Experienced WV Attorneys Litigate Civil Actions for Workplace Injuries
Bridgeport attorneys assert rights over and above workers’ comp
If you’ve been injured on the job in West Virginia, you’ve probably filed for workers’ compensation benefits, such as medical payments and partial wage replacement. While these benefits are better than no benefits, you’re still facing financial hardship, living on a fraction of your prior earnings. But did you know that, under certain circumstances, you might be able to file a civil lawsuit to recover your full pay as well as compensation for your pain and suffering? Kaufman & McPherson, PLLC helps injured workers obtain civil damages for on-the-job injuries and occupational illnesses when the facts permit a personal injury lawsuit.
Is every injured worker limited to workers’ compensation benefits?
In West Virginia, as in other states, workers’ compensation acts as a no-fault insurance system for worker injuries that “arise out of employment” and “in the course of employment.” The employer pays to insure workers, and in exchange, the employer has immunity from most negligence lawsuits. However, an injured worker can sue a negligent party who is not an employer or coworker. These third-party lawsuits are permitted when the injured worker does not have an employer-employee relationship or coworker relationship with the party who caused the injury. Common third-party defendants include:
- Subcontractors and their employees on a construction site
- Manufacturers of unsafe power tools and industrial equipment used at a worksite
Additionally, workers’ compensation does not cover an injured worker who is classified as a contractor, so a civil lawsuit for personal injury or wrongful death may be possible.
Exceptions to the “no sue” rule in WV workers’ compensation law
West Virginia law, like the laws of most other states, bars injured workers from suing their employer in the civil court system. However, West Virginia, unlike other states, has a well-developed exception for “deliberate intent.”
Under West Virginia law, there are two types of conduct that constitute deliberate intent. The first is the simple meaning of intended harm to the worker. However, this type of overt criminality is rare. The second meaning arises from a totality of circumstances that suggest the employer had a callous disregard for the health and safety of the employees. The court looks for several factors in determining this:
- A specific, unsafe working condition existed that presented a high degree of risk and a strong probability of serious injury or death.
- The employer had actual knowledge of these risks.
- The unsafe circumstances are a violation of the law or a commonly accepted and well-known safety standard.
- The employer intentionally exposed the employee to the unsafe conditions.
- The employee suffered a serious injury or death.
West Virginia is home to heavy industries with a history of unsafe working conditions. Although conscientious companies have responded to calls for higher safety standards, too many companies have lagged behind, leaving their workers exposed to unhealthy, even deadly, conditions. If you’ve been harmed by conditions that amount to deliberate intent, our injury attorneys are ready to fight for you.
Contact our Bridgeport law firm for your workplace injury today
Your workplace injury deserves experienced and determined legal representation. Call Kaufman & McPherson, PLLC at 304-842-4300 or contact our firm online to schedule a free consultation to discuss your injury. We offer home and hospital visits for injured parties who are unable to travel.