When an employee is injured while on the job, the most common remedy is workers’ compensation. In fact, in most cases of Virginia workplace injuries, workers’ compensation will be the sole means by which the injured employee can recover compensation. This can, and often does, act to limit a negligent employer’s liability in the case of the serious injury or death of one of its employees.
However, workers’ compensation may not be the only remedy that an accident victim can pursue. For example, if the employer has not properly set up and paid for workers’ compensation insurance, the company may not be covered under the program. Alternatively, if the negligent act resulting in the worker’s injuries was not the fault of the employer, the injured employee may be able to file a claim against the at-fault party, even if the injured party was at work at the time the injury occurred.
A Recent Example of a Nearly Non-Compliant Employer
In a recent case out of Utah brought by an employee against his employer, the lower court found that the employer was not covered by workers’ compensation. In the case, Nichols v. Jacobsen, the plaintiff was injured while disassembling some scaffolding at a work site. He filed a traditional negligence lawsuit against his employer. The employer asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit, based on the fact that workers’ compensation was the employee’s sole remedy, and the employee had failed to pursue it.
The dispute arose because there was a question as to who was the victim’s employer. He was an employee of a subcontractor that was working on a bigger job with many other subcontractors. When he was injured, as is too often the case, none of the companies involved wanted to consider the plaintiff an “employee.” Thus, on initial appeal, the court determined that the plaintiff’s employer did not pay into the workers’ compensation fund on behalf of the plaintiff, and thus the company could not benefit from the program.
However, on appeal, the state supreme court looked at the fact that the main contractor did carry a workers’ compensation policy that acted to cover the sub-contractor. While this case did not work out in the way that the plaintiff had hoped, it does show that workplace injuries are not as straightforward as employees are told, and it is worth having a dedicated personal injury attorney take a look to make sure that all potential avenues of relief are explored.
Have You Been Injured While on the Job?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Virginia workplace accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a traditional negligence lawsuit rather than a workers’ compensation claim. However, this is a very complex area of the law, and you should consult with a dedicated personal injury attorney who is experienced in the practice of workplace injury cases. Call Charles B. Roberts & Associates today at 703-491-7070 to set up a free consultation.
See More Blog Posts:
Court Allows Plaintiff to Rely Solely on Circumstantial Evidence in Lead-Based Paint Lawsuit, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, April 18, 2016.
Car Accident Victim’s Award Upheld after Government’s Appeal, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, May 3, 2016.