If you've been injured in the workplace, you may be entitled to benefits for your injuries. In addition to state laws, there are also federal laws, protections and insurance to assure an injured worker is properly compensated for any work-related accident. In most cases, an injured worker will seek benefits through workers' compensation.
Typically, any form of injury while in the workplace is included in workers' compensation insurance, regardless of who is at fault for the injury. There are however exceptions. If for example, it can be proven that an employee was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and the accident was a result of the worker's intoxication, the workers' compensation may be denied. If the employee was involved with illegal activity or violated company policies, an employee may also be denied.
Similar to whistleblower protections, workers also have job protection, in most cases, from being fired for filing a workers' compensation claim. The fear of losing your job should not be a factor in whether or not you filing a claim or handle the injury yourself. In fact, if you believe that the injury was a result of your employer's negligence, intentional action or reckless behavior, you have the right to sue.
Keep in mind, however, that if you do sue, you do waive your right to worker's compensation insurance. This may still be a wise decision although, as you may be entitled to additional awards such as pain and suffering and punitive damages, which may not be covered by workers' compensation.
It is important to recognize that every workplace injury is unique, and the correct step for one accident victim may not be the best step for a different victim. You may wish to speak with an employee law professional to see the best way to proceed in collecting the workers' compensation benefits you may be entitled to.
Source: findlaw.com, "Workers' Comp Benefits Explained," Accessed on Oct. 11, 2016