I am seeking legal advice about whether or not I have a case for discrimination/wrongful termination and/or a civil suit against my former patient. I was a R.N. for Mass Dept. of Mental Health for 2 months (on probationary period still on orientation) working in an inpatient psych ward and was injured by one of my patients (broken ribs) and then put on workers comp and taken off after 1 shift back at work...had to call in due to pain the next day and was immediately terminated before i was able to reinstate my claim and have been waiting 5 months for my WC case. The patient was not being malicious when he broke my ribs, but it is known that i have the option of a civil suit...WHAT DO I DO!?
pursue workers comp or would a wrongful termination suit be better?
Workers' Compensation Lawyer
It sounds like WC is your cleanest path. You may also be able institute wrongful termination, but the Attorney would need many more facts. Suing a hospitalized mentally ill patient is probably a dead-end.
We offer general concepts, but you should give ALL your facts to a licensed Attorney in your state before you RELY upon any legal advice.
You should speak to a local workers' comp lawyer to get some guidance. First question to ask is whether workers' comp is your exclusive remedy. Second thing to think about is, how would you prove that your termination was retaliatory?
This answer is intended as general information and not as specific legal advice. If you want to have a free consultation with me, please contact me through AVVO.
Definitely pursue the WC claim. Have you filed a claim for benefits? If not, you should do that right away. As for the termination, the employer can replace you while you are out on WC. The only protection would be FMLA which probably does not apply given the short time you were employed prior to the injury. You do have a preference in re-hire if the employer is hiring in the future and you are capable of doing the job. You would have preference over anyone who has not worked for the employer in the past. As for retaliation, it is a possibility but tough to prove. A civil suit against the patient may get you a judgment but collecting on that judgment is usually very difficult. Does the patient have assets to go after?
You should definitely consult with a workers' compensation attorney. If you still have limitations from your injury that prevent you from earning the level of wages that you were receiving at the time of this incident, you would be entitled to be compensated for those lost wages. I am not sure why you have been waiting 5 months on your case. If you have any attorney, you should ask him to give you an update as to what is the status of your claim. If you do not have an attorney, get one immediately. We give free consultations.