Even if you don’t work in a factory or on a construction site, you are probably in contact with a wide range of consumer products every day on the job. In the retail sector, you might work with defective shelving or displays. In a medical practice, there can be a variety of devices and products that put you at risk of injury. Even in an office environment, poorly designed or manufactured chairs, desks and other products can lead to serious injury. What are your rights when you suffer injury at work because of a dangerous or defective product?
Your Right to Collect Workers’ Compensation
The workers’ compensation laws are designed to compensate you for work-related injuries. There are generally only two requirements to qualify—you must have been hurt and the injury must have been suffered while you were on the job. Accordingly, if you are hurt in the workplace because a product was poorly designed or manufactured, you can file a workers’ compensation claim to cover your lost wages and medical expenses. As a practical matter, the workers’ compensation insurance company will pay your benefits, but will seek reimbursement from the product designer/manufacturer through a legal process known as subrogation.
Your Right to Seek Damages in a Civil Lawsuit
The workers’ compensation system is set up to be your exclusive remedy for injuries caused by the carelessness or negligence of your employer or a fellow employee. That means that, if your injuries are caused solely by the wrongful conduct of a co-worker or your employer, you can’t seek additional damages in a court of law—you are limited to what’s available through workers’ compensation.
However, with a product liability claim, there’s customarily an unrelated third party at least partially at fault—the manufacturer or designer of the product. If your injury is caused in any way by the defective design, manufacture or marketing of the product, you can file a civil lawsuit for damages. In fact, you can file a workers’ compensation claim simultaneously with a civil action, though you can’t recover twice for the same loss.
Contact the Attorneys at Mallon & Tranger
We offer a free initial consultation to anyone who has suffered any type of loss or injury as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another person. To set up a meeting, contact us online or call us at 732-410-6094 (toll free at 877-320-0692) for an appointment. We have offices in Freehold, Toms River and Point Pleasant.