How to Gain Compensation For a Back Injury: When You Can and Can’t Sue

Back injuries are among the most debilitating injuries anyone can sustain. Whether your injury is a ruptured disk or a fractured vertebrae, it is likely that you will suffer from pain, restricted movement and expensive medical treatment. For that reason, it is important to understand when and how you can determine if you are owed compensation for an injury caused by another person.

Auto Collision Injuries

The most common form of personal injury lawsuits are motor vehicle collisions. Even small fender-benders have the potential to cause severe and long lasting injuries to drivers. Most back injuries in these situations are caused by a sharp and sudden twisting of the body, which can cause vertebral displacement and nerve damage, although other forms of back injuries can also occur.

Drivers on the road are responsible for a duty of care to other drivers and pedestrians. When this duty of care is breached, and a driver negligently causes injury to someone else, then this negligent person can be sued for damages they have imposed to others. Negligence in this case is usually proven by showing a driver disregarded common safe driving practices, or by showing the driver ignored a state traffic law, which in turn lead to damages to other person(s). These cases can become slightly complicated if multiple parties were negligent, or if several parties are injured (which is common in traffic pile-ups).

Slip and Fall Injuries

Landowners, like drivers on the road, owe a duty of care to the people who visit or engage in business on their property. However, the means in which lawyers prove negligence in a premises liability case (meaning you were injured on someone else’s property) is slightly different than proving liability in an auto collision case. For example, if you slip and fall on a wet surface in a grocery store, your lawyer would have to prove that the store owner knew (or reasonably should have known) of the fall hazard and failed to fix the problem or warn or prevent people from going near the slippery surface.

The duty of care that is owed to patrons of a store or people conducting business is different than the duty of care that is owed to someone who is only visiting or trespassing. It is also worth noting that the laws governing premises liability also vary slightly from state to state, which is why it’s important to hire an attorney from the state where the injury occurred. Regardless of where your injury occurred, if your back was injured while on someone else’s property, it would be wise to consult with a personal injury lawyer to understand your legal rights.

Work Related Injuries

Injuries can happen anywhere, and depending on your occupation it may be likely that you will be injured at work. If you are injured at work, you will probably be compensated via workers’ compensation. Workers’ compensation is different than other forms of personal injury claims in that it is not concerned with negligence. If your company had workers’ compensation insurance when you are injured, you are entitled to medical care and part of your salary until you recover, regardless of who was at fault for your injury. If your company does not have workers’ compensation insurance, you will be able to sue the company for compensation as you would any other entity.

Workers’ compensation claims are commonly seen in the construction business, in which employees are at a higher risk for injury while on the job. For example, if you are injured because you fell off of a ladder, you will be compensated through workers’ compensation provided you were performing job duties when you were injured.

When You Can’t Sue

There are hundreds of different scenarios that will allow you to sue someone else for your back injury, and the few examples listed above are the most common. So here’s another important question: when can’t you sue someone for a back injury?

  1. When there is no one to be charged as a defendant. Accidents are a part of everyday life, and sometimes there is no one to blame when you get hurt. For example, if you are alone at home and trip over your own stairs, you may not be have a claim for your back injury because there is no one who you can sue. (Note that there might be an exception if your landlord knew of a defect in the stairs and failed to fix it.)
  2. When potential defendants have immunity. Some entities are aware that the services they offer may increase the risk of injury to their customers. In these cases, the provider of a service or product may have you sign a waiver that limits your right to sue them for a personal injury (this is sometimes seen with ski areas amusement parks). In these situations, you will need to work with an attorney with extensive experience in these types of claims in order to recover despite having signed the release.

This blog post was submitted by Hartford injury lawyer Andrew Cates. For more information about attorney Cates, please visit his website.