Chair broke in half at work, causing a bad head injury...
I sat in one of our chairs at the office I work at and it broke in half. Turns out it only had one screw which popped out. I ended up on my front and in the end I was diagnosed with a concussion. An MRI later showed possible hemorrhaging and I have been unable to work now for 3 months.
My work was not required to pay into workers' comp and chose not to do so - I was covered under Short Term Disability for the last 3 months and it is now ending. I was rejected for Long Term Disability because I had a previous concussion in September of 2015 that I had not 100% recovered from and it's considered a pre-existing condition.
These particular chairs in my office were known to break and my boss would tell us to just swap them for one at the unused desks when they did. I almost fell multiple times before this incident. I am now in my early 20s at the beginning of my career and unable to work, unable to participate in any of my hobbies, living again with my parents, unable to drive and struggling each day.
Is this the fault of my work or the chair manufacturer? (I'm not sure how old the chairs were, definitely over 2 years old.) What would I receive in damages as my doctors have no idea how long it will take to recover fully or if I will ever recover fully? What are my options here? Thank you.
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ANSWER for "Chair broke in half at work, causing a bad head injury...":
Depending upon the state in which you worked, it is possible your employer was not required to carry workers' compensation insurance. In most states, employers with a minimal number of employees are exempt from the requirement to carry workers' comp insurance.
While your employer may have been exempt from carrying workers' comp, that doesn't exempt them from liability for injuries sustained by you while performing your job duties.
Your employer had a legal "duty of care" to take all reasonable action to provide a safe work environment for you and your fellow employees. His or her failure to do so may constitute negligence.
Presuming your employer or your boss knew the chairs were not functioning properly, and did little or nothing to take reasonable steps to ensure the chair was safe, it may constitute a breach of his or her legal duty of care. That negligence became the "proximate cause" of your injuries.
As a result, your employer may be liable for your injuries and related damages. Damages can include the costs of medical bills, out-of-pocket expenses, lost wages, and an additional amount for your pain and suffering.
Here's a more in-depth look at everything you can claim for damages.
While the chair failed to function properly, that failure is not sufficient grounds for filing a product liability claim. This is especially true if the chairs were more than a few years old.
Speak with your boss and ask for the company's liability insurance information. This should include the name, address and telephone number of the insurance company. Then contact the insurance company and tell them you want to file an injury claim.
If, for any reason your employer did not carry liability insurance, or your employer refuses to give you the contact information, or the insurance accompany denies your claim, seek the counsel of a personal injury attorney. Your injuries and related damages are serious enough to constitute a viable personal injury claim.
The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.
Best of luck,
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