Getting injured at work is just the worse. Most people aren’t very excited about going to work, so an injury adds more frustration to their plate. To make matters worse, it can be pretty different to determine the best course of action to seek compensation for your injuries. So not only did you get injured at work, but now you have additional work to deal with in your free time.
One thing that can make the experience easier is to work with an experienced personal injury attorney. But a workplace accident is often not a cause for a personal injury lawsuit. A workplace injury would often call for a worker’s compensation claim. But this may not be true if a co-worker caused your injuries. However, determining which is appropriate in your situation will depend on the specifics of your accident.
To better understand how workplace accidents caused by co-workers are handled, we are going first to nail down a definition of a workplace accident. Many workplace accidents technically take place outside of the workplace, so it can be a little confusing. Next, we’ll look at situations where a co-worker may be liable for your accident. Then we’ll close out with a quick discussion about the difference between a personal injury lawsuit and a worker’s compensation claim.
When Is an Accident Considered To Be Work-Related?
The term workplace accident may be a misleading one. It can be misleading because it highlights the location where the accident occurred: in the workplace. We think of construction sites, stores, and offices. This can mislead people into thinking that their injuries must have occurred while at their place of employment in order for them to seek compensation.
It would be better to think of these as work-related or on-the-job accidents. While many workplace accidents do occur in places of employment, there are many that don’t. If you suffer an injury while working, that may be a workplace injury. It doesn’t matter whether you are at the work site or whether you are transporting a load of building materials across the state. Accidents that occur during either of these actions could be considered workplace accidents.
This also extends to any time you run an errand for your employer, have to travel to meet with a client, are in the middle of delivering building materials or are undertaking any number of tasks. Each of these can take you out of the workplace, but you are still working.
However, it is essential to remember that not all accidents that occur while working are workplace accidents. Say you are delivering building materials and get into a car accident. It may be your fault, another driver’s, or your employer’s fault. The unique circumstances of the accident must be considered to determine if it is a work-related accident or an accident that occurred while you happened to be working.
In What Cases Would a Co-Worker Be Liable for an Accident?
In many cases, it doesn’t matter whether or not a co-worker was responsible for your accident or not. The workplace compensation process does not care about matters of fault. However, there are some cases where the actions of your co-worker or co-workers could preclude you from seeking compensation through a worker’s compensation claim.
For example: if you get into a fight with your co-worker and suffer an accident or injuries as a result, you may not be able to seek a worker’s compensation claim. If the co-worker started the fight and it had to do with something work-related, then the injury may be considered work-related.
But if a co-worker injured you while on lunch, then that would most likely not be considered a work-related accident because you weren’t engaged in work. Likewise, horseplay may result in injuries that aren’t work-related. But if you were injured by a goofing off co-worker while trying to do your work, then you may be.
What’s the Difference Between a Personal Injury Lawsuit and a Worker’s Compensation Claim?
A personal injury lawsuit holds an individual or individuals accountable for the injuries that they caused. This means that it must be shown that the individual owed you some kind of duty of care, that they negligently failed to uphold that duty of care, and that that failure led to an accident wherein you suffered injuries. Each of these points has to be proven to hold somebody accountable and win a personal injury lawsuit.
A worker’s compensation claim, on the other hand, only requires three things to be proven. You must prove that you were injured, that it happened while at work or performing a work-related task, and that the injury cost you money in lost wages or medical treatment. This means that fault isn’t essential, so it doesn’t matter if your co-worker is liable or not. In most cases, worker’s compensation claims are quicker, easier, and more beneficial for employees and employers than personal injury lawsuits. However, it must be proven that the injury was work-related and many ways a co-worker can cause injury are outside this scope.
There are cases where the circumstances may allow you to make a worker’s compensation claim but where it would be more beneficial to pursue a personal injury lawsuit. These are less common, but they indeed do happen. This makes it a bright idea to reach out to an experienced injury attorney prior to making any kind of decision.
How Can I Hold a Co-Worker Accountable for the Damages They Caused?
If your accident and injury are outside of the scope of worker’s compensation, then it will be up to you to use a personal injury lawsuit to hold your co-worker accountable. This can be a tricky process, but there is no reason to do it on your own. Reach out to an experienced personal injury attorney to learn more about how they can help you to seek compensation for what you’ve experienced.