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When should employees sue their employer for work-related injuries?

On Behalf of | Nov 6, 2023 | Workplace Injuries |

While most workplaces take various measures to ensure a safe work environment, accidents can still happen. Employees who sustain injuries while on the job can file for workers’ compensation.

Workers’ compensation covers employees who are injured while performing their job duties. Nevertheless, some employees may wonder if they should sue their employer instead.

The exclusive remedy rule

One key factor affecting an employee’s ability to sue their employer is the exclusive remedy rule. This rule stipulates that employees generally forfeit their right to sue their employer for negligence in exchange for workers’ compensation coverage. In other words, workers’ compensation is often the sole avenue for employees to seek compensation for work-related injuries.

Exceptions to the exclusive remedy rule

While the exclusive remedy rule is a fundamental principle of workers’ compensation, exceptions exist. For instance, suppose an employer intentionally causes harm to an employee; the exclusive remedy rule may not apply. An intentional tort occurs when an employer purposefully inflicts harm or behaves in a way that demonstrates a reckless disregard for the employee’s safety.

In some cases, a third party, such as a product manufacturer or a contractor, may be responsible for the employee’s injury. In such situations, the injured employee may have the right to sue this third party while still receiving workers’ compensation benefits.

Finally, if an employer fails to carry workers’ compensation insurance, an employee may be allowed to sue the employer for their injuries. This is a serious violation of the law, and employers who do not provide workers’ compensation coverage can face severe penalties.

Determining when to sue

Deciding when to sue an employer for work-related injuries can be a complicated undertaking. Employees must carefully evaluate the circumstances surrounding their injury. For starters, employees should consider the extent of their medical costs and whether workers’ compensation is sufficient to cover them. If not, pursuing legal action may be necessary, if doing so is possible.

In addition, if the injury results in a significant loss of income due to missed work, employees may need to seek additional compensation through a lawsuit, again, if this action is possible.

While workers’ compensation is the primary avenue for employees to seek compensation for work-related injuries, there are exceptions to the exclusive remedy rule. Employees may have the right to sue their employer and/or a third party under certain circumstances. Seeking legal guidance before committing to a specific approach is generally wise.