Work injury: your rights under the law

If you or a loved one have been hurt due to a work injury, you may have been told that workers’ compensation—a form of insurance into which most employers pay—is the only compensation to which you are entitled. This is the general rule; it is why workers’ compensation was started.

However, there are also many exceptions. If any of these exceptions pertain to you, you may be entitled to file a claim for your injuries. The claim, if a court finds it has merit, would allow you to receive compensation for damages resulting from injuries.

Workers' compensation also does not allow compensation for pain and suffering, nor does it cover punitive damages thatare meant to censure an employer for inadequate safety conditions or conditions that pose a danger to workers. It is therefore very important that you understand your rights to file a suit outside of workers’ compensation if you or a loved one are injured.

Here are 5 situations in which you may be able to bring a suit outside of workers’ compensation:

  1. If your injury was caused by a toxic substance, it may be possible to bring a toxic tort lawsuit against the substance’s manufacturer, rather than solely the company or its contractors.
  2. If your injury was caused by your employer's intentional or egregious conduct, you might be able to bring a personal injury lawsuit against your employer.
  3. If a third party caused your injury, you might be able to bring a personal injury lawsuit against that person. This could be a person or an organization such as a company. This may be relevant to some Bakken cases, since many oil companies use contractors. This type of suit allows you to seek damages from the oil company if you were employed by a contractor, or from a negligent contractor if you were employed by a company.
  4. If your injury resulted from a defective product, you might be able to bring a products liability action against the product manufacturer.
  5. Although most employers participate in workers’ compensation, some do not. If your employer does not have workers' compensation insurance, you might be able to bring a claim against your employer in civil court or collect money from a state fund.

The law on workplace injury is complex, as is the potential network of parties in the Bakken. Please contact us if you have suffered a workplace injury. We will fight vigilantly for your rights.

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