Workplace Injuries: Who is Liable?

Person wearing a boot and blue jeans tangled up in packaging materials right before a workplace injury

Workplace injuries are an unfortunate occurrence, but they aren’t a hopeless cause. You could be eligible for financial compensation to cover your medical expenses, time missed from work as well as any disability resulting from the injury.  

In a Missouri workers’ compensation case, the employee must only show that they were injured while on the clock. However, workers’ compensation cases must not be confused with personal injury cases, as the qualifications for legal action differ.  

Workers’ Compensation

In most cases, workers’ compensation is the only option after a workplace injury. It’s essentially a trade-off for the worker: he or she forfeits the right to pursue a civil lawsuit against the employer and instead files with the state administrative workers’ compensation agency. The question of fault is disregarded and the worker receives a payout for their injury. 

However, not all injuries are eligible for workers’ compensation. Sexual harassment, wrongful termination and employee discrimination are not covered by workers’ compensation statutes in many states. These circumstances would warrant a civil suit. 

Who Is Liable?

Generally, when workplace injuries occur, the employee’s access to benefits cannot be reducedeven if they demonstrated some degree of negligence. For example, if an employee cut their hand while preparing food without a cut glove, they’d still be eligible for compensation. Even if the injury aggravated a pre-existing medical condition, the employee would still be eligible for full benefits. 

However, some states will revoke eligibility on a few conditions:

  • The injury was intentional and self-inflicted: If the employee intended to injure themselves, then benefits may be reduced or revoked. 
  • The employee was intoxicated: If the employee was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of injury, then benefits may not be granted
  • The employee violated company safety policy: If a clear company safety policy is violated, then the employee may be barred from full compensation. 

Employer Responsibility 

In a traditional workers’ compensation case, liability for the injury falls on the employer. Employers may face administrative action or criminal investigation into the injury, so it is important that they take precautions before an injury occurs. 

This includes:

  • Following occupational safety and health laws
  • Consulting resources such as The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for standards in a particular industry
  • Training and educating employees to work safely
  • Providing employees with safety guidelines or training manuals
  • Having an employee sign a safety agreement

When to Contact a Lawyer

If the employer withholds benefits when the injury sustained at work requires extensive medical treatments, results in permanent disability, involves an extended leave from work or is not clearly work-related, we recommend that the injured employee contact a qualified workers’ compensation lawyer.

At Casey, Devoti & Brockland, we are well-versed in both Missouri and Illinois workers’ compensation laws. We can help fight for full benefits from big-name insurance companies, even if those benefits were originally denied or cut off.  If you or a loved one has been injured on the job in Missouri or Illinois, please call us for an initial consultation: (314) 421-0763.

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Workers' Compensation
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