Nobody can predict when an accident will happen in the workplace. However, your employer should be able to identify the types of potential dangers that could cause an accident in the workplace and do everything in their power to limit those dangers. It is the responsibility of an employer to provide their employees with as safe a working space as reasonably possible.
Can I Sue My Employer if I Get Hurt on the Job?
In most circumstances, the answer to this question is no. Workers’ compensation insurance protects employers from lawsuits due to work-related injuries. At the same time, as it protects employers, workers’ compensation also benefits employees.
Without workers’ comp, employees would have to bring a lawsuit against their employer any time that they got injured at work. The result would be a lot of time and money spent on legal fees before any possible financial settlement.
Workers’ compensation provides a root to potentially much quicker financial relief for an injured worker. Typically this relief comes in the form of a settlement negotiated between the insurance company and the worker or the workers’ attorney.
When Is My Employer Liable for My Injury?
While most of the time, an employer has protection from legal action in workers’ comp cases, there are exceptions to an employer’s responsibility. Some instances when you are able to sue your employer for a workplace injury are in cases of:
- No workers’ compensation insurance
- Insufficient workers’ compensation insurance
- Intentional harm
- Not technically an employee
No Workers’ Compensation Insurance
You can sue your employer if they do not carry workers’ compensation insurance. Most states require employers to have workers’ comp insurance, but if you live in Texas, this requirement does not apply. If living outside of Texas though, and your employer does not have workers’ compensation coverage, then they are breaking the law. In this case, your injury is only one part of the legal problems they will now face.
Insufficient Workers’ Compensation Insurance
While your employer is most likely required to carry workers’ comp insurance, they may have bare-bones coverage. If your injury is costly, the amount of workers’ comp that they have might not be sufficient to cover the whole cost of your injuries. In a case like this, you are entitled to sue your employer for the amount required to make up the difference between your injuries and what is covered under their policy.
Another situation in which you can sue your employer is in a case of intentional harm. Cases of intentional harm like workplace violence are not common, but they do happen. An example would be if your boss punched you in the face. Not only would you have the right to sue your employer for your injury in this case, but you would also be entitled to press charges against your boss for assault.
Not Technically an Employee
Depending on which state you live in and the type of employment contract you work for your employer under, you may not technically be considered an employee of your company. An example of non-employee workers is sales representatives working on a commission-only basis. If you are not technically an employee, then you have the right to sue your employer if you get injured on the job.
When Isn’t an Employee Covered by Workers’ Comp?
While your employer is obligated to provide workers with a reasonably safe workplace and carry workers’ compensation coverage to make sure that their employees are taken care of in case of a workplace injury, employees have responsibilities too.
There are many possible scenarios in which an employee would not be eligible for workers’ compensation. Some common situations where an employee forfeits their right to workers’ compensation are when they are:
- Under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Fighting at work
- Playing games rather than working
- Hurt outside of work hours
- Involved in criminal activity at work
- Violating work safety rules imposed by the employer
- Not injured at work
- Exaggerating their injury
All of the above circumstances will result in denial of any workers’ comp claim, and in most cases, the loss of your job as well. However, these are not the only situations that can lead to a denial of your workers’ compensation claim. Some other possible reasons that your claim may be denied are if you:
- Failed to inform your employer of your injury in a timely manner
- Failed to file the claim in time
- Didn’t receive medical treatment
- Received medical treatment from an unapproved provider
- Missed doctor’s appointments
- Failed to heed medical advice
- Posted about your injury on social media
- Failed to disclose a pre-existing condition that led to your accident
Unlike the first group of reasons for a denial of a claim, most of the reasons listed here can be disputed. If you are denied a workers’ comp claim for any of these reasons, you should contact a workers’ compensation attorney. An attorney will go over your options with you and get you the money to which you are entitled.