employer knew about but did not address, you might have grounds for a lawsuit.
It's also important to know that if a third party is responsible for the conditions that led to your slip and fall accident—like a cleaning company or a landlord—you might be able to sue that third party.
In the end, your path towards compensation will depend on the specifics of your situation. If you're unsure about whether you should file a workers' compensation claim or pursue a lawsuit, reach out to a seasoned attorney who can guide you through the process.
What's the Difference Between a Work Injury Lawsuit & a Workers' Comp Claim?
As we mentioned, a workers' compensation claim has strict limits. It doesn't provide for lifelong injuries, and benefits are limited to two-thirds the average wage in Louisiana. It provides helpful relief when you have a temporary injury and need to heal. However, if you're permanently injured, there's not much you can do once your benefits run out.
Work injury lawsuits are different. A work-related accident lawsuit can claim specific damages you've suffered.
In serious work injury cases, you could file a lawsuit claiming the following damages:
- Medical costs
- Lost future earnings
- Travel costs for medical specialists
- Noneconomic damages
Noneconomic damages that a work injury suit can include are:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of enjoyment
- Loss of service
- Loss of consortium
As a result, a work injury lawsuit can provide for your lifelong needs if you've been permanently injured.
You can only hope to bring a work injury lawsuit forward if you have an aggressive, experienced attorney. An attorney who has the investigative resources to examine your accident and uncover any negligence that led to your harm. An attorney who 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.
See If You Have a Lawsuit on Your Hands. Talk to a Work Injury Lawyer.
At Tony Clayton & Associates, we provide our clients with world-class 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, on the docks, in the factories, or in the plants and warehouses. His experience and understanding have 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. There are no attorney fees unless and until we win your work injury case.