When you file a workers’ compensation claim, that is usually an “exclusive remedy” in the eyes of the law. This means that you usually cannot file a lawsuit to recover damages if you’ve filed a work comp claim or vice versa. There are, however, a few exceptions to this rule that allow you to file a lawsuit in addition to a workers’ compensation claim against those who bear some responsibility for your injuries.
It may be that your injuries are a result of the negligent or wrongful actions of someone other than your employer. If this is the case, then you may have the option of filing a third-party lawsuit against the responsible parties in addition to your workers’ compensation claim.
An example would be if you get into a car accident while driving for your job, perhaps as a delivery driver. If the other driver is at fault, you may be able to file a third-party personal injury lawsuit separate from your work comp claim.
You may also be able to file a third-party lawsuit against a co-worker if his or her actions caused an accident or contributed to your injuries. However, the laws that determine when you can file a third-party lawsuit against a co-worker vary widely by state. It can depend on whether the co-worker’s actions were criminal, against company policy, or intended to cause harm.
Lawsuits Against Employers
Workers’ compensation is intended to take the place of a lawsuit and save both you and your employer from the time, expense, and uncertainty typically involved in litigation. Therefore, it is rare that you can file a lawsuit against your employer in addition to a work comp claim.
However, there are circumstances under which you may be able to file a lawsuit against your employer. If the law requires your employer to carry workers comp insurance, and your employer either has no coverage or the coverage is inadequate, you may be able to file a lawsuit. Not all employers are required to carry workers comp insurance, however, so be sure to check how the law applies to your employer before filing.
Another circumstance in which you might be able to sue your employer is if he or she took certain actions with the intention of doing you harm. You would also have grounds to sue your employer if he or she retaliated against you for filing a workers’ compensation claim. Examples of ways an employer could retaliate against you include firing you, demoting you, docking your pay, rescinding your benefits, etc.
One of our attorneys can review your circumstances and inform you whether or not you have a viable case.
Remember that there are workers compensation lawyers from Law Offices of Franks, Koenig & Neuwelt, who can help you and provide you with more information.