Pursuing a Personal Injury Claim against a Negligent Washington, D.C. Employer

Washington, D.C. personal injury claims that are brought by an employee against an employer are rare, because the Washington, D.C. workers’ compensation program typically acts as an injured employee’s sole remedy against their employer. The good news is that workers’ compensation claims do not require an employee to show that their employer was at fault. This makes obtaining compensation easier in situations where an employer was not at fault, or even when an employee was at fault.

The problem with workers’ compensation claims is that they offer limited compensation to injury victims. Generally, a workers’ compensation claimant is only entitled to compensation for medical expenses and wages. This leaves an injured employee with no recourse for the emotional pain and suffering that frequently accompany these injuries.

Although rare, in some cases it is possible to pursue a Washington, D.C. personal injury claim against an employer. For example, if an employer caused an employee’s injury through intentional conduct, the employer may not receive protection from the workers’ compensation program. Additionally, if the injured worker is either a seaman or a railroad worker, federal law may explicitly allow for a claim to be filed against an employer.

Under the Jones Act and the Federal Employee Liability Act, seamen and railroad employees can pursue a claim for negligence against an employer, just as they could any other party. In other words, the sole-remedy provision of the workers’ compensation law will not apply in these cases. To establish liability under either of these scenarios, an injured employee must prove that their employer’s negligence was the cause of their injuries. Due to the relative obscurity of these two industries, the duties an employer owes to an employee may not be readily apparent. Therefore, anyone considering such a claim should consult with a dedicated Washington, D.C. personal injury lawyer for assistance.

A recent case discusses the duty that a maritime employer has to obtain medical treatment for an injured employee.

The Facts

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff passed out while he was unloading a ship. One of the plaintiff’s colleagues noticed the plaintiff had become unconscious and notified the ship’s captain, who called 911. An ambulance arrived and quickly determined that the plaintiff had a “brain mass,” and transported him to a nearby hospital. However, as it turns out, the plaintiff had suffered a stroke.

The plaintiff claimed that the delay in obtaining treatment resulted in him sustaining lifelong disabilities. The plaintiff filed a case under the Jones Act against his employer, arguing that the employer was negligent for calling 911 and also vicariously liable for the negligence of the emergency responders who misdiagnosed his symptoms.

The court concluded that the employer did not violate any duty of care that was owed to the plaintiff. The court explained that, while a maritime employer does have an affirmative duty to obtain medical care for an injured worker, that duty depends on the circumstances. Here, the court held, there was nothing that would have indicated to the ship’s captain that calling 911 was going to waste time and that he should take the plaintiff directly to the hospital himself.

The court also held that the employer was not vicariously liable for any negligence on the part of the emergency responders. The court explained that there was no existing relationship between the parties, and that the responders only arrived due to the ship’s captain calling 911. This, even if the responders were negligent, the plaintiff’s employer could not be held responsible for such negligence.

Have You Been Hurt in a Washington, D.C. On-the-Job Injury?

If you or someone you care about has recently been injured in a Washington, D.C workplace injury, contact the dedicated Washington, D.C. personal injury lawyers at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC. At Lebowitz & Mzhen, we have assembled a dedicated team of experienced advocates to assist injury victims across the Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. areas. To learn more about how we can help you pursue a claim for compensation, call 410-654-3600 today.

More Blog Posts:

Washington, D.C. Car Accidents Occurring on Private Property, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, January 10, 2019

Texting While Driving Is a Major Cause of Washington, D.C. Car Accidents, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, January 24, 2019

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