We understand that after you’ve been injured on the job, you’ll want to do everything in your power to make that wrong right. And sometimes, simply receiving workers’ compensation for your injury doesn’t feel like enough. You may think that you should sue your employer for negligence too. However, can you actually do such a thing? Keep on reading to find out more about this question and what you need to know before filing a lawsuit against your employer.
What Constitutes Negligence?
Negligence is when someone fails to act reasonably and responsibly. This includes failing to use reasonable care and diligence.
Negligent acts usually involve some type of failure to perform a duty owed to another person. The most common types of duties are those involving safety, health, property, and contracts.
Suing Your Employer For Negligence May Be Difficult
If you believe that your employer was negligent in causing your injuries, then you may want to consider taking legal action against them. However, there are many things that could prevent you from doing so.
First, you must realize that even though you may be entitled to damages, you will likely never receive all of them. If you take your employer to court, you may end up settling for less than you deserve.
Second, you need to understand that you may not be able to sue your employer. Most states have a workers’ compensation system which provides injured employees with medical treatment and temporary disability payments. These systems are designed to provide injured workers with financial assistance while they recover from their injuries.
Third, you should know that filing a lawsuit against your employer may cause problems for you later on. You may find yourself unable to collect future medical bills because your employer’s insurer may refuse to pay them. This is especially true when you are receiving workers’ compensation benefits.
Can You Sue Your Employer For Negligence?
According to workman’s comp law, you are not allowed to sue your employer for negligence. The only avenue is through workers’ compensation.
The reason for this is simple: if an employee sues his or her employer for negligence, it would be considered “double dipping.” In other words, the worker would be suing both their employer and the insurance company that paid them benefits.
This means that if you were hurt at work, you can either file a claim with your employer’s insurance company (workers’ comp) or you can sue the negligent party directly. However, you cannot sue both parties simultaneously.
What if you can prove your employer's negligence?
As a follow-up question, I frequently have clients ask, “But what if I can prove that my employer was negligent?” Even if they were somehow negligent, you still cannot sue.
It IS possible to get an additional 10% penalty against your employer if you can prove that they willfully failed to comply with any statutory requirement; however, cases of the Industrial Commission enforcing this penalty are very rare. “Willful Failure” is a very high standard to meet. Generally, the employer would have to be at fault for something far more serious.
The only exception to being able to sue your employer in the case of an injury is if your employer was required by law to carry workers’ compensation and failed to do so. In this case, your employer cannot claim the Workers’ Compensation Act as a defense in a lawsuit. In this case, you would be able to sue.