Employers have a duty to make sure that their employees’ working environment is safe. This may mean something as simple as making sure that things are picked up off the floor, or it could mean making sure that scaffolds are stable. Either way, when employers expose their employees to unsafe conditions, they may open themselves up to additional liability beyond workers’ compensation. A Massachusetts workers’ comp attorney can help in these types of situations.
Working in Dangerous Conditions
If you feel that your working environment is dangerous, you should always say something to your employer about it. Most employers will immediately correct the situation to avoid potential injuries and other related problems. However, some employers that think the dangerous situation is “no big deal” or just ignore it entirely. This sometimes even happens after several employees have informed supervisors.
In these situations, you are likely to be awarded workers’ compensation benefits if you are injured. You may also have other legal options as well. In situations where the employer is disregarding worker safety, you may also be able to assert a claim outside of workers’ compensation, and under general personal injury law.
Exception to Workers’ Compensation
In most situations, if you are injured at work, workers’ compensation is the only benefit that you can obtain. Workers’ compensation is faster when it comes to paying employees and has other significant benefits, but you may not be able to collect as much under workers’ compensation as you would in a personal injury case. This limitation is a significant benefit to employers.
However, if employers are acting in a way that disregards worker safety, then they may not be able to take advantage of this limitation. In addition, if the employer intentionally harms an employee, they will not be “protected” by the restrictions set out in workers’ compensation. Both egregious actions and intentional harm to employees force additional liability on the employer.
In these situations, you likely need to show that the employer knew about the dangerous working condition and did nothing or that the employer created the situation himself or herself. If the employer created the situation, you may also need to show that the employer knew or should have known that harm was likely to result.
Lawsuits with Third Parties
In some work-related accidents, the injury is actually caused by another employee or a third party (like a customer or vendor). In those situations, you would have to go outside of work comp because your employer cannot be held responsible for the actions of other people, in most situations. Your employer may be involved in the suit, but you may not be able to name them as a party.
If you feel that your employer is creating an unsafe work environment, speak up before someone gets hurt. If you or a loved one has been injured at work due to an unsafe environment, speak with a Massachusetts workers’ comp attorney as soon as possible to fully understand your rights in this tricky situation.