Generally speaking, whenever a worker is injured on the job, he is entitled to benefits though the Workers’ Compensation program. While Workers’ Compensation offers injured employees benefits roughly equivalent to what they were making while they were able to work, there is no possibility to seek damages above and beyond this amount.
In addition, in many cases, an injured worker’s sole remedy is through Workers’ Compensation, meaning that an injured worker cannot both obtain benefits through Workers’ Compensation and also file a personal injury lawsuit against his employer. However, in some cases, an injured worker will not be prohibited from filing a personal injury lawsuit against his employer or an allegedly negligent third party. A recent case in front of a federal court of appeals illustrates this concept.
Schaefer v. Universal Scaffolding: A Third Party’s Actions Result in a Plaintiff’s Workplace Injury
Schaefer was an employee of Brand Energy, a construction company. One day, Schaefer was injured when a piece of scaffolding came loose, striking him on the head. Schaefer filed a claim for Workers’ Compensation as well as a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer of the scaffolding, alleging that the scaffolding was defective.
Schaefer was approved for Workers’ Compensation benefits. In addition, he was allowed to pursue compensation through a product liability claim against the manufacturer of the scaffolding. This is because the alleged negligence of the manufacturer (a third party) was completely unrelated to any actions taken by his employer. Workers’ Compensation is a no-fault program, meaning an injured worker does not need to establish that his injury was due to the negligence of his employer. However, when a third party’s negligence causes an injury, a personal injury lawsuit may be appropriate in addition to the Workers’ Compensation claim.
As it turns out, the manufacturer of the scaffolding was unable to produce the actual piece of scaffolding that came loose, which Schaefer argued prevented him from proving his case. Schaefer asked the court for sanctions to be imposed against the manufacturer. The lower court denied Schaefer’s request, but an appellate court reversed the lower court’s decision, potentially allowing Schaefer to prove his claim. The appellate court determined that the lower court applied the wrong standard to Schaefer’s claim, and it sent the case back to the trial court to apply the correct standard.
Have You Been Injured While on the Job?
If you or a loved one has recently suffered a slip-and-fall accident or another workplace injury, you may be entitled to monetary compensation regardless of your eligibility for Workers’ Compensation. The skilled personal injury attorneys at the Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC have decades of experience bringing cases against negligent third parties, and we know what it takes to be successful on behalf of our clients. Call 410-654-3600 today to set up a free consultation to discuss your case. You may be entitled to compensation despite what people have told you.
More Blog Posts:
Executive of Peanut Company Sentenced to Prison for Knowingly Distributing Tainted Product, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, October 18, 2016
Application of the “Discovery Rule” in Medical Malpractice Cases May Require a Judge or Jury to Determine Exactly When the Statute of Limitations Began to Run, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, October 4, 2016