While many people believe that the only compensation available for a workplace injury will come from the employer’s insurance, this is not necessarily the case. There are exceptions where an employee can potentially sue for damages caused by a workplace injury. The following are three examples:
- If the injury was due to a defective product, the employee could bring a products liability action against the manufacturer of the product.
- If the injury resulted from a toxic substance, the employee could bring a toxic tort lawsuit against the manufacturer of the substance.
- In the event that the employer does not carry workers compensation insurance, the employee may be able to sue the employer or collect compensation from a state fund.
In most cases, employees are barred from suing their employer for workplace injuries. This is because employers who have purchased workers compensation insurance for the benefit of their employees are typically protected from personal injury claims brought by the employees. There are circumstances, however, where an employee can bring an intentional tort suit against an employer in civil court. These are cases where the employee has reason to believe that the employer intentionally caused them harm. An intentional tort suit can also include non-physical injuries such as emotional distress. Below are the most common intentional torts:
- Battery- injury to your person
- Assault- an attempted battery, or a threat to commit a battery
- False imprisonment- confinement against your will
- Fraud- an individual lied to you and the lie caused you to suffer an injury
- Defamation- when someone says something false about you that causes injury; this includes libel and slander
- Invasion of Privacy- when either your private information or photos of you are exposed to an audience
- Conversion- when someone takes your property and makes it their own
- Trespass- when someone enters or uses your property without your permission
Third-party liability occurs when someone not working for the employer causes an injury. A perfect example of this is when a car accident is caused by a third party while the employee is being paid to be on the road performing a work-related task. In this case, the employee can file a workers compensation claim and sue the third-party driver for negligence. In theory, the injured employee can both collect damages from the third party, and receive medical and wage replacement benefits from the workers compensation claim.