I got burned at work. Can I sue the company for my damages?
The answer is “Probably not.” You usually cannot file a personal injury lawsuit against your employer for injuries you sustain on the job. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get compensation for your losses associated with the injury.
For most employees in the U.S., their state’s workers compensation system represents the exclusive remedy for on-the-job injuries. Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system. That means you are entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits whether your injury was your fault, your employer’s fault, or nobody’s fault, in most cases.
So, if you file a workers’ compensation claim, what kind of benefits can you expect to receive? While every state’s workers’ compensation is a little different, in most cases, after a work-related injury, an employee can recover weekly benefits that will vary depending on whether the injury resulted in temporary or permanent disability, and whether that disability was partial or total.
The amount of weekly benefits for total disability is usually 60% or two-thirds of the worker’s average weekly wage (AWW) prior to the injury. AWW is the employee’s actual earnings, including overtime, for a certain number of weeks before the injury (up to 52), divided by that number of weeks. But it’s important to note that most states have capped the maximum weekly benefit at around $1,000 per week, regardless of the employee’s AWW.
The tradeoff when it comes to workers compensation claims is that, while you don’t need to prove fault and it’s easier to get compensation as compared with a lawsuit, you also cannot receive “pain and suffering” damages in a workers’ compensation claim. The idea is to replace the injured worker’s income while he or she is unable to work, but the kinds of damages that are available in a lawsuit are not on the table in a workers’ compensation claim.
by: David Goguen, J.D.