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Workers' compensation claim versus civil lawsuit: How to decide

If you've been injured at work, then you've probably amassed some medical bills or have lost wages as a result. In most instances like this, an employee would file a workers' compensation claim to recover their expenses and lost compensation. However, there are instances in which an employee might decide to forego filing a workers' compensation claim altogether and decide to file a civil one instead.

While most employers are required to have workers' compensation insurance in the event an employee is injured on the job, there are some who either neglect to take it out or happen to be ones that don't have to. If you happen to work for an employer that does carry workers' comp insurance, then you're fortunate in that the coverage affords you the ability to receive reimbursement for both medical bills and lost wages if you suffer an injury, whether you're negligent or not.

The downside to worker's' compensation insurance is that it comes with a cap on coverage. In cases in which an employee sustains some type of long-term disability, it's possible that he or she will quickly reach the coverage's maximum benefit amount. In the event an employee's bills exceed that amount, it may be necessary for him or her to file a civil lawsuit against their employer instead.

If you happen to work for an employer that doesn't carry workers' compensation coverage or you're able to demonstrate that your injury resulted from someone else's malice, defect, or negligence, you may wish to file a civil lawsuit.

In order to substantiate a malice accusation, it's necessary to show that your employer voluntarily caused your injury. A defective case is most commonly filed against a manufacturer when it's clear that the product's safety mechanisms failed to protect a worker from harm. A third party can be sued civilly when their negligence is believed to have resulted in an employee's injury.

It's important to note that, in most states, you're not eligible to file both a workers' compensation claim and a civil lawsuit. If you're wondering which one might be most appropriate for you to file in your case, then a Los Lunas workers' compensation attorney can provide guidance in your legal matter.

Source: FindLaw, "Workers' comp or lawsuit? 3 considerations," Brett Snider, accessed June 02, 2017

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