Slip and falls are one of the most common workplace accidents, accounting for more than 20 percent of all injuries that occur on the job. Injuries sustained in these accidents range from soft tissue sprains, bruises, and cuts, to hard injuries like head trauma, broken bones, spinal cord damage, and severe burns. When injuries are severe, it’s natural to wonder if it’s possible to sue an employer for a slip and fall accident.
How does workers’ compensation work?
Louisiana employers pay workers’ compensation insurance premiums to protect themselves from costly personal injury lawsuits. Under workers’ comp, employees do not need to furnish proof of the employer’s negligence in order to collect; they simply fill out a DWC-1 form at the time of the accident. By law, Louisiana employees have up to 30 days to file a claim.
The employee will have to go to one of the company-approved physicians for treatment. The physician will determine when the patient has reached a level of maximum medical improvement and sign off on a return to work form. In some cases, the doctor may assign temporary partial, permanent partial, or permanent total disability.
Workers’ comp typically covers the cost of medical care, medications, transportation costs, disability-related devices, and other reasonable out-of-pocket expenses. Employees receive about two-thirds of their lost wages back from time taken off work to recuperate. In addition to this coverage, workers may receive an additional payment for one of the following:
- Disability – a lump sum for injuries that are so severe, the employee cannot return to work in full capacity
- Supplemental earnings benefits – when employees returning to work cannot earn >90% pre-injury income
- Catastrophic injury – a one-time payment of $50,000 for the loss of limb or paraplegia
- Death benefits – surviving family members receive a payment to cover the decedent’s losses
Exceptions to workers’ compensation in Louisiana
There are certain circumstances where an employee may sue an employer for a slip and fall accident:
The employee is not “on the clock.”
Workers’ compensation covers accidents that occur when the employee is “on the clock” working. But what about when the employee is on break or commuting to and from the parking lot? What about work parties and other off-hours activities on the premises? For example, in 2014, food service worker Glenda Collura filed a lawsuit against Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen Inc. when she stopped in after hours to pick up food and slipped on water, dislocating and fracturing her arm.
A third party was to blame for the dangerous conditions.
Sometimes employees have a substantial case against a third party, where there is the possibility of recovering a greater sum than what they could recover under workers’ compensation. After all, workers’ compensation does not pay for pain and suffering, which is how many personal injury lawsuits reach the tens of thousands or even millions of dollars. Injuries that lead to permanent disability may entitle employees to a separate cash settlement award paid by a third party such as private sub-contractors working on-site, faulty equipment manufacturers, delivery companies, clients, or others who contributed to the unsafe conditions that directly caused injury.
The employee is a contractor.
Employees are given workers’ compensation as one of their benefits. Independent contractors do not receive the same perks. The only recourse for these individuals is to file a lawsuit and attempt to establish a strong case for employer negligence.
These are just three of the most common “gray areas” that exist under the scope of Louisiana law. Contacting an experienced slip and fall attorney can answer any questions arising from a particularly unique circumstance.
Do Louisiana workers need a slip and fall attorney?
An attorney may not be necessary for an undisputed, minor soft tissue injury eligible for workers’ comp. However, for more serious injuries, Baton Rouge and Lafayette Slip and Fall Lawyer Bart Bernard has experience going to bat for employees whose slip and fall injuries were more severe than workers’ comp would cover. As an experienced navigator of the legal system, Bart Bernard can take depositions, subpoena records, file lawsuit paperwork, and negotiate a settlement offer. Legal consultations are free, and clients pay nothing unless Bart Bernard takes on the case and wins. Call now for a free case review.
Additional “slip and fall at work” resources:
- Louisiana Record, Popeye’s Sued By Employee In Non-Work-Related Slip and Fall, http://louisianarecord.com/stories/510584705-popeyes-sued-by-employee-in-non-work-related-slip-and-fall
- Louisiana Workforce Commission, Workers’ Compensation, http://www.laworks.net/downloads/downloads_owc.asp