In most cases, workers’ compensation is the exclusive remedy for work-related trauma injuries, like falls, and occupational diseases, like hearing loss. Even if the victim was partially at fault, or mostly at fault, workers’ compensation usually covers economic losses, such as lost wages and medical bills.
But workers’ compensation was never designed to cover all workplace injuries. Additionally, some companies do not have workers’ compensation insurance, even though Kentucky law requires them to purchase it. In these cases, injured workers may have additional options.
The good news is that additional compensation for noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering, is available in civil court. The bad news is that these cases are much more complex than workers’ compensation claims. So, only the most experienced Lexington personal injury attorney should handle such matters.
A little over 85 percent of employers carry valid workers’ compensation insurance policies. So, if you were hurt at work, there’s a good chance your employer is uninsured.
Some employers simply flaunt the law and refuse to buy insurance. State investigators aren’t very diligent in this area. Furthermore, in most cases, the non-insurance penalty is only a fine. Therefore, many employers determine that it’s cheaper to risk a claim than to purchase expensive insurance.
Other employers lie during the application process. Since risk determines insurance premiums, many employers falsify the size of their payroll or the number of workers they employ. When insurance companies catch these false statements, they often refuse to honor the policy.
If the employer was uninsured, many victims can file claims through Kentucky’s Uninsured Employer Fund. Procedurally, these claims are pretty much like any other workers’ compensation claim. But the UEF, as opposed to an insurance company, pays the claim.
Many of these victims may also forego the workers’ compensation system and file separate civil claims. Kentucky law forbids uninsured employers from using some common legal defenses. So, it’s easier to prove negligence and obtain the aforementioned compensation.
Basically, negligence is a lack of care. If the employer breached the duty of care and that breach caused injury, the employer could be liable for damages. Since defenses like comparative fault and assumption of the risk are usually unavailable, a prima facie case might be enough to win maximum compensation.
Workers’ compensation covers unintentional and non-malicious injuries. If there is any evidence of intent or malice, even if that evidence only proves recklessness, a civil claim might be an option.
Employers who send workers to areas they know are hazardous are reckless. So are employers who do not issue proper protective gear, explain how important it is to use such equipment, and provide proper training.
There are some significant pros and cons in this area. As mentioned, additional compensation is available in civil court. However, also as mentioned, victims must also prove negligence. And, in reckless employer claims, a full range of defenses are usually available. Basically, victims must decide if they want to pursue relatively safe workers compensation claims or roll the metaphorical dice on a civil claim.
Responsible Third Party
Workers’ compensation is designed to speed benefits to injured workers. It’s not a shield for responsible third parties to use so they can avoid liability.
Defective products are a good example. Manufacturers cannot hide behind state workers’ compensation laws. Instead, in most cases, they are strictly liable for:
- Manufacturing Defects: Errors often occur during the manufacturing and shipping process, like a machine that doesn’t punch a hole in the right place or items that are damaged during transit. Usually, manufacturers are responsible for all such defects.
- Design Defect: Other products were defective from the moment they appeared on the drawing board. For example, a motor might not be strong enough or vital parts might be exposed.
In a strict liability case, most victim/plaintiffs must only prove cause. Juries often award substantial punitive damages in these claims as well.
Sometimes, an individual, as opposed to a company, is responsible for an accident. Usually, the employer is financially responsible for damages in these cases, pursuant to the respondeat superior doctrine.
Injury victims are usually entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Lexington, contact the Goode Law Office, PLLC. Attorneys can connect victims with doctors, even if they have no insurance or money. #goodelawyers