Usually, an employee who is injured on the job cannot sue their workplace for negligence if their injury is covered by their employer’s workers’ compensation insurance, according to the North Carolina Industrial Commission (NCIC).
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, which means you don’t have to prove negligence or file a lawsuit against your employer to recover benefits. Rather, your employer files a claim with its workers’ comp insurance carrier, which provides coverage for medical expenses and part of your lost income.
There are a few situations, however, in which a worker can sue their employer or a third party.
When a Worker Can Sue Their Employer After Suffering an On-the-Job Injury
An attorney might be able to help you sue your boss in the following cases:
Your Employer Intentionally Injured You
If your employer injured you on purpose, you may be able to sue them.
Your Employer Does Not Have Workers’ Compensation Insurance
Employers that don’t carry workers’ compensation insurance when it is legally required expose themselves to liability for workplace injuries. If your employer is uninsured, you may be able to file a lawsuit to recover all of the damages you have incurred.
Be aware, however, that these are exceptions to the usual rule. Most cases that involve injury from workplace accidents must go through workers’ compensation for benefits like medical treatment, lost wages, and residual disability.
When an Employee Can Sue a Co-Worker for Job-Related Injuries
If a co-worker intentionally injures you, you might be able to sue them separately for your wounds and other losses. For example, if a co-worker intentionally and recklessly endangered you or harmed you physically, they could be held liable.
Suing an Employer for Retaliation After Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim
Employees who file for workers’ compensation are protected under the law. As such, retaliation on the part of an employer can be grounds for a lawsuit.
To recover damages, you must prove that your employer demoted you, terminated your employment, or otherwise harassed or discriminated against you after you filed a workers’ comp claim. You may be entitled to damages that are not covered by workers’ compensation, such as emotional distress.
Unfortunately, employers can launch a number of defenses against retaliation claims. For example, your employer may argue that poor job performance (not the fact that you filed for workers’ compensation) resulted in the adverse consequences to your employment.
Pursuing compensation for employer retaliation related to your workers’ compensation claim can be challenging. It is crucial to work with an experienced workplace injury lawyer who can collect evidence and advocate for your best interest at every stage of your case.
When an Employee Can Sue a Third Party for On-the-Job Injuries
Even if workers’ compensation insurance covers a work injury, you might have a separate case against a third party. If the third party caused your injuries through negligence, you might be able to pursue them for your personal and financial suffering.
If you do recover compensation against a third party for your injuries, you may have to pay some money back to the workers’ compensation program if they provided benefits to you.
Types of Claims Against Third Parties
Here are a few examples of situations in which you might be eligible to file a lawsuit against a third party, even though the injury happened while you were working:
- Dangerous or defective products. If your injuries are the result of using an item that had a defect or dangerous flaw, you might be able to sue the manufacturer in a product liability case.
- Premises liability claims against a property owner who is not your employer. An example of this situation is when your job involves making deliveries. If you get injured by a hazard at a destination caused by the owner’s negligence, you might have a premises liability claim against the owner.
- Truck or car accident while on the job. Many jobs involve driving a motor vehicle, for example, driving from one job site to another. If you get injured in a collision because of another driver’s negligence, you might be able to sue them for your injuries.
- Other people on the job site who are not co-workers or your boss. Let’s say that you were working in the office when a worker from an outside company delivered a vending machine. Due to the worker’s negligence, the heavy equipment fell over and injured you. You could file a separate personal injury lawsuit against that worker’s employer.
- Injuries caused by independent contractors or subcontractors. Some activities in a workplace or on a job site are contracted out to one or more third parties. If the negligence of a contractor or subcontractor caused your work injury, you may be able to file a lawsuit.
There could be other situations in which a worker could sue a third party for injuries suffered while on the job. Our team can help you determine if you have a valid third-party claim.
Choose Whitley Law Firm to Handle Your Work Accident Case
It can be difficult to determine whether you can sue your workplace for negligence. You can speak to a lawyer from our firm to learn more. Once we have determined whether you have a case against your employer or another party, we’ll get started.
The Whitley Advantage means that the Whitley Law Firm treats you like family. We use our over 80 years of combined experience working for injured North Carolinians to get justice for you.
Get the Whitley Advantage by calling (919) 785-5000. We offer free case evaluations for seriously injured individuals and work on a contingency-fee basis. You do not owe us any legal fees until you win. See how we can help you today.