A workplace injury that makes you incapable of working, even for a short time, can create overwhelming financial and personal stress. The Worker’s Compensation Board of Indiana (WCB) provides benefits to eligible injured workers. Depending on the circumstances, you may qualify to receive help from the WCB, or recover damages for your workplace injury.
If you were injured and need assistance filing a workers’ compensation (comp) claim, if the WCB denied your claim or reduced your benefits, or you just need advice about what to do next, contact the worker’s comp lawyers at the Law Offices of William W. Hurst at (317) 636-0808 or online to discuss your case.
The World Of Workplace Injuries
Workplace injuries can occur in any employment setting. The most recent data from the Indiana Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that about 84,300 people suffered workplace injuries in 2016. Common injuries in the workplace include:
- Fractures and broken bones
- Head and neck injuries, including traumatic brain injuries and concussions
- Back and spinal cord injuries
- Burns and shocks from electrocution
- Repetitive use injuries, such as carpal tunnel or tendonitis
- Exposure to toxic substances that cause short- or long-term illness
When Someone Else Is At Fault
Indiana requires most employers to purchase workers’ compensation insurance to benefit and protect their employees. An approved worker’s comp claim may entitle an injured worker to receive reimbursement for medical expenses and wages. Worker’s comp does not require proof of fault or negligence. However, claim benefits may not cover all of the damages caused by a workplace injury.
When an employer or third party is responsible for a workplace accident, an injured worker may file a personal injury claim. Every accident is unique, and a lawyer with experience in workplace injuries should review and determine the viability of potential claims. However, common scenarios that may require additional action include:
- The employer failed to purchase workers’ comp insurance, or Indiana law did not require the business to purchase it.
- The workers’ comp claim was denied or the benefits were reduced.
- The employer retaliated against the employee for filing a workers’ comp claim.
- Defective product(s) or toxic substance(s) caused the workplace injury.
- The injury occurred in a company vehicle while the employee was working.
What Damages Can a Worker Recover for Workplace Injuries?
Under Indiana law, workers’ comp pays for medical expenses related to workplace injuries, including hospital stays, physical therapy, doctor visits, prescription medications, and travel expenses. Income replacement benefits are two-thirds of the worker’s average weekly wage, with a maximum benefit of $780 per week for a maximum of 500 weeks. Employees with long-term disabilities from injuries that prevent a return to work may qualify for lifetime benefits.
Damages for personal injury claims may include:
- Medical costs that workers’ comp did not cover, including ambulance rides, hospitalizations, doctor visits, surgeries, radiology, and prescription medication
- Lost wages
- Lost future wages, or lost earning capacity
- Physical therapy and rehabilitative services
- Assistive technology and devices, including software and hardware used to help with sensory issues, wheelchairs, hospital beds, and walkers
- Long-term care for permanent disabilities
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
Employers and Their Insurance Companies Fight Back Hard
Insurance companies and parties with liability for workplace injuries will often go the distance to avoid paying full damages. They may deny or only partially pay workers’ comp claims. Employers may argue that injuries were not as severe as you claimed. Insurance carriers and their representatives will vigorously investigate the injured employee to claim preexisting injuries or conditions.
If a victim pursues personal injury claims, Indiana’s modified comparative negligence rule gives defendants an incentive to shift the blame back to the victim. In a personal injury case, portions of blame are assigned to each party. If the victim was partially at fault for the injuries, the court will deduct that percentage of fault from any award the victim may ultimately receive.
For example, if damages are $500,000, and the victim is assigned 20 percent of the blame, the victim may only recover $400,000. In addition, if the defense can prove that a victim was just 51 percent at fault for the injury, the victim cannot recover damages from other at-fault parties.
Some defense tactics used to shift the blame include:
- The manufacturer or retailer of a defective product may argue that the injured worker modified the product, or didn’t use the product for its intended purpose.
- In the case of a vehicle accident, the defendant may argue the injured worker didn’t follow traffic laws.
- In the case of slip and fall, the property owner might claim the injured worker was negligent, or that the hazardous area was clearly marked.
An experienced personal injury lawyer is familiar with the common strategies defendants use, and will challenge those tactics to ensure the best possible outcomes for victims.
Call the Law Offices of William W. Hurst for Your Free Consultation
Most law firms offer free consultations to discuss potential cases. The individual consultation allows a lawyer to evaluate the specific situation, and advise potential clients as to their next steps. If you have a consultation and the lawyer agrees to pursue your claim, you may not have to pay attorney fees and litigation costs up front. Attorneys typically handle personal injury cases on a contingent fee basis, meaning the lawyer will deduct fees and expenses from any eventual settlement or judgment. The attorney, in other words, only gets paid if you do.
If you sustained a workplace injury, the resulting financial burden and stress may prove significant. If your workers’ comp claim was denied, your benefits were reduced, or you just need advice about how to apply for benefits, contact an experienced workers’ comp lawyer. The attorneys at the Law Offices of William W. Hurst are dedicated to helping personal injury victims protect their rights. If you sustained a workplace accident, call the Law Offices of William W. Hurst at (317) 636-0808 or use our online form and contact us.