Private employers reported 2.6 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in 2021. The National Safety Council reports a higher figure for the same year: almost 4.3 million medically consulted workplace injuries. But the conclusion is the same regardless of which figure is more accurate. Workplace injuries are common.
Worse yet, they aren’t always preventable. Your employer may take every reasonable precaution to minimize your risk of injury when you’re on the job, but it can’t stop carelessness from other individuals from landing you in the hospital.
A workplace injury can take a massive toll on your happiness and livelihood. Your hospital bills and loss of income can strain you financially. And if the injury is serious, you may suffer extensive pain, suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life.
In Minnesota, as against your employer your exclusive remedy is the workers’ compensation system. (The fault, of your employer, (or you) if any, is irrelevant). You are entitled to collect workers’ compensation benefits, if injured on the job, regardless of whether anyone was at fault.
However, if you were injured as a result of the carelessness of someone who is not your employer or co-employee, you likely have a claim against both the employer’s workers’ compensation carrier, and a negligence claim against the other carless person/company.
For example, suppose you work for a building sub-contractor which installs plumbing. You are on a construction site and become injured when a careless crane operator working for the general contractor allows a load to fall. In that circumstance you would recover medical expense and wage loss from your employer’s workers’ compensation carrier, and additionally have a negligence claim against the company employing the negligent crane operator.
Another common example is where you are injured when occupying a vehicle on a trip made for the benefit of your employer. For example, a home-health aide is generally within the scope of employment when driving from one patient home to another. If a bad driver hits your vehicle and causes you injury, you have claims against both your employer (for workers’ compensation benefits) and against the driver who negligently caused you the injury.
What to do if You’re injured at work, either through someone’s fault, or even if no one is at fault.
- Report the injury immediately to your supervisor or to HR.
- Request to be seen by a medical provider for treatment and documentation of the injury.
- Verify that the employer has filed a First Report of Injury. This is the document prepared to advise the employer’s insurer that a workplace injury has occurred. This should be completed within 14 days of the injury. If your employer refuses, you can file the claim directly with the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry. (See the attached form).
What to Do if You’re Injured at Work through the fault of someone who does not work with you.
You should follow the following steps whether you suffer a workplace injury due to a non-co-employee mistake.
- Receive medical care. Your first priority is treating the injury. Do not decline medical treatment. Many types of serious injuries are only immediately apparent to trained medical personnel. Furthermore, should you decide to pursue legal action against your employer or its insurance provider, your medical records will serve as crucial evidence in your case.
- Report the injury to your immediate supervisor – immediately. In Minnesota, you have 14 days to report a workplace-related injury to your employer. After that deadline, your employer may successfully deny your claim due to late notice.
- Verify that the employer has filed a First Report of Injury or file it yourself. You would do well to partner with an attorney. Filing a workers’ comp claim without professional assistance is not impossible. But the process is convoluted, and it changes depending on the nature of the workplace accident and resulting injuries.
- Receive workers’ comp benefits. Your benefits should cover all of your medical expenses, as well as compensate you for two-thirds of the wages you would have earned had you remained at work. If the injury will temporarily or permanently impair your ability to work, then you may also be owed disability benefits.
Hire an Attorney if You’re Injured at Work
In addition to filing your workers’ comp claim on your behalf, your attorney may provide other key services. Your employer’s insurance company does not compensate you for your pain and suffering, it may decline to pay for incurred medical expenses or your full share of wage loss benefits. In that event, your attorney will likely assist you to negotiate or litigate a fairer payout on your behalf. And if your employer’s insurance company persists in their insufficient offer – or denies your claim outright – your attorney can present your case in a specialized workers’ compensation court system.
If you have recently suffered a workplace injury for any reason, please contact Kiernan Personal Injury Attorneys for a referral to a Worker’s Compensation attorney we refer to in Minnesota. We like to listen to the facts in the event there is also a personal injury claim, in addition to your worker’s compensation claim.