When Are You Eligible to Receive Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
So you’ve been injured on the job and want to file a workers’ compensation claim to recover your medical expenses and receive disability income until you can return to work. Will you need to line up witnesses to testify that your employer caused the accident through carelessness or negligence? What must you show to qualify for workers’ compensation benefits?
In most personal injury claims, the legal principle of negligence applies, but not in a workers’ compensation claim. Under the doctrine of negligence, you must show that (1) the wrongdoer failed to act as a reasonable person would, (2) that failure caused your accident, and (3) you suffered actual loss because of the accident.
With a workers’ compensation claim, however, there’s no requirement to prove negligence. In essence, workers’ compensation claims are based on the legal concept of “strict liability.” To be eligible for benefits, all you must show is that you were injured and the injury occurred while you were working.
It’s important to understand, though, that workers’ compensation is limited to injuries caused by your employer or co-worker. If you are hurt due to the actions of an unrelated third party—the manufacturer of a defective product, driver of a vehicle (who was not your employer or co-worker), or individual on an adjoining worksite—workers’ compensation typically won’t apply. In such a case, you’ll need to file a civil lawsuit to recover damages.
As a practical matter, many work-related injuries are caused in part by an employer/co-worker and in part by an unrelated third party. In those situations, you typically can file both a workers’ compensation claim and a third-party civil lawsuit simultaneously.
Contact Gregg A. Wisotsky, Partner at Javerbaum Wurgaft Hicks Kahn Wikstrom & Sinins, PC
I offer a free phone consultation to every prospective client. For a complimentary evaluation of your case, contact my office online or call me at 973-241-7468. I will come to your home or the hospital to meet with you, if necessary. All major credit cards are accepted.