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A WORKING RELATIONSHIP

Law requires employers to warn their employees of on-the-job dangers and provide safe working conditions. When workers do incur injuries in the workplace, they are prohibited from suing their employers for negligence. As part of the bargain, workers’ compensation provides payment by the employer’s insurer for wage replacement and medical benefits. The only matters to be settled are whether the injury was caused by a job-related accident and how much compensation is to be paid. Employees who are injured on the job cannot be fired, demoted, or retaliated against for filing a workers’ compensation claim. If problems arise, employees can represent themselves at an appeal, but it is best to be represented by a skilled attorney.

HINT: Employees are covered by workers’ compensation as long as the injury is job-related, whether the worker is injured while traveling on business, doing a work-related errand, or attending a required business-related social function.

POINTING FINGERS AT WORK

Workers’ compensation is a system that enables injured employees and employers to settle their potential differences over money and liability privately and quickly. While injured workers receive compensation for the costs of workplace injuries and illnesses, employers can focus on business matters without the threat of negligence lawsuits filed by employees. However, there are cases in which workers do have the option of filing lawsuits against those responsible for their injuries other than their employers. For instance, in addition to filing a claim for workers’ compensation, an injured employee might sue the manufacturer of a machine that caused the injury for negligence. Those injured at work might want to explore this possible option with an experienced attorney.

HINT: Employees injured at work may sue employers who failed to maintain the workers’ compensation coverage required by the state or who otherwise violate the laws of the workers’ compensation system.

CRASH COURSE

If you are involved in an automobile crash, it is important to protect your legal rights by never apologizing or admitting to wrongdoing. High emotion and possible physical injury make it very difficult to assess the facts of the case. Instead, simply exchange driver’s license, registration, and insurance information with the other driver(s). In addition, ask the law enforcement officer on the scene if you can fill out a motor vehicle accident report form. By having the facts of the accident on file, you document your version of events as well as protect yourself in the event that a latent injury arises that you were not aware of at the time of the accident.

HINT: Use your cell phone to take pictures of the scene of any automobile crash in which you are involved. The information you record may prove to be invaluable later.

CHAIN REACTION

When an automobile is hit from behind, the driver of the rear-ended vehicle can virtually always hold the other driver liable. This placement of liability is based on the basic rule of the road that requires drivers to be able to stop their vehicles safely if the car in front of them stops. Those who cannot stop without hitting the car in front of them are not driving in a responsible manner. When a third car hits the car in front of it and pushes it into the lead car, it is the driver of the third car who is at fault and against whose liability insurance the drivers of the front two cars would file their claims.

HINT: Tailgating is an inherently dangerous driving behavior that guarantees tailgater liability in the event that the driver is involved in a crash with the car ahead of it.

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