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Can I Sue My Employer for an On-The-Job Industrial Accident?

On Behalf of | Feb 1, 2019 | Work Place Accident Report

Going back almost 100 years ago, the worker and employer dynamic surrounding an industrial accident was extremely different compared to what it is today.

Just 90 years ago, if you were injured on the job, the only option you had in order to get what you deserved was to sue your employer.

This process is a long, expensive one. Because of this, worker’s compensation has taken its place.

The worker today still has options available to sue an employer. This is not always the best route to take though.

Are you in an industrial accident and want to know if you should sue your employer or opt for worker’s compensation? Keep reading this blog post.

Should You Sue Your Employer After Industrial Accidents?

If you lived before 1929, suing your employer for compensation may have been your only option. Today, this is vastly different, and for a very good reason.

Are you seeking injured at work compensation from your employer? Then here’s what you need to know about your options.

The Basics of Worker’s Compensation

Worker’s compensation became federal legislation in 1929 with 2 main goals:

  1. A fast turn-around on compensation in the form of wages, medical care costs, and other living costs
  2. Limited liability protection for the employer (i.e. protection for the employer against civil lawsuits)

Worker’s compensation is applicable across 49 states in the U.S., with employees covered by either federal or state worker’s compensation laws.

If an employee wants to file a lawsuit against their employer for a workplace injury, they can’t (with a few exceptional cases).

This means that worker’s compensation is an employee’s exclusive remedy to gaining the compensation they need.

Worker’s compensation covers things like work-related accidents, trauma injury, and occupation disease or disability.

The benefits of filing a worker’s compensation claim often outweigh the benefits of filing a lawsuit against an employer.

For one, you are able to receive monetary and medical compensation for your accident almost immediately. On the other hand, filing a lawsuit and going to trial can take years before you see a single cent, if any.

When filing a lawsuit, you are also expected to take on the bill for lawyers’ fees over this extended period, but payment is covered in your compensation claim amount.

Worker’s compensation also covers lost wages for time spent away from work, plus disability benefits if you’re no longer able to work.

The Drawbacks to Worker’s Compensation

With all the above in mind, worker’s compensation has a few drawbacks to it though.

In a regular worker’s compensation claim, you will not be able to recover any punitive damages in your case.

Punitive damages are a sum of money much greater than the actual damages you incurred. This is mostly applicable in the case of egregiously negligent behavior on your employer’s part.

In short, the benefits you receive from worker’s compensation are limited to compensation laws in your state. They are usually calculated as a percentage of your salary.

Filing a Lawsuit

It’s important to keep in mind that even if your worker’s compensation claim is denied, you still cannot file a lawsuit against your employer.

Instead, you must file an appeal with your state’s worker’s compensation appeals board.

Worker’s compensation is usually the preferred route to take by most employees. There are a few exceptions to the rule though.

In these instances, an employee has every right to file a civil lawsuit against their employer.

Intentional Harm

This means your employer took action with the direct intent of hurting you (like punching you in the face).

While these cases are extreme and few and far between, an employee has every right to sue their employer for intentional harm.

They must be intentional acts. They cannot fall under the umbrella of negligence or carelessness. Even cases of extreme negligence are still classed as compensation cases.

Insufficient Compensation Insurance

In this instance, your employer is not covered by worker’s compensation insurance and would not be able to cover your expenses.

In terms of federal law, this is illegal. All businesses across 49 U.S. states must pay worker’s compensation insurance, with the exception of Texas.

Looking for a Personal Injury Law Firm?

If you have suffered personal injury from an industrial accident, or 18-wheeler accident, Kastl Law is your go-to law firm.

Based in Dallas, Texas, Kastl Law specializes in recovering maximum compensation for work-related injuries and negligence.

Get in touch with us today to discuss your options.