The workers’ compensation system is designed to prevent the need for lawsuits against an employer or co-worker. Under ordinary circumstances, filing for and accepting workers’ compensation means forfeiting your right to file a personal injury claim.
However, sometimes special circumstances apply and you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against your employer or a co-worker in addition to claiming workers’ compensation.
Intentional Acts by an Employer
If your employer engages in conduct that he or she should know to be reckless and likely to cause harm to others, that may go beyond the ordinarily negligence that workers’ compensation is intended to cover. Therefore, if you are injured as a result of the reckless conduct of your employer, you may have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit against your employer. Examples of possible reckless conduct include placing you at unnecessary risk or imposing dangerous work conditions.
You may find yourself in a situation in which your employer acts against you in a way that is intended to cause you harm. Examples of such acts, also known in legal terms as “torts,” include false imprisonment, assault and/or battery.
The harm that you suffer from an intentional tort by your employer need not necessarily be physical. Your employer could inflict emotional distress upon you, and the harm that you suffered as a result could be grounds for a personal injury lawsuit.
Lack of Workers’ Compensation Coverage
Not all employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. However, if the requirements apply to your employer and he or she lacks sufficient coverage, you can file a personal injury lawsuit. The rules that prevent lawsuits for work-related injuries do not apply to you when workers’ compensation is not available to you.
Sometimes it is not your employer who engages in reckless conduct or an intentional tort but a third party. Third parties can include your co-workers, customers, clients or vendors, trespassers, and essentially anyone not directly associated with your employer. So, for example, if a customer or a co-worker were to assault you, you would have the right to bring a personal injury lawsuit against that person. Depending on the circumstances, you may also have the right to sue your employer.
A special situation can arise if you were in a car accident while driving for work. Your injuries may qualify for compensation, but if the other driver was not associated with your employer, you could also sue the other driver in a third-party lawsuit.
It can be difficult to know when you have the right to file a lawsuit in addition to a workers’ compensation claim. A work related injury lawyer in Newark can explain your options to you. Contact a law office for more information.
Thanks to Rispoli & Borneo, P.C. for their insight into workers compensation and personal injury lawsuits.