Nevada workers who are injured at work are sometimes surprised to learn that state law prevents them from suing their employers for personal injury. Under the Nevada Industrial Insurance Act (NIIA), NRS 616A.005 et seq., an employee’s exclusive remedy for injuries at work, including death, is to file a workers’ compensation claim. NRS 616A.020. There are two exceptions where an employee may still be able to sue: cases where an employer lacks the required workers’ compensation insurance, and cases where the employer intentionally hurts an employee.
Suing an employer who lacks workers’ compensation insurance
Every employer in Nevada is required to buy workers’ compensation insurance. The exclusivity rule in NRS 616A.020 protects compliant employers by steering virtually every injury suffered by employees at work into the insurance system. Employers get the security of knowing that they can’t be sued for personal injury, while employees get the benefit of no-fault coverage for medical bills, lost wages, and other things.
If an employer lacks workers’ compensation insurance, or fails to carry adequate insurance to cover an injury, the protections of NRS 616A.020 may no longer apply. Employees in this situation may want to file for benefits from the state’s The UECA serves as a safety net for injured employees by providing the same types of benefits that an employer’s insurance would provide.
Because the UECA forms part of the state’s workers’ compensation system it also forecloses the possibility of filing a personal injury suit against the employer. An injured worker therefore can face a difficult choice between accepting the benefits of UECA insurance, or pursuing the potentially higher compensation available through a personal injury lawsuit. Bear in mind that lawsuits can take time and always involve a risk of failure.
Suing an employer for intentional harm
The other circumstance where an employee can sue an employer for personal injury is if the employer intentionally causes the injury. The Nevada Supreme Court has placed strict limits on when employees can use this exception to the NIAA’s exclusive remedy rule. An employee must be able to prove that the employer genuinely wanted to hurt the employee. There must be a deliberate and specific intent to injure. Conway v. Circus Casinos, Inc., 116 Nev. 870, 875 (2000).
The most obvious example of intentional harm is if the employer (which might be represented by a manger) physically attacks the employee. See Barjesteh v. Faye’s Pub, 106 Nev. 120 (1990). But many kinds of intentional harm at the workplace are not so cut-and-dry.
The Supreme Court has allowed a personal injury suit to go forward in a case where a fired employee was treated roughly by security guards while being removed from the employer’s property. Fanders v. Riverside Resort & Casino, Inc., 126 Nev. 543 (2010). But in that case the question of when the employer-employee relationship ended was still unsettled. In other cases where one employee attacked another, the victim was forced to pursue a workers’ compensation claim. See Cummings v. United Resort Hotels, 85 Nev. 23 (1969) (a knife attack by a mentally ill coworker fell within the scope of the NIIA) and Wood v. Safeway, Inc., 121 Nev. 724 (2005) (holding that a sexual assault at work was covered by the NIIA).
GGRM represents personal injury clients in Las Vegas
Workers who suffer serious injury on the job can feel unjustly denied compensation for wrongful behavior by a supervisor or employer. An experienced personal injury attorney can evaluate the facts of a case and determine if a personal injury suit is advisable, or if pursuing a workers’ compensation claim is the best course. The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has served the Las Vegas working community for more than 45 years and has extensive experience dealing with complex personal injury cases. For a free attorney consultation call us today at 702-388-4476, or send us a request through our site.