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Can I Sue My Employer Instead of Collecting Workers’ Compensation?

On Behalf of | Sep 1, 2018 | Workers' Compensation

When you are hurt at worker, it can be a dizzying experience between the paperwork and getting treatment for your injury. Naturally, you are owed some compensation to cover your work injury, but you definitely don’t want to be taken for a ride. However, there are some workers that wonder that if instead of filing worker’s compensation, they can sue their employer instead.

Typically worker’s compensation doesn’t award a monetary amount for things like pain and suffering. However, a personal injury suit would. This makes many believe they can get more if they choose a lawsuit instead of worker’s compensation. However, the reason that every employer is forced to have worker’s compensation insurance is to protect them from that. You cannot collect worker’s compensation and file a lawsuit against an employer. Likewise, worker’s compensation protects the worker by being a no-fault system. However, typically the major benefit of choosing to file for worker’s compensation is that it is usually an administrative process that is kept away from the court system.

Simply put, you can’t have worker’s compensation and lawsuit. However, a lawsuit will often be much more difficult to win, but there are times where you are fully within your right to sue your employer.

When you Can Sue Your Employer

Having worker’s compensation protects the employer. However, if you were hurt at work and believe it was intentional, you can bring a suit from intentional tort in civil court. Tort injuries not only include physical harm, but emotional distress as well.

You can sue your employer if:

  • They Intentionally Hurt You – This can take form in a number of ways and the injuries can be physical as well as emotional. If you have been traumatized by bad conduct, assaulted by an employee or employer, lied to in such a way that it caused injury, or falsely imprisoned by your employer, these are all good cases. They are all pretty dramatic, but also pretty standard cases for a lawsuit. Even if those circumstances caused injury, you can choose to forgo worker’s compensation and go through a lawsuit instead.
  • They Didn’t Have Worker’s Compensation Insurance – If you were hurt at work and your employer doesn’t have worker’s compensation insurance, then they are in big trouble. Many states have special funds allocated for you for just such an occasion, especially if you don’t want to sue. However, since they don’t have insurance, it is within your right to file a lawsuit. Not only can you get a settlement to cover your medical bills, but you can receive punitive damages as well. You employer will also face further punishment from the state for not following the law that states they must have insurance.

Injuries Caused By Third Parties

If you were injured at work, but it was wholly the fault of a third party that was not affiliated with your place of work, otherwise known as a third party, you have the option to sue that person who caused your injury. For example, if you were injured by a defective piece of equipment that was made that way and not the result of poor maintenance, you can sue the manufacturer. Alternatively, if you were hurt by another employee attacking you, you can also sue that person. However, if you were hurt by an employee accidentally dropping something, that is covered under worker’s compensation.

The unfortunate side of this is that if you used worker’s compensation to cover your recovery since the accident did happen at work, you may have to use some of the money awarded from your lawsuit to pay back your employer or insurer for benefits that you used.

There is no question that filing worker’s compensation is easier and less time intensive than filing a lawsuit, but they are both plenty difficult. If you were hurt at work and want to talk over your options, contact us today.