Four Situations In Which You May Bring Workplace Injury Claims Outside Workers Compensation
Injuries in the workplace are supposed to be compensated by workers compensation insurance. However, there are exceptional cases where you may be allowed to bring a lawsuit outside workers compensation insurance. Here are three examples of such situations:
The Employer Causes You Intentional Harm
Some states treat intentional and accidental injuries differently. In such states, accidental injuries are handled by workers compensation while intentional injuries, especially by the employer, are handled via normal personal injury claims.
Consider a situation where you are late for work at a garage where you are one of the employees. The employer, who is in a foul mood, starts shouting at you, and you decide to shout back. This angers your employer who grabs a nearby wrench and whacks you with it. In this case, your state's laws may allow you to lodge an intentional tort lawsuit against your employer.
You Are Injured By a Defective Machine
Another instance in which you may be able to lodge a claim outside workers compensation is if you are injured by a defective product such as a machine or equipment. In this case, your injury may be treated just like any other injury caused by a defective product. This means that the manufacturer of the product may be liable for the ensuing damages if he or knew of the dangers of his or her product, and did not warn you or your employer.
Continuing with the garage worker example above, suppose that the car stands you were using to lift the cars were rated as being able to handle 4,000 pound. Also suppose that you try to use the stands on a car that weighs less than 4,000 pounds, and it breaks and crushes your arm. In this case, the manufacturer of the stand may be held liable for your injury.
Your Employer Lacks Workers Compensation Insurance
The third situation is when you are injured, try to seek workers compensation, and you realize that your employer doesn't have the insurance. In this case, your next course of action would be to sue your employer in a civil court, just as you would for conventional forms of personal injuries. That would be the way forward, for example, if you tripped, fell and injured yourself in the garage only to realize that your employer lacks workers compensation insurance.
Note that some states have different procedures for dealing with these issues. For example, a few states have funds for settling cases where employees are injured but the employer doesn't carry workers compensation. Therefore, it is best to consult an accident lawyer before making a move.