Steve Kronenberg Discusses Workers' Compensation Claims in Organized Labor's Ask The Expert Column

Question:

I was seriously hurt when I fell through a catwalk at work. I don't think it was built or installed properly. And the safety company that inspected it did not seem to know what they were doing. Is there anything I can do to make sure this does not happen to anyone else?

Answer:

Yes. In addition to a workers' compensation claim against your employer, you may be able to hold others responsible for your injuries. The workers' compensation system can provide health and disability benefits for workplace injuries. Attorneys who specialize in this area can help you navigate the claims process. Unfortunately, those benefits may not adequately compensate you for your injuries, and in most cases you cannot file a regular lawsuit against your employer.

However, when people other than your employer may have caused your injuries, then you may be able to file a lawsuit against them in addition to a worker's compensation claim. For example, the company that built the catwalk may not have designed it to hold enough weight. The installer may not have secured the components properly. A repair company may have taken short cuts. The safety inspection company may not have known how to properly examine the structure.

Skilled attorneys who focus on serious personal injury cases can try to identify these third parties (persons responsible for your injury other than your employer) and hold them accountable. Because not every work-related injury involves a third-party claim, you should contact an attorney about the specific facts of your potential claim. He or she will discuss how the incident occurred, and the types of damages that may be available.

Equally important, your lawsuit may help to prevent this from happening to someone else. It may lead to changes in your workplace and the industry that improve safety for your co-workers and many others at risk of injury.

Because third party lawsuits (and workers' compensation claims) have strict deadlines, you should not wait to contact a personal injury attorney to evaluate your options.