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Is Workers’ Compensation the Exclusive Remedy in Mississippi Job Injury Claims?

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“Exclusive remedy” is Legalese for the only source of compensation. If workers’ compensation covers the injury, most victims do not have the right to sue in court and obtain damages. Workers’ compensation usually covers economic losses. If victims can prove negligence, or a lack of care, in court, they are usually eligible for both economic and noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering.

A Jackson workers’ compensation attorney not only guides workers’ comp cases through the complex bureaucratic system. An attorney also evaluates your case and determines if workers’ compensation is the exclusive remedy. If you do have additional options, your lawyer carefully lays out the pros and cons of each one, so you can make an informed decision.

Employer Recklessness

Workers’ compensation is designed to cover workplace accidents. An accident is an unintentional injury. Frequently, at least in this context, the employer and victim are both at least partially at fault.

Recklessness is different. Employers are reckless when they knowingly send employees into dangerous environments without fully protecting them. For example, employers cannot force employees to work on a scaffold with no safety rails, safety harnesses, or other safety equipment.

Workers’ compensation is not designed to cover these incidents. Therefore, if the employer was reckless, victims might be able to file civil damage claims. They could still file workers’ compensation claims as well. The compensation might be lower, but since workers’ comp claimants do not have to prove negligence, so is the risk.

Defective Product

In both workers’ compensation and negligence claims, employers are not responsible for injuries caused by a dangerous or defective product. Instead, manufacturers are strictly liable for any resulting injuries. There are basically two kinds of product defects:

  • Design Defect: A power tool with a motor that is too large and overloads too easily is an example of a design defect. These products were doomed while they were still on the drawing board.
  • Manufacturing Defect: Some manufacturers use cheap components during the manufacturing process. As a result, their products have higher failure rates. Typically, manufacturers are also responsible for defects which occur during shipping.

If the defect occurred after the manufacturing process was over, responsibility shifts back to the employer. For example, if a supervisor removes a guard from a power saw to increase worker speed, workers’ compensation probably covers any resulting injuries.

Some products, like dynamite, are inherently dangerous. It’s impossible to make these products completely safe, no matter how careful the manufacturer is. So, these product makers are strictly liable for all injuries, whether the product was defective or not.

Uninsured Employer

Mississippi employers are legally required to buy workers’ compensation insurance. Some companies flagrantly ignore this law. Others buy fraudulent policies from fake companies. Still others lie on their applications, mostly regarding the number of workers and dollar amount of payroll.

If the employer did not have insurance or the company refuses to honor the policy, injured victims may normally file actions in civil court. In these situations, employers cannot use assumption of the risk, comparative fault, and some other key defenses. So, it is easier to establish negligence, or a lack of care.

Connect with a Diligent Attorney

Job injury victims often have multiple legal options. For a free consultation with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer in Jackson, contact Lunsford, Baskin & Priebe, PLLC. After-hours visits are available.

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