Workplace injuries are common and injured workers may be eligible for workers’ compensation insurance that would provide them the financial support they need during their treatment and recovery. The compensation is paid after a thorough review of the injured worker’s medical records, where medical review services become significant. It is also important to establish who is to blame. When the injury is caused by someone else or because proper safety procedures were not put in place, the injured worker can make a successful claim.
First, let us consider some of the most common workplace injuries for which a colleague of the worker may be responsible. The injuries may cause physical or emotional harm or lead to financial losses.
- Exposure to hazard: A worker neglecting his/her duties could leave something unattended and thereby cause harm to a co-worker.
- Physical violence: A worker may get into a fight with other workers and cause them physical harm.
- Harassment: This involves verbal assaults or sexually inappropriate behavior from a colleague.
- Prejudice: Favoring other employees over one is equivalent to discrimination. This could involve giving a colleague more workload when compared to other employees. It could also involve denying him/her work benefits that are given to other workers.
The harmful effects of these injuries can be physical, emotional or result in financial losses. A worker injured due to the action or lack of action of a co-worker may be eligible for workers’ compensation provided the employer is immediately notified about the injury, the injuries are clearly documented, and a formal work injury accident report is made promptly. The accident report would need the following information:
- The nature of the injury and all affected body parts
- How the accident occurred
- People who were involved
- Date, time, location of the accident
- Medical treatment undergone
This report has to be given to the employer and the employee must keep a copy for himself/herself. If the injury is not reported within the specified time (usually 30 days), the worker may lose his/her right to collect workers’ compensation benefits.
An employee hurt in an accident caused by a fellow worker can collect the following types of compensation:
- General damages: In this case, the claim is based on the pain and suffering caused by the accident. The damage is difficult to quantify because it is related to emotional and physical distress that affects your wellbeing.
- Special damages: These are monetary based and easier to quantify. These may include:
- Loss of income – present loss of wages due to missing work or anticipated loss of future income because of the accident.
- Patient care expenses associated with using a personalized home care service.
- Travel expenses incurred while seeking medical help.
- Medical expenses already incurred or expected to incur in the future to treat the injury.
- Damage to personal property during the incident.
What is the employer’s role or responsibility in an accident caused by a co-worker?
Employers are responsible for ensuring a safe working environment to all workers, clients, and visitors at all times. They have to make sure that:
- All employees are properly trained for their jobs
- Conspicuous warning signs are placed at potentially risky places
- All faulty equipment is repaired or replaced
- Health and safety regulations are properly implemented
- A communication channel is established that enables addressing of accident and injury reports irrefutably
Employers should surely have Employers Liability Insurance, which is an insurance cover used to settle successful claims by an injured employee.
Another important responsibility of an employer is the behavior of their employees at work. Employers are also held liable when a worker is outside the working place but performing in his or her capacity as an employee. It is important to remember that if a worker hurts their colleague outside the workplace for a reason that stems from their work interactions, the employer may be held liable. Employers must scrutinize all misdeeds of any worker and take the appropriate disciplinary action. If the worker responsible for causing the accident has been warned before after a similar behavior but did not take any step to rectify his/her behavior, the worker will be solely responsible for the injury.
As a medical review company assisting workers’ compensation and personal injury lawyers, we know that it is not always obvious who is to blame for workplace incidents. What is most important is to collect as soon as possible any evidence of potential reasons why the injury could have occurred. An attorney experienced in this field will have a good idea whether the worker is likely to be able to claim compensation. He/she will suggest the options available for the injured worker and also explain the various steps involved in claiming the due compensation.