Can My Employer Hold Me Responsible for a Workplace Accident?
Once you’re hired as an employee, it’s your employer’s responsibility to ensure the workplace is safe and that you and other employees are appropriately trained for your jobs. For instance, if your job requires handling specialized equipment, your employer is responsible for training you on operating it. If that training doesn’t happen, your employer would likely be held responsible for any injuries you or a fellow worker sustain from that equipment.
If you receive a serious injury in the workplace, the last thing you want to worry about is whether your employer will hold you responsible for the accident. It’s helpful to understand what your employer is and isn’t responsible for.
Employer Responsibilities for Injuries at Work
The law requires employers to provide reasonable care for injuries an employee sustains during their employment. The employer is also responsible for:
- “Reasonable” medical expenses
- Directing an injured employee’s medical care, though if the care provided is inadequate, the employee has the right to petition for alternative care
- Travel expenses in some cases
Employers must also carry workers’ compensation insurance for full-time, part-time, seasonal, temporary, and minor employees. Independent contractors are responsible for their own coverage.
Other benefits employees are entitled to include:
- Wage loss, though payments and benefits depend on your unique situation
- Temporary partial payments that cover situations when you can work but not in the same capacity as before the accident
- Vocational rehab if you’re required to return in another capacity
It generally falls to an employer to ensure a safe, accident-free workplace. However, sometimes an injury is due to an employee’s “willful misconduct” such as drug use or horseplay. In those cases, some states rule out coverage for any injuries suffered.
Employee Responsibilities for Workers’ Compensation Claims
If you’re injured at work or during off-site work-related activities, you should immediately report the injury to your employer, preferably in writing.
- If you encounter any resistance from your employer concerning your workers’ comp claim, contact a workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible.
- Keep receipts for all cash transactions for health care expenses, such as medical treatment, prescriptions, and supplies.
- Keep a file with correspondence from the employer’s representative, the insurance company, or the adjuster. Also, make notes of any phone or in-person conversations.
Do You Need a Workers’ Compensation Attorney?
Many, if not most, employers are understanding of a situation that leads to an employee filing for workers’ comp. Unfortunately, some employers try and make it difficult for an injured employee to get the benefits they’re entitled to. In some cases, an employer may try to retaliate against an employee by ending their employment. If that happens to you, it’s important to understand what your workers’ compensation rights are.
You can certainly try to handle these types of situations on your own. You might find, though, that your relationship with your employer changes because of a workplace accident. In that case, it’s beneficial to have an attorney represent you and protect your interests. Despite your ability to handle a workers’ comp matter by yourself, there’s no harm in consulting a workers’ compensation attorney for a free consultation.
To learn more about your rights following a workplace accident or to get assistance with your workers’ comp claim, contact Peters Law Firm today. We’ll ensure you and your rights are protected throughout the workers’ comp claims process.