You get seriously injured in a fall at work. It’s not your fault. Your fall-arrest system failed. You had been complaining for weeks about how it was outdated and may not work when needed, but your employer refused to upgrade it. As such, you believe their negligence led to the injuries — you may have not gotten hurt if the system worked, even though you still would have fallen — and you want to sue.
Can you sue your employer instead of using workers’ compensation?
Workers’ compensation is designed to be an exclusive remedy
The short answer is that you cannot sue your employer. It doesn’t matter that they were negligent and caused the injury. You can sue individuals who hurt you outside of work — such as a negligent driver who hits you on the way home — but you cannot sue the company that employs you.
If that feels unfair, what you need to know is that workers only lost this right in exchange for the ability to access the benefits that come with workers’ compensation without having to file a lawsuit. You can now seek this type of compensation to make up for lost wages, medical bills and related costs. In an ideal world, you will be able to get enough compensation this way that you do not need to sue.
It’s also important to point out that fault doesn’t matter for workers’ comp. That’s one of the upsides of this system. Even if your employer claims you caused the injuries, you can still get workers’ comp. This can reduce potential disputes.
Do you need a legal team on your side?
Even though workers’ comp is an option, disputes may happen or you may not get what you deserve. If so, you must know what legal steps you can take. If your employer or their insurer are making things difficult with your workers’ compensation claim, it’s important to assert your rights.