What are my options if I sustain a burn injury at work?
If you experience a burn injury at work that forces you to receive medical attention and causes you to miss work, you might be wondering what your recourse is and if you’re entitled to monetary compensation. In many circumstances, the answer is yes.
Typically, your two primary options if you sustain a burn injury at work are to file for workers’ compensation benefits or to file a personal injury lawsuit—it depends on what caused the injury.
Can I File a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
If you suffered a burn at work, you are probably entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if your employer provides them. Some states require employers to provide this type of insurance and others don’t. To know if you should be covered or not, you will need to check the state laws of where you were injured.
Common burn injuries that would make you eligible for a workers’ compensation claim include burns received while using chemicals and doing electrical work. For this type of claim, you don’t need to prove that you weren’t at fault or that your employer was at fault. Workers’ compensation insurance operates as a no-fault system. If you are covered by the insurance and your injury is covered, you should be entitled to receive the benefits. In limited circumstances, you may not be eligible, such as if you were engaged in horseplaying or under the influence at the time of the accident.
It's also a requirement that your injury is work-related. If you were driving to or from work or were on a lunch break, you may not be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Also, you likely won't be covered if your injury occurred while doing something at work that is related only to personal matters.
What about Personal Injury Claims?
Personal injury claims are slightly rarer when it comes to injuries that are sustained at work. This is because most claims will fall under workers’ compensation. Once you receive workers’ compensation benefits, you are precluded from filing a personal injury claim against your employer.
However, there are circumstances in which you might be able to file a personal injury claim instead of or in addition to a workers’ compensation claim. The most common example of this is when your burn injury was a result of a defective product.
For example, if you work in a factory and a defective product or piece of equipment caused a fire that burned you, you will be able to file a claim against the manufacturer of the product or machinery. You may also be able to file a workers’ compensation claim, but the rules surrounding filing both types of claims can be complex and are state-specific. If you’re ever injured at work and you believe you may have a personal injury claim in addition to a workers’ compensation claim, you must speak with an experienced lawyer as soon as possible.
What to Do After a Burn Injury?
Regardless of what type of claim you file, there are certain steps you should always take after you sustain an injury at work.
- Seek medical attention. The first thing you should do after you’re injured is to seek medical attention. Even if you don’t think the injuries are that serious, it’s important to get checked out. You will also want medical records for any future workers’ comp or personal injury claims. If you don’t need emergency care, you need to determine if you can see a doctor of your choice, or if you have to see a doctor that is approved by your employer or the insurance company. You can do this by researching your state laws or by speaking with an attorney.
- Take photos. Once you’re out of harm’s way, it’s a good idea to take photos that you can present should you decide to file a claim. Take pictures of any visible injuries you suffered and of the scene of the accident and whatever caused your injuries. Anything relevant to your injury should be photographed; you can decide later if you’re going to use them.
- Report your injury. You are required to report your injury to your employer within a certain timeframe, which varies depending on what state you’re in. Determine what this deadline is and report your injury accordingly. Some states require the report to be in writing whereas other states state that an oral report is sufficient. It’s recommended that you always report it in writing so you have proof of the report.
- Speak with witnesses. Once you’ve sought medical attention and have some time to process what happened, it’s a good idea to start thinking about witnesses. If there was anyone who saw your injury take place, you should reach out to them and speak with them to determine what they saw. Their testimony can be helpful in the future when you file a claim. Alternatively, you can just get the witnesses’ contact information and have your attorney speak with them later. However, the sooner you talk to them, the better, as you don’t want them to forget the event.
- Consult with an attorney. Finally, always consult with an attorney. If you were injured at work, you are probably entitled to monetary compensation and other benefits. An experienced lawyer can make sure that the insurance company doesn’t take advantage of you and can analyze the situation to determine if you have a viable personal injury claim as well.
If you were injured at work, you might be wondering, “What are my options if I sustain a burn injury at work?” If you find yourself in this situation, Morgan & Morgan can help. We have been handling burn injury cases for decades and will do whatever it takes to obtain the compensation you deserve. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.