If you have been injured on the job, you are entitled to worker's compensation. This insurance is available to all almost all workers from their very first day of work and is completely paid for by the employer. Once you accept worker's compensation, you usually will not be able to sue your employer, but there are exceptions. Read on for more information on when you can file suit against your employer for injuries sustained on the the job.
Worker's Compensation Overview
Worker's compensation is normally a quick and efficient means of addressing your primary damages from injuries. It takes effect immediately upon your injury, allowing you access to medical treatment at no out-of-pocket cost to you.
You will be eligible to receive a certain percentage of your wages, often about 60% of your usual salary, in weekly payments while you recover from your injury. If your injury turns out to be a severe, disabling, and permanent injury, you may be eligible for a large lump sum or lifetime compensation, depending upon your age, education level, work experience and the severity of your disability.
The downside of worker's compensation is the limits on compensation; you can only receive a portion of your lost wages and there is no provision in worker's comp for pain and suffering or for punitive damages.
In contrast, filing a suit against your employer can be time-consuming and costly. You will have pay for your own medical expenses and go without your wages until you are either able to come to a settlement with your employer or you win your case at trial. There can be numerous delays and your employer will likely have more resources to defend themselves in court than you might have as an ordinary person. There is also, of course, the unpredictability of success when you take your case to court.
Exceptions When Lawsuits are Allowed
There are two situations in which you may be able to sue your employer for a work-related injury:
1. Intentional Harm: Merely being negligent or careless are insufficient grounds for this type of suit. You must prove that your employer set out with the express and willful intention to do harm. For example:
- Battery (your boss punches you in the nose).
- Assault (your boss threatens to harm you).
- False imprisonment (you are prevented from leaving).
- Fraud (you bought worthless company stock on your boss's advice).
- Invasion of privacy (your boss recorded you in the restroom).
- Defamation (your boss publicly and wrongly blamed an industrial accident on you).
2. No Insurance: Your employer either had no worker's compensation insurance or had insufficient coverage. While employers are required by law to provide this coverage, this type of suit serves as a remedy when employers break the law and you are injured.
If you have a worker's compensation situation like one of the above, you need the help of a worker's compensation attorney who will work to get you the compensation you deserve. For more information, contact a professional like the Law Office of Leslie S. Shaw.