The short answer to can you sue an employer for a back injury is, “Yes.” However, Texas does not require employers to carry workers’ compensation. Thus, the process of recovering damages is complex. Your employer must notify you whether it carries workers’ compensation insurance upon your hiring. In the event that you do have an accident resulting in a back injury at work, you should always keep your employer’s preference in mind so that you do not waste time filing a claim.
If your employer carries workers’ compensation, you have five days from the date of hire to waive your rights to workers’ compensation. If you waive your rights, you can sue your employer directly for damages due to a back injury. You can usually recover more damages if you waive your rights to file a claim through workers’ compensation.
WHAT TO DO AFTER A BACK INJURY AT WORK
If you suffered a back injury due to a workplace accident, you should take several immediate steps, if possible, including:
- Take photos of the accident scene. If defective equipment, including personal protective equipment your employer provides, caused the accident, be sure to take pictures of the defective equipment, including expiration dates.
- Notify your immediate supervisor or manager.
- Seek medical attention immediately.
- Do not discuss the incident with your employer.
- Do not post about the incident on social media. You should not post any personal activities on social media, either. Your employer’s insurance company may review all of your social media accounts and will use anything they find against you in an attempt to deny your claim. It does not matter if this review is done by a workers’ compensation insurance company or your employer’s private attorney.
- Contact a workers’ compensation attorney who also handles spinal injury cases as soon as possible.
In addition to the above list about what to do after getting a back injury at work, it’s important to understand time limitations for a case. While you have up to two years to bring most personal injury lawsuits, you have just 30 days to file an injury report for workers’ compensation.
You have to move quickly to file a workers’ comp claim for a back injury, but you have longer if you want to sue your employer for a back injury. Legal cases are complex and require a lot of work so it’s important to act quickly, even if you plan to pursue a back injury lawsuit.
CAUSES OF WORKPLACE BACK INJURIES
Spinal cord injuries could happen because of any type of accident. However, in order for you to recover damages from your employer, you must be able to prove that your employer or a co-worker’s negligence led to the workplace accident that caused your back injury. Accidents where an employer’s negligence might cause injuries include:
- Vehicle accidents if you are driving a company vehicle.
- Construction accidents, including those caused by heavy equipment failures or misuse, swinging materials, scaffolding failures, electrical shocks, falls, and other accidents on a construction site.
- Personal protective equipment failure, including out-of-date equipment.
- Defective tools, including ladders and scaffolding.
- Poorly maintained walkways, steps, stairs, elevators, parking lots, and other structures and property.
- Poorly maintained and / or defective machinery, including presses, ovens and other manufacturing equipment.
Any one of these causes may mean you can sue your employer for a back injury that happened at work. To fully understand the legal options before you, speak with one of our experienced attorneys at Hanna Allen firm.
HOW SPINAL CORD INJURIES CAN CHANGE YOUR LIFE
A spinal cord injury often causes the full or partial loss of use and feeling below the point of the injury. If the injury is lower on your spinal cord, you might lose the ability to walk or use the bathroom. An injury that is higher up on the spinal cord could cause partial or complete paraplegia or quadriplegia.
Those who suffer even partial paralysis might require assistance for the rest of their lives, including help with dressing and eating. You might require various therapies, prescriptions, and the use of ambulatory aids for the rest of your life.
Insurance Companies and Long-Term or Permanent Disabilities
Spinal cord injuries are considered catastrophic because they cause long-term or permanent disabilities or could result in your death. The last thing you need to worry about is providing for your family. We recommend contacting a work injury attorney to help you file a claim against your employer’s insurance or workers’ compensation insurance so that you recover the compensation you deserve.
Because insurance companies are in business to make a profit, they almost always use tricks to put the blame for the accident on you instead of your employer. They will do almost anything to get out of paying a claim – or fight to pay as little as possible. For this reason, you should protect yourself by working with an attorney. We do not recommend that you even notify the insurance company – we can do that for you.
If you or a relative do choose to notify the insurance company because of time restrictions imposed by the insurance company, only tell the representative that you were in a workplace accident, the date and location of the accident, your employer’s contact information, and your personal injury attorney’s contact information.
RECOVERING DAMAGES AFTER A WORKPLACE BACK INJURY ACCIDENT
When you recover damages after a spinal cord injury at your workplace, you are limited to the damages you can recover if you elected workers’ compensation upon your hire date. You can recover medical expenses and lost wages. In some cases, you might recover pain and suffering.
If you forfeited your rights to workers’ compensation rights upon your hire date, you could recover compensatory damages and punitive damages. The court orders compensatory damages in an attempt to make you whole again. The court may also require the defendant to pay punitive damages as a punishment for grossly negligent or intentional actions or inactions that caused your injuries.
Economic damages for a back injury at work include:
- Medical expenses, including but not limited to doctors’ appointments, surgeries, prescriptions, ambulatory aids, appointments with other medical professionals, hand controls for your vehicle, and updates to your home to make it more accessible, including ramps, widened halls and doorways, and grab rails.
- You can also recover compensation for physical therapy, occupational therapy, cognitive therapy, and psychological therapy.
- Lost wages and loss of future earning capacity.
If the accident resulted in the death of a loved one, the decedent’s representatives could also recover compensation for funeral, burial, and cremation expenses, probate fees, and the expense of a probate attorney.
Non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering, including emotional distress.
- Loss of quality of life, companionship and / or consortium.
- Loss of use of a body part or bodily function.
- Amputation, including after a gangrenous infection related to the spinal cord injury.
- Excessive scarring and / or disfigurement.
Your attorney will investigate the incident to determine whether he or she believes you might be entitled to punitive damages. Your attorney will also review all of your medical records and might discuss them with expert witnesses – usually other doctors and therapists – to ensure that you recover enough compensation to cover all of your damages, including long-term medical care and pain and suffering.
If you suffered back and spinal cord injuries because of a workplace accident, contact our workers’ compensation attorney at Hanna Allen, PLLC by calling 432-220-2649.