A worker with the San Francisco Rec and Parks Department was injured earlier this month by a falling tree in the Bayview District. The man is a long-time employee of the department, and is one of the managers. The incident occurred close to 10 a.m. on a weekday morning in Hilltop Park. Crews were working on a tree, and the man was caught underneath it. He was running from the tree as it was falling, and it hit him. Fortunately, the canopy of the tree hit him rather than the tree’s trunk.
The man’s coworkers helped to get him out from underneath the tree. When first responders arrived on the scene, he was conscious and breathing, but had a laceration on his head. According to Cal/OSHA, the man broke his ankle, tore some ligaments, and had an injury to his spinal cord that chipped one or more of his vertebrae. Cal/OSHA has opened an investigation into the accident. If the investigation uncovers that workplace safety regulations were not followed, the employer could face fines or citations.
Normally, when an employee is injured on the job, that employee has a couple of courses of action. First, they can seek compensation from the workers’ compensation program. Most employers are required to provide workers’ compensation benefits to their employees. Those benefits are allowed to provide workers who are injured on the job with medical treatment, partial wage replacement, and to help the workers return to work. Employees are not entitled to damages for pain and suffering or to punitive damages from workers’ compensation. In order to receive workers’ compensation, an employee has to show that he or she was injured on the job. The employee does not have to show that the employer was negligent or was responsible for the accident.
If an employee receives workers’ compensation, normally that employee loses the right to sue the employer for his or her injuries. Therefore, even if the employer acted in a negligent way, such as by failing to provide employees with proper safety equipment or training, if an employee is injured in an on-the-job accident and the employer has workers’ compensation insurance, the employee cannot sue.
However, employees do have the right to sue third parties that caused their on-the-job injuries. For example, if an employee was injured in a workplace accident, but the accident was caused by a defective chainsaw, the employee can sue the chainsaw’s manufacturer for damages. In addition, another party who was responsible for the accident, such as a contractor on the worksite, could be held liable for damages.
If an employee does not receive workers’ compensation benefits and is injured at work, the employee can in most cases sue the employer for damages. There may be several reasons the employee is not covered under workers’ compensation. The employer may not have provided benefits, although required to by law. The employee may actually be an independent contractor, not an employee, and independent contractors do not have to be provided workers’ compensation.
If you have been injured in a workplace accident, and you wish to sue the parties responsible for the accident, call Micha Star Liberty, San Francisco personal injury attorney at 415-896-1000 or 510-645-1000. At Liberty Law, Micha Star Liberty believes that employees who are injured on the job should seek all the compensation to which they are entitled. If you have been injured at work and wish to speak with a personal injury attorney, call Liberty Law. Micha Star Liberty provides free consultations, and will be happy to speak with you about your case. Call today to learn more.