One of the first questions our new workers comp clients ask is why they can’t just sue their employer in civil court. Sometimes, even our workers compensation attorney in Greenville thinks it would be easier that way. The workers compensation system can be difficult to navigate, and it can take weeks or even months to resolve your claim. When you’re out of work and have no income, you can’t sit around and wait for months to find out if your claim will be approved. What ends up happening is you get another job just to make ends meet and your employer denies your claim for working a second job.
Here, we will discuss the reasons why you are not allowed to sue your employer directly for a workplace accident. We will also discuss the rare instances when you do have legal authority to sue your employer for damages. If you were recently hurt at work and you’re not sure what to do, you’re not alone. Contact our office and schedule your free consultation with one of our Greenville workers comp lawyers. We don’t charge you for this initial consultation and you don’t pay our office anything upfront. The benefits of having an attorney in your corner throughout the workers comp process are many.
The Law Requires That You File a Claim Under Workers Compensation
Since the early 1900s, most states in the country had enacted their own workers compensation system. The idea at the time was that workers compensation would protect both injured workers and their employers. It was supposed to protect employees who got injured on the job and had no access to medical care. The rationale was that the worker would not have been injured had they not been on the job, therefore, their employer should take care of them. The workers compensation program ensured that this would happen.
From the perspective of the employer, the workers compensation system in South Carolina protected them from being sued left and right from employees who got hurt on the job. If a company had to pay to defend each and every lawsuit filed against them, they would be bankrupt in no time. This is why it’s no surprise that the workers compensation systems were created in the years right before right after the depression. The economy couldn’t afford for companies to shut their doors because they couldn’t afford to defend lawsuits. At the same time, it would be unlawful to sit back and allow employees to get hurt on the job without any sort of recourse.
If Your Greenville Workers Comp Lawyer Can Prove You Aren’t Technically an Employee, You Can Sue
There are certain situations in which your workers compensation attorney in Greenville can file a personal injury lawsuit against your employer. One way to do this is by convincing the courts that you are not an employee at all. In order to qualify for workers comp benefits, an employee must show that they belong to a covered group. In South Carolina, the following groups are not entitled to workers compensation benefits:
- federal employees
- railroad workers
- migrant workers
- agricultural workers
- seasonal and casual workers
- domestic servants
- independent contractors
If your workers compensation attorney in Greenville can prove that you belong to one of these groups, you may have the right to sue. For example, if you can prove that you have a contract designating you as an independent contractor, then you would not be entitled to workers comp benefits and would have no choice but to sue in court.
Your Workers Compensation Attorney in Greenville Can Also Sue if Your Employer Was Reckless
One other situation in which your Greenville workers comp lawyer can sue on your behalf is if your employer acted recklessly or was grossly negligent. These cases are far and few between because they are very difficult to prove. It takes a lot more than the negligence standard you see in the average personal injury case. Your workers compensation attorney in Greenville will have to demonstrate that your employer acted in such an egregious manner that they should be held accountable in civil court. Even if you manage to demonstrate standing to sue your employer, there is no guarantee that you’ll win. It will be difficult to find witnesses willing to testify on your behalf because they would be afraid that they would get fired for not taking the company’s side. Your employer will also have access to all of your personnel records and work history and will use whatever they can find to their advantage.
Meet with a Seasoned Greenville Workers Comp Lawyer Before You Take Legal Action
As Greenville workers comp lawyers, we understand how frustrating it must be to have to go through the workers compensation system. If you were injured in any other way, you would have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit against the other person. However, the law in South Carolina, and every other state in the United States, limits your recourse to the workers compensation system. This means that you are only allowed to sue your employer under very specific circumstances. If you think you meet these circumstances, then you should talk with one of our workers compensation attorneys in Greenville. They can review your case and let you know what your options are.
We always recommend that someone who’s been hurt on the job contact our office before they file any paperwork. One reason for this is that if your Greenville workers comp lawyer helps you prepare your workers compensation claim, there’s a better chance that it will be approved. Furthermore, when your employer and their insurance carrier see that you are represented by an attorney, they won’t try to take advantage of you.
We do offer all new clients a free, initial consultation. Contact our office and set up a date and time that works for you. Since the consultation is free and you don’t pay anything upfront, you have nothing to lose.