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

Question:

I was seriously injured when I tripped and fell on a finished staircase at a construction site. I later learned that the top step was an inch higher than the others. I don't think anyone else has fallen on them, but does that mean that whoever built these gets a pass? What can I do to make sure that no one is hurt in the future?

Answer:

You may be able to hold someone other than your employer responsible for your injuries, even if no one previously suffered an injury in this location. For example, if you work for a general contractor, and a subcontractor improperly built the staircase with a tall step, then that subcontractor may be responsible for paying your damages (like for medical care, lost wages, and pain and suffering). Experienced attorneys may help identify persons responsible for inspecting the stairs and making sure that they were safe to use before someone got hurt. Perhaps another company improperly measured the stairs, or someone just measured a few before moving on to their next assignment.

While worker's compensation can be very helpful, unfortunately, the benefits may not adequately compensate you for your injuries (and in most cases you cannot file a regular lawsuit against your employer). However, because not every work-related injury involves a third-party claim (against someone other than your employer), 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.

Another important question you raised is how to make sure that no one else suffers the way you have. Keep in mind that your lawsuit may help promote safety on your jobsite and others, which may stop more workers from getting hurt.

The sooner you contact an attorney, the sooner that you can prevent someone else's injury. And because workers' compensation claims and lawsuits have strict deadlines, it is important to discuss your options with knowledgeable and experienced counsel before it is too late.

Steven Kronenberg

Steven A. Kronenberg is an attorney with The Veen Firm, PC and works on the Label Trial Team. His practice helps the catastrophically injured (particularly those who have suffered food-related injuries and damages), protects consumers (through class action claims arising from food fraud, false advertising, and defective products) and safeguards employees' rights (including restaurant staff and food processing workers). Mr. Kronenberg has more than a decade of experience litigating complex matters from their inception through trial and appeal. He founded the Food Law Practice Group at his former defense firm and publishes articles on these issues in trade journals and foodlawblog.com.