PORTLAND INDUSTRIAL ACCIDENT LAWYERS HELPING THOSE INJURED AT WORK
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WORKERS’ COMPENSATION CLAIMS AND REGULAR TORT/PERSONAL INJURY CLAIMS?
Workplace injuries in industrial settings happen every day, and unfortunately, too many of them are serious or fatal. If your injury was the fault of a co-worker or your employer, odds are you will have to bring a workers’ compensation claim. At Gideon Asen, we do not handle workers’ compensation cases, but regularly associate with lawyers throughout the State who do.
We DO frequently handle industrial accidents, where we are able to establish that someone other than a co-worker or employer was at least partially responsible for your injuries. For example, if you are working as a subcontractor on a multi-contractor site, you may be able to bring a claim against a different subcontractor company or the general contractor, because neither of those companies are your employer. Likewise, you may be able to bring claims against the owner of the property where the incident occurred or against the manufacturer or servicer of a product, tool or piece of machinery or equipment that contributed to your injury. You may have a claim against some other person who just happened to be there and contribute to causing your injuries (such as a truck driver coming to the site to deliver materials).
If you or a loved one has suffered catastrophic injury working in a factory, shipyard, paper mill, utility project, construction site or other workplace or industrial environment, you will likely pursue a workers’ compensation claim, but you should also give us a call to see if there may be additional tort, personal injury or product liability claims you can use to increase your recovery.
The reason you need to consider pursuing the other types of claims in addition to workers’ compensation is that workers’ compensation claims are limited to covering medical expenses and partial wage replacement (or some limited death benefits in the case of death). But workers compensation does not provide any recovery for pain, suffering or emotional distress or all of the other intangible ways in which the injury may have changed your life that do not translate into medical expenses or wages.
By contrast, if we prosecute a successful claim for you outside of the workers’ compensation system, we are able to recover for pain and suffering, emotional distress and all of your intangible losses, so the recovery may be substantially higher. For example, we obtained a $22.5 million verdict in a case arising out of workplace injury at an electrical utility company. Our client in that same case had received less than $1 million in workers’ compensation benefits for the same industrial accident.
WHAT KIND OF EVIDENCE DO I NEED TO PROVE A WORKPLACE INJURY?
Whether you are getting ready to submit a worker’s compensation claim or plan to file a personal injury lawsuit, you will need strong documentation to support your claim. It is important that you hold onto any paperwork provided by your employer, such as an accident report.
It is not uncommon for key pieces of evidence to become inaccessible after several months following the accident. Thus, if you believe you may have a workplace related lawsuit, you should contact an attorney right away. Depending on the circumstance, your attorney may want to send a preservation letter, demanding that the relevant evidence be preserved. Additionally, details of the accident scene are often important to preserve right away, as well as any machinery and equipment that contributed to the harm.
If you contact us and we accept the case, we will attempt to have our investigator on site immediately to photograph, inspect and document the scene and equipment and interview key witnesses. Immediate action is necessary because other important evidence may be forever lost.
CAN I SUE MY EMPLOYER FOR MY ACCIDENT?
It depends. Virtually every employer is required to carry workers’ compensation in Maine. If your employer carries workers’ compensation insurance, you will likely be barred from bringing a lawsuit against your employer. However, there are important exceptions to this rule.
First, this rule only applies if the law considers you an employee. If you are actually an independent contractor, you are not covered by workers’ compensation and thus may sue the company you are providing services for. Likewise, Maine recognizes that “dual persona doctrine,” which applies where the employer is negligent, but not acting in her capacity as an employer. As described above, even if your employer cannot be sued, an attorney may be able to identify one or more third parties whose negligence contributed to your injuries, and who therefore can be sued.
DO I NEED AN ATTORNEY FOR MY INDUSTRIAL ACCIDENT CLAIM?
You may need more than one. Most firms that specialize in personal injury cases do not file workers’ compensation claims, and the opposite is also true. Like personal injury attorneys in Portland, workers’ compensation attorneys work on contingency fee; in other words, it shouldn’t cost you more to have one lawyer handle the workers’ compensation claim, and one handle the personal injury claim. So you might as well find the best lawyer to handle each.
If you contact us about a catastrophic workplace or industrial accident case and we determine that you will also need a workers’ compensation lawyer, we would be happy to refer you to one of the many workers’ compensation lawyers throughout the State with whom we regularly work and who we know will provide you the very best legal service and advice. Meanwhile, we will assist you with the personal injury/tort case.
HOW CAN WE HELP?
Gideon Asen LLC is proud to serve industrial workers in Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire, helping them stand up for their rights after a workplace injury. We know how to navigate the laws and regulations in all three states, and we are fierce advocates and negotiators who will make sure you are treated fairly by your employer and by insurance companies. If you believe you have a potential workplace personal injury case contact the legal team at Gideon Asen LLC by calling (207) 206-8982 or Tim Grose at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free, no-commitment, consultation.