What can a worker do regarding an on the job injury?

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What can a worker do regarding an on the job injury?

My sister’s fiance is a construction worker and has been working for the company for many years. He has had previous problems with his employer such as not being paid overtime, not being given holidays or leave and so forth. Recently, he was injured on site and when he wanted to see a doctor, his employer did not want him to take medical leave or any type of leave. He continued to work because he needs the money. This resulted in the injury on his hand turning septic. He went to a doctor who advised him to go to the hospital immediately. There, they treated the injury and had to remove skin and muscle almost down to the bone between index finger and thumb to stop the infection. Now he has to go to the doctor twice a week minimum and he might have to get plastic surgery to try and save his hand. He was also informed that he will not be able to work for the rest of the year. I would like to know if he has a case and what he can sue the company or his employer for? What is his chances to win the case?

Asked on May 31, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Alaska

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

He would not have  any claim for the infection or its consequences: regardless of what the employer said, they could not actually stop him going to the doctor or taking time off from work--yes, it could have cost him his job (e.g. if he did not have PTO to cover the absence, or was not able to use FMLA leave [you can find the rules for FMLA leave on the U.S. Dept. of Labor website]) but an employer is allowed to put employees in a position where they have to choose between job and well being, job and family, job and health, etc. (That is all a part of "employment at will," which is the law of the land.) If the fiance voluntarily chose to put his job ahead of his hand or health, that was his voluntary choice, just like someone could choose to take a job that leaves him no time for his family or which is emotionally and physically stressful; since it was his voluntary choice to prioritize his job over medical care or healing, he cannot hold the employer liable for his choice.


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