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When to pursue workers' comp and a personal injury lawsuit

You may already know that getting into an accident on the job makes you eligible for filing a workers' compensation claim, even if you were responsible. You may also know that sustaining an injury in other areas of life, such as a motor vehicle accident, may warrant a personal injury lawsuit. But did you know that in some cases you can pursue both?

The two situations may not seem related to each other, but when third parties are involved in a workplace accident, two avenues of financial compensation become available to you. Here is how this is possible.

Injured at work and want compensation? Avoid these 3 mistakes

Workplace injuries are far too common. Whether you get hurt by an equipment failure, suffer a slip-and-fall accident or develop an illness due to an unhealthy work environment, you may wonder what you should do next. An occupational accident should not financially devastate you or cause you to have to sacrifice your career.

You may be able to win a workers' compensation claim or lawsuit against your employer. However, you must be mindful to not make mistakes that could hurt your chances. Here are some examples of costly workers' compensation mistakes:

3 surprisingly dangerous occupations

Nobody wants to get hurt when they are simply trying to make a living and get work done. When a workplace injury occurs, this may be the situation you are dealing with. Hearing of such stories is not surprising when the job in question is known to be high-risk. It is more surprising when you hear of injuries involving jobs you may consider to generally be safe. 

There are many occupations, that are far riskier than they appear. Every job has its risks, and you should get medical treatment for any kind of worksite injury. The following are three examples of occupations that may actually expose workers to considerable risk of injury despite seeming safe. 

Hearing loss America’s most common workplace injury

When you think about dangerous jobs, you may picture loggers, construction workers, taxi drivers and others who face clear, obvious risks every time they clock in for the work day. Workers in these professions may run the risk of suffering broken bones, cuts and lacerations and other potentially serious injuries. However, there is a far more widespread work-related injury that is affecting people in many industries, including those that may not seem inherently dangerous: hearing loss.

According to USA Today, hearing loss is now the single-most-common work injury affecting American workers across all industries, with about 22 million Americans facing dangerous levels of noise exposure every year. In fact, hearing loss has become so common among American workers that it now costs employers about $242 million every year in workers’ compensation costs.

Why employees avoid filing workers' compensation claims

When you suffer an injury on the job, it is important to report it as soon as possible to your employer. Not doing so could hinder your chances to receive workers' compensation benefits, which are crucial for paying your medical bills and other expenses, such as lost wages, that result from your on-the-job injury.

However, some employees actually avoid filing a workers' compensation claim. There are several reasons for this, but it usually goes back to fear of employer retaliation. Here is some more information about why employees may avoid filing a claim after sustaining an on-the-job injury, and reasons why their reasoning may not be accurate:

What is an Act of God denial?

If someone told you that workers' compensation helps workers in every situation when they suffer an injury on the job regardless of fault, that is mostly true. There are a few loopholes, and one them has to do with the term "Act of God."

It occurs when a workers' compensation insurer decides not to pay a claim, saying that the worker's injury stemmed from an Act of God - an unforeseen event that was impossible to plan for. Natural disasters such as earthquakes and tornadoes may fall under this category in some instances. However, even if an insurer denied your claim on this basis, there may be hope.

Most common injuries teachers experience on the job

While being a teacher may not appear to be a dangerous profession at first glance, there is the potential for extreme injuries. While schools should naturally take whatever actions are necessary to protect instructors and students against unsafe conditions, anything can happen. Take the recent case of an 11-year-old student who attacked a teacher with a screwdriver

After an injury, a teacher should bring the wound to the attention of the supervisor. Teachers are eligible to receive workers' compensation benefits, but they should remain aware of the dangers to adequately avoid them when possible. 

Can I sue my employer for a work-related injury?

While caring for a mentally ill patient, the patient unexpectedly snapped and physically assaulted you. You later discovered that your employer had known the patient had a violent history against his peers and other caregivers, but failed to report the danger to you. You believe your employer should pay for your medical expenses, and you should also be able to hold the company accountable for the negligence. Do you and other North Carolina residents have a right to sue an employer instead of accepting workers’ compensation?

In addition to covering your medical bills and lost wages due to a workplace injury, workers’ compensation exists to protect employers from lawsuits, as FindLaw explains. In most cases, you would not be able to sue your employer, regardless of who was at fault for the accident.

Construction workers and back injuries

As a North Carolina construction worker, you likely lift, hold and carry heavy equipment and materials every day at work. Your back consequently suffers strain almost every hour of your work day. This strain builds up over time, often resulting in a musculoskeletal disorder and/or back injury. Fully 25 percent of all work-related injuries are musculoskeletal in nature, and 40 percent of these come from back injuries.

You experience a lot of pain with any type of musculoskeletal disorder because it affects the muscles, tendons and nerves in your back. Often you must take substantial time off work to recover. In 2014, construction workers took an average of eight days off each time they suffered a back injury, accumulating over $46 million in lost wages.

When nursing home residents injure you

For the average person, the phrase "nursing home injuries" likely evokes an image of things like an elderly person falling in a nursing home. It is true that this type of thing can happen at nursing homes.

However, there is another type of injury, and that is when nursing home residents injure nurses' aides or other nursing home staff; for example, biting, hitting or choking them. What is a normal reaction if you are one of these injured workers?

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