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Workers’ Compensation Lawyer 101: Can you sue your employer for negligence as an injured worker?

If you are wondering whether you can sue your employer after you have already received a worker’s compensation for the injury or illness you have acquired while working for your employer, then the direct answer would be a NO.

As a general rule, an employee can no longer sue their employer once they have received their compensation. However, there are a few exemptions regarding this situation. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may also be able to sue a third party that directly caused your injury.

Listed below are some of the exemptions that allow you to sue your employer or a third party outside of worker’s compensation. If you want to sue your employer for negligence, you can watch this video: 

1. When your employer does not have an insurance for worker’s compensation

All state laws require every employer to have an insurance for worker’s compensation. However, if you are unlucky and you landed a job where your employer does not have a worker’s compensation insurance, then you can sue your employer in civil courts for the injuries you have suffered.

In some states, California included, they have taken the steps necessary to make a fund especially for people who were unfortunate enough to work for employers who do not have the legally required worker’s compensation insurance.

If you live in California, and your company cannot provide you with a worker’s compensation, you can choose to file a claim in the state or sue. The decision is yours to make, but it would be a better choice to get a CA workers’ compensation attorney advise you first before you make any decision.

2. When your employer intentionally caused your injury.

In many states, the law allows employees to sue their employers when the employer’s actions have caused intentional harm to the employee. However, different states have different definitions and standards for what is considered an intentional act. Therefore, it is really challenging to prove this in court. Unless, of course, your employer physically assaulted you in the workplace and you have witnesses to prove it.

Another difficulty in suing your employer for intentionally causing your injury is the length of time it takes for cases like these to get resolved. It can be difficult to guess how long it would take for your case to be resolved because it will all still depend on the circumstances surrounding your case and the laws in your state. So if your injury was caused by your employer, then it is recommended to seek the advice of a worker’s compensation lawyer.

3. When you are injured by an equipment or machine that was defective

If your injury in the workplace was due to an equipment or machine that you use for your job and the said equipment or machine is fundamentally dangerous, you can sue the manufacturer. You can hold them accountable and sue them for your pain and suffering.

Of course, you must first be able to prove in court that the manufacturer knew of the inherent danger of the equipment or machine, and did not do anything about it. For example, during their quality control of the equipment or machine, it showed some signs that it could be dangerous, but they went ahead and sold it anyway. That can be used against them in court to prove their fault.

4. When a toxic chemical used in your workplace caused your injury

When the employees’ jobs require them to be exposed to or handle some chemicals, it is a possibility that they will develop an illness or be injured at work, which are referred to as toxic injuries. Chemicals like asbestos, silica, radium, and other toxic chemicals are already well-known to cause diseases when there is prolonged exposure. If that is the case, then you can file a lawsuit for a toxic tort.

There are two types of toxic injuries: acute injuries and latent injuries. Here is the difference between the two:

  • Acute injury – These are the type of injuries that are immediately apparent. Poisoning and chemical burns are examples of acute injuries. Because of the immediate injuries caused by the toxic chemicals, it can be easy to prove the relation between the injury and the chemical in court. Thus, it will be easier to win your case.
  • Latent injury – These are the type of injuries that take time to develop. Cancer and lung disease like emphysema are examples of latent injuries. Because it takes years for these injuries to develop, relating these diseases as a result of exposure to toxic chemicals can be challenging to prove in court. Despite it being challenging, there are numerous cases that have succeeded and won.

Suffering an injury can change one’s life. It may prevent you from working again and the pain caused by the injury may become permanent. Not to mention the medical bills that can be the cause of your bankruptcy.

That is why it is necessary for  employers to provide worker’s compensation for their employees. But if your case falls under the exemptions listed above, then you should immediately get in touch with an attorney so you can start the process of suing your employer.

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