Many people assume they are limited to whatever workers compensation pays them when they are injured on the job. As a result, injured employees may be missing out on significant sources of compensation for their injuries and lost income. While it is generally true that the workers compensation system limits the amount that injured employees can recover, it is extremely important for employees to know that they may be able to recover from other people or companies who cause an employee’s on-the-job injuries.
The purpose of workers’ compensation is to pay the medical bills and partial lost wages of an injured employee, and to protect the employer from being sued as a result of an employee’s injuries, regardless of who’s at fault. But often the amount paid by the workers compensation system is not adequate to fully compensate an employee for his injuries and lost income. So it is very important to determine if another party can be held responsible for an employee’s injuries.
An employee may be able to recover from a third party or an employer in the following situations:
- If the injury was caused by a third-party, such as an outside contractor or an individual, who has no link to the company where the injured employee works, the employee may be able to recover from the third-party, but not the employer.
- If the injury is the result of a defective product then the employee may be able to sue the third-party manufacturer of the product that caused the injury, but not the employer.
- If the injury is the result of a toxic substance, you may be able to sue the third-party manufacturer of the toxic substance that caused the injury.
- If your employer fails to carry workers’ compensation coverage or is exempt from coverage and does not have it then you may be able to sue your employer for injuries suffered on the job.
- Although rare, you may be able to recover for damages from your employer if you are able to prove that your injury was the result of your employer’s willful, wanton or reckless negligence.
- Finally, you may be able to sue if an employer assaults an employee and the employee did not initiate the assault.
For example, I represented a man who was hurt while working on a construction site when an item fell and struck him as he was working at ground level. He was certainly on-the-job when he was hurt. Nonetheless, we were able to successfully bring a suit against the company whose employees were careless in allowing the item to fall and strike my client. My client did not work for that company. So, the moral of the story is – don’t assume that when you are hurt at work, you can’t recover from the careless person or company. Every case is different, so please speak to an attorney about your specific situation.