Can I Sue My Employer for an On-the-Job Injury?
If you’ve suffered an on-the-job injury, then you may be entitled to significant damages, either as part of a workers’ compensation benefits package, or through a lawsuit against your employer (and other liable parties).
It’s critical that you consult with a qualified workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible after your injury. They will work with you to ensure that you submit your claims in a timely manner, and that an effective case strategy is developed.
Unfortunately, many first-time plaintiffs do not understand the limitations and restrictions surrounding an on-the-job injury. With the aim of clarifying some of these complexities, let’s explore some basics.
Workers’ Compensation And The Employer Liability Shield
Injured employees — regardless of whether the employer was actually “at-fault” for causing the injuries — are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
Workers’ compensation is a broadly applicable protection that works for both employees and employers. These benefits cover lost wages and medical expenses linked to the injuries suffered on-the-job.
Importantly, you have to show that you were actually injured in “the course and scope” of your employment. If you were on a lunch break at a restaurant when you slipped and fell and injured yourself, for example, then you wouldn’t have a workers’ compensation claim.
While workers’ compensation benefits provide broad coverage, they are also useful to employers because they protect them from additional lawsuits linked to the injuries their employees suffered — even if the employer was negligent and therefore caused the injury themselves.
Specifically, workers’ compensation laws prohibit lawsuits against the employer except in limited circumstances.
This isn’t always a “big problem” for injured employees, as they might find it more convenient to simply receive workers’ compensation benefits instead of suing their employer in an extended lawsuit. However, in situations where an employee has suffered serious injuries on-the-job, there may be damages that aren’t fully accounted for by workers’ compensation benefits: pain and suffering, emotional distress, and more.
These damages can add up! As such, if you’ve suffered a severe injury on-the-job, it’s sensible to consider your strategic options for suing your employer directly (over just receiving workers’ compensation benefits).
Exemptions To The Liability Shield
You can sue your employer directly in a number of scenarios. Two common exemption scenarios include:
1) You were not actually an employee; and
2) The employer intentionally or recklessly caused injury.
Suppose that you are an independent contractor for a business. You work as a freelancer, doing regular projects for them — but they are not your only client. If you’re injured while working on-the-job for that business client, then you would not be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits at all. As such, you’re also not subject to the restriction preventing you from suing them. You are well within your rights to bring a claim against them and recover damages through a lawsuit.
Suppose that your employer acted beyond basic negligence — they were reckless (or even intentionally malicious) in causing your injuries. Perhaps they chose not to provide safety equipment to employees just to save some money, even though they knew the equipment would be necessary to prevent injury. That would be considered reckless misconduct, and would give you the right to sue and recover damages through a lawsuit.
Contact A Workers’ Compensation Attorney For A Free Consultation
If you’ve been injured on-the-job, then you may be entitled to either workers’ compensation benefits or — in some cases — damages through a lawsuit against your employer. Litigating a case against your employer can be a unique challenge, however, as you’ll have to show that workers’ compensation restrictions don’t apply.
Our attorneys are standing by to provide assistance.
Here at 1-800-THE-LAW2, we operate a large network of attorneys, some of who are experienced in handling on-the-job injuries. We encourage you to contact us as soon as possible — our agents will connect you to a qualified workers’ compensation attorney in just 10 minutes or less.
Consultation is free and confidential, so don’t delay. There’s no downside to calling in and speaking to an attorney in our network.
We look forward to helping you.